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Golden Brown

I have commented before that when you spend enough time in the field or on the water, you will see some unusual things.  Pointy-headed fisheries biologists handle thousands of fish.  Sure, we see some exceptionally large specimens and occasionally we see some other oddities.

Unusually-colored fish get a lot of attention.  The “interwebs” often have photos of oddly-colored fish or fish with other weirdness.  I believe part of the reason for the occurence of those oddities is fish produce so many offspring!  Depending on the species and size of female, fish may produce thousands of offspring during one spawn.  Admittedly, the vast majority of those fish are not long for this whirl, but you can imagine if you produced that many offspring there might be a few weird ones.

Recently, we had a couple of our Nebraska fisheries biologists sampling on Sowbelly Creek in the far northwestern part of the state.  They turned up an unusually-colored brown trout.

XanthaBrown
Joe Rydell photo. Thanks, Joe!

No, it was not a large fish, but certainly an unusual brown trout and a very purdy one at that!

I do not believe the fish was an albino.  Albinism is the lack of pigment and is characterized by pink eyes.  Instead, I think the fish was an unusual coloration, and xanthism is the term referring to the color variation dominated by yellow pigments.  I have blogged before about unusual colorations in fish, both in Nebraska and elsewhere (Weird).  It is not common, but it certainly happens.

The fish was released after data was collected.  Unfortunately, the chance of such an unusually-colored fish surviving is slim.  You can imagine that golden color would be easier for predators to spot.  “Mother Nature” is a cruel “witch”.

Your chances of encountering that golden brown or another one are probably less than winning the recent big lottery payout.  But, you just never know what you are going to find out there!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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