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Tiger Trout in Virginia

Trout anglers might encounter a different species in some of Virginia’s waters, as the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has been raising and stocking tiger trout, a sterile hybrid of a female brown trout and a male brook trout. Tiger trout sport exaggerated vermiculation patterns, resulting in the name, and provide anglers with an excellent sport fishing opportunity.

What is a tiger trout?

A tiger trout is a sterile hybrid created with a female brown trout and a male brook trout. Although it’s rare, tiger trout do occur in the wild where both wild brown trout and wild brook trout occur. Tiger trout have a brown/gray body with an orange/yellow underside and exaggerated vermiculation patterns, resulting in the name. The pectoral, pelvic and anal fins are orange, while the tail fin is square and slightly forked.

A voracious feeder, tiger trout offer an excellent sport fishing opportunity.

Why is Virginia raising tiger trout now?

DWR is now raising tiger trout as an experiment to determine their survival and growth at Coursey Springs Fish Hatchery in Bath County. Different species of trout and even different genetic strains of trout may survive and grow differently in certain hatcheries. Hatchery managers may try a different species or genetic strain of trout until they find the best match for hatchery production. Tiger trout’s disease-resistance and hybrid vigor allow them to grow efficiently. This could potentially increase production at the hatchery leading to more consistent annual stockings, which allows anglers’ license money to go further. In addition, tiger trout provide excellent sport fish opportunities for anglers.

Were tiger trout raised and stocked in Virginia before?

Yes, the DWR raised and stocked tiger trout decades ago. However, the egg survival rate with the methods at that time was very low, which led to reduced numbers of fish to stock. That’s the reason the program was discontinued.

When did Virginia start raising tiger trout again?

Starting in the fall of 2020, Paint Bank Fish Hatchery began the process of creating the eggs for tiger trout. After the eggs hatched they were then shipped to Coursey Springs Fish Culture Station in Bath County to determine their survivability and to be raised to catchable size.

How well are tiger trout doing at Coursey Springs?

Current results indicate that tiger trout enjoyed their stay at Coursey Springs in 2021, but now it’s time for them to make their way to some of Virginia’s Designated Stocked Trout Waters.

Where are tiger trout going to be stocked?

During the 2021–2022 stocking season some of the waters stocked by Coursey Springs will receive tiger trout mixed with other trout typically stocked by DWR. Most of the tiger trout will be stocked during the late winter and early spring.

How will tiger trout impact current trout populations?

Tiger trout are a sterile hybrid of two species that have been stocked for multiple years, brook trout and brown trout. Currently DWR has not seen an impact from similar trout species that have been stocked in Virginia. Tiger trout are not expected to have an impact on current species and may pose less of a threat since they are sterile and cannot reproduce.

Do tiger trout regulations align with all other trout regulations?

Tiger trout regulations are the same as the statewide regulation under Trout Season and Limits in the regulations: “Virginia’s trout season is open year-round and the general statewide limits are six trout per day, no fish less than 7 inches.”

What’s the future of tiger trout stocking in Virginia?

The future of stocking tiger trout in Virginia has yet to be determined. However, DWR already has eggs ready to go for next season to continue the experiment at Coursey Springs. We may decide to expand to additional hatcheries and waters in the future. Planning for a stocking season begins two to three years in advance, so changing the trout species that a hatchery grows and stocks cannot happen quickly.