Like most members of the Salmonidae family, Rainbow Trout are found in cold water that’s well oxygenated. While they have a preference for fast moving water, they can also be found in slow moving water, as well as lakes.


Rainbow Trout are found around the world across the entire northern hemisphere and even in some warmer climates in Australia, South America and Africa.


This species is the most widely distributed game fish in the world due partly to their tolerance of water temperature ranges.

Water Temperature Tolerance

There are several reasons for the Rainbow Trout’s ability to spread so successfully across the world. They can survive in lakes and rivers with a temperature range between 32°F to 70°F/0°C to 21°C. This allows them to survive in pretty much any waterway.


Even in the tropics where the water is warm, the water is cold deeper down in the lake allowing Rainbow Trout to survive. Some of these areas do require constant stocking as the rivers and streams are not ideal for spawning. There ideal temperature range for spawning is 55°F to 60°F/12.8°C to 15.6°C.

Canadian Distribution

They’re heavily populated in Canada in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. This makes up much of their original range that stretched from Washington state up to Alaska.

United States Distribution

In the United States, Rainbow Trout can be found in most states along the east including Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and in parts of Montana, Louisiana, and Mississippi.


They’re also found in much of the mountain states and the western states. They’re so popular that it would be easier to name the states that they are not found in. They are least found in the states along the central Mississippi river.

South American Distribution

You’ll find them along the western side of South America in Columbia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. Rainbow Trout is not native to South America.

European Distribution

Rainbow Trout is found heavily populated in Germany, France, Poland, Serbia, Bosnia, Italy, Belgian and Sweden to name a few. They are sparsely populated in Spain and Portugal.