There are human beings that grow to reach heights of seven feet. Just not many.
That’s the way nature works.
It’s the same with blue trout.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission grows millions of trout in its hatcheries every year, including browns, brooks, rainbows and goldens. It also occasionally sees blue trout.
They’re exceedingly rare – one in every million eggs collected wouldn’t be an exaggeration, said Harry Wade, manager of the Reynoldsdale hatchery in Bedford County – but they do show up.
What they are is trout with some kind of anomaly that negatively impacts their ability to create a normal coloration. Some have suggested a thyroid deficiency is the cause.
Whatever, they turn out sky blue.
Brown, rainbow and brook trout can all turn up blue on occasion, though blue brooks are especially uncommon.
“I think I’ve only ever seen two,” said Wade.
They can get big. It’s long gone now, but at one time, in the now-closed Big Spring hatchery, the commission has a blue rainbow that grew to more than 21 pounds. It would have been a state record by more than five pounds
But that only happens with help.
Wade said blue trout don’t fare well in competition with other trout in hatcheries. Some get cannibalized; others just wither. They have to be separated out for a while if they’re to survive.
The commission does that, and grows a few to large sizes when possible, to put into display tanks for people to see. There are a couple at Reynoldsdale now, for example.
The commission never stocks any, however. Not on purpose anyway. A few have been released by accident over the years, but that’s the exception.
“If we stocked a couple of blue trout in Laurel Hill Creek, for example, someone somewhere else would say, ‘why didn’t we get any?’ And we just can’t supply everybody,” Wade said. “They’re just too rare.”
The commission did try to breed a strain of blue trout decades ago, according to some old agency information. That didn’t work.
Unlike goldens, which are normal rainbows other than their color, blue trout apparently can’t grow mature reproductive organs and thus can’t keep their own blood lines going.
So for now, they’re just something interesting to see.
“They’re different, so people like to get a look at them,” Wade said.
This is a blue brown trout.
This is a blue rainbow trout, swimming among goldens at Reynoldsdale hatchery in Bedford County.