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Do Trout Have Scales?

Trout are a large and diverse family of fish. Across the globe, they come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. Looking at some specimens that are especially tiny or smooth-textured, it can be difficult to see any scales on the fish’s skin.

trout scales

You may be wondering, “do trout have scales?” After all, some fish species, such as catfish, naturally grow skin without scales. Is this the case for trout? If so, do you need to remove them before eating the fish?

Are Trout Scaly Fish?

All members of the trout and salmon family have scales, although they may be quite small depending on the specimen. Trout scales grow as the fish matures, collecting a pattern of rings similar to a tree trunk. You can even tell a fish’s age by examining a sample of its scales. 

person holding fresh caught trout

In the wild, trout skin and scales are covered by a type of mucus, or fish slime, that the fish secretes. This coating smooths over the scaly outer texture, allowing the fish to quickly dart through water with less drag.

The mucus and scales also help with respiration and work to keep out harmful bacteria and fungi from the environment.

On smaller fish, the scales may be so subtle that you can leave them on when preparing trout as a meal. If you’re dealing with a larger catch over a foot long, you can use a knife to shave off the scales before cooking and eating your trout.

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