If you’re a fish lover, then you’ve most likely tried a multitude of different types of fish. There are others who want to like fish, but they just aren’t sure what to try or what the differences between the various types of fish are.
Trout and salmon are both fairly common types of fish, probably some of the most common fish used for cooking. They are easily accessible and both are pretty versatile.
However, many people confuse them or struggle to tell them apart.
So what is the difference between trout and salmon? One of the most notable differences between trout and salmon is that a trout is a freshwater fish, while a salmon is a saltwater fish. Salmon also has a higher fat content than trout and is richer in flavor.
In this guide, we will walk you through an ultimate comparison guide of trout vs. salmon.
Our goal will be to provide you with identifying information for both of these types of fish and help you understand just how different they really are in the end.
The Difference Between Trout and Salmon
Our goal with this guide is to help you differentiate between two types of fish that are often seen as being the same or nearly the same. Interestingly enough, these fish are actually very different.
To give you an idea of how we plan to organize this guide, we will first start by covering various details about trout and then we will follow up with the same details about salmon.
Once we get through them individually, we will wrap up with an overview that brings the major differences together for you.
There are quite a few different types of trout out there.
These fish come from freshwater locations like rivers, lakes, and streams. If you’re going fishing at a nearby lake or river, you just might be catching trout while you’re there.
In general appearance, trout tend to be round and thick with a round head. They are typically heavily spotted, a defining feature.
The tail of a trout is square or convex in shape and tends to be broad. Their meat is slightly fatty and leans towards a vivid red or orange color.
Where Is Trout From?
Trout and salmon are considered to be closely related as far as fish go.
There are a couple of types of trout, like the rainbow trout and steelhead trout, that sometimes spend the early parts of their lives in seawater before migrating to freshwater.
For the most part, trout are found in clear lakes and streams at fairly cool temperatures. If you head up into any mountainous area and fish the streams and rivers there, you are likely to find trout nearby.
Fishermen commonly find them in clear, shallow water. They feast on minnows, insects, and crawfish. They also hide out in protective areas like vegetation, rocks, and the floor of the water.
Trout is a populous fish. You are not limited to just a few states or locations to fish for them.
Here are some of the top trout fishing destinations:
- Roscoe, New York
- Missoula, Montana
- Patagonia, South America
- South Africa
- Pyrenees Mounts, Spain
- Yellowstone, Wyoming or Montana
- Grayling, Michigan
- Glenwood Springs, Colorado
- Mountain Home, Arkansas
- Asheville, North Carolina
- South Holston, Tennessee
- Redding, California
- Kobuk River, Alaska
- Connecticut River, New Hampshire
These are just a few of the top locations but it is not an all-inclusive list. What you will notice is that most of these areas are clear areas that have cool water. They are often mountainous regions.
Trout Cooking Tips & Flavor Expectations
Let’s talk about the best way to cook trout and what kind of flavor you might experience. Remember that there are several different types of trout out there and the flavors can vary depending on the type of trout.
Trout is slightly bland and tastes more similar to catfish. It can have a slightly gamey flavor, but for the most part, the flavor is very mild and the texture of the meat is considered delicate.
Here are a few trout dishes you may want to give a try:
- Breaded pan-fried fillets
- Pan-seared and seasoned trout
- Trout in garlic lemon butter and herb sauce
- Stuff the inside of the trout with lemon, butter, and parsley and wrap it in foil to bake
- Lemon & parsley grilled trout
- Trout with mushrooms, scallions, and onions
- Smoked trout
- Trout with orange-saffron sauce
- Roasted trout with potatoes and asparagus
We’ve mentioned that trout has a pretty mild flavor. However, because of its neutral flavors, it soaks up the seasonings you put on it and goes with a wide variety of different ingredients.
Feel free to experiment with your trout seasonings and change it up from time to time!
Trout Bone Removal
When it comes to filleting trout, it is recommended that you fillet with the skin intact.
When you have removed the spine and most of the ribs, you can run your fingers along the meat, where you will feel small bones sticking out, and be able to remove them with a pair of tweezers.
Work to cut the section of meat that contains the bones without affecting the rest of the meat. The key here is to not waste any meat.
Here are some tips for removing trout bones:
- Make your first cut to separate the ribs from the spine starting at the head and moving to the tail. Your angle will be facing towards the back of the fish. Cut clear down to the skin but do not cut the skin. Repeat on the other side and remove the spine.
- You can then wedge your knife in between the meat and ribs and gently move in and out, separating the layer of bones as you move down.
- Remove this layer of bones and use tweezers to remove any tiny bones you can feel with your fingers.
Alternatively, you can cut the ribs and spine out all at once, but it will be harder to find the right spot to insert your blade between the ribs and the meat.
You could also choose to use an electric knife for filleting your fish, which may prove to be much easier.
Whether or not you leave the skin on will depend on how you prefer to cook your trout. It is more common to cook trout with the skin on.
Nutritional Content of Trout
Trout is considered to be fairly high in calories for a fish. It typically has about 111 calories per fillet (79g) of trout.
Trout is high in protein content with close to 16g of protein for every 79g fillet. Trout contains 1.1g of saturated fat for every 79g of trout. Trout does not contain any significant levels of trans fat, which is a bonus.
Trout is a great source of vitamins A, C, D, and E.
When it comes to the various B vitamins, trout contains significant amounts of the most popular B vitamins that are watched for, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
Trout contains nearly 20mg of calcium per 79g fillet. It is fairly high in calcium levels. Trout is also high in potassium, with 298mg of potassium per 79g of trout.
Trout has high levels of omega-3 as well, and significant amounts of DHA and EPA. It also has more linoleic acid from omega-6 than salmon does.
Much like trout, there are several different types of salmon.
Salmon comes from the ocean, which, of course, is quite different from the freshwater streams trout call home.
Salmon and trout do come from the same fish family. For the most part, salmon are born in freshwater and then migrate to saltwater. They sometimes return to freshwater to lay eggs.
Where trout are more round and thick in build, salmon are slender and long. They have sharper, angled heads than trouts, but their tails are very similarly shaped.
Additionally, salmon have little to no spots on their skin, while trout have a lot of spots.
Salmon meat is much fattier than trout meat, giving it a stronger, richer flavor. It is also a very orange color, which is why pinkish-orange shades are often referred to as “salmon.”
Where Is Salmon From?
Salmon is one of the most popular choices of fish in the nation. It has hearty nutrition and is not as gamey in flavor as trout.
Salmon is actually labeled as the 3rd most consumed seafood in the USA. Shrimp and tuna are the only seafood options that beat salmon.
Catching salmon is not as simple as grabbing your line and bait and making your way to the river. Catching salmon may require specific gear and time.
Since salmon are sometimes found in freshwater (during spawning season) and salt water, where you fish may make a difference as well.
If you’re thinking about fishing for your own salmon, you may need to do your research because the best places to fish for salmon are in the locations where they make their runs from saltwater to freshwater.
There are some great salmon fishing locations.
Here are a few recommendations to add to your list:
- Iceland Rivers
- Kola Peninsula, Russia
- New Hampshire
- New Zealand
- Great Lakes – New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania
- South Dakota
Remember that this is not an all-inclusive list, but popular and highly recommended destinations for salmon fishing.
Salmon Cooking Tips & Flavor Expectations
The flavor of salmon could vary quite a bit depending on the type of salmon and whether it’s caught in freshwater or saltwater.
Salmon usually has a rich flavor because of its fat content. You can expect a fairly strong flavor from salmon, although it is not usually described as gamey.
As far as cooking goes, salmon is fairly oily and flavorful, but you may want to add some herbs and butter. It’s completely up to you. You can grill, pan-sear, roast, bake, and more.
Here are a few delicious options for cooking salmon:
- Foil-wrapped with lemon, butter, and parsley
- Honey garlic salmon
- Lemon, butter, and rosemary salmon
- Pan-fried salmon (breaded or not breaded)
- Lightly seasoned and broiled
- Poached salmon
- Salmon with basil cream sauce
- Salmon with mango, and peach glaze
There are many ways to make salmon. These are just a few options to try out!
Salmon Bone Removal
If you have freshly caught salmon or you buy whole salmon rather than frozen or already filleted salmon, it’s important to know how to fillet salmon and remove the bones.
In order to complete this process, you need a good, stable working space and a sharp and sturdy knife.
While you can use a typical fillet knife, some experts recommend using a straight knife that has a very stiff blade instead.
This type of knife is easier to control if your fish has any type of size to it and you won’t waste nearly as much meat during the process.
Before you start, you should remove the head and tail. If you’ve caught your fish yourself, you will, of course, also need to clean your fish of everything but the meat as well.
Here are some tips for deboning a salmon:
- Set the fish with the top side facing you and the head on the right end.
- Use one hand to hold the belly flap out of the way and insert the knife in the head-end on the upper side of the spine.
- Continue to hold the flap with one hand while using the other hand to slide the knife along the spine of the fish. Move in and out like you would with a saw. Hold the knife tilted just slightly toward the tail.
- As you work your way down the fish, you may need to release the flap and brace the fish about midway down its body to have a firm grip. Continue to the end to complete your first fillet.
- Flip the fish over with the belly side up and the head to the right end.
- Follow the same cutting steps and concepts on this side of the fish to remove this side from the spine and complete your second fillet.
- To remove the collar, cut a vertical line about 1/4 inch from the head. You can use this meat; it just makes removing the bones easier.
- Slide your knife underneath the rib bones and angle the blade upwards into the bones. You will have to move delicately in sweeping motions to separate the ribs from the meat without wasting your meat.
- Afterward, use tweezers to remove the ribs that you weren’t able to cut out.
This is not a comprehensive tutorial for deboning and preparing your fish fillets, but a loose guideline of tips to follow.
Nutritional Content of Salmon
A fillet of salmon has approximately 208 calories per 100g of salmon. It’s not a huge difference, but if you want the lower-calorie option, trout is the choice for you.
Like trout, salmon is high in protein. Salmon offers almost 20g of protein per 100g of salmon. It is rich in protein and nutrients, which is why it is considered a healthy meal choice.
Salmon has some saturated fat, measuring about 3.1g per 100g of salmon.
Salmon is a valuable source of vitamins and minerals. Some of the vitamins in salmon are less than that of trout but a reasonable amount overall.
Just like trout, salmon has significant levels of vitamins A, C, D, and E.
The B vitamins are also covered with salmon. The numbers are very similar between these two fish. Salmon does contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12.
Salmon does contain some calcium as well as iron. Calcium is approximately 9mg per 100g of salmon. Iron is about 0.3mg per 100g of salmon, almost identical to trout.
Salmon is excellent for potassium and contains about 363mg of potassium per 100g. Finally, salmon offers a rich variety of omegas that are an important part of nutrition.
Salmon is known for its omega content, including DHA, EPA, linoleic acid, and other omega-3s and omega-6s.
Summary Comparison Review – Trout vs. Salmon
As we close out our comparison of trout and salmon, let’s review the major differences.
Trout is typically a freshwater fish, located in cool and clean locations while salmon is known to be a saltwater fish.
You catch salmon when they are migrating and this could be in freshwater. The methods for catching these fish are very different.
Salmon has a much stronger but less gamey flavor than trout. Trout has a neutral and delicate flavor comparatively.
Salmon and trout are also quite different in appearance. Where salmon is long and slender with pointed features and no spots, trout has a lot of spots and has more rounded features from head to fin.
The process of filleting, deboning, and preparing these fish is also very similar, but you will likely have larger bones to deal with when it comes to salmon, and trout bones can be hard to see and get lost in the meat.
Their nutritional content is similar, but salmon is higher in fat and higher in calories. Both have promising nutritional value.