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Trout Species of Turkey

Trout Species of Turkey

Trout of Anatolia

Turkey is home to the some of the richest diversity of trout in the world. It's unique geography have led to more rapid speciation of its endemic trout species compared to other regions of the world. With a handful of verified species and over a dozen subspecies which may receive their species classification in coming years the opportunities to find one of a kind trout are plentiful.

Next to the diversity of trout, the stream diversity of Turkey is equally unique. From low gradient spring creeks, to streams meandering over sandstone bedrock, down to the steep canyon ravines of the Taurus Mountains, each piece of water offers a different challenge to visiting anglers. Though very few fly anglers exist in Turkey, everything from the small creeks to the larger rivers are brimming with opportunity. 

Fly Fishing Turkey

With river drainages flowing into the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Marmorata, and Persian Gulf, the trout species of Turkey are all relatives of the brown trout family that have been isolated for the millennia. During the previous ice ages, brown trout would migrate to these larger bodies of water each year, similar to that of salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Ocean. This allowed regular gene flow between the brown trout populations. As the ice age came to an end and waters warmed, these trout species were pushed further and further into their streams of origin where they became secluded from their neighbors and began to evolve distinctly. Today there are 4 or 5 notable species of the Salmo genus along with 8-10 notable subspecies of trout. Many of these trout populations have struggled in recent decades due to overfishing and habitat loss but better regulations have been applied to a handful of trout streams adding further protections. Local land owners and fishing advocates are playing a major role in the protecting critical trout habitat and educating the public in order to aid the cultural shift in seeing the importance of the indigenous trout species of Turkey as something more than a food source.

Flathead Trout (Turkish Trout)

Flathead Trout of the Zamanti River

Flathead (Turkish) Trout of Central Turkey

The central part of the country is home to the Turkish Trout, Salmo platycephalus. The Zamanti River runs through the highland plateau of central Anatolia. Several sections of the river still possess healthy populations of these fish which are heavily protected by the locals that hold them in high regard. The river is incredibly scenic, resembling both the spring creeks of the Northern Rockies and gin clear, cerulean streams of the Balkans. The evening hatches of Mayflies and Caddis are a sight to behold along with the dozens of rising trout emerging from the holes scattered throughout the endless beds of vegetation only to disappear again into the glass like water. These trout once grew to sizes greater than 24". The sizes have been seen less in recent years, but population numbers are still quite healthy in some areas. 

Tigris Trout

Tigris Trout

Tigris Trout of southeastern Turkey

Moving to the southeast, anglers can find one of the most unique fisheries in the world. The Tigris River and Euphrates River are home to the only trout species native to an Indian Ocean drainage. These rivers are renowned as the cradle of human civilization. The headwaters of the Tigris River begin around the base of the Biblical Mount Ararat and are home the Tigris trout, Salmo tigridis. This area is extremely remote with the exception to the small towns of Van and Catak. Despite the political strife and proxy wars that have plagued the region on and off for the past century, the trout populations continue to persist. The best word to describe the endlessly rolling hills in this region is desolate. With very few signs of human habitation for miles and miles, the headwaters of the Tigris River  are inspiring for any visitor. The Tigris trout was no easy prize as their numbers are scarce within the river. After weeding through dozens of unwanted shiners in a headwater stream the smaller trout seen on the left in the picture above managed to grab my dry fly before the pesky shiners. 

Euphrates Trout

Euphrates Trout

Munzur Trout (Left) Euphrates Trout (Right)

The Euphrates watershed is much larger than the Tigris to the west. Here the Euphrates trout, Salmo euphrateus, and the Munzur Trout, Salmo munzuricus, can be found in several large tributaries. The Munzur Trout is likely a subspeices of the Euphrates trout but each are aesthetically unique. The Munzur River likely held the largest trout populations on this journey and attracts more tourism of any of the trout streams Turkish trout call home. Daily hatches occur each morning and again in the evening on the Munzur River, making timing important for visiting anglers. Large mayflies and caddis make for easy meals at these times. The deep runs and swift currents make angling for lethargic trout awaiting the next hatch incredibly difficult,

It has become increasingly difficult to find the Euphrates trout in the other headwater tributaries. The construction of several new dams has added to the loss of habitat along several once populated stretches.

Caspian Trout

Caspian Trout

Caspian Trout (Left) Aras Trout (Right) of northeastern Turkey

The Northwest region of Turkey is home to the Caspian Sea drainages, The trout that inhabit these rivers are still classified as subspecies of brown trout along with there brothers in Iran, Georgia, and Armenia. The rivers and headwater streams that the Caspian trout (Salmo caspius), and Aras trout (Salmo arasensis) call home resemble gardens more than trout streams. These desert oasis streams are covered in vegetation with blooming plants and aromatic herbs both lining and filling the streams throughout spring and summer. The trout here are incredibly spooky but quite willing to eat a streamer or well drifted scud pattern if left undisturbed. 

Coruh Trout

The Black Sea drainages are home to the Coruh, Rize and Abant Trout. The Coruh Trout, Salmo coruhensis, is found in the headwater streams of the Coruh River just north of Erzurum, Turkey. The Coruh Trout has some of the most spectacular patterns and coloration of any member of the Salmo genus. Their dorsal fins are speckled with vibrant red spots. The upper tributaries of the Coruh River are divided by a series of narrow reserviors that fill the bottom of the steep canyon in which the river runs. The smaller creeks where the largest populations can be found are an endless series of small falls and plunge pools where the trout can hide and wait for passing meals. Unlike many of the other Turkish trout, the Coruh and Rize trout are willing to eat dry flies off of the surface all hours of the day. Caddis are the most common insect along these creeks and can insight a flurry of activity when hatching. 

Coruh and Rize Trout

Coruh Trout (Left) Rize Trout ( Far Right) 

Rize Trout

The Rize Trout, Salmo rizeensis, share the Coruh River with the Coruh trout but can also be found within the Rize River headwaters. The two have some key differences but are likely to be morphs or subspecies of one another. Their behaviors within the stream seemed to be quite similar and the occupied the same stretches of water. 

Abant Trout

Abant Trout

Abant Trout of Northern Turkey

Though the Abant Trout, Salmo abanticus, is still considered to be a subspecies of brown trout, it may be one of the most unique trout in Turkey in both appearance and behavior. Originally native to Lake Abant and some nearby drainages, the Abant trout has been stocked in a dozen or so alpine lakes around northern Turkey. Like many of the trout species occupying stillwaters, the Abant is quite difficult to catch for much of the year. The high skies common in Turkey aren't optimal for brown trout who thrive in low light conditions, often pushing them deeper during the day. The Turkish lakes they inhabit are brimming with life leaving the Abant plenty of food options. From abundant caddis and  mayflies to tadpoles, grasshoppers, and freshwater shrimp their ability to be selective is at its peak in the summer months. 

Ecemis Trout

The Ecemis trout, Salmo labecula, is one of four unique species/subspecies to be found in the drainages of the Mediterranean Sea. Aesthetically the Ecemis trout looks very similar to your typical brown trout. Behaviorally the trout was somewhat odd. Upon my visit, the trout would burry itself deep under cover or undercut banks, unwilling to move on any fly pattern that would float by. However, the trout was incredibly susceptible to the vibration or flash of a passing streamer. Hopefully it was likely due to such a small sample size, but this was one of those fish that left me scratching my head and rethinking my angling methods.  

Ecemis and Alakir Trout

Ecemis Trout (Left) Alakir Trout (Right)

Alakir Trout

The Alakir Trout, Salmo kottelati most closely resembles the Mediterranean and Adriatic trouts. It can be found in the small streams Northwest of the city of Antalya in the southwest corner of the country. Limited to small sections of headwater streams their overall numbers are relatively low. Protected by locals who keep a close eye on their local streams, they are quite abundant and eager to eat a fly in the stretches they occupy. 

Goksu Trout

Goksu Trout

Goksu Trout of Southern Turkey

Another of the more aesthetically unique trout of Turkiye is the Goksu Trout, Salmo okmusi. A truly beautiful trout that lives in some of the most scenic streams in the country. Many of the streams in this south central region of the country are quite rural which has allowed the population of the Goksu Trout to hold strong with some individuals exceeding 24''. With a diet of insects, small fishes, and plenty of grasshoppers blowing onto the water from the perpetual breeze allow these to sustain their numbers and grow large. 

Trout Fishing Turkey

With additional help from locals and other anglers looking to protect the trout of Turkey, there is no doubt that it can one day be a world class fishery and a must see destination for anglers all over the world. 

A special thanks to Birol Tangut, Tuncay Uyanik, and the many other anglers and citizens of Turkey who were kind enough to join and assist on our adventure across every corner of Turkey. Few people in the world are as knowledgeable and none care more about the native trout of Turkey than Birol. A master spin fisherman, who managed to land his first trout on the fly during our trip. Hopefully the first of many to come. 

Learn more about the trout species of the planet in our articles on Trout, Salmon, and Char of the World, Trout Species of Southern EuropeTrout Fishing Ireland, Trout Fishing Morocco, Trout Fishing JapanTrout Species of Patagonia, and Trout Species of North America. Our detailed articles on What Do Trout Eat, Fly Fishing a Hatch, and Fly Fishing Streamers will give you a great idea on how to target each of these species.

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