Trout Fish vs. Catfish

Trout fish and catfish are two of the most popular freshwater game fish species in America for consumption and recreation. An easy way to tell them apart is by physical appearance – trout have scales and a spotted pattern on their backs, while catfish lack scales and sport whisker-like appendages. Trout also tend to inhabit colder waters than catfish.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a few ways to tell the difference between trout fish and catfish based on their anatomy, their differences in habitat preference, as well as the differences in taste and health benefits between the two species. 

Anatomy — Trout Fish vs. Catfish


There are a few distinctive anatomical characteristics to tell trout fish and catfish apart from each other. Catfish are usually dull brown or gray in color and do not possess scales. They also have notable whiskery appendages called barbels which they use to sense prey in muddy bottoms. 

Trout fish, however, possess scales, and some species, especially rainbow trout, are known for very their brilliant coloring of pinks, greens, and browns. Most trout species also have distinctive spots on their backs which help distinguish them from other fish species. 

Habitat — Trout Fish vs. Catfish

While both catfish and trout fish can be found in various freshwater habitats such as lakes and rivers, catfish prefer warmer water areas and trout fish tend to dwell in cooler water. Catfish will swim closer to shore during the winter months seeking warmer water and are known to inhabit muddy bottoms as that’s where they often feed.

Trout fish, however, feed within the water column and can be found near the bottom but in clearer, cooler waters because they rely on their eyesight to find prey. Both catfish and trout fish can be found in waters on the American continents as well as in Europe. 

Trout fish are also abundant in New Zealand and Asia, while catfish are additionally found in Africa. 

What Does Trout Taste Like?

When looking at trout you may think they look like a codfish, but does trout taste like cod? Whereas cod can retain a fishy flavor and is very flaky and light, trout fish tastes a lot like catfish. 

Both have a very mild, subdued flavor that is not very fishy at all. Trout also is a bit fattier than cod so as to retain that gamey taste.

If catfish and trout fish taste about the same, which fish is the healthiest to eat? Trout takes the cake in the health department due to its fatty nature. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids which is great for the eyes, brain, and muscles. 

Catfish, on the other hand, is a bit leaner and while it provides a good source of protein, doesn’t offer the added health benefits trout fish can. 


Overall, both trout fish and catfish are great species to fish and are found in abundance across the world. Their habitats differ due to temperature preferences and their distinctive physical features make them easy to tell apart. Although they taste similar, if you’re looking for the healthiest option to catch for dinner, trout is the way to go!

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