Answer Man: Something fishy going on

Kamloops' trout has a new paint job, including a bright red tongue.

Kamloops’ trout has a new paint job, including a bright red tongue.

Dear Answer Man,

Question for the Answer Man: Who carved the cedar trout on display at the Kamloops tourist information centre and why is it being painted?


Dear Trish,

I’ve heard from several people who are curious about the trout. Some of them aren’t crazy about the colours.

Question markThe trout was installed in 1993, the year the City celebrated its 100th year since incorporation and the same year it hosted the World Flyfishing Championships. Somebody donated a tree, and a carvers’ guild that included Ed Ferner, Bruce Hulbert, Dave Rolston, Willy Wilkinson, Vern Smith, Art Tremblay and Gerry Watson produced the work, which for years was left in its beautiful original wood colour on top of a big silver cone (now painted blue).

The trout is 15 ft. (4.5 m.) long, 43 inches (1.1 m.) in diameter and weighs 1,243 lbs. (565 kg.) It’s kind of famous; I think it even showed up in a Tim Hortons commercial for a split second.

Tourism Kamloops CEO Lee Morris says that, over the years, the trout began to show wear and tear. Woodpeckers did some carving of their own, creating a hole in the tail, while other birds nested in its mouth. Various patching jobs were to no avail.

The City, which owns the trout, decided to do a major reno on it and have it repainted, so they hired artist Adam Jensen to do the work. It is, shall we say, bright. “It’s an artist’s rendition,” Morris offers.

One reader put it this way, “Did you know that our local trout have big red tongues, are red and silver and green? Me neither, must be a new variety…. Apparently somebody didn’t do any research. Very embarrassing.”


Oncorhynchus mykiss. (

The scaffolding has been removed and the new paint job looks like it’s finished, though there are still some barricades around it; the project took a couple of months.

In my view, it doesn’t look so bad. In fact, I think it could grow on you. Here’s an official picture of a Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Compare it to the new paint job on the carving, and judge for yourself.

There’s a strain of Rainbow Trout called the Kamloops Trout (Salmo Kamloops) or Kamloops Fighting Trout that became renowned for its stamina, strength and size. It has several physical characteristics, including a bigger head and more pronounced camouflage spots, that are different than your basic Kamloops Trout, but one line of scientific thinking says it’s due to environmental conditions rather than genetics. There’s an excellent article on the Kamloops Trout by Ron Newman on





And about the tongue. The tongue was always there; it just wasn’t so obvious because it was brown like the rest of the carving.

Do fish have tongues? My research says they don’t have real tongues, but do have something that looks like a tongue. It’s a bony structure called a basihyal. It has no taste buds and its purpose isn’t entirely clear.  But it looks good on the carving.


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About Mel Rothenburger (9238 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on Answer Man: Something fishy going on

  1. I think it looks great and much more eye-catching! You actually notice it now when driving by and it makes you want to pull over and take a photo!

  2. Noeline kerr // September 6, 2014 at 1:20 PM // Reply

    It’s fine, natural wood preferred but people need to chill!

  3. Embarrassing? Lighten up people. It looks fantastic! Great job

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