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Produce Lesotho trout
Common Name Salmo trutta, Onchorycus mykiss
Variety Brown trout, rainbow trout
Size Largest(18kg, 24-36 inches) Smallest(4.4kg, 10.4 inches)
Season Spring- September to October Autumn- March to May
Storage and Packing Minimum fishing and trawling time Hold fish by head Clean containers, no stress 0-5 degrees Celsius Insulated containers Gas tight packing foils Vacuum pack in pouches
Transport Conditions Refrigerated containers 12degrees Celsius Clean, well-ventilated trucks
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Lesotho’s clear, glassy rivers and beautiful mountains make it a hotspot for fishing activities. Most of its population practice fishing both small scale and large scale for local use and export. The fishing industry in the country has grown tremendously over the past few years following foreign support as well as investment from private sectors. The country’s highland springs offer a favourable climate for the Lesotho trout.

Trout refers to a variety of freshwater fishes that are mostly non-salmonid. Some trout live in freshwater exclusively while a few other species spend a considerable amount of time in the sea and only come to the freshwater rivers and lakes to spawn.

The Onchorus mykiss have different colours and patterns depending on their environment. This variation in colour and pattern is mostly camouflage and tends to change as the fish changes its environment.

Trout have fins but lack spines. They have an adipose fin at the lower back just near the tail. On each side of the anus sits a pelvic fin. They are phystostomes and, as such, have a swim bladder that is connected to the oesophagus. This facilitates rapid gulping and excretion of air. They, however, rely entirely on gills for inhalation of oxygen.

They grow up to a weight of 18kg, depending on the species. The lake trout is the largest kind of trout found in the country and weighs about 18kg with an average length of between 24 and 36 inches long. They are smaller species like the brook trout that weigh about 4.4kg and is approximately 10.4 inches. The sizes of the trout tend to vary also depending on its habitat and environmental conditions. When there is enough for them to feed on, they tend to be larger than when the waters are polluted, and there is little growth of weed for them to feed.

Trout farming was first introduced in Lesotho in the 1880s, mainly for sport fishery. However, in 1960, commercial production began in the country and has developed immensely over time.

There are two main types of trout found in the freshwater bodies in Lesotho. These are the brown trout, also known as the Salmo trutta and the rainbow trout, otherwise known as the onchorycus mykiss. Both types of fish were introduced to the country for recreational fishing purposes. However, as commercial aquaculture developed with time, they were exported to neighbouring countries as well as sold locally.

The life span of both species varies greatly, with the rainbow trout living an average of 7years while the lake trout lives for decades.

Lesotho produces about 300 metric tonnes of trout each year. Most of its production is large trout weighing 1kg and above. This is the standard size that is harvested mostly for commercial purposes.

Fishing of Lesotho trout takes place in the still, freshwater rivers using the wading method.

Trout is most abundant in the spring season, starting September to October and in the autumn season, which is from late March through to the end of May. Trout fishing is at its peak when the water temperatures are between 24 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures higher than this are unfavourable as trout are cold-blooded and will sense high temperatures, thus retreating deeper into the water to protect themselves from scorching temperatures.

Fish is highly perishable due to its high water and protein content. It is therefore vital to take utmost care during harvest, processing and packing of trout for marketing. Bruises generally lead to a decrease in the quality and value of the trout.

It is essential to ensure the nets and lines stay in the water for as little time as possible. On harvesting, the fish are held by the head to avoid bruising thus preserving quality and market value

The fish should be stored in clean containers at temperatures of between 0 and 5 degrees Celsius. They can be packed in gas-tight packing foils or vacuum packed in pouches with protective gases to maintain freshness. They are then put in insulated containers ready for shipping.

To prevent the spread of microbes, micro-organisms that cause spoilage, fish is preserved by either freezing, drying, smoking, or salting. Medium and large scale trout farmers use antimicrobial agents and antioxidants to preserve the trout. The fish is processed to counter factors that otherwise lead to quick spoilage, thus increasing the product shelf life. Top-notch hygiene is observed throughout the whole process.

Lesotho trout are transported to other countries in refrigerated containers in temperatures of -12 degrees Celsius. These containers are also clean and well ventilated to ensure freshness of the product is upheld.

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