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Brook Trout

Brook Trout
Other Names: 
Coaster Trout
Scientific Name: 
Salvelinus fontinalis

The brook trout is one of the most colorful of the trout species. The brook trout is actually a char, characterized by light spots on a dark background. The back is dark green with pale wavy lines; some people these as worm-like markings. The sides are a purple sheen with blue-haloed red spots. There are no black spots on this fish. The pelvic, pectoral and anal fins have white leading edges.

Originally native to the eastern U.S. and Canada, the brook trout have been introduced into many US waters in the early 1900's. They are now found in many of our streams and lakes.

The brook trout spawns in October and the eggs hatch in the spring. They can first spawn when they are 18 months old and only three inches long. This feature causes many brook trout populations to overcrowd their habitat resulting in individuals becoming stunted in size.

Fish Habits: 

The diet of the brook trout is extremely variable as it includes invertebrates, insects, and fish. Because of this varied diet, many different fishing techniques can take brook trout.

The brook trout is a popular game fish with anglers, particularly fly fishermen. Today, many anglers practice catch-and-release tactics to preserve remaining brook trout populations, and organizations such as Trout Unlimited have been in the forefront of efforts to institute air and water quality standards sufficient to protect the brook trout. Revenues derived from the sale of fishing licenses have been used to restore many sections of creeks and streams to brook trout habitat.

Brook trout are also commercially raised in large numbers for food production, being sold for human consumption in both fresh and smoked forms. Because of its dependence on pure water and a variety of aquatic and insect life forms, the brook trout is also used for scientific experimentation in assessing the effects of pollution.

Adult Size: 

Typical length: 25 to 65 cm (10 to 26 in). Typical weight: 0.3 to 3 kg (11 oz to 7 lb).

Fishing Tactics: 

Small spinners or spoons are often quite effective, as are both wet and dry flies. Worms also work quite well.

To catch brook trout, the lure should be placed close to cover, such as submerged logs or undercut banks.

Once the fish has been hooked, it is important to get it into open water as brook trout are notorious for tangling the angler's line around logs and rocks.


The brook trout is native to small streams, creeks, lakes, and spring ponds. Some brook trout are anadromous. It is native to a wide area of eastern North America but increasingly confined to higher elevations southward in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia, Canada from the Hudson Bay basin east, the Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence system, and the upper Mississippi River drainage as far west as eastern Iowa.

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