The National Wildlife Federation

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Brook Trout

Brook Trout

Salvelinus fontinalis

Status: Not Listed

Classification: Fish

Description

The brook trout—also called the speckled trout—is a beautifully colored fish with yellow spots over an olive-green back. The spots along the trout’s back are stretched and almost wormlike in shape. Along its sides, the brook trout’s color transitions from olive to orange or red, with scattered red spots bordered by pale blue. Its lower fins are orange or red, each with a white streak and a black streak, and its underside is a milky white. A brook trout usually reaches 9 to 10 inches (23 to 25 centimeters) in length.

Range

Brook trout are found throughout Canada and the northeastern United States. Their range extends as far south as the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and as far west as Minnesota. They are often found in clean, cool mountain streams, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and are most active around dawn and dusk. During the day, brook trout may retreat to deeper waters.

Diet

These fish are extremely opportunistic and eat a variety of insects, often preferring adult and nymph forms of aquatic insects. They will also eat beetles, ants, and small fish when they’re available.

Life History

Brook trout spawn in the fall and hatching occurs in January. By the end of their first summer, juvenile brook trout are typically about three to four inches (7 to 10 centimeters) long. On average, a brook trout lives two to three years.

Conservation

Established populations of brook trout are not generally considered threatened. Floods and droughts are likely the main causes of population changes for brook trout. Overharvesting can also presents a threat to populations of this fish. Additionally, non-native fish that have been stocked in ponds and streams for fishermen are often more aggressive than brook trout and create a risk for this species.

Fun Fact

The brook trout is the only trout in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to have light spots on a dark body—all the rest have dark spots on a light body. This coloration helps to camouflage the brook trout from predators.

Sources

Chesapeake Bay Program

National Park Service

Pocketguide to Eastern Streams, by T. Travis and Shanda Brown

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