Brook trout profile



Fly  Fishing things


]]> ]]>Brook Trout Profile. Back to ProfilesFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to:navigation,search Brook troutScientific classificationKingdom:AnimaliaPhylum:ChordataClass:ActinopterygiiOrder:SalmoniformesFamily:SalmonidaeGenus:SalvelinusSpecies:S. fontinalisBinomial nameSalvelinus fontinalis
(Mitchill, 1814) [1]

The brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), sometimes called the eastern brook trout, is aspecies offish in thesalmonfamily oforderSalmoniformes. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. Apotamodromous population inLake Superior is known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters. Though commonly called atrout, the brook trout is actually achar, along withlake trout,bull trout,Dolly Varden and theArctic char. The brook trout is the state fish for eight states:Michigan,New Hampshire,New Jersey,New York,Pennsylvania,Vermont,Virginia andWest Virginia

Thespecific epithetfontinalis” comes from theLatin for “of or from a spring or fountain”.

Distribution and habitat

The brook trout inhabits small streams, creeks, lakes, and spring ponds. Some brook trout, referred to as sea-run brook trout, areanadromous. Brook trout are native to a wide area of easternNorth America, but increasingly confined to higher elevations southward in theAppalachian Mountains to northernGeorgia,Canada from theHudson Bay basin east, theGreat LakesSaint Lawrence system, and the upperMississippi River drainage as far west as easternIowa.[2]

The typicalpH range of brook trout waters is 5.0 to 7.5, with pH extremes of 3.5 to 9.8 possible.[3] Water temperatures typically range from 34 to 72 °F (1 to 22 °C).

Description releasing brookieBrook trout from lake inWyoming’sWind River Range

This species is green to brown in basic colour, with a distinctive marbled pattern (called vermiculations) of lighter shades across the flanks and back and extending at least to thedorsal fin, and often to the tail. A distinctive sprinkling of red dots, surrounded by blue haloes, occur along the flanks. The belly and lower fins are reddish in color, the latter with white leading edges. Often, the belly, particularly of the males, becomes very red or orange when the fish are spawning. The species reaches a maximum recorded length of 86 cm (33 in) and a maximum recorded weight of 6.6 kg (14.5 lb). It can reach at least seven years of age, with reports of 15 year old specimens observed inCalifornia habitats to which the species has been introduced. Typical lengths vary from 25 to 65 cm (10 to 26 in), and weights vary from 0.3 to 3.0 kg (0.7 to 7.0 lb). trout in tankCaptive brook trout in aquarium

Environmental requirements

S. fontinalis prefers clear waters of high purity and a narrowpH range in lakes, rivers, and streams, being sensitive to poor oxygenation, pollution, and changes in pH caused by environmental effects such asacid rain. Its diverse diet includescrustaceans,frogs and otheramphibians,insects,molluscs, smaller fish, invertebrates, and even small aquatic mammals such asvoles. It provides food forseabirds and suffers attack bylampreys. The brook trout is a short-lived species, rarely surviving beyond four or five years in the wild.

Individuals normally spend their entire lives infresh water, but some—colloquially called “salters” or “sea-run”—may spend up to three months at sea in the spring, not straying more than a few kilometres from the river mouth. The fish return upstream to spawn in the late summer or autumn. The female constructs a depression in a location in thestream bed, sometimes referred to as a “redd”, wheregroundwater percolates upward through the gravel. One or more males approaches the female, fertilizing the eggs as the female expresses them. The eggs are slightly denser than water. The female then buries the eggs in a small gravel mound; they hatch in 95 to 100 days.

A potamodromous population of brook trout native to Lake Superior, which run into inflowing rivers to spawn, are called “coasters”. Coasters tend to be larger than most other populations of brook trout, often reaching 2-3 kg in size. Many coaster populations have been severely damaged byoverfishing and habitat alterations, especially by the construction ofhydroelectric power dams, on their inflowing streams. InOntario andMichigan, efforts are underway to restore and recover coaster populations.

Angling and commercial use

Fly troutcrappiehucho taimenlargemouth bassnorthern pikepeacock bassshoal basssmallmouth bassmore fly fish…other sport fish…


I N D E trout taking fly.Brook trout chasing anartificial fly from American Fishes (1903)[4]

The brook trout is a popular game fish withanglers, particularlyfly fishermen. Today, many anglers practicecatch-and-release tactics to preserve remaining populations, and organizations such asTrout 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 and contaminated waters.

Partially as a result of its popularity as agame fish, the brook trout has beenintroduced in some areas to which it was not originally native, and has become established widely throughout the world. In some parts of the world, it has had a harmful effect on native species, and is a potential pest.

Hybrids group of brookiesTiger trout

Brook trout can sometimeshybridise with other species, both natural and artificial hybrids are known. Native populations ofbull trout (S. confluentus) are in danger of hybridization with introduced brook trout in thePacific Northwest.[5]

Tiger trout

One such intergeneric hybrid, between the brook trout and thebrown trout (genusSalmo) is thetiger trout. Tiger trout occur very rarely naturally, but are sometimes artificiallypropagated. Such crosses are almost always reproductivelysterile. They are popular with many fish stocking programs because they can grow quickly, and may help keep rough fish populations in check due to their highly piscivorous (fish-eating) nature.[6]


A less frequent natural hybrid is thesplake, a hybrid between the brook trout andlake trout. Although uncommon in nature, some jurisdictions artificially propagate splake in substantial numbers for stocking into brook trout or lake trout habitats. An example would be in Ontario, where bothF1 splake and the lake trout backcross have been planted for several years.[7] The backcross is the result of an F1 splake male being crossed with a female lake trout (i.e., 75% lake trout and 25% brook trout).

Although splake were first described in 1880, Ontario began experimenting with the hybrids in the 1960s in an effort to replace collapsed lake trout stocks in theGreat Lakes. Due to mediocre results, the experiment never really progressed beyondGeorgian Bay. The theory was that splake would grow more quickly and mature sooner than lake trout with the hope that they would be able to reproduce before being attacked by theinvasivesea lamprey. Unfortunately, although splake are relatively unusual among hybrids in that they are fertile, fertility in nature is behaviourally problematic—very few natural progeny are produced by introduced splake populations.

After some experimentation in the late 1970s, stocking in the Great Lakes and, especially, in Georgian Bay, was converted entirely to the so-called lake trout backcross in the early 1980s. Although the backcross program did succeed in creating some localised angling opportunities, it never achieved any degree of success in terms of natural reproduction—the backcross was only marginally better at reproducing than was the F1 splake. The F1 splake has proved to be a success, however, in providing angling opportunities in smaller lakes and most of the planting of splake in Ontario now goes to those situations. In the first of two cases, former brook trout waters which have become infested with spiny-rayed fish to the point where they no longer produce brook trout are stocked with splake. The splake grow more quickly than do wild-strain brook trout and becomepiscivorous at a younger age and, hence, are more tolerant of competitors than are brook trout. In the second case, relatively small lake trout lakes that experienced poorrecruitment due to insufficient deep-water juvenile lake trout habitat will support fairly good splake fisheries, since splake are less dependent on extreme deep water than are the lake trout and they grow more quickly, providing a better return to anglers. In both cases, due to the behavioural sterility of splake, all such fisheries are entirely dependent on artificial propagation.

Human-caused habitat destruction brook trout pictureDrawing of a brook trout fromJohn Treadwell Nichols‘s Fishes of the Vicinity of New York City (1918) noting that the fish is now uncommon in the New York City area

Brook trout populations depend on cold, clear, well-oxygenated water of high purity. As early as the late 19th century, native brook trout in North America becameextirpated from many watercourses as land development, forest clear-cutting, and industrialization took hold. Streams and creeks that were polluted, dammed, or silted up often became too warm to hold native brook trout, and were colonized by transplantedsmallmouth bass andperch or other introduced salmonids such asbrown andrainbow trout. The brown trout, a species not native to North America, has replaced the brook trout in much of the brook trout’s native water. Brook trout populations, if already stressed by overharvest or by temperature, are very susceptible to damage by the introduction of exogenous species. Manylacustrine populations of brook trout have been extirpated by the introduction of other species, particularlypercids, but sometimes otherspiny-rayed fishes.

In addition to chemical pollution and algae growth caused by runoff containing chemicals and fertilizers, air pollution has also been a significant factor in the disappearance of brook trout from their native habitats. In the United States, acid rain caused by air pollution has resulted in pH levels too low to sustain brook trout in all but the highest headwaters of some Appalachian streams and creeks.[8] Brook trout populations across large parts of eastern Canada have been similarly challenged; a subspecies known as theaurora trout was extirpated from the wild by the effects of acid rain.[9]

Today, in many parts of the range, efforts are underway to restore brook trout to those waters that once held native populations, stocking other trout species only in habitats that can no longer be recovered sufficiently to sustain brook trout populations.


The current world angling record brook trout was caught by Dr. W. J. Cook on the Nipigon River, Ontario, in July 1915. The 31 inch (79 cm) trout weighed only 14.5 lbs (6.6 kg) because, at the time of weighing, it was badly decomposed after 21 days in the bush without refrigeration. This is the longest-standing angling world record.[10] A 29 inch (74 cm) brook trout, caught in October 2006 in Manitoba, is not eligible for record status since it was released alive.[11]



Copyright© 2011  All rights reserved