What is a Brook Trout?

Fishing - What is a Brook Trout

The brook trout is an American fish species in the family Salmonidae and Order Salmoniformes.

They inhabit cool, clear freshwater streams and rivers as opportunistic feeders.

They feed on insects, zooplankton, crustaceans, worms, and small fish. Predators such as larger trout, herons, kingfishers, and otters may be larger but still feed off insects, zooplankton, crustaceans, worms or small fish.


Brook trout are native to North America, extending from the Appalachian Mountains to Canada. As the only species capable of living in cold water streams, they have long been seen as emblems of pristine wilderness in North America.

These fish can be found in a range of habitats, such as mountain streams, coastal rivers, lakes and ponds. Their size and color may change according to their environment.

Like all salmonids, brook trout feed on aquatic insects and crustaceans. They are anadromous – moving from freshwater to marine environments to spawn.

Brook trout are endangered due to habitat loss and competition with introduced fishes such as brown trout. Furthermore, stream temperature increases due to land use changes and warmer atmospheric conditions pose another threat to these trout.

Therefore, brook trout populations are becoming isolated in the upstream sections of many streams, placing these isolated individuals at risk of extinction.


Brook trout (Salmo fontinalis) is one of America’s most beloved fish species. With a long and storied history with fishermen in this country, they serve as an inspiring symbol of perseverance and adaptability.

They are native to much of the eastern United States, from New Hampshire to Hudson Bay and Minnesota to the Atlantic coastline. Additionally, they can be found in some western streams and have been extensively stocked throughout their range.

Brook trout have a long and storied history, yet face many threats in their natural habitats. These include land use changes, pollution issues, and habitat loss.

Brook trout populations have suffered due to non-native fish species like brown trout, which are larger, can survive warmer water temperatures, and are more aggressive than their native counterparts. As a result, brook trout numbers have drastically declined.

DWR fisheries biologists tag brook trout with electrofishing rods to monitor their movements and patterns and where they live and spawn. This allows them to gain more insight into these aquatic mammals’ habits and habits.

Basic Facts

Brook trout is a common fish in America’s streams and lakes. This cold-water species can be found in small to large lakes, rivers, and beaver ponds.

It is a slow-growing fish, typically reaching nine to ten inches long. Its growth rate and lifespan depend on the amount of food available in streams or lakes, water temperature, and elevation.

They are also prolific breeders, with the season for release of eggs and milt (sperm) depending on where they live. Females create depressions in the gravel substrate with their tail, releasing eggs and milt at once.

The brook trout’s body is long and sleek with a forked tail fin. It also sports a silvery white belly and wormlike markings along the back.

Brook trout are an attractive species in many types of habitats across America. They make for great fishing and hunting targets and were originally native to most of the United States before being introduced elsewhere around the world.


Brook trout are found throughout a range of habitats, from eastern Canada’s Hudson Bay region to Newfoundland in the United States, southward as Georgia in the United States, and west to the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi drainages. The ideal environments for brook trout are small spring-fed streams, ponds, and rivers with cold water temperatures, depth, and enough food sources to sustain multiple-year survival and rapid growth rates.

Brook trout thrive in streams with clear, cold water in sections with adequate depth and cover. This includes resting areas within pools, feeding sites near riffles or swiftly flowing waters, and escape covers such as undercut banks, tree limbs, or large rock ledges.

Brook trout require a variety of habitat features to survive in addition to cold water. Shade from riparian trees and shrubs and prey such as aquatic insects and terrestrial invertebrates, are essential for their success.

Over the past decades, several factors have conspired to decrease brook trout populations. Land use changes such as increased human development and logging practices have caused water temperatures to rise, stressing brook trout. At the same time, these changes are giving brown trout an advantage due to their greater tolerance to higher temperatures.

Brook Trout
Brook Trout


Brook trout feed on a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial insects. They eat everything from frogs and salamanders to midges, caddis flies, mayflies, and nymphs.

They feed on small fish, tadpoles, and worms. They’ll consume salmon or other spawning trout eggs during the fall spawning season.

Brook trout feed on a variety of organisms depending on the environment, time of year, and water temperature. Generally, they’ll consume midges, nymphs, caddis flies, and mayflies during summer.

During the fall spawning season, brook trout will feed on eggs of salmon and other spawning fish, ants, and other small organisms on the water’s surface.

Shrimp is a common bait that brook trout enjoy eating. In cold, clear waters where these trout live, shrimp provide them with essential nutrition. Furthermore, shrimp make excellent lures during spring and fall when flies are hatching.


Brook trout are one of the world’s most beloved game fish. They can be caught using artificial lures such as worms, live bait, or simply casting your line.

Crepuscular fish are active at dawn and dusk, preferring shallow waters in streams, rivers, and lakes.

On average, brook trout live two to three years. Some individuals may live longer than four years, like the giant brook trout recently caught in Canada’s Nipigon River.

Brook trout can display several distinct color patterns. These include dark olive green or reddish-olive with pale, wormlike markings on its back, sides, and belly.

Brook trout are opportunistic feeders and feed on various aquatic insects during their juvenile years. As they get larger, they switch to eating crustaceans, mollusks, and fish for sustenance, becoming especially piscivorous in salt water where they prey upon young eels, saltwater isopods, and nereid worms (White 1940, White 1942). A unique population of coaster brook trout inhabiting the Great Lakes and their tributaries can grow up to 25 inches long and weigh up to 10 pounds!


Brook trout can live for up to three years in smaller streams but tend to reach much older ages in lakes and large rivers. One angler even caught a 24-year-old brook trout in Ontario’s Nipigon River!

Their growth rates vary considerably based on season, age, water temperatures, and ambient air flow rates. Furthermore, these creatures are highly vulnerable to changing environmental conditions; having a closed canopy forest cover is essential for their long-term well-being.

Brook trout feed on various fish species and insects throughout their lifetime, as well as crustaceans and mollusks.

Brook trout typically spawn in the fall, usually near shorelines or small pools. After nine days after their hatch, eggs are covered with gravel or pebbles and moved upstream for protection.

Brook trout is an abundant fish in streams, small rivers, larger rivers, and lakes. They make great game fish and can be caught using artificial lures or live bait.


Brook trout have teeth but are not as large and sharp as some other fish species. Their teeth’ size depends on the trout species and where they live.

Brook trout have two rows of teeth in their mouths. The first row catches prey and holds it within its powerful jaws.

The second row has vortex teeth which help guide their prey down their throat. They also eat various other animals and plants.

They possess many small, sharp teeth in both their upper and lower jaws that help them tear apart prey. Furthermore, they possess needle-like basibranchial teeth on the top of their tongues and beneath them.

For the best fishing opportunities with brook trout, fall is the time to catch them as they spawn. At this time of year, they dress up in their brightest colors, making them easier to spot.

Brook Trout Basics
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