Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) - Native

A typical adult wild brook trout.

A typical 7-inch adult wild brook trout.

Identification. Anal rays 8-13. Tail fin nearly straight or slightly concave. Adults - Light spots on a dark background. Sides usually have red or pink spots with a bluish halo. Spots on back wormlike in shape. Mouth large; jaw extends well beyond posterior margin of eye. In both young and adult fish, the pelvic, anal and sometimes pectoral fins are orange or red and have a white stripe on their leading edge, followed by a black stripe. Tail fin nearly square or only slightly concave. Color variable, depending on spawning condition and wild vs. stocked strains. Usually dark greenish to grayish on back and upper flanks fading to orange, pink or cream color on lower flanks. Parr - Edge of adipose fin clear (without dark border). Tail fin concave or only slightly forked. Few or no small dark spots below lateral line. Usually nine or fewer parr marks. Red or yellow spots generally present on sides. Spaces between parr marks usually less than width of parr marks. Pectoral fin shorter than total length of depressed dorsal fin. Jaw extends at least to rear edge of eye.

Juvenile wild brook trout parr.

A 3-inch juvenile wild brook trout with parr markings.

Size. Commonly 6 to 10 inches. State survey max. size 21 inches. Conn. State Record 9.2 pounds, 28 inches. Max. reported size 34 inches. World Record 14.5 pounds.

Stocked adult brook trout.

Adult (9-inch) hatchery-raised brook trout can be quite drab compared to their wild counterparts.

Distribution. Native to most of North America east of the Mississippi and north of Georgia. Wild brook trout are present in numerous small, cold streams throughout Connecticut, where they can be common. Hatchery brook trout are stocked in many Connecticut streams.

Wild brook trout distribution map.

All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.

Habits. Brook trout prefer small, cold streams with gravel or cobble bottoms, tree canopies for shade, and adequate cover (boulders, logs, undercut banks). Can be readily caught by angling on a variety of small baits and lures.

Large adult male brook trout.

Large adult (11 inches) male brook trout from the Hockanum River, Manchester.

Comments. Brook trout seldom survive the summer in Connecticut lakes. Self-sustaining wild populations are typically found only in small headwater streams where habitat alteration, angling pressure and competition from brown trout are low. Wild brook trout in small streams are typically small (4 to 6 inches). Hatchery-raised brook trout are easy to catch, and almost all are harvested soon after stocking.

Adult male brook trout in spawning colors.

Adult male brook trout in spawning colors from Merrick Brook, Scotland.


Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.