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Fish Files: Brook Trout

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

A Brook Trout Species Profile

The Brook Trout – one of the most sought-after fish for fly fishermen across the United States. Their reputation for being difficult to catch, paired with their beautiful coloration and patterns, keep fly-fisherman mesmerized and coming back time and time again. Despite the name, the Brook Trout is actually a member of the “Char” family, which includes Arctic Char, Lake Trout, Bull Trout, and Dolly Varden.


Brooke Trout naturally occur in eastern North America, from Newfoundland as far south as Georgia, and as far west as Minnesota. They can be found in small, clear, cold streams and ponds in both mountainous headwaters and coastal areas. Brook Trout have very particular habitat requirements, including water with temperatures not exceeding 66 F, well-oxygenated waters, and a mixture of swift-moving water and still pools.


Dependent upon the area, Brook Trout spawn during the late summer and fall months. During this time the males become aggressive and try to push females into shallow waters. The males also undergo a drastic color change, as their underbelly turns a bright orange-red during the spawn.

Other behavior of these trout varies greatly based on their environment. Some coastal populations known as “sea run trout” will spend parts of their life in a marine environment. While other populations can live their whole lives in small mountain streams and headwaters.

Physical Appearance

Similar to their behavior, the size and length of Brook Trout can vary greatly depending on their habitat. Some Brook Trout can exceed 5 lbs, but most are much smaller.

The spectacular coloration of the Brook Trout entails an olive/dark green back adorned with duller squiggly lines, providing unique camouflage from above. The fish becomes lighter in hue down the sides, which are scattered with distinct blue spots with red halos mixed in with yellow circles, creating a striking pattern. The belly is typically and yellowish-orange color, which can change to a darker red during the spawn.

Targeting Brook Trout

There are countless reasons for fishermen to love pursuing these fish: their ability to put up a fight, their beautiful coloration and patterns, and the variety in the habitat in which they live. Overall, the Brook Trout put up a valiant challenge for any fly fisherman.

An early morning start is often a good idea when targeting Brook Trout, as they can often be found most active at dawn and duck. These trout have a diverse diet consisting of aquatic insect larvae, worms, terrestrials, other fish, and even small amphibians and reptiles. Fly patterns vary based on the time of year and location.

Wrapping Up

For us here at Outdoor Stamps, the Brook Trout holds a special spot in our hearts. As we are a company based in Virginia, the Brook Trout is our state fish, and we have certainly spent countless hours roaming around the Appalachian foothills in search of these gorgeous creatures.


Outdoor Stamps Team Chasing Brook Trout in Shenandoah National Park

Brook Trout Canvas Print

Trout Angler Bucket List

Fish and Wildlife Service Information


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