Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let’s get to know…The Brook Trout

How cool are fish? Each species is different and has biological differences that control so much about where they live and why. Knowing these facts will help dial in the location and patterns of the fish you seek to catch. Fish identification is just the start. Learning the biological aspects helps us catch and preserve this amazing natural creature. Please bear with me and my poindexter excerpts of “Let’s get to know…”.

Let’s get to know the Brook Trout

One of the trout species I don’t target near enough and should get more acquainted with is the brook trout. The vibrant fin color alone is worth seeking them out a few times a year.

(Above: One of my better brook trout pictures. The male brook develops the hooked jaw and more vibrant color patterns especially during the spawn.)

Brook trout basics:

The CDOW information below:

An entry to Colorado in the late 1800s, the brook trout feeds on aquatic and terrestrial insects and will rise to a large range of small lures, baits and flies. Brook trout have white spots (worm-shaped on top) on a dark background with tri-colored outlined fins (orange, black and white). This prolific fish often becomes overpopulated and can out-compete other trout. They are typically found in higher elevation lakes, beaver dams and streams.

That isn’t a lot of info is it? I scanned a few other websites to accumulate more on the subject. This will fill in some of the gaps.

Description: The average length is 10-12 inches but Brook Trout can be caught measuring up to 21 inches and weighing 4-6 pounds. Breeding males develop a hook at the front of the lower jaw. Typical coloring is olive-green to dark brown on the back with silvery sides and pale spotting. All colors intensify at spawning time.

Brook and brown trout look very similar, especially the females. One of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two is by the color of the dots on the body as well as the dorsal fin markings. Brown trout have black dots where as brook trout have only red and yellow. Dorsal fin of a brook trout will tend to have a striped pattern where as the brown trout dorsal fin will be dotted. You would be surprised how many anglers do not know the difference.

(Above: Brown trout, see how similar these two fish species can look? Black and red dots are a giveaway for brown trout identification.)

Biology: Brook trout prefer water temperatures of 52 to 56 degrees with clear water. This species spawns in late summer or autumn in gravel beds in the shallows of headwaters of streams in water temperatures of 40 to 49 degrees (n average). The female digs the redd where she lays 100-5000 eggs depending on her size. Some brook trout females will dig several redds depositing eggs in each. Adults do not expend any energy protecting the next once eggs are laid.

They hatch 50-100 days later. The life expectancy is an average of five years. The brook trout is carnivorous and feed upon a wide range of organisms. They have been known to eat their own eggs at spawning time and even their own young.

Ok, so there is the poindexter 411. At first glance it all comes across as a bunch of bookworm mumbo jumbo to a lot of folks. If that is the case, give the section above one more read and look for clues that break down where the fish would live best and what could be its most active period. Hopefully you gather a few key aspects.

Clear, cold water is prime habitat for the brook trout. Clear flowing streams fed from springs or other clear water sources are good places to start looking for these fish. The higher the altitude, the colder the water so low valley rivers that reach 65, 75 degrees or higher are unlikely waters for brook trout. That is a good start right there.

The next important fact would be the spawn period. I like to target species before the spawn. Most anglers refer to this as “pre-spawn” and the behavior is much similar to the rut of elk or other mating periods. Both the male and female of the species will be at its peak of physical prowess. So according to the verbage above…late summer is a good time to focus on these fish if you want to catch it in the peak color period before the actual spawning period.

The last aspect comes from the general size of the fish. Most sources note that this species averages 10-12 inches most of the time. This means their forage base and your lure should be on the smaller side. Small fly patterns and lures in the 1/32oz range are preferred.

Harvest note: Sometimes brook trout overpopulate themselves in smaller streams. Harvesting this species responsibly helps the ecosystem overall if done responsibly and where prudent. Check with managing officials for more information in regards to current brook trout limits or waiver of harvest limits at the precise location that you intend to fish.


1 comment:

MKG said...

I recently checked this book "Trout and Salmon of North America" by Robert Behnke from the local library. Stunning illustrations and informative text. The following link is a google preview of the book. Check it out.