Salvelinus fontinalis
Brook Trout

Brook Trout

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods



  • Salvelinus, an old name for char, from the same root as the German, Saibling, (little salmon)
  • fontinalis, from the Latin, "living in springs"
  • Common Name from its preferred habitat
  • Other common names include: Aurora Trout, Brookie, Coaster, Common Brook Trout, Eastern Brook Trout, Mountain Trout, Mud Trout, Sea Trout, Speck Trout, Speckled Char, Speckled Trout, Square-Tail, Square Tail Trout, breac, omble de fontaine, truite mouchetée, truite de mer, truite rouge, truite saumonée, truite de ruisseau (Qué), Bäckröding (Swe)


  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata,
    • Subphylum Vertebrata,
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Protacanthopterygii
        • Order Salmoniformes, salmon and trout
          • Family Salmonidae, salmon and trout
            • Genus Salvelinus, the chars


  • The native trout of northern streams
  • Length
    • averages 10"-12"
    • can be up to 21"
  • Weight
    • typically 11 oz to 2 lbs
    • can weigh 4-6 lbs
  • Coloration
    • olive-green to dark brown on the back
    • lighter on sides
    • silvery white on underside
    • pale spotting; blue halos surround small red spots on the sides
    • worm-like markings (vermiculation) on the back and dorsal fin are lacking in other salmonids.
    • edges of the lower fins have white margins
    • All colors intensify at spawning time.
  • Body
    • tail fin slightly forked
  • Head
    • hook at the front of the lower jaw in breeding males
  • Lifespan on average is five years



  • Native to eastern United States and Canada and has been widely introduced throughout the western states.
  • Found in Lakes Michigan, Huron, Ontario, and Superior


  • Typically in the smallest, highest, and coldest streams and lakes.
  • Water temperatures as high as 77.5º F. will kill Brook Trout in a few hours.
  • They are most active in the morning and late afternoon. At night they can be found under banks, boulders, logs, and other shelters.


  • Carnivorous, generalized feeders, consuming most insects and other small invertebrates.
  • Known to eat their own eggs at spawning time and even their own young.


  • World Record: 14 lbs, 8 oz., from the Nipigon River in Ontario, in July 1916 by Dr. W.J. Cook.
  • Minnesota Record: 6 lbs, 4 oz, from High Lake (St. Louis County)


  • Among the easiest trout to catch, though often not as popular with anglers as the other trout species because of their small size.
  • Highly regarded as table fare by many anglers, with a sweet and delicate meat said to rival that of Whitefish and Walleye.


  • Spawns in late summer or autumn in gravel beds in the shallows of headwaters of streams. The female digs the redd (nest) where she lays 100-5000 eggs, depending on her size. They hatch 50-100 days later.
  • Can breed with Lake Trout producing a hybrid called Splake.


  • Brook Trout are the only stream-dwelling trout native to the Great Lakes. In search of clear, cool, and well-oxygenated water, they often move out of streams and into the estuaries and bays of the Great Lakes. Those Brook Trout that move into such areas are called "coasters." Coasters weigh on average 2-3 lbs and are usually heavier than stream-dwelling Brook Trout.


Boreal border

Last updated on 7 November 1999