Sherpa Guides > Virginia Mountains > Brook Trout

Brook Trout

In Virginia, the term "native trout" refers to the brook trout—the only trout native to the region. Biologists have been encouraged to learn that brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalus) still account for 80 percent of the wild trout in the state's 2,300 miles of wild trout streams. The brook trout is one of several species of trout found in the cold, well-oxygenated waters of national forest streams and lakes. A native of northeastern North America, the species has been widely transplanted. Highly esteemed as game fish, brookies can be taken on artificial flies, spinning lures, and with live bait (where permitted). These colorful members of the char family will eat just about anything. Aquatic insects, worms, leeches, and crustaceans are favored, but larger trout will eat other fish, frogs, and even small mice.

Brook trout rarely exceed 5 pounds, though an occasional fish up to 10 pounds rewards a patient angler. Rainbow trout from the western United States have taken over most of the brook-trout habitat in other southeastern states. In fact, Virginia currently has more native brook trout streams than all other southeastern states combined. The very colorful "brookie " is dark olive green with light wavy or "wormy" markings. Its sides are lighter, sometimes with a bluish cast, and covered with pale yellow spots and a sprinkling of red spots encircled by blue halos. Bright orange fins on the outer edges help with identification. Brook trout are intolerant of water exceeding 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

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