If you asked me what the most beautiful fish in North America was I would probably tell you the Brook Trout. Why? Because they have an amazing colour pattern that is unique to only them. They have brilliant fins with bright white edges and their body is a vibrant mixture of oranges, yellows, reds, and blues. Their belly gets brighter in late summer to fall because that is when they start to spawn.
They usually live in clean clearwater rivers. They swim upriver to spawn in late summer. They are quite sensitive to changes in the environment such as pH, and water temperature. Therefore, acid rain is bad for brookies, luckily many rivers have natural buffers such as limestone which helps neutralize the acid rain. Brook Trout populations in North America have declined significantly since the introduction of Brown Trout, a fish that has a higher tolerance to environmental changes. They live in very clean waterways, unfortunately this means that many of their habitats are depleting. Therefore we need to protect and preserve our clean water bodies and work to recover our less fortunate waterways.
The diet of Brook Trout consists of anything from aquatic insects to small fish. They do not have teeth. Depending on the condition of the water body they inhabit, brookies can usually grow from about 9 inches to 22 inches. No matter the size, these fish look beautiful even when they are small.
There is a subspecies of Brook Trout called Coasters. This population of the trout is found along the shoreline of the Great Lake Superior and throughout its many tributaries. They generally seem to grow larger than the average Brook Trout and are a bit more silvery in appearance. They spend the majority of their time swimming around the big lake and in the fall they swim up the tributaries to spawn. They are potadramous which means they depend on migrating through freshwater to complete a lifecycle. Apart from Lake Superior Brook Trout inhabit most of northeastern North America, the Great lakes Region, and are non-native in much of midwestern and northwestern United States.
Fishing for Speckled Trout is quite popular amongst North American anglers. They can be caught using Mepps type spinners, worms, and dry flies. My favourite is to catch them on the fly because you can truly see how well they fight, even the little ones. Look for clean and cool waters to find the healthiest fish. Always remember to wet your hands before handling any fish and always keep conservation in mind when fishing.
To help support the conservation of these beautiful fish you can check out http://www.troutsavers.com/. Feature image comes from the Troutsavers Twitter account @troutsavers.