Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)

Category: Fish
Common names: Eastern Brook Trout, Brooky

Description and Range

Physical description

Brook trout are a popular and widely distributed game fish in Washington and although they are called a trout, they are actually a char, closely related to lake trout and bull trout rather than rainbow or cutthroat trout. Also, like lake trout and bull trout or Dolly Varden, their most obvious distinctive feature is light spots on a dark background, unlike rainbow and cutthroat that have dark spots on a lighter background. Brook trout also have the unique features of red spots surrounded by blue halos along their sides and dark wavy "worm marks" or "vermiculations" on their backs and dorsal fins. They also have white margins on the leading edges of their ventral fins. Their tails are only slightly forked, which gives them the nickname of "squaretail" in other parts of the country. They also have a large mouth that extends back past the eye.Average 12-16 inches. Brook trout can grow to 18+ inches (and several pounds) in quality populations.

Where you may encounter brook trout

Lakes where this species may be found

Cowlitz County
Jefferson County
Mason County
San Juan County

How to fish for brook trout

Brook trout are very popular game fish because of their beautiful coloration, their excellent palatability and they are considered to be one of the easiest trout to catch on hook and line.  They will eagerly take bait or lures, including worms, powerbait, spoons and spinners like #0 Mepps or #0 Blue Foxes, wedding rings, and a variety of fly patterns, either sinking of floating.  Anglers can be successful still fishing, casting or trolling.

When bait fishing, use a small amount of bait, about the size of a salmon egg and use a small hook.   Four to six pound test line works great.

Brook trout are available in year round lakes.   They prefer well oxygenated cold water, about 53 degrees or less.   Because of this, they might migrate up and down the water column both daily and seasonally.   In the warmer months, they are going to be a little deeper. Because of their movement patterns, brook trout can be successfully fished for from the shore, a boat or a float tube.

Remember, when handling any fish you intend to release, wet your hands first so you don't take off the fish's protective slippery coating.   Dry hands will remove the protective coating and make the fish vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infections, which can kill them.

State record

9.00 lbs
George G. Weekes
Wobbly Lake, Lewis County
Date Caught
May 7, 1998

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