Brook trout were first introduced to California by the California Acclimatization Society in 1871. Additional stock followed when the California Fish Commission purchased and planted 6,000 brook trout. By the 1890's, these fish were being raised and distributed throughout the state. Brook trout are now well established in mountain lakes and streams from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Oregon border. The most abundant populations are in the Sierra Nevada.
Brook trout - as pictured above - are distinguished from other trout species by their dark, olive green back with lighter-colored wavy lines, red spots on the sides surrounded by blue halos, and white leading edges on the pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins.
Cold Water Dwellers
Brook trout inhabitat clear, cold streams and lakes. They thrive in small, spring-fed streams and in isolated mountain lakes. Brook trout are among the most cold tolerant of trout, feeding at temperatures as low as 1 C. When flows are moderately fast and food is abundant, they defend feeding zones against other trout. They tend to situate behind rocks that break the fast current, permitting the trout to sit back and not expend much energy.
Brook trout in streams feed mainly on terrestrial insects and aquatic insect larvae. Both types are taken primarily on the drift, on or close to the surface of the water. These fish are not too selective in what they feed on and tend to focus on whatever organisms are abundant when feeding. Brook trout feed when sufficient light allows them to see their prey. However, the most intensive feeding happens in the evening and early morning when insects are most active.
Brook Trout - California Range Map
Range Map Provided by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Biology at UC Davis
Photo of California Golden Trout by P. Michael Carl © The Ecological Angler