Brook Trout
Typical Size
10-12" (8-11 oz.)
Decent Size
12-14" (12-16 oz.)
Nice Size
15-18" (1-3 lbs.)
26.6" (14 lbs. 8 oz.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

2 lbs.
Genus/Species Salvelinus fontinalis
Common Names brookie, speckled trout, speckled char, squaretail, coaster, salter
Hot Spots Long Pond, Fearings Pond, Whitman Pond
Best Time March - May
Best Baits spinners, worms, spoons
Best Method Bottom fishing with bait or spinning

Brook trout are beautiful fish. Although the intensity of the color may vary, they often have vibrant golden specks on an olive/green to to dark brown background with subtle blue, red, and purple specks mixed in. There are less specks on the very top of the fish which is darker and on the bottom where it becomes a brilliant yellow-orange-red. They also have distinct colored fins along the bottom including pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins that are highly distinctive and quite striking. The leading edges are bordered by white, then black, with the rest of the fin displaying various shades of red, orange and yellow. Belonging to the salmonid sub-group, the chars, brook trout look a bit different than the closely-related trouts and salmons, with it's larger mouth and briliant colors. It is relatively small fish with small scales.

Brook Trout
Brook trout loose their beautiful colors after they are caught.
Brook trout live in cool, well oxygenated streams and lakes. Although indigenous to Massachusetts, it is unclear if it was ever native to the south shore. Any brook trout taken today along the south shore are stocked fish which do not reproduce. Preferring clear, cool water of around 40-55 degrees, it is near impossible to have stocked fish holdover from year to year since few of the bodies of water here on the south shore can keep that environment throughout the year. Deep kettle ponds such as Long Pond in Plymouth is one that can.

Active predators, brook trout have a varied diet that includes alewives, mayflies, midges, worms, salamanders, nymphs, tadpoles, young crayfish, and young fry. Their native range is the eastern half of North America from Canada down to Maryland, however they have been widely transplanted. Brook trout that live in streams draining into marine environments often enter the sea, only to return back to the river in order to spawn. These fish are called sea-run trout, salters, or coasters and are considered anadromous, similar to salmon. These fish also lose much of their color, taking on a more dull silvery hue.

Spawning of wild brook trout occurs in autumn in gravel beds in the shallows of stream headwaters. Here, using their tail fins, a female creates a depression in sand or gravel, called a redd, where she lays her eggs. After they are fertilized by a male, the female covers the eggs with sand or gravel where they will incubate though the winter and hatch out in the early spring.

You can fish for brook trout with many different kinds of bait. Drifting whole earthworms off the bottom is very effective as are small minnows, and mealworms. They will also take prepared trout baits such as salmon eggs, marshmallows, and various "Power baits." A simple bottom rig with a 1/8-1/4 ounce sinker is sufficient for bottom fishing with bait.

The other popular method for taking brook trout is casting small 1/16 to 1/8-ounce Mepps or Rooster Tail spinners. Once cast, let the spinner drop to the bottom, then engage the reel and quickly retrieve the spinner back to shore or boat. You can also substitute the spinners with small Kastmaster, Crocodile, or Daredevle spoons. Trolling these same spoons or small diving minnow plugs can also be very rewarding. Due to the small size of these fish, the lighter the gear the better. I personally use a super-light outfit fitted with the smallest spinning reel I can find.

Fishing for brook trout is an extremely important recreational fishery in northern New England and Canada. Here on the south shore of Massachusetts, they are mostly caught incidently when fishing for rainbow trout. The flesh of the brook trout is pink, firm, and very tasty. It can be baked, broiled, or grilled. Since brook trout cannot tolerate polluted waters and because they are almost always caught shortly after stocking, you can be pretty sure that they are safe to eat with low mercury levels.