The brook trout is a brilliantly colored fish that lives in clear, cold freshwater streams and rivers in undeveloped areas throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Brook trout can grow up to 12 inches in length, but most are no more than 9 to 10 inches in length. Their body is typically wide in the middle and tapers at each end. Its dark, olive green back has pale, worm-like markings. Its sides are bluish with yellow and red spots. It has a pale, yellowish-orange belly; in breeding males, the belly is more vivid red or orange. The brook trout's lower fins are orange-red with a white front edge followed by a black strea. Its scaleless head has a rounded snout and large mouth.
Brook trout live in clear, cold, well-shaded freshwater streams, rivers and lakes, particularly in mountainous areas. They prefer cool, clean waters; they are not tolerant of water temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and are rarely found in areas with even a small amount of development.
Found in streams and rivers in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Brook trout feeds on insects, tadpoles, salamanders, small crayfish and small water snakes. They also eat small fish and minnows if they are easy to catch.
Larger fish and birds such as ospreys and herons prey upon brook trout.
Spawning occurs in autumn, mainly in late October to early November, during the day. The female uses her tail to create a shallow, 1- to 2-foot-wide nest or “redd” in a clean, gravelly area and lays 100 to 400 eggs into the nest. The male fertilizes the eggs and then the female covers them with gravel. The eggs incubate over the winter and hatch in early spring. Brook trout reach maturity in 2 to 3 years and live to about 6 years of age.