This story was initially printed in December 2020.
No species of fish is extra synonymous with Maine than brook trout. And you could possibly argue that none is extra necessary to the state. Brook trout are to inside Maine what lobster are to the coast, and as a lot part of the North Maine Woods model as moose and loons.
Brook trout are fascinating fish. Maine is blessed to have a number of totally different lifeforms of brook trout. Brook trout are necessary to Maine, and Maine is necessary to brook trout. We have to do all the pieces we will, and greater than we’re doing, to make sure that these distinctive wild native fish stay viable for generations to come back.
Earlier than partaking in conservation-focused subjects in future columns, a short primer on brook trout is so as.
Initially known as Salmo fontinalis by naturalist Samuel Latham Mitchill in 1814, brook trout at the moment are known as Salvelinus fontinalis. Salvelinus is a genus, and a part of the Salmoninae subfamily of the Salmonidae household. The time period fontinalis is Latin for “of or from a spring or fountain,” which refers back to the chilly, clear water the place brook trout are discovered.
Brook trout are also known as jap brook trout, and infrequently, brook charr, frequent trout, mud trout, salmon-trout, speckled trout and specs. In Maine they’re typically known as squaretail, particularly by older anglers. However the commonest nickname, and by far, is “brookie.”
The identify brook trout is deceptive. Brook trout are literally char, not trout, and extra carefully associated to Arctic charr, lake trout, bull trout, and Dolly Varden than they’re brown trout, rainbow trout or cutthroat trout. And brown trout are extra carefully associated to Atlantic salmon and landlocked salmon than brook trout.
Brook trout, are, nevertheless, essentially the most “trout-like” species of char, and essentially the most adaptable species of salmonid. They’re able to reside in tiny mountain freestone streams, spring creeks, meadow brooks, flowages, massive rivers, small shallow ponds, deep sprawling lakes, brackish water estuaries and even saltwater.
In most of the locations they reside, brook trout are the predominant species, accounting for over 90 % of the full fish biomass. This exhibits that they will reside — even thrive — in situations that many different species of fish can not, even different salmonids.
Brook trout have been current within the Appalachian Mountains, Nice Lakes and jap Canada for a number of million years. They’re some of the broadly distributed native salmonids in North America, together with Arctic charr and lake trout. So far as the US goes, brook trout are essentially the most broadly distributed native salmonid.
Brook trout are native to Labrador, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and jap Manitoba. They’re present in the US alongside the Appalachian hall from northern Maine to northern Georgia, components of the Midwest, and many of the Nice Lakes area. In lots of states they’re the one native salmonid.
Native to either side of the southern Appalachian Mountains, brook trout may be present in waters that drain into the Gulf of Mexico in addition to the Atlantic Ocean.
The southernmost inhabitants of native brook trout on this planet is present in northern Georgia within the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River in Chattahoochee Nationwide Forest. The northernmost populations are present in excessive northern Quebec.
Not like many different fish, brook trout are primarily labeled on the species not subspecies degree. There are nevertheless two acknowledged subspecies of brook trout: Aurora trout and the extinct silver trout of New Hampshire. Finest described as a brook trout with out patterning or spots, Aurora trout are native to only two lakes within the Temagami District of Ontario.
Whereas the time period is usually used to explain watershed degree populations, there are simply two formally acknowledged strains of brook trout: Northern and Southern. The road denoting Northern versus Southern pressure fish is positioned within the New River drainage in northern Virginia.
As soon as believed to be subspecies of brook trout, sea-run brook trout, or salters, of the northeastern seaboard, and coaster brook trout of the Nice Lakes at the moment are thought-about life historical past methods, or lifeforms, of Northern pressure brook trout. Silver trout, an extinct subspecies of brook trout, had been as soon as believed to be a type of Arctic charr.
Brook trout may be purely fluvial, residing and spawning in transferring water. They can be adfluvial, or born in a stream however residing primarily in a lake or pond. Some brook trout reside and spawn in lakes and ponds, and are known as lacustrine. Massachusetts lately documented what seems to be brook trout spawning in tidal water. All brook trout construct redds, or depressions within the gravel.
New child brook trout are known as alevin or sac fry. They continue to be within the redd till they exhaust their yolk sac. Brook trout depart the redd as fry, and transfer into the shallows to feed on zooplankton. The following stage is parr, recognized by vertical stripes, which transfer into deeper water to feed on small insect larvae. The ultimate phases are juvenile and grownup.
Brook trout populations are most plentiful the place good stream spawning habitat is on the market. In instances the place pond-dwelling fish make the most of in-lake spawning habitat, populations are normally sparser. That is known as recruitment, and excessive recruitment means excessive densities; low recruitment means low densities.
Small stream brook trout not often reside various years. In massive lakes nevertheless, particularly in Canada, they will attain as much as 10 years previous. In ponds and rivers, they fall someplace in between. The oldest brook trout on file, a nonnative, was near 25 years previous, and located in a high-elevation lake in California.
The most important brook trout on file was 30 inches lengthy with an estimated girth of 20 inches and a weight of 14.5 kilos. It was caught from the Nipigon River in Ontario in July of 1915, and was possible a coaster. In 1827, Daniel Webster caught a sea-run brook trout roughly the identical measurement from the East Connecticut River on Lengthy Island.