Brown Trout

General Informatiom:

Brown trout, a European relative of the Atlantic salmon, arrived in North America as early as 1883 and were introduced to Wisconsin waters four years later.

These resourceful fish managed well in degraded habitats no longer suitable for brook and other trout. At the same time, the browns proved they could grow faster and live longer than the other kinds of trout. Their reputation as a wary fish that tends to feed at dusk or night may account in part for their durability.

Brown trout have adjusted well to life in Lake Michigan. They spawn in late autumn, sometimes on rocky reefs along shore though they generally prefer the gravelly headwaters of streams.

Wisconsin now stocks about 1.5 million brown trout in the lake each year, with lesser numbers stocked by Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. This has brought more variety to the lake's ecosystem and to the lives of many anglers. Surfcasting for the fish, for example, is a popular sport along the lake's northern shores.

Brown trout are among the wariest of fish, feeding usually at dusk or at night, so fishermen are the adult brown's chief predator. In many localities, surf casting for brown trout is popular. The record brown trout from Lake Superior -- nearly 30 pounds -- was taken in 1971.

Identifying the Brown Trout

To identify the brown trout, check for orange/red coloration on the adipose fin and a lack of pink/rose stripe along the side of the body. In the Great Lakes, the fish's overall coloring may be more silvery than brown.

Inland lake brown trout

Great Lakes brown trout

Look for:




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