Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brook Trout Variations

Several years ago while helping to stock Atlantic Salmon fry with the CT DEP, I noticed how very light colored the salmon looked. I asked the biologist why they looked so pale, and would this light color be a negative factor in their ability to survive, being they stuck out like a sore thumb. He told me they were just lifted out of the tank on the truck and they took on the shade of the tank which was an off white color. When they were released into the stream they would head for the bottom and seek out cover in the gravel and within minutes change color and blend into there surroundings.
Over the years I've noticed the different colors that brook trout take on, while in the fall they are at their most brilliant colors, they also have various colors depending on the water they are caught in. It seems that in light sandy bottom streams they tend to be light in color, in clear gravel bottoms they tend to be somewhat darker in color, and in dark tannic stained water they can be almost black.
And in only two instances in the many years of brook trout fishing I have done, I have taken a very bright and bluish colored brook trout, one in CT and the other in brackish water on Cape Cod, MA.

A light colored brook trout from a light gravel bottom stream.

A brook trout from a darker bottomed stream.

A brook trout taken in a dark tannic stained stream.

A brook trout as autumn nears

A bluish colored brook trout,taken in a CT stream in early Dec. One of only two I have ever taken that were colored as such.

Click on the image twice, and you can see the various colors of these beautiful fish.

This diverse color variation may be another way this wild jewel has been able to survive in meager habitats since the ice age.


  1. Actually this is a trait by brookies and browns too. A rainbow that survives a Millers River Summer is a gorgeous copper color by September.

    I've caught brookies behind beaver ponds that were almost black!!

  2. Thanks for sharing. Bunker take on different colors as well to match their environment, and one must tie different colored flies to match this. Great Pics, and thanks again.

  3. Very nice pictures ! The color variations are very interesting. In the Adirondacks which have a lot of tanin in the water the brook trout are very dark on top and have a deep orange to almost cherry red belly

  4. Beautiful brookies! What has amazed me is the variation in colors of brookies from several different pools in the same small segment of a stream. There can be quite a bit of difference in less than a 100 yards. But I guess thats what makes each and every individual a unique catch.

  5. this is a great display of how different the colors can be on these fish. I love brook trout and the way you write about them I can tell you do too.

  6. Millers River Flyfisher,
    I have noticed the different colors on browns, but they are sometimes of different strains. I agree that rainbows that are in stream for sometime will become impressive in their colors.

    Thanks. I did not know that bunker change colors. I guess when so many are after you, this is something that's needed.

  7. Mark,
    Thanks. I have seen photos of ADK's brookies, and they are beautiful, with pronounced colors.

    Thanks. This difference of colors in the same stream, I have seen this at times too.

  8. Awesome Post! I knew that the fish would adapt to their surroundings, but had no idea that they could do as fast as they do, like those salmon. Pretty amazing creatures.

  9. Bruce,
    They are truly special fish.

    Thanks. Some of those streams where we stocked had some very hungry browns.

  10. Beautiful little guys! I actually caught one several years ago that was a pale lavender color and his red spots stood out like they were unreal. Our sport brings us some great gifts!

  11. As I recall those that are taken out of beaver flowages are quite dark but it's been a while so my mind may be playing tricks on me..

  12. Wow, did that ever answer a question I've had on my mind for several years. I caught two Brookies in one day in two different lakes and one was definately Brookie colored, the other was almost silver and I had to ask what it was. Cool.


  13. Midge Man,
    Thanks. Pale lavender, bright red spots, that had to be a wonderful sight.

    I have taken some brookies in that dark tea stained water that are real dark, also having black mouths.

  14. Awesome pictures and agood post. The brook trout in my opinion has to be the most incredible looking trout out there.

    Thanks for sharing.