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Brook Trout on the fly:

    Dennis Grant - Canada

BROOK TROUT –  Salvelinus fontinalis or Speckled Trout, Common Brook Trout, Brookies, Sea Run Brook Trout,

Brook trout are native to North America and are a very common fish in rivers, lakes, streams, still waters in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario,  and especially Newfoundland and Labrador.

Brook Trout need at least 4 items in which to live and prosper. 1. Food supply; 2. Cover (a place to hide); 3. Oxygen; 4. Cool water conditions.

FOOD: A range of food is available for trout. River and lake bottom insects, larva, worms, leeches, other small fish. As the water warms they feed on  rising insects from the river bottom, nymphs, caddis and adult Stone flies, May flies alive and spent (dead).  They also feed on land-based insects such as ants, crickets, grasshoppers, aphids, and midges.   

COVER: Trout have a number of predators like larger fish and birds, so they require quick and easy access to cover like river cut banks, overhanging branches, logs, and rocks.

          OXYGEN: Trout need oxygen to exist. As the temperature warms there is more oxygen in the faster water and rapids. 

          COOL WATER: Water temperature is a key factor in determining brook trout habitat. They need a year-round supply of cool, clear water, Streams with cool, quiet pools between runs of fast water and rapids are typical habitat, as are clear, cool lakes and beaver ponds.

    As the water temperature rises, the trout move out of the deep pools into the riffles in search of insects; this is the time to use a fly rod and flies.

   The feeding temperature is between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (7 and 18 degrees Celsius).  At lower temperatures the trout will not feed and above 65F  the trout will begin to struggle for life and will refuse food.

    According to the experts 90%  of all trout in North America are less than 10 inches in length and probably less than ¾ of a pound. Northern Quebec and Labrador typically produce Brook Trout in the 3 to 6  pound range. A nice trophy trout is 8 pounds and record size trout from 14 to 15 lbs have been recorded in Manitoba and Ontario Canada.

    Typical coloring is olive-green to dark brown on the back with silvery sides and pale spotting of red, yellow and blue. Colors are at their brightest during spawning.

   Brook Trout spawn in late summer or autumn in gravel beds in the shallows of stream headwaters. The female digs the redd (depression in the river bed) with her tail motion where she typically lays 100-5000 eggs. The eggs hatch 50-100 days later. The life expectancy of a Brookie is an average of five years.  

   Fly fishing for Brookies: My choice of rods range from a 7.5 foot 4 wt for small brooks, with limited back cast room, and for larger more open streams, belly boats (tubes), pontoon boats, and canoes  I use a 10 foot 4 wt. For small streams with small fish, use short rods (7' to 8'), with light weight fly lines (2,3,4); for larger rivers with larger fish, use longer rods (8' to 9.5') with line weights (5,6,7).  

   Walking downstream can sometimes stir up insects and create some feeding activity down river as you wade. When the flow is slower and fishing still waters, I prefer to fish up-stream to avoid spooking trout. Contrary to popular opinion, talking above the water surface does not disturb trout, but moving shadows or tripping over a rock on the river bottom, or even dropping your sunglasses in the water can send trout to cover for a good part of your fishing day.

   Early in the season, although shy and spooky, brook trout will also take a range of small minnow-imitating  flies. Mouse patterns, sculpin patterns, large streamers, various nymphs, and under warmer water conditions when flies are hatching. Attractor flies (Royal Coachman) and many various small and large dry flies are very consistent producers.

Dennis