What's In a Name?
Brown trout: refers to the overall color of the trout
Salmo (sal´-moe) means "salmon of the Atlantic" in Latin
trutta (trutt´-tah) means "trout" in Latin
Where Do They Live?
Brown trout are not native to North America. They were introduced in the eastern
USA in 1883 and probably into Minnesota not to long afterward. They were
introduced into many of Minnesota's stream by 1923. Today, they occur in many of
Minnesota's cold-water streams and lakes and also in Lake Superior. Some of
these streams and lakes have reproducing populations in them. Others are
restocked every few years. Brown trout can live in warmer and more turbid
(cloudier) water than brook trout can. This allows them to live in the
downstream portions of coldwater streams, while brook trout live in the
headwaters. Brown trout frequently are found living with blacknosed dace,
mottled sculpins, white suckers, creek chubs, common shiners, northern brook
lampreys, and American brook lampreys.
How Big Do They Get?
How Long Do They Live?
Brown trout grow fairly rapidly until they reach maturity. Then they slow down a
bit. In Minnesota, brown trout 250-380 mm (10-15 in) long and 1.6-2.5 kg
(3.5-5.5 lbs) are fairly common in streams. Stream browns over 635-mm (25-in.)
long and 5.5 kg (12 lbs) are rare, but in Lake Superior they are often bigger.
The Minnesota state record for this fish is 7.56 kg (16-lbs. 12 oz). Because
brown trout are somewhat resistant to the pressures of fishing, they can easily
get to 5-7 years old.
What Do They Eat?
The brown trout is a very active feeder and it eats a great variety of foods. It
commonly feeds upon land and water insects, zooplankton, worms, crayfish, small
clams, snails, and a variety of small fish (young trout, sculpins, minnows, and
darters). In a few strange cases, large browns have been known to eat young mink
and small turtles.
What Eats Them?
The main predators for this secretive trout are bigger trout and humans. Because
of their good taste, size, fighting ability, and the challenge in getting them
to bite, brown trout have become a favorite of many anglers. Small brown trout
are occasionally preyed upon by otters, mergansers, and in some cases water
How Do They Reproduce?
Unlike Pacific salmon, brown trout do not die after spawning. Most will spawn
multiple years and often near the same place. Spawning habits and seasons are
similar to the brook trout, except that brown trout take 3-4 years to mature.
Brown trout spawning season begins in October and goes into December. If there
are no barriers as there are in many North Shore streams, brown trout swim up
into headwater areas to spawn. They usually choose gravel bottoms often where
there are spring seeps and good moving water. The fish pair up and them the
female makes a saucer-shaped depression in the gravel. The male defends the nest
after it is built until the female is ready. Once the female is ready, she drops
into the nest and the male follows her. Here the female lays the eggs and the
male fertilizes them at the same time. The female then covers the eggs with the
gravel she removed to build the nest. The two will repeat the process until the
female is "spent" (has laid all of her eggs). After spawning, the
parent fish move back to the water from which they came.
A single female can lay 400-2,000 depending on her size.
Conservation and Management
Brown trout is an exotic species that has become self-sustaining in some stream
and maintained by repeated stocking in others.