Their species epithet describes the range and waters that Brookies can be found in, crystal clear water. While they do live in stillwater, you’re more likely to find a Brookie in streams and rivers due to the fact that they require highly oxygenated, pure water. Renowned Trout biologist Robert Behnke described three forms of the Brook Trout. A large lake form that evolved in the larger lakes of its Northern region, a sea-run from that lives in the saltwater near the mouth of rivers emptying into the Atlantic Ocean, and the smaller, general form that evolved in the small lakes, ponds, rivers and streams throughout most of its native range.
Brookies are a beautiful mixture of spots, lines and colors. They range in color from dark to light green with a marbled pattern (vermiculations) of lighter shades across their backs at least to the dorsal fin, and often to the tail. The flank is speckled with red dots surrounded by blue haloes. The belly and lower fins are reddish in color, which become bright red or orange during the spawn on males. Depending on the specific form that can be found, Brookies can be anywhere between a few inches to nearly 3 feet and 14 pounds. The general form that can be found in most streams and stillwater rarely attain sizes larger than 12 inches, the most common sizes between 6-10”.
Native Brook populations are found in the East, from Maine south to Georgia and the Mid-Northwest, West to Minnesota. However, they have been introduced throughout much of the United States, to the point where it is only a few Southern States that do not maintain a population of Brookies. Wild populations can be found in moderate gradient, rocky mountain stream habitats that have permanent cool or cold water spring sources. They are most successful in waters that are less than 70* F, much hotter than this and the mortality rate begins to climb. Streams with thick cover around its banks is a good indicator of a strong brook trout population.
As with most any other trout, Brookies are opportunistic feeders, feeding larval, pupal, and adult forms of aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, fish eggs, scuds, even taking an earthworm if the opportunity presents itself. In most stream populations Brookies do not grow big enough to predate upon smaller fish, but in larger stillwater bodies the Brookies do grow large enough to do so. They are most active during dawn and dusk and are more likely to retreat to deeper waters or shade during midday.
What does this mean for the fly-fisherman. First, fish for Brooks as you would any other trout species in the United States. Use nymphs, wet flies, dries, streamers, whatever you have in your trout arsenal and you’ll more than likely catch a Brookie if you’re fishing in waters that hold them. Brookies have a long history in the United States as being the premier Trout, only being displaced with the Western expansion and the proliferation of other species, such as Brown and Rainbows.
As always, good luck and guid luck!
Behnke, Robert J.. "Brook Trout". About Trout-The Best of Robert J. Behnke fromTrout Magazine. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. pp. 85–90. ISBN 978-1-59921-203-6.
Camuto, Christopher (1990). "Air and Rain". A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridge. New York: Henry Holt & Company. pp. 85–87. ISBN 0-8050-1466-7.