Salvelinus fontinalis
Salvelinus fontinalis
(Brook Trout)
Native Transplant
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Salvelinus fontinalis (Mitchill, 1814)

Common name: Brook Trout

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Scott and Crossman (1973); Becker (1983); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994).

Size: 70 cm.

Native Range: Most of eastern Canada from Newfoundland to western side of Hudson Bay; south in Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River basins to Minnesota and (in Appalachian Mountains) northern Georgia (Page and Burr 1991).

US auto-generated map Legend USGS Logo
Alaska auto-generated map
Hawaii auto-generated map
Caribbean auto-generated map
Puerto Rico &
Virgin Islands
Guam auto-generated map
Guam Saipan
Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Since the late 1800s, Brook Trout have been introduced successfully outside their native range. Introductions have been made into southeastern Alaska (Morrow 1980; Mecklenburg et al 2005); the White and North Fork rivers, Arkansas (Robison and Buchanan 1988); unspecified lakes and streams and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona (Miller and Lowe 1967; Minckley 1973; Rinne 1995; Tilmant 1999); Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Walker, Central Valley, Klamath, Trinity, Pit, Goose Lake, McCloud, Feather, Yuba, Kern, King, Merced, San Francisco Bay, St. Maria-St. Inez, San Diego, Surprise, Mono Lake, Owens, and Mojave systems and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California (Smith 1896; Dill and Cordone 1997; Tilmant 1999; Moyle 2002); South Platte, North Platte, Republican, Arkansas, Rio Grande, Blue, Gunnison, Green, Yampa, and San Juan drainages and the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (Everhart and Seaman 1971; Wiltzius 1985; Propst and Carlson 1986; Rasmussen 1998; Tilmant 1999; MacCrimmon et al 1969); Moriority's Pond and West Hill Pond, Connecticut (Webster 1942); Brandywine Creek, Delaware (Raasch and Altemus 1991); the Savannah, Apalachicola (Chattahoochee), Coosa, Etowah, and Tennessee drainages in Georgia (Dahlberg and Scott 1971a, 1971b; Burkhead et al. 1997) (see remarks); Hawaii and Kauai, Hawaii (Cobb 1902; Jordan and Evermann 1902, 1905; Brock 1960; Maciolek 1984); the Palouse, Spokane, Pend Orielle, Kootenai, Snake, Bear, and other independent drainages in Idaho (Linder 1963; Simpson and Wallace 1978; Idaho Fish and Game 1990, 1996; MacCrimmon et al 1969; Adams 2002); streams in northern Illinois (Smith 1979); streams in the St. Joseph, Eel, Sugar, East Fork White, and Kankakee drainages, Indiana (Sweeney 1902; Gerking 1945; Nelson and Gerking 1968); unspecified locations in Kansas (Cross 1967); Bad Branch in Letcher County, Shillalah Creek and Martin's Fork in Bell and Harlan counties, and Station Camp Creek in Wolfe County, Kentucky (Clay 1975; Burr 1980; Burr and Warren 1986; MacCrimmon et al 1969); Deep Creek Lake in the Youghiogheny drainage, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, and other locations in Maryland (Lee et al. 1976; Pritchard et al. 1976; Lee et al. 1981; Tilmant 1999); Silvio O'Conte National Fish Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts (USFWS 2005); the northern part of the lower peninsula, the Au Sable River system, Isle Royal in Lake Superior (Hubbs and Lagler 1949), and the southern 3/4 of the lower peninsula of Michigan (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); lakes in Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties, the Minnesota River, the Vermilion, St. Louis, and Cloquet systems, and the St. Croix drainage in Minnesota (Eddy and Underhill 1974; Phillips et al. 1982; Burr and Page 1986); unspecified locations in Missouri (Pflieger 1971); the Little Missouri, Missouri, Yellowstone, Belly, Powder, Musselshell, Tongue, St. Mary, Kootenai, Pend Orielle (Clark Fork) drainages, Bitterroot River drainage, Big Hole National Battlefield, Benton Lake Wetland Management District, Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Lolo Creek in the Bitterroot River drainage and Glacier National Park in Montana (Brown 1971; Cross et al. 1986; Holton 1990; Tilmant 1999; Kanda et al. 2002; USFWS 2005); Brown County, a pond north of Omaha, the North Platte drainage, Hat Creek, White River, West Fork Big Blue, and the Elkhorn River in Nebraska (Morris et al. 1974; Cross et al. 1986; Bouc 1987); the White, Truckee, Lake Tahoe, Humboldt, Carson, Walker, Pyramid Lake, and Snake drainages, Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Great Basin National Park, and the Bull Run Reservoir in Nevada (Miller and Alcorn 1946; La Rivers 1962; Deacon and Williams 1984; Tilmant 1999; Insider Viewpoint 2001; DeLong 2002; Vinyard 2001; USFWS 2005); nonnative streams in New Jersey (Morse 1905; Fowler 1906, 1952); the Rio Grande, San Francisco, upper San Juan, upper Pecos, Tularosa, and Rio San Jose drainages in New Mexico (Koster 1957; Tyus et al. 1982; Sublette et al. 1990); southwestern Adirondack Mountain region, New York (Schofield et al. 1993);  the Yadkin, Catawba, Broad, and Savannah drainages in North Carolina (Hocutt et al. 1986; Menhinick 1991); the White-Little Missouri drainage in western North Dakota (Cross et al. 1986; North Dakota Game and Fish Department 1994; MacCrimmon et al 1969); the Sandusky, upper Great Miami (Mad River), and Muskingum drainages in Ohio (Trautman 1981; Burr and Page 1986; Hocutt et al. 1986; Underhill 1986); the Rogue, Umatilla, Upper Deschutes, and middle Columbia (near Hood River Station) drainages, and the various lakes of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon (Smith 1896; Griffiths 1939; Chapman 1942; also see Bond 1994; State of Oregon 2000; Moyle 2002); the Savannah drainage in South Carolina (Dahlberg and Scott 1971a) (see remarks); the Black Hills in the Cheyenne drainage, and the Minnesota and Missouri drainages in South Dakota (Bailey and Allum 1962; Cross et al. 1986; North Dakota Game and Fish Department 1994; Hanten, personal communication; MacCrimmon and Campbell 1969); the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee systems, and the Cumberland drainage in Tennessee (Kuhne 1939; Dahlberg and Scott 1971a; Starnes and Etnier 1986; Etnier and Starnes 1993); the Guadalupe River, Texas (Howells 1992a; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 2001); the Wasatch and Uinta mountains, southwestern Utah, and the Bear, upper Green, Strawberry, Utah Lake, and Jordan drainages in Utah (Tyus et al. 1982; Sigler and Sigler 1996; Tilmant 1999); the Pee Dee, Clinch, Powell, North and Middle Fork Holston, and possibly the Roanoke drainages in Virginia (Hocutt et al. 1986; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994); mountain lakes, lakes in the Puget Sound drainage, and northeastern Washington (Smith 1896; Chapman 1942; Wydoski and Whitney 1979; Tilmant 1999; Fletcher, personal communication; Champan 1942; ); the Little Kanawha and probably the Kanawha drainage below the falls in West Virginia (Hocutt et al. 1986); and Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the Green River, and streams of major mountain ranges in Wyoming (Baxter and Simon 1970; Tyus et al. 1982; Hubert 1994; Tilmant 1999; USFWS 2005; Wiley 2003; MacCrimmon and Campbell 1969).

Means of Introduction: This species has been stocked for sportfishing since the 1800s. It was first stocked in Arizona in 1920 (Rinne 1995). It was stocked in Missouri from 1879 to 1914 (Pflieger 1971).

Status: Established locally in many areas.  This species is native to portions of the Great Lakes basin, but non-native in some inland lakes of the basin.

Impact of Introduction: In Black Hollow Creek, near Fort Collins, Colorado, stocked Brook Trout completely replaced greenback cutthroat trout O. clarki stomias within a period of five years (Behnke 1992, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1995). Brook Trout also have replaced Lahontan cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi in areas where the cutthroat is native and Brook Trout have been introduced. Introduced Brook Trout, and other trout species, were likely responsible for the near-extinction of Lahontan cutthroat in Lake Tahoe in the 1940s (McAffee 1966b). Becker (1983) hypothesized that Brook Trout may have been responsible for lack of success in establishing grayling populations by stocking because of the Brook Trout's more aggressive nature. Introduced Brook Trout inhabit approximately 40% of bull trout S. confluentus streams in Montana and may be replacing native bull trout in that state through hybridization. Almost all the resulting hybrids are sterile. Bull trout are now a species of special concern in Montana (Holton 1990; Kand et al. 2002). Introduced Brook Trout are known to replace native golden trout O. aguabonita (McAffee 1966a; Moyle 2002). Introduced predatory fishes, including the Brook Trout, are likely at least partially responsible for the decline of the Chiricahua leopard frog Rana chiricahuensis in southeastern Arizona (Rosen et al. 1995).

Remarks: A popular sport fish, especially with fly fishermen. Tyus et al. (1982) mapped the distribution of Brook Trout in the upper Colorado basin. Loyacano (1975) lists Brook Trout in the Santee-Cooper and Savannah drainages in South Carolina but does not indicate that it is introduced. Rohde et al. (1994) do not show it in the Santee-Cooper drainage in South Carolina. Swift et al. (1986) listed it as native to the Savannah (South Carolina/Georgia), Chattahoochee (Georgia), and Coosa (Georgia) drainages. Hocutt et al. (1986) listed it as native but possibly introduced to the Santee drainage (SC). Etnier and Starnes (1993) listed the native status of this species as uncertain in the Conasauga (Coosa) system. Underhill (1986) listed it as native to Isle Royal in Lake Superior (Michigan). Stauffer et al. (1995) listed this species as native to the Kanawha below the falls, and as probably present and native to the Little Kanawha drainage in West Virginia. Starnes et al. (2011) state that Brook Trout were present in some headwaters of the Difficult Run system (Potomac River drainage), listing it as possibly non-native, but is now extirpated from the region. Neville and Bernatchez (2013) examined the population genetics of Idaho river populations and available hatchery strains, finding a large degree of genetic structuring both within and among river populations, and a high degree of likely admixture of hatchery strains in the wild. These genetic data also showed that while the sampled hatchery populations were the likely origin for most Brook Trout in Idaho, a substantial portion were derived from an unknown genetic origin; this genetic mixing of Brook Trout strains likely increased the diversity of founding populations, and enhanced establishment and invasion success. Koenig et al. (2015) examined the ability of stocked Tiger Muskellunge (Esox lucius x E. masquinongy) to reduce or eradicate Brook Trout populations in high alpine lakes in Idaho, finding >90% reduction in Brook Trout catch per unit effort in tiger muskellunge-stocked lakes with 0-1 inlets or outlets.

Fact sheet and distribution map for splake [Salvelinus fontinalis x namaycush] is available here.


References: (click for full references)

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Madison Press Madison, WI.

Behnke, R.J. 1992. Native trout of western North America. American Fisheries Society Monograph 6. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Burkhead, N.M., S.J. Walsh, B.J. Freeman, and J.D. Williams. 1997. Status and restoration of the Etowah River, an imperiled southern Appalachian ecosystem. Pages 375-444 in Benz, G.W., and D.E. Collins, eds. Aquatic fauna in peril: the southeastern perspective. Southeast Aquatic Research Institute, Lenz Design & Communications. Decatur, GA.

Delong, J. 2002. Nevada Focus: stocked fish upset Lake Tahoe ecosystem. San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. August 6, 2002.

Etnier, D.A. and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

Griffiths, F. P. 1939. Considerations of the Introduction and Distribution of Exotic Fishes in Oregon. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 69:240-243.

Hocutt, C. H., R. E. Jenkins, and J. R. Stauffer Jr. 1986. Zoogeography of the Fishes of the Central Appalachians and Central Atlantic Coastal Plain. In C.H. Hocutt and E.O. Wiley, eds. The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. pp. 161-212.

Insider Viewpoint. 2001. Fishing Records – Nevada. Insider Viewpoint Magazine. 3 pp.

Kanda, N., R.F. Leary, and F.W. Allendorf. 2002. Evidence on introgressive hybridization between bull trout and brook trout. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 131: 772-782.

Koenig, M.K., K.A. Meyer, J.R. Kozfkay, J.M. DuPont, and E.B. Schriever. 2015. Evaluating the ability of Tiger Muskellunge to eradicate Brook Trout in Idaho alpine lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 35(4):659-670.

Loyacano, H.A., Jr. 1975. A list of freshwater fishes of South Carolina. Bulletin of the South Carolina Experimental Station 580:1-9.

McAffee, W.R. 1966a. Golden trout. Pages 216-221 in Calhoun, A, ed. Inland fisheries management. California Department of Fish and Game. Sacramento, CA.

McAffee, W.R. 1966b. Lahontan cutthroat trout. Pages 225-231 in Calhoun, A, ed. Inland fisheries management. California Department of Fish and Game. Sacramento, CA.

Mecklenburg, C. W.,  et. al. 2002 Fishes of Alaska. Amercian Fisheries Society. 1037 pp.

Miller, R.R. and C.H. Lowe. 1967. Part 2. Fishes of Arizona, p 133-151, In: C.H. Lowe, ed. The Vertebrates of Arizona. University of Arizona Press. Tucson.

Moyle, P.B. 2002. Inland fishes of California. Second edition. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Neville, H.M., and L. Bernatchez. 2013. Coding gene single nucleotide polymorphism population genetics of nonnative brook trout: the ghost of introductions past. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 142(5):1215-1231.

Rasmussen, J.L. 1998. Aquatic nuisance species of the Mississippi River basin. 60th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Aquatic Nuisance Species Symposium, Dec. 7, 1998, Cincinnati, OH.

Rohde, F.C., R.G. Arndt, D.G. Lindquist, and J.F. Parnell. 1994. Freshwater Fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC.

Rosen, P.C., C.R. Schwalbe, D.A. Parizek, Jr., P.A. Holm, and C.H. Lowe. 1995. Introduced aquatic vertebrates in the Chiricahua region: effects on declining native ranid frogs. Pages 251-261 in DeBano, L.H., P.H. Folliott, A. Ortega-Rubio, G.J. Gottfried, R.H. Hamre, and C.B. Edminster, eds. Biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago: the sky islands of southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. Fort Collins, CO.

Schofield, C.L., D. Josephson, C. Keleher, and S.P. Gloss. 1993. Thermal stratification of dilute lakes-evaluation of regulatory processes and biolgical effects before and after base addition: effects on brook trout habitat and growth. USFWS Biological Report. 1993(9).

Starnes, W.C., J. Odenkirk, and M.J. Ashton. 2011. Update and analysis of fish occurrences in the lower Potomac River drainage in the vicinity of Plummers Island, Maryland—Contribution XXXI to the natural history of Plummers Island, Maryland. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 124(4):280-309.

State of Oregon. 2000. Warm Water Game Fish Records. 7 pp.

Stauffer, J.R., Jr., J.M. Boltz, and L.R. White. 1995. The fishes of West Virginia. Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.

Swift, C.C., T.R. Haglund, M. Ruiz, and R.N. Fisher. 1993. The status and distribution of the freshwater fishes of southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 92(3):101-167.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 2001. Fish Records: Water Body - All Tackle. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. April 24, 2001

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Tyus, H.M., B.D. Burdick, R.A. Valdez, C.M. Haynes, T.A. Lytle, and C.R. Berry. 1982. The fishes of the upper Colorado River basin: distribution, abundance, and status. Pages 12-70 in Miller, W.H., H.M. Tyus, and C.A. Carlson, eds. Fishes of the upper Colorado River system: present and future. Western Division, American Fisheries Society. Bethesda, MD.

Underhill, J.C. 1986. The fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence lowlands, Newfoundland, and Labrador. Pages 105-136 in Hocutt, C.H., and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons. New York, NY.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. Greenback cutthroat trout recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado.

Other Resources:
Distribution in Illinois - Illinois Natural History Survey

Global Invasive Species Database Factsheet

FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 9/30/2015

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Salvelinus fontinalis (Mitchill, 1814): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 9/30/2015, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 1/19/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/19/2018].

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