Southern Appalachian Brook Trout
Southern Appalachian Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
by Minshu Deng
Wild South, with support from partners like Second Gear, work to protect our native wildlife – advocating through education – and you might just get to see Brook Trout Saturday August 31, 2013 in Asheville, NC at Wild Things Weekend!
The Southern Appalachian brook trout is the official freshwater fish of North Carolina and the state’s only native trout species. Recent genetic studies showed that the Southern Appalachian is unique among brook trout species. They are sometimes known as “specks” or “speckled trout” because of their spotted appearance.
The average size of the Southern Appalachian brook trout is 6 to 8 inches in length with an average weight of ¼ to ½ a pound. Adults eat aquatic and terrestrial insects, crustaceans, fish and other small vertebrates. Juveniles eat just small aquatic and terrestrial insects.
Spawning, or egg-laying, happens September through November, and the incubating period varies depending on the water temperature. The young are called alevins, and they reach sexual maturity at approximately two years of age. Their life expectancy is usually short-lived, rarely going past 4 years in the wild.
Wild brook trout thrive in cool, clean water, and their populations quickly decline in the presence of polluted or contaminated waters. In the late 1800s, intensive logging practices caused significant damage to stream habitats, with extensive erosion and siltation killing off brook trout populations. Trout from other regions of the U.S. were introduced in an effort to restore populations.