Brook Trout are Tennessee’s only native trout species, which have been found to be genetically distinct from Brook Trout native to more northern parts of its range.
At one time, all wild trout water in Tennessee was inhabited by Brook Trout. However, in the late 1800s many populations were lost due to primitive logging techniques and stocking of non-native Rainbow Trout. Wild populations can now only be found in the coldest and cleanest headwater streams in the mountains of eastern Tennessee at elevations greater than 3,000 feet where water temperatures are typically below 68° F. TWRA biologists, in cooperation with the US Forest Service, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee Aquarium and Trout Unlimited have recently worked to expand the range of Brook Trout by stocking native strains back into their native waters.
Today, we have about 150 streams that support wild Brook Trout. For additional information on TWRA’s efforts to restore native Southern Appalachian Brook Trout populations across East Tennessee, check out of this episode of Tennessee’s Wild Side.
Identification: Yellow or reddish-orange spots on sides and belly. Light wormlike markings on the upper body. Leading edge of lower fins white with black stripe.
State Record: 4 lbs, 12 oz. (Caney Fork River)
Tennessee Angler Recognition Program: minimum 10 inches
Fishing Tips: Brook Trout are aggressive feeders eating insects, crayfish, salamanders, and other fish. Food is typically in short supply in headwater streams so Brook Trout rely heavily on prey that falls into the stream (e.g., ants, caterpillars, inchworms).
[This information from the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency: Trout Fishing in Tennessee]