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Brook Trout


Brook trout are West Virginia’s only native trout, known to many fishermen simply as ‘‘natives.’’ State fishermen feel that this fish embodies the very essence of the Mountaineer spirit, inhabiting only cold, pristine streams of the high mountain valleys. In 1973, lawmakers chose the brook trout as the state fish of West Virginia.

Many of the headwater streams of the Cheat, Greenbrier, Elk, Potomac, and Tygart rivers contain good brook trout populations. The longest brook trout was caught in the Lost River in 1981 and measured 23.5 inches, and the heaviest was 7.64 pounds, caught in Shavers Fork in 2004.

The brook trout can be distinguished from both the rainbow and brown trout by light twisting lines across the back instead of brown or black spots, and the milky-white first ray of pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins. It feeds primarily on aquatic adult insects, terrestrial insects, and immature mosquitoes and gnats. Spawning takes place in autumn over a gravel substrate. Young brook trout emerge in spring, feeding primarily on subsurface, drifting larvae, and nymphs. The best time to fish for brook trout is in late April or May when the waters warm a little and the first good hatches of mayflies and other insects appear.

Written by Kathleen Carothers Leo