Fishing for Brook Trout (non-native)


spotted fish on a riverbank
CDFW photo by Dave Lentz.
spotted fish in person's hand
CDFW photo by Dave Lentz.
  • Only trout in California with vermiculation pattern (wavy, maze-like lines) on back and upper sides.
  • Coloration olive-green to olive-brown, often with reddish hues.
  • Red spots surrounded by blue halos.
  • Pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins with white-leading edges.
  • Large mouth with the maxillary extending past the eye.
  • Both sexes may become brightly colored during spawning season with dusky to black bellies, red sides, and red lower fins.
brook trout - a dark green to brown color with a marbled pattern
USFWS illustration by Duane Raver.


  • Native to the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Can be found as far west as Minnesota, northeastern Iowa, and Manitoba.
  • Widely planted into waters across the United States and Canada.
  • Brought to California in 1871 and planted into many suitable waters across state.
  • Now present in mountain lakes and streams from the San Bernardino Mountains north to the Oregon border. Most abundant in high-elevation waters of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Angling Information

  • Brook trout can be caught in many stream and lake environments across a large portion of California, particularly in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  • In smaller high-elevation streams, brook trout tend to be smaller (< 14”) but offer fast-action fishing (>2 fish/hr).
  • Trophy brook trout (>18”) can be caught in some lakes.
  • Small lures, a wide variety of flies, and bait are all effective, as brook trout are opportunistic feeders.
  • Due to the wide variety of habitats in which brook trout are found, specific recommendations on fishing techniques and terminal tackle are difficult to provide. Check with local fishing shops in the area you intend to fish to get tips on localized conditions and suggested tackle.

Note: special bonus bag and possession limits exist in some portions of the state. Refer to the California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations for the North Coast and Sierra districts.

Fisheries Branch
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605 |