Mr. Brownie, Brown Trout, Salmo trutta
June 4, 2013
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources page on Brown Trout, Salmo trutta says that Brown trout is something of a misnomer as many Great Lakes brown trout are mainly silver in color. Michigan Sea Grant has excellent information about Great Lakes fish, and their Brown Trout entry says that the they were first stocked in the Great Lakes in the 1880s and:
The brown trout’s scientific name translates to “trout-salmon.” The Atlantic salmon and brown trout both belong to the genus Salmo. Rainbow trout, coho salmon, and Chinook salmon belong to a different genus – Oncorhynchus.
Great Lakes brown trout typically enter tributaries to spawn during late fall. Reef spawning also has been documented in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Although naturally reproducing populations of brown trout exist in Michigan waters, most are maintained through stocking. Unlike Chinook and coho salmon, brown trout do not necessarily die after spawning and can live for up to 13 years in Lake Michigan.
Browns can tolerate warmer water than other trout species, which adds to their popularity as a gamefish in rivers that are not suitable for native brook trout. In the Great Lakes, brown trout stay near shore in waters less than 50 feet deep, which makes them an ideal gamefish for shallow bays such as Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay.
The diet of brown trout varies greatly depending on its environment and available food sources. In the Great Lakes, brown trout prey mostly on forage fish such as alewife, rainbow smelt, and round goby. In rivers, small browns eat a variety of aquatic invertebrates. Larger fish transition to a diet of small fish, large insects, and even small rodents. Big browns are notorious for their wariness and nocturnal feeding habits.
Read on for more from Michigan Sea Grant and connect with them on Facebook. For more information on how and where to catch brown trout see the DNR’s Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them and Better Fishing Waters.