Brown trout (Salma trutta) were originally from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, not native to North America. This hardy fish was first brought to the United States in 1884 (Michigan) and arrived in California in 1893. Since then it has been introduced and established in New Zealand, Australia and South America. There are several subspecies of brown trout, including an anadromous strain (called the sea trout) that migrates to the ocean where it spends most of its life before returning to freshwater to spawn.
A medium-sized brassy brown fish with a lighter belly, the brown trout is easily identified by its large black spots surrounded by pale borders or halos. Sometimes it also has reddish spots, again with halos.
Unlike the rainbow trout, which spawns in the spring, brown trout spawn in upstream gravel beds in the fall. Although they prefer cooler water, brown trout can survive in temperatures up to 81° F.
Brown trout eat terrestrial and aquatic insects, worms, crayfish and fish, including smaller brown trout. Large brown trout will also eat baby birds that fall from nests overhanging the water or mice, voles and other small mammals that fall into the water. The biggest brown trout usually feed at night.
Leonard caught this brown trout at Baum Lake the other day. I came back from photographing some pied-billed grebes at the right moment to snap the picture. Leonard is a catch-and-release fisherman. This one was hooked in the lip and easily released. (For you fly fishermen, Leonard was using a prince nymph.)