Brook Trout - BC's Lower Mainlands invasive jewel.
It is no secret that Char are our favourite fish to target locally. We have some of the most powerful Bull trout, Dolly Varden, and if you know where to look, Brook trout. Where co owner Ty loves to stalk big bulls on our local big rivers, I lean more towards targeting our lesser known still water populations of Brook trout.
Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are native to the east coast of North America. They favour most cold clear waters from the small clear streams of the appalachian mountains to the huge sea run populations around Main to Newfoundland. They are a beautiful fish distinguished by its yellowish wormlike markings (called vermiculation) on the top of the body, red with blue halo spots, yellow spots, red bellies, and red fins with white front edges.
Brook trout are very effective predators with large mouths. It has been our experience that they eat everything from chironomids, to shrimp, to leeches and small fish. Basically, if it moves, it is food. This makes them fun to target. Especially if you like stripping in streamers like our signature leech patterns.
Our local populations seem to cruise at the 20 to 30 foot depth and will rocket up from the depths at incredible speed to strike at food. In shallower water they cruise the bottom and when it is clear and you can see the bottom it is not uncommon to see a school of them patrolling along the edges of bull rushes or around sunken logs and structure.
Unlike trout who spawn in the spring, Char tend to spawn in fall. They prefer to spawn in inflow creeks and streams but in a few of our local lakes they seem to spawn in shallower bays with sandy bottoms.
If you catch one and are unsure if it is a Char or one of our resident trout species, an easy rule of thumb for identification is;
Char - Light spots on a darker body.
Trout - dark spots on a lighter body.
From what we can tell, they were stocked into a number of lower mainland lakes in the 50s and 60s. They have not been stocked here for decades but in a few of the lakes they have managed to thrive, survive, and have stable populations. Like most fly fishermen, we do not like to share our fishing spots, but if you do some digging, you will find that there are about 6 lakes in the Lower Mainland where you can find them. Some easier to access, some very remote and some effort will be needed to reach. But if you find where they are, you will be rewarded.
Brookies, although invasive, are truly one of the prettiest fish in BC's Lower Mainland and are fun to catch.
Please remember to practice ethical fishing, use barbless hooks, wet your hands, and if you are not harvesting them to keep them in the water as much as possible before letting them go.