KMZs and other files showing the distribution of Brook Trout are available from the download system.
New! Now includes Great Lakes and Driftless Areas
Brook Trout are the native trout of the NE US, the Appalachian highlands, and a big chunk of the northern midwest including parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa. Outside of their native range, brookies are one of the most successful “exotics”, dominating native western cutts in cold, headwater streams where they’ve been stocked or migrated from stocked locations.
Starting in 2005, new information became available about the range of brookie habitat (see color key below the map), through the efforts of the Eastern Brook Trout Coalition, working with the Southern Appalachian GIS center, which ultimately morphed into what is now called the TU Conservation Success Index (CSI).
Source: Trout Unlimited CSI, Google Earth
In 2009, the coalition published their watershed database in a series of KMZ files that can be viewed in Google Earth. Watersheds are color coded for the quality of brook trout habitat, in order from best to worst: blue, green, yellow, orange, red. For your convenience, we’ve made the entire dataset available here, in the “Brookie Resources” menu in the sidebar.
Keep in mind that brook trout can be diminished by other trout species, so some red areas may be excellent wild brown or rainbow water. But it’s almost certain that the yellow and green areas are great places to find wild trout.
Note: these data are coded by drainage. Not every stream within a drainage will hold trout, though the majority will, especially within the higher quality areas.
The map below, created by the USGS’ “Non-indigenous Aquatic Species” database, shows a rough distribution of Brook Trout in the lower 48 states. Brookies, stocked and wild, can be found in something like 44 states. In the west, brook trout reach sexual maturity a year earlier than most Cutthroat species, and grow faster, so young brookies tend to crowd out cutthroat in cold, headwater streams. So, despite their beauty, brookies are acquiring a poor reputation in the west.