Brown Trout vs Brook Trout – How To Tell The Difference

This post was last updated on August 6th, 2022 at 06:05 pm

How to tell the difference between the brown trout and the brook trout, brook trout vs brown troutThere are many ways to easily identify brown trout vs brook trout. It’s very important to be able to easily distinguish between the two species, because often times if you are keeping trout the minimum size allowed is very different.

Brookies (Salvelinus fontinalis) can be found in the same waters as brown trout, but very generally speaking, they don’t frequently inhabit the same areas. The reason for this is that brook trout prefer high elevation (above 5,000 feet) alpine rivers, lakes, and streams where the water is very cold year-round.

Browns (Salmo trutta) are usually found at much lower altitude in water that’s a little warmer. They can also survive in water that’s well above 70F, while brook trout cannot.

Brook Trout vs Brown Trout – Differences Between the Brown and the Brook Trout

Using the table below you should immediately be able to tell the difference between brook trout vs brown trout.


Brook Trout

(Salvelinus fontinalis)

Brook trout vs brown trout

Brown Trout

(Salmo trutta)

Brown trout - brook trout comparison

Average Size

Between 6-15 inches Between 8-24 inches

Identification – Spots

Pink spots with blue halos surrounding them.

Brook Trout spots

Red and Black spots with white halos.

Brown trout spots


Body Coloration

Back is grey-green with worm like markings. The belly of the brook trout will commonly have very vivid orange coloration. The Color intensity of the overall fish will become much more pronounced closer to spawning season in the fall. Back is brown, copper or orange with black spots. The belly of the brown trout is usually yellow – orange, but the orange is much less intense than that of the brook trout. The color of the brown can vary from almost silver (when found in lakes especially) to very vivid and pronounced colors close to the fall breeding season.


Mountain streams and smaller creeks and rivers. Can also be found in some lakes. They like riffle water but can be found anywhere in an average trout stream. Brookies can successfully spawn in still water. Any sized creek or river and commonly found in lakes. Preferred habitat will usually consist of deep water and cover nearby. Brown trout cannot spawn in still water.