Michigan's native stream trout -- indeed, Michigan's state fish -- brook trout require higher water quality than other species of trout, making them the least geographically distributed trout in Michigan. Found primarily in northern Michigan, brook trout inhabit waters ranging from large rivers to little jump-across creeks, though there is also a population, popularly referred to as "coasters," that lives in the Great Lakes, particularly in Lake Superior, that migrates upstream to spawn as well, Although brookies are capable of growing quite large in lakes (the state record is 9.5 pounds) they are typically diminutive in streams. They are prized table fare.
Brook trout - sometimes called specks - have been stocked in a number of lakes, primarily in the Upper Peninsula, where they provide a unique fishery. Many of these lakes are walk-in only and are managed with strict regulations - artificial lures, a 15-inch minimum length limit and a one-fish creel limit - to preserve the quality of the fishery.
Brook trout are ready biters and can be taken on all manner of gear, from live bait to dry flies. They can be found in deep holes and under the cover of logs or overhanging banks in many streams where they often pursued by angler drifting worms along the bottom. Small spoons, spinners and jigs are the most popular spinning lures. Brook trout are more diurnal than other trout, giving them a reputation among fly fishermen as "gentlemen trout," and are perhaps the least discriminatory when it comes to accepting an offering that does not quite match the hatch, though they are just as spooky and will readily shy from large leaders or poor casts.
The Black River system, in the northeastern Lower Peninsula, enjoys a reputation as being among the best brook trout streams in Michigan. Brookies are found in most major trout stream systems, but by summer, they have often migrated to the headwaters of the tributaries in search of colder water. Brook trout are widespread across the northern portion of the state, especially in the Upper Peninsula, where any stream that runs clear and cold is likely to hold a population of brook trout.
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For more information on identifying characteristics for brook trout see our fish ID page.