The official New Jersey State fish is the brook trout as stated by the Assembly Bill 2608 signed by Governor James J. Florio on the 8th January 1992 at the Hopatcong Middle School in Hopatcong, New Jersey. 19 of the American states identify varying species of freshwater trout to be their official state symbols.
Brook Trout, the New Jersey State Fish
The brook trout or speckled trout is a distinctively colored fish that features yellow dots over its olive-colored back. The dots on its back span its length and are undulating in shape. On its side, the colors transition between olive and orange-red, with red dots surrounded by blue running toward its belly. The fish has orange-red lower fins that feature white and black streaks. Its belly is a milky white color. These fish usually reach between nine and ten inches in size.
Brook trout or Salvelinus fontinals have a range of nicknames including “speckled trout,” “speckles,” “brookies,” and “brook trout.” This species of trout live in pure, cool freshwater areas and cannot live in polluted regions. Brook trout choose to feed on aquatic insects or nymphs that are present beneath rocks or the water bed. However, they will tend to eat whatever is available and have been known to eat land insects as they fall into the water as well as other fish such as crayfish, minnows, and other small species of fish.
They can be found all over Canada and the northeastern areas of the United States. They can be found in southern regions as far as the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and as far west as parts of Minnesota. They are usually found in pure mountain rivers and streams such as the Chesapeake Bay region and are often active in the periods of dusk and dawn. During the day, they will usually lie in deeper waters.
The brook trout is part of the char genus Salvelinus species of the salmon or Salmonidae family. It is naturally found in Eastern parts of North America in the United States as well as Canada. It has also been introduced in other areas of North America as well as in areas in Europe, Iceland, and Asia. In these areas, it is also sometimes known as the “speckled trout,” “eastern brook trout,” “brook charr,” “mud trout,” or “squaretail.”
Brook Trout History
This species was first recognized scientifically by Samuel Lathal Mitchill, a naturalist, in 1914. The name “fontanalis” derives from the Latin word meaning ” of a spring or fountain” which references the pure, cold rivers and streams that the brook trout call home. The brook trout was later defined as part of the char genus Salvelinus species. While it is largely known as a trout, the brook trout is part of the char family alongside the lake trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic char, and the bull trout.
Brook Trout Appearance
The brook trout is dark green or brown and has a distinct marble pattern known as vermiculation of lighter colors which spread across its back and extend to its dorsal fin or tail. It also features a distinct sprinkle of red dots that are surrounded by blue along its flank. The belly and lower fins of the brook trout are red in color. Usually, the male brook trout’s belly appears orange or red during the spawning season.
The brook trout usually spans between nine and twenty-five inches in length. The largest brook trout to be recorded measured thirty-four inches in length and weighed over fifteen pounds.
Brook Trout Habitat
Brook trout usually live in small or large lakes, streams, creeks, rivers, and spring ponds. They survive only in clear, clean water areas that have a high level of purity and a small pH range. They are highly sensitive to pollution or poor oxygenation which can be caused by environmental phenomenons including acid rain.
These fish are opportunistic in their feeding habits and will eat whatever is available to them. Despite that, they usually prefer to feed on an adult or nymph aquatic insects they will also eat other land insects such as beetles, ants as well as other small fish where they are available.
Brook Trout Lifespan
The lifecycle begins with pre-spawning when the brook trout male looks for a female. He will attempt to lure the female toward a suitable habitat to enable spawning. When a female accepts, she will choose a location and dig. As the female digs, the male will continue his courting by darting next to her and swimming around her while driving other males away.
Once spawning has been completed, the female will cover the eggs will a layer of small stones. As soon as the eggs are covered, the female will continue upstream to dig another. Spawning will usually occur in September and October.
In the autumn, brook trout spawn, and their offspring hatch by January. At the end of their first summer, young brook trout will reach between three and four inches in size. An average brook trout will live between two and three years.
Brook Trout Conservation
Brook trout, in areas, that their populations are well established are not usually considered to be at threat. The main cause for concern regarding brook trout population changes is usually to do with droughts, floods, and other environmental changes.
Some populations of brook trout may also be under threat of over-harvesting. Some non-native brook trout are also stocked in streams and ponds and are fished more aggressively, creating a risk for some populations.
In some areas, the introduction of non-native species such as trout and salmon may compete with the brook trout for habitat and spawning areas.
To Sum Up
The New Jersey State Fish is the brook trout, a native species of northeastern United States. These fish are part of the char family and are usually found in clear and pure streams, rivers, and lakes. They are distinctively colorful fish whose colors transition between olive green and red-orange.