The brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis "of or from a spring or fountain"), sometimes called the eastern brook trout, is a species of fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. It is native to Eastern North America in the United States and Canada. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. A potamodromous population in Lake Superior is known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters. Though commonly called a trout, the brook trout is actually a char (Salvelinus) which in North America, includes the lake trout, bull trout, Dolly Varden and the arctic char. The brook trout is the state fish of 8 states: Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
Although there's an element of myth about the story, purportedly Daniel Webster, an avid angler, caught a large (~14.5 pounds (6.6 kg)) brook trout near the Old South Haven Church in a mill pond on Carman's river on Long Island, New York in 1823 (or 1827). The event was immortalized in Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait's 1854 painting "Catching a trout". Until it was displaced by introduced brown trout (1883) and rainbow trout (1875), the brook trout was the trout that attracted the most attention of anglers from colonial times through the first 100 years of U.S. history.
Sporting writers like Genio Scott Fishing in American Waters (1869), Thaddeus Norris American Anglers Book (1864), Robert Barnwell Roosevelt Game fish of North America (1864) and Charles Hallock The Fishing Tourist (1873) produced guides to the best-known brook trout waters in America. As brook trout populations declined in the mid-19th century near urban areas, anglers flocked to the Adirondacks in upstate New York and the Rangeley lakes region in Maine to pursue brook trout. In July, 1916 on the Nipigon River in northern Ontario, an Ontario physician, John W. Cook, caught a 14.5-pound (6.6 kg) brook trout which stands as the world record.
The brook trout is a popular game fish with anglers, particularly fly fishermen. Today, many anglers practice catch-and-release tactics to preserve remaining populations, and organizations such as Trout Unlimited have been in the forefront of efforts to institute air and water quality standards sufficient to protect the brook trout. Revenues derived from the sale of fishing licenses have been used to restore many sections of creeks and streams to brook trout habitat.
The current world angling record brook trout was caught by Dr. W. J. Cook on the Nipigon River, Ontario, in July 1915. The 31-inch (79 cm) trout weighed only 14.5 pounds (6.6 kg) because, at the time of weighing, it was badly decomposed after 21 days in the bush without refrigeration. This is the longest-standing angling world record. A 29-inch (74 cm) brook trout, caught in October 2006 in Manitoba, is not eligible for record status since it was released alive. This trout weighed approximately 15.98 pounds (7.25 kg) based on the accepted formula for calculating weight by measurements and it currently stands as the record brook trout for Manitoba.