Fishing for the Southern Appalachian brook trout is a truly unique angling experience. You trek into the isolated headwaters of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, or the Cohutta Wilderness in Georgia, with the mist on the cold waters, and mountain laurel along the banks, searching for that elusive native brook trout – fishing doesn’t get any better than that.
The Southern Appalachian brook trout is not really a trout at all – it’s a member of the char family (Salvelinus fontinalis). Sometimes called brookies, speckled trout, or specks, these spritely fish make their home in the high, lonesome country, home to majestic trees and stark cliffs, of bear and deer and bobcat. Their native habitat is the cold, clear headwater streams of these watersheds.
It’s a thing of beauty, this brook trout. The fish’s body is dark olive to almost black, marbled by squiggly vermicular markings. Its sides are adorned with red spots bordered by halos of light blue to lavender. Underneath, its belly is red (vivid red and orange during spawning, especially in the males), as are the lower fins.