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Brown trout

Fact Sheet for brown trout (Salmo trutta)

Fishing Status:

An IFS Recreational Angling licence is needed to take brown trout. Licences can be purchased from more than 130 agents located in retail businesses around the state. Licensing agents are primarily fishing stores but also include most trout guides, Service Tasmania outlets and the IFS head office. Specific fishing regulations for bag and size limits, and fishing technique (bait, lure or fly) may vary between waters.

Distingushing Features:

Generally an elongate thick-bodied fish. They have a dorsal fin high on their back, and further forward than the pelvic fins. They have an adipose fin, a lateral line and small scales. The mouth extends back past the eyes.


The colour is highly variable depending on their age, habitat and life history. Lake populations are generally silver, but often show darker colouration ranging from brown or dark green along the back, with dark spots. River populations are usually darker and often have bright red spots surrounded by pale halos, and sea-run populations are usually silver all over. Spawning fish become darker on the sides and back, with a yellow belly.


Can reach weights over 20 kg and at least 1400 mm long. The Australian record of 13.3 kg is for a fish caught in the Huon River, Tasmania.


They are native to Europe and have been introduced all over the world. They were introduced into Tasmania from England in 1864. Will spawn only if there is sufficient water velocity and depth over suitable gravel beds. Most lakes and rivers in Tasmania maintain their own populations, but in some cases, waters are stocked solely for angling purposes. Brown trout form the basis of an extensive recreational fishery contributing millions of dollars to the Tasmanian economy annually.

Life Cycle:

Spawning occurs in autumn and winter when spawning fish migrate upstream to gravel-bottom stretches of river. Fish pair up and eggs and milt are deposited into a depression called redds, prepared by the female. These are then covered up by dislodging upstream gravel. The eggs generally hatch after 1 month depending on water temperature, and hatchlings stay in the gravel feeding off their yolk-sacs until they emerge as fry. They initially may form schools, but over the next year or two become solitary and territorial as they move into deeper water.


Newly emerged fry may school up in slow shallow water along stream edges or backwaters. Adults prefer cool well aerated water with adequate cover and shelter.


They feed on a wide variety of animals including crustaceans, molluscs, both aquatic and terrestrial insects and small fishes.

Why is it Threatened?:

Low flows prior to the juveniles emerging from the gravel nests; Loss of instream habitat; Erosion leading to increased sedimentation; Overfishing.

Tasmanian Distribution:

Widespread and abundant down to sea level in all major drainages except in the south-west.
Brown trout (Salmo trutta)
Brown Trout Fact File
Scientifc Name Salmo trutta
Other Names Sea trout, Englishman
Native No
Endemic No
Introduced Yes
Pest Fish No
Tasmanian Conservation Status -
Commonwealth Conservation Status -