Brown Trout, Salmo trutta Linnaeus 1758

Other Names: Brownie, Loch Leven Trout, Sea Trout

Brown Trout, Salmo trutta. Source: Eric Engbretson / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. License: Public Domain


Brown Trout are one of the most popular angling fishes in southeastern Australia. First introduced into Tasmania from the United Kingdom in 1864, the species is now abundant in cool streams, lakes and reservoirs of south-eastern and south-western Australia. Although they breed in the wild, Brown Trout are regularly stocked to maintain populations for recreational anglers.

Unfortunately trout are voracious predators on smaller native Australian fishes.

Stunning footage of from New Zealand showing Brown Trout leaping from the water to catch damselflies.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Salmo trutta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 May 2024,

Brown Trout, Salmo trutta Linnaeus 1758

More Info


Native to the temperate coastal North Atlantic from Scandinavia to North Africa and east to the Caspian Sea. Known in temperate waters of Australia from north-east New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania to South Australia and south-western Western Australia.

Although Brown Trout inhabit cool, well oxygenated waters, preferring gravelly streams with moderate to swift flow, they are also found in cool, clear lakes and reservoirs. Individuals living in coastal streams occasionally migrate seawards, and anglers in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria have caught sea-run Brown Trout.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin 12-15; Anal fin 10-12; Caudal fin 19; Pectoral fin 12-14; Pelvic fin 9-10; Gill rakers 14-17; Vrtebrae 56-61  

Body moderately deep greatest body depth at dorsal fin origin, 20-24% TL; Caudal peduncle deep; head large, 23% TL; mouth terminal, moderate to large, extending back below eyes; eyes moderate to large, 16-18% of head length in adults; snout rounded; mature and spawning males develop elongated jaws, the lower with a markedly upturned tip (kype) which fits into a groove in upper jaw; teeth developed on upper and lower jaws (pre-maxillary, maxillary, dentary), usually many teeth on head and shaft of vomer, on pala­tines, on tongue in 2 rows, no hyoid teeth. Scales cycloid, small, 120-130 in lateral line. Dorsal fin high on back originating in front of ventral fins; fleshy adipose fin behind dorsal; anal fin short-based, below adipose fin, rounded; caudal fin truncate to square, shallowly forked in young; ventral fins abdominal, relatively small, square to rounded with axillary process at base; pectoral fins long, rounded to somewhat pointed, inserted low on sides.


Although Brown Trout may grow to 140 cm TL and weight of 20 kg in Europe, in Australia, most grow to 90 cm with a maximum weight of 14 kg. Brown Trout may live for 12 years.


Colour varies with habitat, age and diet. Brown Trout are usually brown or olive overall and may appear silvery (darker on the upper body), with dark spots on the sides (sometimes indistinct), dorsal fin and gill covers. The tail has few if any spots. The body is paler below the mid-line, and most spots are surrounded by a pale halo and are often reddish. Sea-run individuals are olive brown on top, with silvery sides and only a few indistinct spots.


Carnivores, feeding on a variety of insect larvae, snails and insects falling from above, aquatic crustaceans and small fishes including native species such as galaxiids and Nannoperca.


The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Female Brown Trout mature at 3 years and males at 2-3 years. Trout migrate upstream to spawn in well-oxygenated gravelly stream beds during winter and early spring. Females make small depressions or holes in the gravel and lay between 500-3000 eggs above each hole (called a ‘redd’).

The eggs are fertilised by a male before they sink into the red. The females then covers them with gravel for protection. The eggs are large, 4-5 mm in diameter, and take 6-20 weeks to hatch, depending on water temperature. The young remain in the gravel for some time absorbing their yolk, before emerging to form small shoals in moderately swift water and commence feeding.


Brown Trout support major recreational fisheries in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia. The species is one of the most popular recreational freshwater fish throughout southeastern Australia. There is no commercial fishery for Brown Trout.

Government and private hatcheries in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia breed Brown Trout using aquaculture techniques. Juvenile trout are stocked into streams, lakes and reservoirs to maintain populations for recreational anglers.

The ACT, NSW, Qld, SA and Vic all have legal size limits and catch limits, and Brown Trout cannot be caught during parts of the year in the ACT, NSW and Vic.


In 1864 Brown Trout were successfully introduced into what is now called the Salmon Ponds near Hobart, Tasmania. Through migration and stocking programs, the species spread over time into streams, lakes and reservoirs throughout Tasmania and mainland Australia.

Similar Species

As juveniles, Brown Trout are easily confused with juvenile Rainbow Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. In life, the adipose fin (the small fleshy fin behind the dorsal fin that lacks rays or spines) of small Rainbow Trout may be spotted with a black margin, and may also be slightly transparent. In contrast, the adipose fin of juvenile Brown Trout is never spotted, is not transparent and may have an orange to reddish dorso-posterior border.

Species Citation

Salmo trutta Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema Naturae: 308. Type locality: European rivers.


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Brown Trout, Salmo trutta Linnaeus 1758


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37094004

Fishing:Popular angling fish

Habitat:Clear freshwaters

Max Size:140 cm TL (in Europe)

Max weight:20 kg (in Europe)


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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map