Wild Brook Trout
Maine supports the most extensive distribution and abundance of wild brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in their native range within the United States; more than 1,200 lakes and ponds are managed for brook trout, of which approximately 60% are sustained by natural reproduction. In addition, brook trout occur in an estimated 22,248 miles of stream habitat, the vast majority of which are wild. Although brook trout populations are declining across their historic range within the United States (Maine to Georgia), a 2006 range-wide assessment by the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV) concluded that:
"Maine is the only state with extensive intact populations of wild, self-reproducing brook trout in lakes and ponds, including some lakes over 5,000 acres in size. Maine's lake and pond brook trout resources are the jewel of the eastern range: lake populations are intact in 185 subwatersheds (18% of the historical range), in comparison to only six intact subwatersheds among the 16 other states." Furthermore, Maine is the last true stronghold for stream dwelling populations of wild brook trout, supporting more than twice the number of intact subwatersheds as the other 16 states in the eastern range combined.
Maine's wild brook trout waters are found throughout the state, but are most prevalent in the interior highlands, many of which are located in privately owned commercial forestlands. This cooler region provides more optimal conditions with fewer competing, non-native fish species than the southern or coastal parts of the state.
Maine's native and wild brook trout lakes, ponds, and flowing waters represent a unique and abundant resource not available elsewhere in the United States. Not surprisingly the MDIFW places a high priority on the management of this important resource, with a focus on protection, conservation, enhancement, and restoration of self-sustaining populations.