Age and Growth of Brook Trout in Southern Appalachian Streams

Samples of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) were collected by electrofishing in 28 streams in 5 southeastern states between June 1977 and March 1978. Whole and sectioned otoliths were used to estimate age and the annual growth increments of 998 fish. General compliance with 4 criteria suggested validity of the otolith ageing method. Although 1 fish was age X, 98% were age III or younger. Brook trout from all streams grew the most in length during their first year. Second-year growth represented 28% (median) of median first-year growth. Growth of males and females did not differ significantly. Growth rates were generally slower than those reported for brook trout from other regions. Age and growth patterns of individual populations were not consistent within a given drainage basin. In several streams, no fish obtained a length of 152 mm (6 inches) or the minimum legal limit, by age III.

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