Brook trout male (center)
Adult (4 year old) male rainbow trout
Juvenile (4 month old) rainbow trout on exhibit acquired Tuesday from the hatchery
From a husbandry standpoint each species has its own behavioral characteristics. Brooks are the easiest to keep; they are disease resistant, readily spawn in captivity, and are the most peaceful with each other and the other trouts. Brook trout are also strikingly beautiful, making them an excellent display species. Rainbows are simply eating machines: given the opportunity rainbows will eat until they can barely swim. Rainbows also tend to have more health issues than any native species we rear; they have long been captive bred for distribution throughout the the US and the world - for sport and for food - a factor that has made captive strains considerably less hardy. Aside from the fact that they are susceptible to disease, they are generally easy to keep as well. Browns are the outlier of the three. They aren't as overtly colorful as brooks, as well known as rainbows and may vary widely in color and patterning: some browns are vivid gold with a plethora of black spots all over their bodies, while others may be drab olive-brown with little spotting. Regardless of their physical appearance browns have charisma. Thought to be the hardest to catch in the wild of the three trout species, they are the most reclusive and seemingly least tame. Browns have a tendency to hide, lay motionless much more frequently than brooks or rainbows, and will eat surprisingly large tank mates. And they jump! - out of the exhibit and sometimes into another. Several times overnight a brown trout has leaped into the Mountain Stream exhibit where they are found in the morning among the smaller stream fishes. Thus they require barriers to keep them from leaping onto the floor overnight. Did I mention browns are most active at night?
Brook, brown and rainbow trout on exhibit
View from Spy Rock a peak on the Appalachian Trail, accessed on Hatchery Road.
A side tributary of the Tye River, many of which are wild brook trout streams.
Montebello Hatchery is located just a few miles past Crabtree Falls (Tye River) and is also the access point to a hiking trail spur leading to Spy Rock on the Appalachian Trail. It is a beautiful area and the facility is open to the public. This hatchery raises all three species of trout and generously gives us fingerling trout when we need them. This visit we only needed only rainbows, with plenty of brooks and browns currently on exhibit. Below is a video of the rainbow trout fingerlings at the hatchery; we brought back about 200 of these guys!