Are Great Lakes Trout Bulking Up for Carp Invasion?

Even as the rampaging invasive carp close in on Lake Michigan, another foreign fish has put on a rival show of strength: This past Friday, an angler in Lake Racine, Wisconsin’s Salmon-A-Rama tournament caught a 41-pound brown trout

The catch set a new record for any fish at the tournament, and if its final weight reading of 41.8 pounds on a certified meat-market scale is accepted by the record-keeping authorities, it would set a world record for the species.

Brown trout were imported to the Great Lakes in the late 18th century. Like the carp, they were able to outcompete native fish in the damaged ecosystem of their new home, according to the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute: 

These resourceful fish managed well in degraded habitats no longer suitable for brook and other trout. At the same time, the browns proved they could grow faster and live longer than the other kinds of trout. 

Whether because of their European pedigree, their appeal as sport fish, or different ecological attitudes at the time, brown trout’s success in American waters was not met with the same panic currently greeting the silver and bighead carp, which originated in Asia. The current record-holder for the species was also caught in American waters.