Are Brown Trout Native to Pennsylvania? Wild vs. Native Trout

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Danny fishing in the river.

Brown trout are not native to Pennsylvania. They’re native to waters overseas in Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, Pennsylvania has many populations of wild brown trout. These fish can naturally reproduce and don’t need any help from humans to survive. Brown trout are some of most anglers’ favorite fish to land in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is an underrated trout fishery in the Eastern United States. Beautiful small streams and larger rivers give anglers a nice amount of diversity. Native brook trout, wild brown trout, and wild rainbow swim through the state’s nearly 90,000 miles of streams and rivers. 

Brown Trout in Pennsylvania

Anglers from the East Coast and Midwest make it a point to travel to Pennsylvania to land some of their quality brown trout. In 2020, an angler caught the Pennsylvania state record brown trout that weighed over 20 pounds. I’ve spent most of my time fishing for trout in Michigan and Wisconsin.

It wasn’t until last year that I went after browns in Pennsylvania. My entire time exploring Lake Erie tributaries and streams throughout Central Pennsylvania gave me a taste of Eastern United States trout fishing. 

The limestone walls surrounding the rivers and streams provided the perfect cover and structure for fish to get deep in the warmer months and explore other parts of the water column when conditions allow.

History of Pennsylvania Brown Trout 

In 1886, Germany provided Pennsylvania with 10,000 brown trout eggs. They hatched at Corry Fish Hatchery in Erie County. This location in Northwestern Pennsylvania was the perfect place to introduce brown trout. The streams and consistent flows allowed the brown trout to grow without worrying they wouldn’t survive. 

Today, brown trout have massive populations all over the state. In 2023, the Pennsylvania Game Commission plans to stock 3.2 million trout in lakes and rivers across the state. The stocked fish keep numbers high and don’t interfere with the existing wild populations. 

Where to Find Brown Trout in Pennsylvania

Anglers find brown trout in the Lake Erie region and Central Pennsylvania. Several Pennsylvania streams are world-famous and must be at the top of the list for any trout angler. 

Penns Creek in Central Pennsylvania is a spring creek with phenomenal brown trout populations. Anglers should also spend time fishing Spruce Creek, the Little Juniata River, the Allegheny River, Yellow Breeches Creek, Kettle Creek, Falling Spring Creek, and Elk Creek. 

Some lakes where you can find brown trout are Allegheny Reservoir, Blue Marsh Lake, Glendale Lake, Keystone Lake, Lake Wallenpaupack, Crooked Creek Lake, and Raystown Lake. 

Lake Erie also hosts a large population of brown trout. If you can access the lake shore or have a boat, you can land quite a few brown trout in water shallower than 50 feet. Any chance I get to target brown trout out of the Great Lakes, I do it. 

Brown trout spawn in the fall, so they move out of Lake Erie from September through November and complete the spawning process. If they’re in the spawn, don’t pressure them too hard. Catching a spawning brown trout can exhaust it past the point of recovery. 

However, as brown trout are making their way upstream or working back towards Lake Erie, feel free to go after them. Whether you’re fly fishing or spin fishing for them, traveling brown trout are a blast to target. My trip to Pennsylvania happened right before the spawn began in the fall, so the fish were aggressive and eager to fatten up before the spawn started. 

Pay close attention to the water temperatures you’re fishing throughout the summer. Brown trout don’t do well in water over 65 degrees. Pennsylvania summers are warm, and brown trout move to deeper waters to wait out the warm temperatures. 

Many brown trout streams are spring-fed, so they’ll stay cool, allowing trout to feed and grow at all times of year. Whether they’re stocked or wild, brown trout in Pennsylvania are healthy. They have plenty of room to operate, and the 15,000 miles of designated trout waters across the state make for perfect breeding grounds.

Danny fly fishing to catch brown trout.
Brown Trout Fly Fishing

Brown Trout Native Waters

Brown trout populations are found all over the United States and across parts of Canada. As long as the water temperatures stay consistently below 65 degrees, they can survive anywhere. However, none of the brown trout populations in the United States are native. 

Brown trout are native to parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Europe has the largest number of native brown trout. Norway, Russia, Iceland, Sweden, France, Greece, Germany, and Ireland all have native brown trout populations for anglers to catch. Many brown trout in the United States are considered “German Brown Trout.” They’re a pure strain of browns that thrive in various conditions. 

Northern African countries like Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco have numerous wild brown trout populations at higher elevations. The mountainous regions of Northern Africa hold a variety of trout, but browns are the primary native fish. 

Finally, anglers can find native trout populations in Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Armenia. These countries have areas of cold water and high elevations, perfect conditions for brown trout.

Danny releasing brown trout in the river.
Wild Brown Trout

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Brown Trout an Invasive Species?

Brown trout are invasive in certain parts of the United States because they eat the food other native trout need. Plus, when they mate with certain rainbow and brook trout strains, the fish can become sterile, so trout populations fall. 

How Can You Tell If a Brown Trout is Native?

First, there has to be native populations of the fish in the area. Some quick research will tell you the native fish populations in the state and place where you’re fishing. You won’t find native brown trout in the United States.


Brown trout are beautiful fish that are challenging for anglers of all skill levels to catch. You’ll find spring-fed creeks filled with big, hungry brown trout in Pennsylvania. Even though they’re not native, they have numerous wild populations that can naturally reproduce and grow without human involvement. Whether fishing in Northern or Central Pennsylvania, enjoy everything the local waters have to offer. The brown trout are legendary.

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