Native “Coaster” Brook Trout in Milwaukee River   5 comments

I checked the Mequon-Thiensville Fishway Camera website this morning and got a big surprise. A picture of a native Coaster Brook Trout swimming upstream in the Milwaukee River.

This would not be so shocking to find in a tributary of Lake Superior, but I never imagined a Brook Trout would be swimming up the Milwaukee River. It goes to show that tearing down dams really does allow a river to support more wildlife.

If Grafton and West Bend would tear down their decrepit dams these Coasters would have a true shot at making their way up to Brook Trout spawning habitat in the Northern Kettle Moraine headwaters. Can you imagine the Milwaukee River being home to the only native anadromous salmonid? How cool would that be? Could West Bend become the Coaster Capital of the Midwest?


A Coaster Brook Trout swimming past the fishway camera in the Milwaukee River in Thiensville, WI

A Coaster Brook Trout swimming past the fishway camera in the Milwaukee River in Thiensville, WI



5 responses to “Native “Coaster” Brook Trout in Milwaukee River

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  1. Since there is no genetic difference between coasters and stream trout, isn’t safe to assume that coasters are simply brookies that have benefitted from an extremely good diet?

    • Yep, you’re absolutely right Tom. The way these fish get big, though, is by living in big water. Historically there were Brook Trout predisposed to spending some time in the Lake and then coming to a river to spawn. These are the ones known as Coasters. Since Brook Trout prefer or need cold water to thrive it is unlikely this fish spent its time growing in the warm waters of the Milwaukee River. There is also a lot more food in Lake Michigan, so Coasters get bigger faster in the big lake.

      Pretty cool, don’t you think?


  2. that is amazing!

  3. Having grown up in Grafton and trapping and fishing the entire lengh of the Milwaukee and North branch, It would make a dream come true. Check out River’s edge creek. I stocked that with rainbows years ago and got some natural reproduction

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