Special Brown Trout Regulations

Brown Trout illustration

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News Release Date: March 7, 2007

Contact: Karen Beck-Herzog

Superintendent Chas Cartwright has announced that special regulations for brown trout are being implemented as a control measure for these non-native (exotic) trout within sections of the RoseRiver, HughesRiver and Brokenback Run in ShenandoahNational Park. According to Superintendent Cartwright, this change is needed to afford greater protection to the native brook trout that inhabit many of the park streams.


Specifically, the size limit for brown trout caught and retained in creels within park sections of these three streams has been reduced from nine to seven inches. The current nine inch minimum for all brook trout captured remains in effect for all stream sections and the current nine inch minimum for brown trout remains in effect downstream of the park. Additionally, the release of any captured brown trout, regardless of size, back into any park stream is prohibited.  


Since the early 1960s when brown trout were first introduced into waters adjacent to ShenandoahNational Park, these hatchery raised trout unexpectedly transitioned into wild, breeding populations and began to colonize upstream into the domain of the native, eastern brook trout and into the park. Brown trout have maintained a permanent presence within the Rose and HughesRivers since initial stocking and have more recently invaded Brokenback Run. 


Large adult brown trout over 18 inches long with weights in excess of two pounds have been captured within the park in traditional, wild brook trout habitat. This persistent intrusion of exotic brown trout into waters supporting populations of the smaller native eastern brook trout has resulted in increased competition for available habitat and forage. Additionally, several cases of brown trout predation upon brook trout including large adults have been documented. 


National Park Service policy mandates that “exotic species will not be allowed to displace native species if displacement can be prevented”. In years past, park staff have conducted brown trout control by targeted capture and removal from the stream sections that they are found to inhabit. These labor intensive control measures have proven to be effective when applied annually to all stream sections containing brown trout. Due to recent surges in brown trout populations within the park following a prolonged break in control efforts, these regulatory changes are justified as additional means to control these exotic fish within park streams.


A complete listing of park fishing regulations including the new special regulations for brown trout is available online (pdf, 347 kb). Printed copies of these regulations will also be available by April 1, 2007.

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Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


(540) 999-3500

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