Classic Photo: A Beast from the East, But Do You Know What It Is?

That’s a trophy fish anywhere in the world, but it came from New Hampshire’s Connecticut River.
Photo courtesy Lopstick Outfitters

[Editor’s note: I ran across an Internet discussion of browns vs landlocks on the Internet last night, and it reminded me of this great photo from a couple of years ago. Can you identify that fish?]

Greg Inglis—who guides at Lopstick Outfitters in Pittsburg, New Hampshire—sent in this photo of a serious slab he caught while stripping streamers below Murphy Dam, on the Upper Connecticut River. A wonderful fishery not much known outside New England, the Upper Connecticut is home to both landlocked salmon and brown trout. So my question to you is: Which species is this, and how can you tell? Leave your answer in the comments, and we’ll pick one winner from among the correct answers and send that person a pack of stickers.

Note: You must explain your answer! Otherwise, you just have a 50 percent chance of being right.

Here’s the simple, olive streamer that the big fish ate.
Photo courtesy Lopstick Outfitters

86 thoughts on “Classic Photo: A Beast from the East, But Do You Know What It Is?”

    1. Maybe it’s a hybrid of a brown and an Atlantic salmon since it exhibits traits of both. In the late 80’s hybrids were identified in northern Spain. Here is another website with a similar fish caught in Chile asking the same question:
      I believe Atlantics and Browns both have vomerine teeth but they’re different and I can’t see inside the mouth anyway. The heavier peduncle, square tail and spots with halos are like a brown but I think the overall color is more like a salmon.
      I guess I’ll just have to catch one myself to get a better idea. Of course I have a better chance winning powerball.

  1. Looks like a brown trout. The caudal fin is squared and the peduncle, the area in front of the caudal fin, is thick. Salmon have slightly forked caudal fins and thinner peduncles.

  2. I’m going with an Atlantic Salmon. Because the upper jaw does not extend past the rear of the eye. Also, large black spots on the gill cover.

  3. Brown, the fish has orange spots and the salmon will lack the orange spots along the lateral line. Salmon will not have spots on the tail fin.

  4. That’s a sefoirian trout originally from Europe…you can tell by the spots on her…we call them lake run browns here in Michigan.catch many here…

      1. No, it’s not. Try again.

        The German word for “brown trout” is “Forelle”. The plural is “Forellen”. The word for “lake” is “See”. So a “Seeforelle” is a lake-dwelling brown trout, and the correct plural is “Seeforellen”.

        In the USA, not only would a “Seeforelle” be a lake-dwelling brown trout (which I suspect because of the square tail that this one probably is, presumably having migrated out of the lake to spawn or escaped downstream from the dam), but also, describing it so specifically in German would identify it as one descended specifically from a German lake-dwelling strain. However, most American brownies in both rivers and lakes are originally descended either from a silvery Scottish lake strain taken from Loch Leven which were known as “Loch Leven trout”, or a copper-colored German river-dwelling strain which were known as “von Behr trout” — or both, since over the years they have pretty thoroughly hybridized.

        There is indeed a specialized strain of brown trout from the Walchensee in Bavaria, known here as “Seeforellen”, that grows large and has been stocked in some American lakes beginning in 1979, but other strains of brown trout can grow large in lakes too. (A 27-lb brown trout was caught on a fly at Flaming Gorge in 1978.) If in fact you see something in this fish that would be unique to such a strain and could not occur in any others, it would be a Seeforelle. Otherwise, it might not be.

        But one thing is for sure, it is not a “Seeforellon”.

  5. It’s clearly a brown trout from the orange dots running with the lateral line of the fish. Landlocked salmon don’t have these spots, and they also don’t have a completely squared tail. If you also wanted to salmon have one extra row of teeth running up the middle of the mouth. Still a very impressive brown trout to say the least.

  6. Definitely a Brown Tout. Many individuals that I know, including many of my good friends and several professional guides, have a difficult time distinguishing between LLS and Brown trout.

    The truth is they are not always that easy to ID. I have been fortunate to have seen many of them in my days and feel that I am now quite adept at identifying LLS vs Brown Trout.

    Analysis of the vormine teeth is an excellent way of distinguishing between the two, however, it is not always practical in the field. There are a number of features to look for on LLS. Here are a few to look for- it is rather difficult at first, but you get hang of it over time.

    -X like markings-though not definitive
    -generally fewer/smaller spots
    -generally very silver or gray with a darker back ranging from grayish to greenish
    -Few spots below the lateral line
    -Smaller mouth/ back of jaw of where lips meet doesn’t extend beyond back of eye
    -different shape of head and mouth
    -slightly forked tail
    -Adipose fin generally grayish to olive, not tinged red/orange as in brown trout
    -Slimmer and more tapered at the peduncle

    The fish in the picture does not have several of these key features and is therefore certainly a brown trout.

  7. I’m new to this, but my guess is its a Brown because of the squared off tail, and the adipose has a tinge of orange. Though, isn’t the best way to tell by looking to see if the maxillary extends beyond the eye? Tough to see from the angle…

  8. Brown trout. The easiest way to tell with this photo is to look at the caudal fin. A square caudal fin means brown trout, a forked fin means salmon. And the area in front of the caudal fin (called the peduncle, as others have mentioned) on that fish is huge! It’s slimmer and more tapered on a LLS, so I definitely say this a brown trout, and a great one, congrats!

  9. Brown Trout

    Caudal fin is square and unforked
    Caudal peduncle is thick and stocky
    Adipose fin may be fringed or spotted with orange or red
    Maxillary usually extends well past rear edge of eye

  10. Brown trout.

    The head certainly looks a bit like a LLS, but the absence of any fork in the tail and how fat the base of the tail is makes me pretty sure its a brown trout.

  11. Brown – tail and actually not seeing any x ‘s on the flanks. Also, orange dots on adipose and orange spots on flank.

  12. Brown…squared tail and some spotting on top of the tail. With spotting on the adipose fin…and the red/orange spots

  13. To me, it looks like a Brown trout because of the square tail. Also the caudal peduncle is thick and does not seem to taper. However, a sure fire way to tell the difference is in their mouth, the pattern of the teeth is a dead giveaway.

  14. It looks like a female brown trout to me based of the squared tail and the thicker less streamlined shape of the body. Also the red spots with the blue halos give it away. It is a female because it has a more rounded head without a kype.

  15. Does not have a forked tail, throat is thick,
    Spots extend below the lateral line. All indicate a brown trout. However the vormine teeth would tell the tale.

  16. Brown and a slob at that! The square (un forked) tail is the most noticeable reason. Also, the hinge of the jaw is behind the eye.

  17. Brown for sure. Salmon would have a forked tail and would be a bit thinner, and would not have the red dots. Great catch regardless

  18. I’d have to call that a brown, and I’m basing that answer on the flat un forked motor on the back. I’ve caught Browns and landlocks in the fingerlakes and its tributaries, and the salmon seem to have a blueish black hue to their backs, and black mouths like a king salmon when they run the rivers to spawn.

  19. A brown trout will have fully developed vomerine teeth inside the upper jaw……Landlocked salmon do not. This is the one and only true way to identify the difference.

  20. Gonna go with Fat Brown. The tail, caudal fin and adipose fin seem to match. Adipose looks like it has a little red in it, which Salmon do not. Tail seems square, not forked. Caudal fin looks thick. Plus, its hard to tell, but the maxillary looks like it extends out past the eye. Brown Trout.

  21. it’s a brownie. #1, a LLS that fat would be very rare in the winter, #2 the tail is square and #3 it’s a holdover stocked brown, they get very fat up there. I fish that river system fairly often.

  22. If I had to use my Oregonian brain and knowledge from last semesters fisheries class I would have to guess brown trout. This is because of the spots below the lateral line. Typically in anadromous fish the spots are all above. Also the caudal fin looks truncate. All in all I just like to use all the new terms I learned.

  23. the tail shape squarish. no sppots on the tail and the spots below the lateral line and short mouthparts make it a brown and possible female to boot

  24. I vote for and identify this as a salmon. The mouth is small and doesn’t extend beyond the eye. I can’t see spots on the adipose fin, and there is ever so slight “v” to the caudal fin.

  25. Deja vu of a conversation with my sons a couple of weeks ago. They took some video from the Farmington river of a couple of fish they caught.Had the whole discussion of Brown/Atlantic I.D. My opinion….I don’t know. Tail is square, Brown. Peduncle is thick,Brown. Pic is turned slightly but jawline ends at eye,Salmon. Not real familiar landlock colors but belly below lateral line not silver enough,Brown. I’m lost again. No vote.

  26. Looking at the Caudal fin and peduncle, I’m going to go with Brown Trout on this one.
    Nice fish either way!

  27. If my memory serves that would be a rare sea run freshwater tuna. Prized for its flesh or “sandwich meat” as the locals call it. They have been known to grow up to 50 lbs and are typically targeted with a size 22 Griffiths Knat.

  28. Brown Trout. Thick peduncle (base of tail as opposed to the skinnier base seen with salmon) with a square tail and what seems to be a mouth that extends beyond the eye of the fish along with the coloration on the spots.

  29. It is a Brown Trout. The tail of a salmon has pointier edges, while the brown trout is more square with rounded edges. On a salmon, the area near the base of the tail called the peduncle is is rather narrow, but the brown trout is thick and stocky. The maxillary of a salmon does not extend past the eye. The maxillary of this fish extends well beyond the eye. Over all, a salmon is more streamlined whereas a brown trout is bulkier.

  30. Brown trout due to squared tail and thickened caudal peduncle…relative to the forked tail and slimmer peduncle on a salmon.

  31. Japanese Koi. Huge but not well marked, so not a valuable fish. Probably let loose when it’s owner could no longer afford to feed it and it would no longer fit in the pond.

  32. brown, it looks like one, but also you’ve run this photo before then relieved its identity as a brown trout citing some clear differences

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