Photo of the Day: Beast from the East, But Do You Know What It Is?

Written by: Phil Monahan

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

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

111 thoughts on “Photo of the Day: Beast from the East, But Do You Know What It Is?


      To me, the beauty seems to be a hybrid: a cross between a Landlock Salmon and a Rainbow Trout.

  1. mario gailloux

    At first glance it Looked like a land locked, but that big square tail tells me it’s a nice fat brown?!

  2. Chris gratton

    It’s a Brown trout. The caudal peduncle is wide not more narrow like a landlocked salmon, the Maxila extends past the eye and the caudal fin Is not slightly forked. All are evidence this fish is a Brown trout. Nice fish!!

  3. Brian R

    Tough call with the picture provided, but I’m going to say brown trout – square tail, it appears the jaw extends behind the eye and the caudal peduncle is very thick, not tapered and narrow like a LL salmon.

  4. Chris

    Its a salmon. It has a silvery body and fatty salmon usually grow big bellies on the underside as opposed to fatty browns that really bulk up around their “shoulders”.

  5. Michelle Hawes

    This is a monster Brown Trout.. Brown Trout’s most distinguishing characteristic is the red and black dots surrounded by a light colored halo interspersed along the fish’s sides that give its identity away. 🙂 Fish On!!

  6. William

    A big fat brown, because the adipose fin is orange and on a land locked salmon they are always grey to olive colored and never orange. You can also tell because the caudal peduncle is thick and stocky and in a landlocked salmon they are more narrow.

  7. Casey

    That’s tough but I’d say it’s a brown. The maxillary looks like it extends behind the eye, and the caudal fin is box shaped not forked like a salmon.

  8. Brian Koz

    I believe it to be a female brown trout, squarish caudal fin, and orange colored spots on adipose fin, even though the spots do migrate south of the lateral line, they are not ‘x’ shaped to distinguish it being a landlocked atlantic salmon. possible hybridization?? tight lines,

  9. Jason

    That fish is a brown all day long. Its tail has no indication of a fork whatsoever, the eyes are set too far forward to be a salmon not to mention the caudal fin has a slight orange tint to it which would not happen in a landlocked. <

  10. Josh Trammell

    That’s definitely a brown because of it’s red and black spots. And it looks like it’s wild. Anyway it’s a big fish.

  11. Ray

    I guess it’s a Salmo trutta fario (river trout of western Europe). Gray color with black and red dots would tell it’s the mediteranean subspecies

  12. George

    Hey Phil, serious slab indeed! But there’s no doubt it’s a brown trout, square tail and thick in the back. Great job on the blog! Really enjoy it!

  13. mike

    Brown Trout . Square tail jaw extends slightly beyond the eye and it also has some spots evident on the tail .All signs that we are looking at a brown trout

  14. Cory Melious

    I dont know. We catch big brown’s out of lake ontario and they tend to get an orange hue when they get that big. I think it’s either a big fat Rainbow or Steelhead trout because of the pink along the side. Not a salmon bc it doesn’t have the hook nose to it.

  15. Tom Schultz

    Brown trout due to the square tail, spots below the lateral line, but the easiest sign is that the bony plate at the top of the mouth extends past the eye.

  16. Jason Hynes

    Looks like a Sea Run Brown Trout to me…..Still a little on the shinny side so I would say its been in the river for a week or so. Beauty fish though!

  17. Ryan

    Brown Trout – square tail (not forked); thick tail/peduncle section; and apparently–though it’s difficult to see at this angle–the maxillary/upper jaw extends past the eye.

  18. Jay Harris

    Brown trout ! ……………Square tail and the Reddish /Brown spots are not found on any LLS Ive caught

  19. Kevin

    Brown trout. The caudal fin is square, not slightly forked like a salmon. The heavy spots below the lateral line are a giveaway also. The caudal peduncle is really thick too, and salmon are more streamlined. This brown also has red/orange on the adipose, and a salmon’s would not. I would also guess it’s a male because of the concave anal fin, but a better look at the head would tell us for sure. But geez, what a hawg, I want one!

  20. Zac

    Brown trout. The maxilla extends to the rear of the eye and probably beyond that if the mouth was closed. Slight red/orange tinge to the adipose fin, and the caudal fin is not slightly forked. The caudal peduncle would also be much more lean if it was a landlocked salmon. Big landlocked salmon are pretty rare in the upper CT.

  21. Brandon Prescott

    The only way to truly tell the difference between a brown trout and a landlocked salmon is to look in the fishes mouth. You have to look for the vormine teeth in the upper jaw. Landlocked salmon have a single row of teeth, brown trout have a double row of teeth.

    1. Dave

      not the only way to tell, and keep in mind the vormine teeth on the roof of the mouth on a brown are zig zagged not double rowed

  22. Tyler White

    maxillary extends past ridge of the eye, orange-ish adipose fin, thick peduncle, and a square caudal fin…. salmo trutta or brown trout

    1. Paul

      I’ve never caught a landlocked but I’m changing my guess. I say landlocked because the jaw appears not to extend toward the back beyond the eye as far as it does that on a brown. Just guessing.

  23. Eric

    Brown trout- no question
    The tail is the dead giveaway….

    The landlocks in pittsburg have very forked tails. The browns have similar markings when their colors are dulled up in the cold water and they are not spawning. The rounded tails shows it’s a trout. I have caught my fair share of both species in that fishery and sometimes it is hard to tell, but always go to the tail…

    Nice fish Greg….

  24. Neil

    Brown trout based on the square tail and red spots. You can also see a faint white halo around some of the spots

  25. Tim Hyatt

    Brown trout.

    Its mouth extends past the eyes, the caudal peduncle is too thick relative to its length for a salmon, and the tail is too square. Also there are spots well below the lateral line and an orange cast seems to be present in the adipose fin.

  26. Doug

    Square tail (not slightly forked) tells me it is a brown trout – the adipose fin may have a hint of orange to it ( a little hard to tell ) which is another indicator that it is a brown trout.

  27. Dave

    It’s a brown. The caudal peduncle is thick and the adipose fin is spotted with orange/red. The only confusing thing is the maxillary doesn’t seem to extend to far past the rear edge of the eye. Still, I have to go with a fat brown

  28. Ian Holland

    Brown Trout- Non-forked tail, spots come down below the lateral line, and the jaw extends past the eye

  29. Chris W

    I can’t see the picture on my machine (corporate firewall most likely to blame), but from people’s comments and the initial setup, it seems clear this is a sea run brown trout.

    It’s fascinating that such a thing happens in a continent that the Brown is not native to.

  30. Heidi Grosse

    That is one big Rainbow Trout …the body structure , lower jaw, metallic color. When they get that big; they become “alias steel head.”

  31. Heidi Grosse

    This is one big rainbow trout. The structure, lower jaw (rounded nose) metalic color. When they get that big , “Alias Steel Head”

  32. Jerry Plaaten

    I would guess brown trout because they are spots rather than x shaped or just dark markings and the square-ish tail rather than forked.

  33. Joe Donati

    Brown, square tail. The football shape would suggest it is some sort of lake run, but not necessarily.

  34. Twila W.

    Brown trout- flat tail, all those spots, angle or shape of mouth and is it a pregnant female by chance or maybe its just bloated from too much water retention lol jk but its the fatest trout Ive ever seen since they dont get that big here.

  35. Fran Enzien

    It’s a brown trout. The square tail and red spots are a dead give away. I’ve caught many landlockers up on CT river all have a more forked tail. That is nice one of the nicest browns I’ve seen landed up there. Good job Greg.

  36. JRM

    Brown trout. Mouth extends past the eye and has a flat broom tail. Must have a forked tail to be a landlocked salmon.

  37. Tom Boyce

    Definitely a brown trout. This is a large brown trout found on the upper Connecticut river. Note the “square tail” and the lack of “X” markings oftentimes found on landlocked and Atlantic salmon.

  38. Courtney Morris

    That is a brown trout. Some of the spots have red, and alot of Atlantic Salmon have just black spots and less.

  39. Cody Clifford

    I believe this is a brown for the following reasons:
    – tail appears to be quite square, and does not show any signs of slight forking
    – caudal peduncle is thick and stocky
    – I see some orangey-red on the adipose – salmon’s are grey to olive and never orange
    – maxillary appears to extend well past the rear edge of the eye

    Great fish, regardless of the species though!

  40. Alberto

    Its a brown trout.

    Being Scotland based I have never seen a landlocked salmon but assume that it must have Atlantic salmon heritage and genes. We often have to compare Atlantic salmon and sea run trout (sea trout) and the main way to differentiate is:
    1. Tail – salmon have forked or slightly forked tails. Big trutta trutta have tails like shovels as this one does.
    2. Jaw line – brown trout jaws extend beyond a line drawn to the rear of the eye it looks like this might occur on this fish.

  41. Dan Russell

    Brown Trout. Square tail (not forked like a Salmon) and the jaw extends past the eye. A Salmon’s jaw would stop short of the eye.

  42. Brayden

    Definitely a brown with that big square tail, also a landlocked salmon would not have the slightly orange tinted adipose fin.

  43. Thomas Poust

    It’s a Brown. Look at spots below the lateral line and the red spots that follow the lateral line. What other fish shows a red spot on the adipose fin…

  44. Arthur Rafus

    That’s a brown in my opinion. Red spots give it away. But the only way to really tell is by looking at the vomerine teeth. The whole “tail” aspect usually goes out the window when talking about bigger species. Identifying salmon is a big problem in NH but this one is a no brainer.

  45. Dutch

    Brown Trout all the way – square tail and the mouth (maxillary) extends behind the eye slightly. My truck and boat could use some fresh Orvis stickers!!!!!

  46. Andrew

    Squaretail = brown, brookie, golden, and rainbow trout. Hence, its a brown trout. I have never heard of a cross between salmon and brown trout, although it does sound like an amazing mix. We already have tiger trout, a hybrid, in NH. Maybe a salmon/brown trout hybrid could be called a lion trout. If this were a hybrid it is too bad it doesn’t have some crazy markings like the tiger trout.

  47. Andrew

    This trout also isn’t as big as the pic looks, right around four pounds if you see how big the fingers are holding the fish, arms are extended pretty far out, but hidden behind the fish.

  48. john gwozdz

    I would say its defiantly a brown trout for a couple reasons 1. the tail is very thick most salmon have a much thinner meat right before there tail 2. the bottom lip petrudes behind the eye a bit the salmon it is usually equal to the eye. 3. the bottom lip has no sign of a hook jaw which is common more in salmon 4. the bottom fin before the tail has a white stripe as many trout have its not orange as a lot might be on trout but the white stripe gives me a clue its trout not salmon..

  49. Ray LaFond

    It is a brown trout.
    I say that due to the “square” tail, the head and jaw and the spots. The darker spots are trespassed with several colored (red ones) typical brown trout. It is also a football type “slab”. Great fish!


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