The occurrence and density of ≥ 1+ brown trout, Salmo trutta L., and their relationship with prevailing instream and catchment characteristics were studied in 50 small forest streams, partially dredged for forest ditching. The occurrence of trout at a stream site was largely determined by the abundance of pools, size of upper catchment and water pH. Moreover, at sites where trout occurred, the abundance of pools was lower at dredged locations than at those in a natural state. In riffles in a natural state, there was a positive relationship between trout density and three instream variables: the abundance of stream pools, cascades and instream vegetation, while an inverse relationship was found with the abundance of substratum of 2–10 cm in diameter. Of the catchment variables, correspondingly, the proportion of forest in the upper catchment was positively related and the proportion of peatland negatively related to trout density. No significant regression model could be fitted for dredged riffles. The possibility of enhancing trout populations in dredged riffles is discussed.