Written by Taco Olmstead
The mighty brook trout. One of my favorite fish. This fish has survived ice ages, deforestation, invasive species and widespread extirpation throughout it’s native range… but still it persists.
Thoreau once tried to count the number of different colors of the Brook Trout and reached over 100 before he stopped counting. In his book, The Maine Woods, Thoreau eloquently fawned over this salmonid and wrote “Before their tints had faded, they glistened like the fairest flowers, the product of primitive rivers; and he could hardly trust his senses, as he stood over them … these bright fluviatile flowers, seen of Indians only, made beautiful, the Lord only knows why, to swim there. … In the night I dreamed of trout-fishing; and, when at length I awoke, it seemed a fable that this painted fish swam there so near my couch.”
The brook trout pictured below was caught in the heart of WV, nestled deep in the Appalachian mountains in the Monongahela National Forest. Just south of the small forgotten town of Whitmer are the “sinks” of Gandy Creek. This is home.
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A product of cold, clean water this brook trout is likely four to five years old and will likely be ending its time in the fall when it runs into the small tributaries where it spawns each year.
This all brings to mind the question, why do I persist at fly fishing? What about this pastime is so endearing? Why am I beckoned to the water by the sirens song each day and night?
I have come to find as I have explored this question throughout the years that the answer has less to do with the fishing and more about the fish and the places that I find them. Their home is not always in clear mountain streams but also beside highways and in waterways coursing their way through small towns. The thrill is more in the adventure of the journeys where I seek them out and less in the bend of the rod when I have claimed them.
I fish to simply find my soul and embrace it.