It didn’t take more than five minutes to catch and release my first fish of the day. The river was barely 60 feet across, yet there seemed to be a hundred hungry mouths stacked in the riffles on either side of me. Every cast, regardless of how delicate or clean a drift, produced at least a nose of interest, if not a full-on attack. It was when one aggressive female, taking me completely by surprise, cleared the surface of the water and arced down upon my fly that I realized fishing for brook trout anywhere else was forever ruined for me.

How can you not be fascinated by the markings of a brook trout? They’re the most beautiful of all fish, in my opinion, even though when you look up close they seem more scraggly than pretty. Perhaps my adoration is more fascination.

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Photo by Liz Ogilvie

I’m lucky enough to have them residing in their native range within an hour’s drive of my home: tiny little guys that would impress you with their spirit. They’ll snatch at a size 8 elk hair caddis, way too large to actually eat, and slap it almost as many times as you slap the monster imposter on the water. And, if one does succeed in getting hooked, well, I’ll be honest enough to admit I’ve had to scramble in the brush behind me to quickly scoop it back home.

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Photo by Mark Melnyk