Friday, August 21, 2009

Introduction: The venerable brookie...


Native to the Upper Midwest and the Appalachian Mountains of the East Coast, and ranging from Labrador to northern Georgia, the brook trout might be the best-traveled fish native to North America--these days, thanks to stocking and transplanting efforts begun about 125 years ago, they can be caught in just about every state with coldwater habitat.


In its home range, the brookie is revered today, after centuries of persecution due to habitat degradation, industrial development and the resulting pollution (acid rain). Efforts are under way to restore native brook trout habitat and improve opportunities for anglers seeking to make a connection with arguably the most beautiful coldwater fish native to this continent.


But here in the West, the brookie, while deeply appreciated by something of a cult following (I include myself in that subversive bunch), is hardly more than a pest. Their aggressive nature--they have a life force unequaled by the West's native cutthroats and rainbows--works against them in many cases. In small, upland habitat, brookies tend to outcompete native fish, and then reproduce beyond the resources of their habitat. They quickly stunt and overpopulate, becoming undesirable popualations for anglers, and very difficult to remove, even with best technology.


For this reason, the adjective "little" is often attached to brook trout in the West, even though healthy populations of these fish in their native range (Labrador, for instance) can produce giant specimens up to eight or even 10 pounds.


Now, of course, all this bad news comes with some good news, especially if you're a fan of willing fish chased gamely with a fly rod. Brookies are downright delicious, and keeping your limit is not frowned upon in most areas where the fish have taken root outside their native range. In fact, I encourage it. You won't find better shore fare, and if you have the means and the patience, brook trout on the smoker are delectable.


This blog is devoted to catching and killing brookies in the West, and, should the opportunity present itself, protecting these fish in their native range throughout the United States and Canada.


Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by.



CH




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