Here in the West, where brook trout are something of a scourge, we take their presence for granted. In fact, we often turn up our noses at plying cold, clear streams for these non-native fish that, in many cases, have spawned themselves out of habitat and rarely grow to exceed 10 inches in length.
On the East Coast, however, brookies are revered, and rightly so. Efforts are under way to protect existing populations and to hopefully reintroduce brook trout into waters that can support them. Unfortunately, on the highly industrialized Eastern Seaboard, finding that habitat can be quite the challenge.
Trout Unlimited, along with its partners in the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, is sending its minions into the hinterlands in search of brook trout strongholds. Hopefully, in addition to finding hidden populations of brook trout, the group and its volunteer army will also be able to idenifty potential reintroduction sites for the East's native fish.
Don Lehman of the Glens Falls Post Star describes the effort to discover these off-the-beaten-path brookie populations and the challenging work finding suitable habitat for reintroduction.
Next time you're cursing the little brookies that have overtaken some backcountry trout stream in the Rockies, remember the fish that hit your fly is the progeny of the once-great brook trout runs that used to course up and down the rivers and streams of Appalachia. Sure, they don't belong here--but where the do belong, they're in dire straights.