|Brook trout Heaven|
Thank God for that.
And thank God for the brookies that seem to know a new season is almost upon them. While it might not be the proverbial "season of plenty," the rare native char of the Eastern Seaboard do seem to perk up a bit when the weather warms, and when a dry fly is put within reach.
As we wandered up and over a steep ridge within the confines of Shenandoah National Park one late March day, the only real evidence of spring--outside of the sweat-inducing hike in the warm and, dare I say, muggy conditions of the day--was the purple-pink blooms on the redbuds and the bright-white flowers on the limber dogwoods that lined the trail. The slices of color served to emphasize the almost-green hue of the woods that served, if nothing else, to lift spirits. Winter would soon be a thing of the past. New life was springing from the mountains.
|Redbuds... proof of spring|
For now, though, the brookies seemed plenty happy. Within just a few casts of the 12-foot Tenkara rod, I'd managed to miss a couple of eager strikes and connect with one tiny char whose eyes were clearly larger than it's stomach. Even the size 16 Adams proved to be more than a mouthful. Within fifteen minutes, three brookies had come to hand--nothing big, of course, but if you're after big fish in the Shenandoah backcountry, you're likely in for a long day.
I might get to chase these fish in their native waters once or twice a year. And while the fish are diminutive, they burn with life. With the supple Tenkara as the weapon of choice on small, backcountry water, they get to show off a disposition a fish twice the size would do well to emulate. Brookies are fighters. Brookies are survivors.
Brookies are damn near perfect. And, where they belong, their presence is priceless. I consider casting to brookies where brookies are supposed to swim an event, a full-on occasion.
I can't count the times I've been asked about my preoccupation with brook trout, and how I can be so completely consumed with catching something so small, so insignificant.
My answer is simple: Suspend the obvious, where a yardstick might measure the importance of a catch and ask, instead, how convincing a fish so small to hit a fly can mean something so big.
For me, it's easy. For others, it's a stretch, and I get that. We all have our favorites. For some, it's big-shouldered brown trout fought to hand through fast water. Others love the frustration that accompanies chasing steelhead, because success in that endeavor means so much.
|All that's right with the world|
That's about as close to perfect as it gets, don't you think?