Here’s one for the romantics in fly fishing—a teaser video to larger project to come about chasing native brook trout.
I grew up in Colorado, fishing for introduced brookies in small headwater streams in the Rocky Mountain high country. As a kid, I had no idea that the fish I caught didn’t belong in the waters I was fishing, but I do remember my grandfather speaking reverently about catching “natives.” Natives, of course, meant cutthroat trout–the fish that belonged in the Rockies, but had grown increasingly rare, even as early as the 1970s.
Brookies, I recall, were the fish for the frying pan. As were rainbows and brown trout. But “natives” were generally set free, if anyone was lucky enough to catch one.
As a kid, though, brook trout were my favorite. They were willing to play when others weren’t. They were in nearly every little trickle a 10-year-old kid could wander along. And they were beautiful.
The first native brook trout I ever coaxed to hand was in the Hughes River in Shenandoah National Park—talk about reverence. I remember cradling that little fish in my hands while nostalgia washed over me. Here in far-away Virginia, the fish of my youth lay cradled in my hands. This was not the moment when I decided that I needed to put the time in to protect native trout in the waters where they belonged. But it was a moment.
I love brook trout. I especially love them when they swim in waters where they belong. And I’m looking forward to the longer version of this video about my favorite fish.
— Chris Hunt