We rounded the corner at the exact same time. The dense streamside foliage kept the other person obscured until we were only about ten feet apart. Happening upon someone relatively unexpectedly, deep in the woods, wasn’t the startling facet of our interaction. That was this:
“So, have you caught anything?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I replied, “a brown up top and three rainbows on streamers.”
“No,” he stated, matter-of-factly. “You didn’t catch any rainbows.”
His accusation took me aback. Not only did I indeed catch three rainbows, but they were fat, strong, and less than a quarter mile from where we stood. In a rare turn of events, I was speechless.
I think he realized that his gruff allegation was a bit off putting. “Well, I mean, I fish here every week and I haven’t caught a rainbow in this stretch of water. Maybe old what’s-his-face stocked some in the feeder creek that runs through his yard. Or, I mean, there is always the chance that the state dumped some in. But they haven’t done that in a while… I don’t know how you caught those.”
“Me either,” I offered. “But I guess I did.”
Fish pop up in unexpected places. With a handful of environmental thresholds as limiting factors, fish can live in and move throughout all manner of interconnected waterways. It isn’t uncommon to see a picture of a giant bass pulled out of a subdivision pond or a big tarpon caught from a canal. Fish are as resilient as they are opportunistic.
For some reason, we think that trout ought to be the exception to the rule. Rightly, we understand that trout have a relatively narrow window for survival. That doesn’t mean that salmonids are feeble and frail. They do some uncanny things and show up where they shouldn’t.