The orange fins.
The blue halos around red dots.
The dark parr marks that span the transition from the olive back to the golden sides.
The unbelievably milky white belly.
Sometimes I feel I relate to juvenile brook trout like a proud parent. I know everyone thinks that their kid is the cutest, but I still know mine is the best.
It doesn’t hurt when they have a little bit of attitude about them, either.
This little guy was hardly the biggest, brightest, or most memorable fish of the day. But he was the coolest. He had the most moxie. He sat in my hand, calmly finning, and swam off in a totally nonchalant way.
I know it was just a little trout.
But it is a uniquely American, particularly Eastern, unequivocally Appalachian trout.
And yes, I know it is technically a char.
The fact of the matter is, catching a little fish like this in a stream like that, is everything that is right about fly fishing.
It represents a long drive, hundreds of dollars worth of gear, and a mediocre attempt at waxing eloquently about it all. More importantly, a little trout like this is an optimistic sign for a tiny stream in an area that is recovering from suburban sprawl and centuries of pollution. A wild trout like this proves that the other, bigger fish aren’t a spring-stocked fluke.
All of that, and the fact that the thing is cute, keeps me coming back to this picture. Hopefully, you have pictures like this as well. Just little trout that are so much more.