A year and a half ago I came face to face with the possibility of living very, very close to wild trout. While out on a run, getting a little lost, a glimpse of a fish in a stream captivated me. I knew the water was cool and clean. The species of the fish was unknown, but there was enough good evidence for me to pursue the lead.
While not an obsession or singular focus, I was taken by the strong desire to catch trout in town. Trout would be exciting, but discovery would be even more of a thrill. A remnant population of brook trout amongst the suburban sprawl? Even a little fish would prove a personal benchmark. More importantly, it would represent the perseverance of something wild.
That was in Northern Virginia. That specific lead went cold, at least in terms of trout.
After some time, I did locate some wild rainbows nearby. I even found a tiny population of native brookies, which I chose to leave alone. I felt like I came to some sort of closure regarding trout in Northern Virginia.
Now, I’m in living in Massachusetts again.
This past weekend I went for a run in a park close to my home. On a brand new trail, I came across a stream. Although I didn’t see any fish, the water was spellbinding. Deep pools, fast riffles, and solitude. I stopped and made some quick observations. Every indication pointed to cool, clean water. The vegetation, the insect life, and the stream bottom all pointed to a healthy ecosystem. One conducive to trout.
I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up. This region has been farmed heavily since European settlers showed up in New England. Later, the industrial revolution took full advantage of the many waterways. Downstream of this small creek was one of the top textile producing areas of the 19th century. More recently, commercial and residential development has sprung up all around the stream. Looking at some maps, it even appears as if the headwaters have been built over.
But, there is hope. A little local publication I was given outlines the local geography, flora, and fauna. It mentions this particular stream’s cool current and gravelly bottom. Then it quickly notes that such a habitat is perfect for the native eastern brook trout, which have been observed in the stream.
The publication date is within the past five years. In my mind, that is cause for optimism.
Consequently, I have designs to head back with rod and flies. There are pools that I have in mind; the kinds of holes that would hold fish if the creek had any fish to hold. My expectations are tempered, but the idea of native brook trout just outside the hustle and bustle is a hard one to shake.
This post represents a return to my Trout Quixote series. If you want to read what this is all about, and track my first adventure, head to this handy little index. There are six parts, beginning with “Prologue.”