Brook trout streams are among the prettiest places I know. They’re wild, elusive, fragile, mysterious. This one, somewhere in North Central Pennsylvania, is hidden away in a deep valley, so deep in places the stream cannot be seen from the dirt track above. To approach it, you have to switchback your way down, stepping carefully lest the scree shifts underfoot. You take it slowly, watching carefully around rotting logs and crevices in the rocks for snakes, as this is after all rattlesnake country. Then there is the matter of climbing out. Gravity, we’ve learned, gets a little stronger with each passing year.
And did I mention the black flies? They’re out now. They swarm every time the sun pokes through the clouds. In another week the nasty little critters will be at full strength and ready to tear up some flesh.
We would never have found this place were it not for high water blowing out the larger streams. That’s when mad fly fishers seek out the headwaters, the tiny streams, special places few people get to see.
The trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, brookies, specks – whatever you like to call them – are mostly small, as delicate as the stream they live in, and beautiful beyond words.