The brook trout gets a bad rap from a lot of anglers. They're too small, they overpopulate waters, they're non-native intruders, etc.
But I love them because they're usually easy to catch, there are lots of them, they are beautiful to look at, they fight hard for their size, they live in wonderful places, and they taste good.
I rarely keep trout to eat, preferring flaky, white-meated fish such as walleye and yellow perch. But a couple times a year, I get a hankerin' for some pan-sized brookies sizzling in a cast-iron skillet of bacon grease.
Last weekend, we hit a mountain lake that has already gone through ice-out. The lake contains rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout. Sam was able to put together a trifecta of species, lacking only the cutt to make a quafecta. I had to settle for a few bows and brookies.
But the brookies were trophies for public water accessible by good road. I saw a few that were pushing 16 inches, and kept two that were over 12 inches. In this land of long winters and short growing seasons, those are respectable brook trout.
We caught them on a variety of flies - big wooly buggers, smaller beadhead nymphs and midge patterns. The brook trout hit hard and fought all the way to the net.
I kept a couple for dinner and was amazed at their salmon-orange meat.
Brook trout are the trout of my youth, and I always was fascinated by them.
I still am.