Sometimes the best things in life do indeed come in small packages. Take Salvelinus fontinalis, or the brook trout, for example. Full grown they may not exceed six inches in length, yet stream-born brookies are by far the most handsome fish swimming in Connecticut waters. In addition to their striking beauty, brook trout are special because they are the state's only native trout (they're technically a char, but let's not split hairs here). Unfortunately, these little gems face an uphill battle in the Nutmeg State. Once found in streams all across Connecticut, over development and pollution from stormwater runoff (among other factors) have relegated wild brookies to only our most pristine, gin-clear waterways.
A friend and I spent this past Columbus Day stalking one such stream in search of its resident trout. After a 90 minute drive and another thirty minute hike, we finally arrived to a watercourse no wider than the length of my fly rod. Our excursion couldn't have been better timed; foliage was peaking, water levels were ideal and there wasn't another soul in sight.We brought along a handful of dry flies, nymphs and small streamers, but only one pattern proved necessary. A loud, buoyant fly known as a Stimulator lived up to its name that day, bringing dozens of little wild trout from hiding to smack the floating meal ticket.
Drawing strikes wasn't all that hard, as the first good drift over any fishy-looking lie was often rewarded with a mini surface explosion. Getting the fly to where it needed to be in tight quarters was the tricky part, along with keeping the wildly acrobatic brookies on a tight line. More fish were lost than landed, but most of the fun comes with the initial take anyway.
My friend had hiked and fished this place once before, but it was my first time and I was completely in awe of the stream and its surroundings. It was a pristine place untouched by the outside world. A huge swath of wild land that hopefully will always be kept the way it is for future generations to enjoy and to see what much of the state once looked like. It's fitting that such a gorgeous creature as a native brook trout can only thrive in places like this one.