My partner Cheyenne and I went for a hike one day, and nearby the trail we walked was a lovely little stream. I'd fished other sections of it and had caught a few fish. However, I hadn't explored this section nor investigated any of the stream thoroughly. I knew it had both wild brook trout and wild brown trout. Much of it was on state land, as well. It was a prime location for some more careful examination. The short section we saw was shaded with hemlocks and laurels. The stream meandered through the woods, with tight curves creating deep water. Gravelly riffles made for excellent spawning habitat. I was confident there'd be salmonids here and I was sure brookies would be the dominant species. I fished it briefly that day but didn't catch anything.
I returned the very next day. The water had fallen a bit and I didn't have much time but I was determined to get just one fish before I had to leave. I was wader-less, not needing or wanting to disturb a stream bed likely to contain concealed redds full of developing brook trout fry. I negotiated the brush and made bow and arrow casts, drifting and twitching an Ausable Bomber through likely water.
I covered quite a bit, and only spooked one small fish when I started to feel my time was running out. I came to a slick bend flat, not deep but still the sort of water brook trout use in the winter. I got down in a crouch and into casting position. A careful bow and arrow cast put the bomber in the fastest current and I fed line to drift the fly down the flat. When it reached where the current met the bank I twitched my rod tip and drowned the fly. I then began slowly stripping the fly upstream. This was greeted a few strips in by a boil and a jarring pull. I set the hook and a brookie of exciting size broke the surface. Soon at hand was a fish that gave me the adrenaline rush I'd really been needing. He was a stunner. Not every wild brook trout is created equally, and this one was a special individual.
Having accomplished more than I'd expected, and just in the nick of time, I headed back to the car. I was grinning ear to ear. I could have skipped the whole way, I was so pleased. Some fish tickle me a little more than others. That one was exceptional. An extraordinary native char from a beautiful and delicate habitat. This is one of the fish I've sworn to protect and will fight for until my last breath.