Thursday, April 5, 2012

Brook Trout Not So Noble

I thought I’d seen it all. But today I witnessed something that totally upset some preconceived notions.

On the way to town to pick up some medicine, I stopped, on a whim, and began fishing a small stream. One thing led to another and I forgot all about going to town and after catching two small trout, decided to head to another stream in order to fill out my catch.

As luck would have it, fish were in. This place holds trout, but only at certain times of the year. My normal calendar for judging these events was skewed this year because of the unusually warm weather in late March. Normally, this stream should not hold fish for at least another week if not another two weeks.

Anyway, luck favored me and I took two more fish, these considerably larger than the trout I had taken from the first stream. My trip to town now long forgotten, I went home to take care of my fish.

Before proceeding, let me say to those who don’t share my extreme enthuiasm for trout fishing, that all fish are not created equal. Salmonids, meaning trout, salmon and togue (lake trout) occupy a lofty position in the hearts and minds of people like me. We attribute all sorts of virtues to trout, while eschewing spiny-rayed fish such as bass.

This goes even further. Of all the salmonids, our native brook trout is most revered. The ephemeral symbol of unspoiled wilderness, the fish of dreams, superior in every way. Brook trout are the pinnical of glory to any dedicated trout fishermen.

We revere our brook trout. We also attribute all manner of characteristics to brookies, attributes which may or may not exist. One of these is trout’s delicate palate. While bass and pickerel, perfectly unsophisticated fish, will willingly bite on the most garish and cumbersome lures, brook trout only dine upon the most dainty fare.

This idea of brook trout sophistry is of course,widespread among trout fans. We fish for trout with tiny lures and flies, using refined tackle. The clothes-pole rods and crude reels used by bass fishermen will not take our sophisticated trout.

All these thoughts were pretty much tossed out the window today when I knelt down and began cleaning my fish. The largest trout, a hair over 11 inches long, was extremely fat. I assumed its belly was filled with ephemera, mayfly larvae, the only suitable fare for such a royal fish. I was wrong.

Pulling out the viscera, I notided a long, thin object protruding from the stomach. It looked at first like a stick, but it wasn’t that. Then I assumed it was a partly-digested minnow, a coarse thing for the “sacred” brook trout to eat, but everyone falls short of the mark once in a while.

I grasped the long object and slowly pulled it from the trout’s stomach. It was a frog’s leg. This revolted me, as you may well imagine. I kept pulling and found, much to my horror, that the leg was attached to a body and in fact, it was an entire and very live, frog. The trout must have only recently eaten it.

I recoiled, dropping the frog. It crawled away without even thanking me for its untimely and unexpected deliverance.

I cannot fully express my feeling of disgust. How far the noble have fallen. Chivalry is dead, virtue meaningless.

It will take me some time to recover.

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