It's hard to believe that out of all the time I've spent in Georgia fishing trout waters, I had still not made the time to chase native Brook Trout. I enjoy all types of fishing, however something didn't seem appealing about chasing these tiny trout high in the mountains of thick, twisted brush. Part of me wants to blame it on my youth. Growing up in the Northeast where brook trout of the 8-12" range are prevalent and made up the majority of what we caught growing up. I suppose I was immune to the allure some southern trout fishermen have for these tiny trout of Southern Appalachia. This year has been extremely hot, last Friday marked 50 days over 90 degrees in the Atlanta area. Couple that with a lack of rain and it's the ingredients for a really bad summer of trout fishing here in the Southeast. Water levels are extremely low, which have forced most fishermen to either fish the cool tail waters of our dam controlled lakes, or head to the shaded mountains of the high country. With that said, it seemed it was time for me to finally put some miles between me and a vehicle and do some exploring in pursuit of the states one true native.
Exploring itself is a part of what most of us love about fishing. There are times when you get far enough off paths and roads and contemplate the last time someone fished the section of river you stood in. There is always a curiosity about what's around the next corner and when it's time to quit, it's often with regret that you may have missed out on what lie just ahead. I suppose that is what I can appreciate about the Southern Brook Trout. You have to work for them, and in doing so, you find what nature hides from those unwilling or able to go deep into the wild.
Also worthy of appreciation is the resilience of the species here in this section of the mountains. Although colder, the water is still low in the mountains and these fish live in tiny infertile streams. With food sources low, these tiny warriors are fierce. I'm used to having one shot at a hook set, but it wasn't uncommon to have these fish strike multiple times. And of course, who can't appreciate the colors and patterns of these fish? Brook Trout, no matter the size, are certainly like no other trout.
What these mountain gems lack in big fights and trophy sizes, they make up for in the fact they are truly wild and connect you to what nature was like centuries before before stocking programs and scientific anglers.