What is there to be said about brook trout that hasn’t already been written, videotaped, or documented? I often sit and wonder how I can present the wonders of this apex predator in a new way. Well, I’ve got a uniquely personal perspective on this species through a few years of hunting for brook trout giants in Ontario’s North. That’s right, I said Ontario. There are specimens in this Canadian province that rival storied brook trout populations around the world.
After all, the world record fish was caught in the Nipigon River in the heart of Ontario’s brook trout country. That fish went a staggering 14.5 lbs. I have a very intimate relationship with these fish. I respect these fish, have never harvested one and most certainly have never eaten one.
Brook trout, despite their spectacular paint job, is actually one of the more violent creatures that swim. If they can fit it in their mouths, they can—sorry they will eat it. On a remote fly-in adventure in the Albany River watershed, I once witnessed a 3-pound brook trout regurgitate an 8- to 10-inch walleye! I have also witnessed 4-inch brook trout eat a 3-inch articulated fly. I have never nymphed for these fish and prefer to throw substantive offerings to them on a fly rod. From surface floating mouse patterns to elongated bunny leeches, my feeling is the feeding window (lack of ice spring-fall) in the north is short so fish will find opportunities in protein offerings. My theory has allowed me to hook 2 fish that estimated bested 10 pounds a few that were in the 7- to 8-pound range and almost countless 5-pound brook trout.
They are hunters looking for maximum benefit for minimum effort. However, the personality of the brook trout is what I find to be unique. Frankly, they are incredible!
The brook trout of Ontario is a very worthy adversary on the fly. Be they the wee specimens of southern Ontario small streams, or the giants of the backcountry, to be a brook trout angler requires a level of commitment—not dissimilar to those who chose to only hunt the elusive musky. Thankfully, brook trout aren’t nearly as few and far between as those toothy critters! However, I have said it umpteen times, brook trout seem to be an all-or-nothing fish. If they aren’t eating readily, you’ll have to get down and dirty for them and it’ll be work! But when they are on, they are on! And it’s worth every single effort in their pursuit. The other commitment associated with brook trout is the bugs. Brookies live where the bugs live and for whatever reason, they seem to go hand in hand, so you’ll need to be prepared for that. Consider yourself warned!
The pursuit of brook trout has an extremely personal benefit for me as well. Brook trout live in some pretty spectacular places and are pursued by some pretty spectacular people. Like-minded individuals, with a common goal often in remote environments where you can’t simply get up and leave. Many of the people I’ve fished brook trout with have become friends with whom I keep in touch and can’t wait to fish with again.
Bottom line: it’s just fishing and brook trout is just a fish…but they're fish with benefits that far exceed the pure joy I feel watching them swim away. If you haven’t ever fished brook trout in the streams, rivers and lakes of Ontario, do yourself a favour and give it a try.
You’ll be amazed at the benefits of this, Mother Nature’s most beautifully painted freshwater fish.