A friend sent me a photograph of an exquisite brook trout he managed to catch in a creek in a part of Maryland known for its protected brook trout habitat. I thought, “That’s treasure he’s holding in his hand.” It reminded me of the brook trout experience on Father’s Day Creek in Pennsylvania, and why it’s so special, why just about all anglers in the Eastern states get excited when they catch a brookie, even, as is often the case, a little one. Think about it: The land around Father’s Day Creek has not been wilderness for going on 400 years. The trees are descendants of ancestors that fell in colonial times to the logger’s ax. The stream-bred brown trout – what we tend to refer to as “wild trout” — are not a native species. They were introduced after the original inhabitants had been wiped out. The same is true of the small rainbows I sometimes catch. They, too, were introduced to the stream, adapted to it and managed to reproduce. In fact, the only trout that could be considered native are the little brookies. Those that swim in Father’s Day Creek today are possibly the descendants of the brook trout that have survived the intrusions of settlers, loggers, farmers and hunter-gatherers over the centuries. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so special to catch one and hold it for a few seconds. You feel like you have captured treasure, captured time itself.
— excerpted, in part, from “Father’s Day Creek: Fly fishing, fatherhood and the last best place on Earth.” Available in hard and soft cover from Apprentice House. Father’s Day Creek is the author’s name for a trout stream in Pennsylvania.