They’re found in places that are wild and often untouched. Thought to be one of the most beautiful species of fish, it is only fitting that you would find them in the most pristine places.

We drove miles deep into a valley situated in the western mountains of Colorado. Winding down a forest service road we came to a snowy outcrop and grabbed our gear- dogs included. One by one our footsteps crunched through the fresh layer of white and as we approached the water, our conversations diffused like fall snowflakes. The silence added to the untouched nature of the setting. No one wanted to be responsible for ruining that recognized moment as we watched the lake for any sign of movement. Only a few areas of the lake were not yet frozen over offering solid casting practice, but more so a chance at hooking up to a colorful masterpiece beneath the surface.   

They’re called Brook trout and their presence is a direct indicator of a flourishing watershed. A healthy population of these trout live only in the coldest and cleanest of water— this backcountry lake being the perfect home.

Where were you the last time you hooked up to a brookie?

Likely somewhere where your lungs were rewarded with high quality air, or maybe a place where humans are the minority among wildlife. Appreciate those moments, appreciate those wild places and the fact that ultimately, a fish brought you there. But don’t forget to appreciate the obvious and also understated beauty of a brookie and what they’re presence can tell us.

As anglers, we are often in tune with the ways in which humanity continues to threaten the health of watersheds across the globe— the most current being the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, AK. As the most valuable sockeye salmon fishery in the world, it’s often difficult for anglers, conservationists, and natives to see any chance of value behind the immense impacts this mine would have.

Not only would it affect the environment but also the economy and culture of this watershed. It’s imperative that as anglers we push the importance of focusing our attention on discerning whats productive and what is positive for our watersheds, the Pebble Mine being neither.

The next time a brookie is on the other end of your line, hold onto that little win- that moment of connecting with such a pure and pristine ecosystem that has been left alone from the wake of humanity. Then imagine a world where this was the norm. A world where the future of habitats and fly-fishing were not threatened. Let it inspire you to continue protecting and conserving the watersheds that mean so much to you and to the species of fish and other wildlife that rely so much on them.

All is not lost in today’s environmental crisis, and for that, we have the understated beauty of a brookie to thank.

Article by Olivia Merlino, check her out on Instagram @merlinoolivia. Photos from a recent Team Flylords trip to Colorado.

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  1. What about the fact that Brookies are invasive in CO and most of the west? They’ve managed to extirpate the native greenback cutthroats that used to live in those pristine lakes…

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