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Fragile can be described as something easily broken or destroyed. The wild trout of the headwater streams easily fit that description, and the environments that they call home are equally fragile. A 7 to 8 inch wild brook trout caught in these waters should be considered a trophy not just for its size in a population of lesser sized fish, but because its value. A female brook trout may lay several hundred eggs when she spawns. Of these, very few will survive the rigors of predation, drought, anchor ice and other threats to reach that size. That 7 or 8 inch brook trout is a survivor of 4 or 5 seasons, and one of a very small percentage that have lived that long. It’s a fish that has adapted to survive in its harsh environment over tens of thousands of years and will pass those genetics on to future generations. Something to think about the next time you fish and are fortunate to catch one of these beautiful creatures.

There are days when I scroll through my social media feed that my emotions run the full range between sadness, disgust and out right anger. Too often I see a pic of a wild brook or brown trout being squeezed, held in a dry hand, laid out on the bank or photographed with no water in sight. A wild fish covered with dirt or leaves was never handled with respect. A few moments of careless handling can quickly harm the life of something that took nature 4 or 5 years to make. Releasing that fish might make you feel like a catch and release angler, but your actions add up to a different result. Everyone is proud of a good fish and wants a hero shot.

Wet your hands, fish barbless, keep the fish in a net in the water until you have your camera or camera man ready, compose the shot and lift the fish enough to get a pic and lower back into the water quickly. Repeat if you need to. If the fish slips out of your hand it will wind up falling back into the water instead of flopping around on the ground. Wild trout are beautiful and fragile creatures that deserve our respect and careful handling practices. Leave healthy fish and footprints behind, take home pictures, memories and the satisfaction that the stream and its fish are as healthy as they were before you went there ….. #ItsAboutTheFish #Keepemwet


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