Last week I accomplished a feat that may be a first for me, catching wild brown, brook, and rainbow trout on the same day. It actually wasn't even that great a day of fishing, but I scared up a few rainbows in the morning on a stream with about 90% browns, then headed up to a stream later in the day that I'd never caught anything but browns in. After a frustrating time hooking and losing several of them, I finally brought a fish to hand, and it was a 9" brookie! I don't know what percentage of that stream's population brookies make up, but certainly less than 5% (my guess would be much lower than that), so I was pretty happy. When I met up with my brother, who'd had a lousy day, he stated the obvious: "Wow, how often do you end up a brown trout short of the trifecta." With my brother already headed for the car and me making my last few casts to a few small pockets, I finally got a little hesitation in my line and set the hook, rolling a 15" brown over the rock at the tail of an eddy. An exciting fight down through the pocket water later I'd completed the trifecta. It was a pretty satisfying day, not least because my best fly that day was one of my own patterns (a green curly thing), and my brother had had zero luck on an old standby on that stream (also green, but I will not deign to describe it any further).
Still, the experience left me wanting. I'd caught all three types of trout, but not on the same stream. Earlier in the week, we had been with our real estate agent looking at prospective houses, and she showed us one that backed up to my favorite large stream (which will henceforth be known as Stream A), way up in the headwaters... and exactly where my favorite brookie stream (Stream B) flows into it. Needless to say my wife hated the house and I will never live at the confluence of my two favorite trout streams. But it left me considering an amazing possibility, that way up in the headwaters of Stream A I might be able to find brook trout. This in spite of every account I've ever read of this famous water, in which anglers report only wild browns and rainbows.
So I planned a trip up to the headwaters of Stream A, which is all on private land, in hopes that I could find someone willing to allow me access - all I needed was a few fishy holes that might hold a brookie or two. Just as I was leaving the house, my 6-year-old son Joshua asked if he could go with me. So we hopped in the car and began our little adventure together. An hour later we were finally able to find a person willing to allow us access (I freely confess that I used my son's cuteness to my advantage). But when we got to Stream A we found it completely dry. We hiked up to the confluence with Stream B, which was indeed flowing into it, but at the confluence the flow immediately disappeared under the rocks and was gone. So my finding brookies in the headwaters would have to wait for a different time of year. Making that possibility even less likely were the results of our following hike up the first 100 yards of Stream B - the water that far downstream was lousy - warm (no doubt from landowners creating large pools in the stream), rather nondescript, and devoid, as far as I could tell, of any fish longer than an inch. It would be a long shot for any brookies at any time of year to travel downstream enough that they would end up in Stream A, which probably dries up in that area every summer. Instead of finding fish stacked up in the trib, we found nothing.
So we hiked back out and got into our car. Sometimes, I explained to Joshua, fishing adventures don't turn out the way you hope. He told me that it was OK that we hadn't caught any fish - he'd still had a fun adventure. But I was still determined that he see a fish that day, so we drove up to some public land farther up Stream B. It would run much colder up there, and with the steeper gradient I knew there would be good little pools that we could approach closely enough that Joshua might be able to make some casts to some willing brookies.
But the fishing upstream proved tough, and not just because I was with a six-year-old boy. The fish were spooky and finicky. Still, we had fun sneaking around the stream, and Joshua even located a large mayfly dun on a rock and we let it crawl around on our hands for a few moments. After a number of missed strikes and fruitless pockets and holes, though, he got bored and the dreaded dad-I-want-to-go-home pleading began. But I was determined that he would see a fish, and told him sternly that we weren't leaving until we caught one. Just below the best hole in the stream, where I can usually count on at least 4 or 5 fish, we came upon a little pool where we could hide behind a big rock and flip casts over it into the tail. I got him into position and gave him a few quiet instructions. On his third cast (usually two casts too many to such clear water), to my utter surprise a fish hammered our Adams. Joshua yanked hard, and the ensuing fight occurred not in water but through the air, against the rocks, and into and out of the bushes. I'm sure it made the fish feel much better when I had Joshua wet his hands before handling it. We admired the colors of the beautiful 6-inch brookie, on the large side for that stream, Joshua felt its teeth (he'd asked earlier if fish had them), and he then returned it to the stream as safely as a 6-year-old can. He then turned to me and said, "Daddy, I caught the fish that lets us go home!" So home we went.