"Brookies never get boring, and in my opinion during spawning time, probably the prettiest fish on this planet. I personally like the orange fins and the purple dots."
I'll second that motion, gentlemen!! I have two brookie spots and anytime I can pop one over 9" is a thrill. They bend the 3-weight over good! And you'll only find them in the purest, cleanest, coldest waters.
I took my Field Biology class to one of my favorite spots this summer, the Pine River at Rearing Pond Road. Forget catching fish in a 20-foot seine in that stream! Two much current, too many obstructions, and this time too few fish herders! Nevertheless, I managed to catch two little sculpins in my D-net while collecting benthics. And man, what benthics!! Samples from a nice gravel riffle were squirming with critters, loads of blackfly larvae and caddisflies and mayfly nymphs and others, very rich and very dense. And cold - one of my students really had a hard time getting in!
I give a lecture on stream ecology in this class and then take them on two stream collecting trips, the first of which is the Whirlpool access on the Au Sable. This allows us to compare the warmwater lower Au Sable to a designated trout stream heavily populated with brookies and rainbows. I tell my students how this fits into the River Continuum Concept (look it up if you're not familiar with it - pretty interesting!) as a headwater stream, cold, shaded, few plants or algae but lots of debris input (leaves, twigs, wood, etc.) and dominated by shredders and collectors (benthic functional feeding groups), with strictly coldwater fishes such as trout and sculpins. The lower Au Sable is more of a midreach stream - warmer, more open, lots more algae and plants, more scrapers (scrape algae off surfaces) in the benthics, and warmer water fishes such as minnows, smallmouth bass, etc.
Another system of evaluation I teach them about is the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI), from the Ohio EPA, for stream quality evaluation. It's a series of numerical scores on such aspects as instream habitat, pool/riffle structure, sinuosity, substrate type, riparian land use, etc. The maximum possible score is 100. Well, I tell my students that the Pine would probably be in the 75-80 or above range, same with the lower Au Sable.
An urban stream? Like 25 or below...
So yes, David, hit those tribs and catch those brookies! And think of the quality waters that you're fishing to catch those little gemstones too!
Tight lines with speckled fish on them!
P.S. Gave 4 (FOUR!) final exams today, two with live plants...it's all over now but the grading.
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...