Sawyer Brook flows past the Eastman Community in Grantham, NH
Sawyer Brook flows past the Eastman Community in Grantham, NH, winding it's way through white pine forest and down granite ledges before joining with the Sugar River, where I first cut my teeth on fly fishing in moving water. My father and I found our way there because it was marked in our NH Gazetteer with the icon of a leaping fish, and the key in the back of the battered red and white covered book suggested that it was home to brook trout.
Up until just before this period, I couldn't have told you what a brook trout looked like. I had assumed that "brookie" was a term for small trout the way "schoolie" referred to small striped bass. It took me by surprise to learn that these little trout (char actually, although I didn't know what that meant) we're the only trout native to New England, and that the ancestors of the feisty rainbows and browns we caught in the Sugar had traveled to New Hampshire, like most of it's inhabitants, from other parts of the world.
My father on Sawyer Brook Arriving at Sawyer brook for the first time, we pulled on our newish waders and rigged up our brand new 7.5 foot 3wt rods, which we're so much lighter and more delicate than the rods we we're used to. A few minutes of walking in muddy marsh grass led us to the brook itself, which had been dammed in two places by an enterprising family of beavers, who, later in the afternoon, came out and slapped the water with there broad tails, warning us away from their lodge.
The water was slow and torpid, and the mud concealed whatever swam deeper than a couple of inches below the surface. My friend at the fly shop in Boston, a New Hampshire native himself, had sold me a handful of small yellow, black and white streamers call "black ghosts" that he assured me had been catching brook trout for generations. I stripped my black ghost skeptically through the water, thinking all the while that I would probably be better off with an olive wooly bugger (which was the only fly I really trusted in the first year or two of fishing). Just as I was about to reel in to change the fly, a seemingly massive shape emerged from the muck to grab the fly and dive back into the protection of the dark water.After a brief fight on the light tackle, I was surprised to find that the ferocious predator that had hit my fly as hard as any bass was only six inches long. But what a six inches. Compared to the green and white small mouth bass, and pale stocked rainbow trout I was used to, it was a riot of color. Dark sides doted with yellow, and red spots impossibly ringed with blue. Most striking we're the bright red fins, with their distinctive black and white bars.
In the handful of years since I held this beautiful little fish in my hands, I have come to appreciate the unique beauty of a native trout in it's habitat. I don't think I am the first to note how native trout and other fish just seem to "fit" in their environment. At the time, I don't know if I understood this, I just knew that I was happier after catching this little trout than after catching any other, larger fish.Driving by on the road, you wouldn't look twice at Sawyer Brook, but it was on it's muddy banks I caught my first native trout. It is only by chance that residential development in this part of the country is so thin, and that the large vacation community of Eastman hadn't expanded in a way that spoiled it as a habitat. Small rivers and creeks like Sawyer Brook need to be protected so that the generations that come after us can have moments like mine, where they are struck dumb by the beauty that occurs when natives swim in the same rivers they have inhabited for thousands of years.
Hope you enjoyed this. I should mention this was suggested by Wayne at Baraka. always love suggestions and comments.
Posted in Entertainment Post Date 10/08/2015