Brook trout are undeniably the most beautiful freshwater fish, period. The fish’s back is olive -green with yellow spots and along the top, the spots stretch in a worm-like pattern mimicking the flow of water through their natal stream. Along its sides, the colors transition from olive to orange and red, with red spots bordered by a pale blue halo. Its lower fins are orange or red, each is tipped with a white line below and a black line above. During the fall spawn, the males color up to attract females, and in the process, outdo the green, yellow, red, and orange of the maples, oaks, aspens, and tamaracks that surround the streams. Exceeding the brilliance of the works of the world’s best artists and making one ponder their Creator’s magnificence.
Native to eastern North America, these fish have swum in Wisconsin’s and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) streams for millions of years. Over the last few years, I have begun to target brookies. By any comparison, brook trout are small, generally between 6 and 10 inches in length, with a 12-inch fish a prize. When fishing brown and rainbow trout, its not unusual to hook an 18+ inch fish. Where I fish in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s UP, most fishermen prefer to fish the lakes and the big rivers for Musky, Bass, Walleye and Pike. All of which are many times larger than brookies. In fact Musky often exceed 40 inches, with the largest weighing more than 70 pounds! Given the size of the fish and the small streams that brookies inhabit, there is little fishing pressure, meaning I have the streams to myself. Seeing another fisherman on a stream I’m fishing is a rare occurrence.
What the fish lack in size is made up by their brilliance and by the beauty and solitude of their surroundings. By definition, brook trout streams are small in size, rarely large enough to float a canoe and enveloped by trees which create a canopy overhead. Wading these rivers, wildlife is always present with mink, muskrat, squirrels and deer often sited along the shore or crossing in the stream. Bear and wolf prints are many times visible in the muddy patches along the shore.
The locale that I fish is wild and just getting to the streams can be difficult. I prefer to seek out secluded areas which many times means traversing abandoned dirt roads and old logging trails. These roads and trails are often muddy with only enough clearance for a vehicle to pass while branches rub unendingly along the sides and top of the truck creating a hum and, in the process, waking all sorts of biting insects. Often, a tree limb will have fallen into the road and will need to be removed to allow my passage. Until reaching the stream or an open clearing, it is impossible to turn around and retreat. Backing up is generally impractical as it may require one-half mile or more in reverse. This means moving the limb. Usually, I can manually move the log out of the road, other times a tree saw is necessary. Either way the insects that have been rousted up are waiting outside of the vehicle and their feast begins.
Other times access to the stream involves parking on a dirt road and bushwacking the last ¼ mile or so through the brush. Usually, no trail exists and I am out of GPS coverage, so a bug infested walk with a whiskey compass is required. Although the walk into the stream may be a grind, it is not complicated. Simply follow the compass heading to the stream. Since no trails generally exist, the way off the stream to find the exact spot of the truck is like the proverbial needle. Like Hansel and Gretel, breadcrumbs are of limited assistance and although the road may be easily located using the compass, a long walk is generally required along the road back to the truck. It takes extra effort to fish this way, but the outcome is worth it. The reward is a beautiful stream, seemingly untouched by the modern world and plenty of fish willing to rise to a dry fly effortlessly presented. For me, life doesn’t get much better.
Like the endeavor to fish for brookies, investing is not always effortless. As we all know, sometimes the markets become volatile and tax our patience. Today, many events are shaping the markets and although the economy continues to expand, domestic political events, wars abroad, inflation, and the rising interest rates are seemingly transpiring to create a difficult road ahead. We continue to believe that a well thought out investment plan, individually designed, and accompanied by a solid Investment Policy Statement create the best way for clients to achieve their goals and objectives.
As always, we thank you for your business and for your continued trust.
Jack P. Cannata