Friday, January 25, 2008

Great description of a brook trout

This is one of my favorite descriptions of a brook trout, from Ted Leeson’s 2002 book Jerusalem Creek: Journeys Into Driftless Country. Guilford, CT: the Lyons Press, pp. 87-88.

The indigenous trout of the driftless area is the brook trout, and if its common name accords well with the place of countless little creeks, the scientific designation is more fitting still: fontinalis, “of the springs.”

The brook trout is often said to be the most colorful of all trout species and I will concede that it is colorful, almost improbably so, decked out in the kind of composite chromatics you might expect from a committee of hyperactive first graders turned loose on a box of crayons. It is, however, imaginatively done, and the only species of freshwater fish I know of that would not look out of place among the phantasmagoria of a coral reef. It possesses the most magnificent of tails, broad and square and elegantly proportioned, like the sail of a clipper ship.