Species: Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) Location: Confluence Hemlock Creek and Little Deschutes River, OR Date: August 28, 2004
Boats have nightmares about this place.
Hundreds of sun-bleached lodgepole pines crisscross the small stream, connecting two grassy meadows split by the crystal-clear water that gives life to an otherwise desolate place.
Native Bull and Redband Trout have long since been out-competed by the invasive Brook and Brown Trout that call the waters of the Little Deschutes and its numerous tributaries home.
It was opening day of bow season, and my dad and I decided to flee to the microclimate of the stream during that hot summer day, knowing full-well the deer would be bedded down anyway.
Using small Panther Martin (Size 2) spinners, as we always did in those days, we caught a number of fish that looked immediately foreign to me. Dad identified them as Brown Trout, and I quickly became enamored with the idea of another new species.
Before we decided to get back to hunting (I still prioritized hunting in those days), I tallied 10 Browns to 10 inches and an additional 30 smaller Brook Trout.
I haven’t had many days with double-digit numbers of Browns since. Coincidentally, the Cleveland Browns haven’t had many double-digit days since, either.
Species: Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) Location: Various Southern Oregon Streams Date: May 29, 2004
I caught dozens of these between my first fish and 2004; however since I didn’t keep records and don’t have pictures, I must defer to the journals I started in 2004 to determine species order.
Brook Trout were widely introduced to Oregon nearly 100 years prior, and they slowly encroached upon the territory of native Bull Trout. Even 15 years ago, I remember catching stringers full of Brookies with my dad and younger brothers on tiny Panther Martin (Size 2) spinners.
Limits on Rainbow Trout dropped from my early childhood 15 to 10, then to five, then ultimately down to two fish in streams before I got out of high school, but there remains no limit on Brook Trout in much of Oregon to encourage anglers to fight back against this invasive, East Coast char.
The tiny streams we fished weren’t conducive for three young boys and a their father, given the lack of fishable water, limited visibility surrounding the water, and the competitive drive I shared with my brothers only when it came to fishing.
Still, we caught fish. A 14-year-old me concluded the journal entry with “We did well today.”