I would be traveling with my fishing partner from the 2008 Colorado Cuttslam, Phil Smith.
The first thing that caught my eye was the amount of red on the larger brown. I thought we had just spotted the largest brook trout Phil and had ever seen. We gave it the old college try but he wanted nothing we had to offer. After resting the pool while we had lunch, Phil gave it another shot while I hid above the pool. That's when I noticed it wasn't a brook but a brown trout in the 14"-16" class, obviously a holdover from the annual backpack fingerling stockings.
I don't feel the presence of the browns is the reason for the lack of brookies, as I've caught browns and brookies in the same small stream in eight different streams in West Virginia. They are an invasive species but they cannot wipe out an entire population of brookies - besides they had plenty of dace in that stream to keep them fat and happy.
With hopes dashed, we decided to call it a day on Laurel and head for the trail.
Just before we hit the trail to the vehicle I "dapped" my fly at another root ball and the brook trout skunk was gone.
We had spooked a brookie in the trailside feeder stream on the way in; so on the way out I hit a couple of pockets. It took no time to produce:
Unfortunately, when things go bad even the brook trout photos turn out poorly.
Phil's GPS indicated a travel distance of seven miles, that would 2.33 miles per brook trout. That would also probably be about ten dace per mile.
We tried one more stream before heading for home, the Little River of the West Fork of the Greenbrier. It was another beautiful low gradient stream, but other than the fish I missed at the first hole, I saw only one other trout. Again, a beautiful section of stream but not very productive this day.
It may have been the fishermen, but when you are exploring new water you can't always be successful...c'est la vie.