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The 'Brookie'

Nowhere else but in our nation's creek systems does the brilliant coloring of the brook trout show off its flair so well. From their marbled, rich olive back to the scarlet-dotted sides and on to a black-lined, red belly with a cream white center, the brookie radiates color. Creek brook trout probably are the prettiest fish to swim within the currents of our small waterways.

Sometimes called the speckled trout, brook trout, squaretail, mountain trout, coaster, aurora trout or eastern brookie, this fellow is generally believed to average between 6 to 12 inches. Most brook trout, which are caught by fishermen, do remain within this size variation. However, the world record brookie weighed 14 1/2 pounds. It was taken from the Nipigon River in northern Ontario within 12 miles of where Dan Gapen, Sr. grew up years ago. In some waterways, the brook trout is easily caught in 2 to 5-pound weights. These areas, for the most part, are found in Canadian waters.

Brook trout spawn from early to late September and on into October in most of our nation's creeks and streams. To perform the spawning ritual, they prefer strong flowing spring water areas where gravel beds abound.

This fish is considered a table delicacy and when fried in hot butter, melts in the mouth.

The flat-headed sculpin minnow can be found from Alaska to Quebec to Tennessee and throughout the northern half of the United States. It is the favored food of the northern brook trout. The Muddler Fly best represents the sculpin and was created by Don Gapen (Dan Gapen's father) in 1936 on the world-famous Nipigon River in Ontario, Canada. The sculpin is often called the flathead minnow, cockatush minnow, rock darter, or muddler, as it is called in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois where Don Gapen grew up.