What’s in a name?

Meandering Pennsylvania brook trout stream

Unicorn Brookies? Why on earth would I couple the name of a mythical creature that doesn’t exist with brook trout? I’ve heard the words “unicorn brookies” thrown around a time or two on the internet. The term is typically used to define a big brook trout that is thought to be nonexistent in the mid-Atlantic.

As time has passed, this blog has taken a turn from what it started out as. I think there are a few reasons for the evolution of this site. I had originally set out to find the largest wild native brook trout in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. As I sought out obscure places, some things became apparent to me.

  • In Pennsylvania especially, we don’t have the truly wild places required to hide away rare fish.
  • We’ve got so many introduced species that we’re losing brook trout habitat at an alarming rate.
  • I know now that the recipe for big brook trout requires access to a large body of water, and we just don’t have secluded large bodies of water that are devoid of predator species or competitive species.
  • Even if I caught an abnormally large brook trout, I don’t think its wise to publish photos of it.
  • It’s less about the size of the fish, and more about the protection of the species.

Beyond the issues above, I’ve personally come to appreciate all brook trout, regardless of size, and understand the importance of the species as a whole. Another issue I’ve faced is that I’ve become less interested in actually fishing for brook trout. That might sound odd, but I find that I’d rather protect the fish, or observe them without the threat of harm. So I tend to leave brook trout alone a lot more than I used to. Again, it’s less about catching them, and more about protecting them.

The site, and the name of the site, was initially about finding out if “unicorn brookies” exist in the mid-Atlantic region. I can confirm that abnormally large wild brook trout do exist. I’ve seen them, and while I’ve tried my best to catch one to see up close, I’ve been unsuccessful. The thing is, I’m fine with that.

So now the site is really just musing about brook trout.

I think this site took a similar route as the Bobwhite Quail program I mention in one of my articles. I originally set out with a goal in mind, but after realizing the issues facing the species, it’s taken on a different approach.

Now, I think the term “unicorn brookies” means something entirely different to me personally. It’s something that did exist long ago but is now as mythical as a horse with a horn protruding from its head. What would define a “unicorn brook trout”? Once you best your previous largest fish, the next size becomes the unicorn. So it’s an endless pursuit and there will always be a bigger fish beyond our reach. So to me, this blog is about a thing that doesn’t exist and the reasons for that.

Pennsylvania Brook Trout (Salvelinus Fontinalis)
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