© 2012 Will K 0WK0448-R5-E081

Salvelinus patronus: Part III, Still Wild

When we left off last time, the Brookies had hatched and were being readied for introduction into their new home.  A raceway that would isolate but simultaneously relate the Brookie population from and to surrounding populations of Rainbows was filled with 5,000 of the little parr, ready to passively engage in research.

Walking along the raceways, I immediately spotted the group of ‘bows below the Brookies; they were spread out evenly and served as the test group–clean of parasites upon introduction to the raceway.  The Brookies’ raceway was immediately upstream, but walking by it looked eerily empty.  Where were the Brookies I came to see?

They were there, but there in all their wildness.  Direct descendents of wild individuals from Utah, they were acting wild.  Clumped up in a surprisingly small cluster and smashed up against the far, dark wall, the fish were invisible.  Thousands of them managed to hide in an area with no hiding place.  I realized then what the researchers had realized a few weeks prior–“wild” means unpredictable, dangerous, uncooperative and stubborn.  “Wild” plays by a different set of rules than “domesticated.”  Wild is in control.

Above the Brookies was the hospice.  A few dozen brood stock ‘bows of impressive size, all completely infested with copeopods.  The “hope” was that these copeopods, after copulation, would spawn offspring and drift downstream through the Brookies and eventually into the clean rainbows.

The Brookies were not in a research project, though.  They were in a stream and fighting for survival, avoiding predation and generally being a collective pain-in-the-ass.  Clumped up, they didn’t form a good “net” across the raceway to “catch” and disable the copeopod babies.  The Brookie spoke and said, “I am not a research anode; I am a wild trout.  Pleased to meet you.”

However teenagerly they were acting, the Brookies brought a new light of grace and beauty to the park.  Heavily spotted ‘bows had been dotting the park waters for decades, but now halos swam among them sporting both their angelic mission and hallmark.  Universally threatened but universally adept at survival, the Brookie has never looked to me more dignified, pugnacious or welcome than it did that day.

Enjoy the quiet competence that drips off these fishes fins like the story of their own decline…and rising again.


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