Dustin Wichterman with a big native brookie. (Dustin Wichterman/)
To say that native brook trout mean a lot to me would be a massive understatement. The love of these fish and the environments in which they are found is in my blood. I’ve spent my life in close proximity to brookies, and dedicated many years to their study and restoration. My daughter’s name, Brooklynn Vale, means stream in the valley, and the skin above my heart bears a tattoo version of our finned friends.
These fish are special to me because they represent purity and a connection to the past. Because of this obsession, I studied wildlife and fisheries resources as an undergraduate and later obtained an M.S. in the field. I worked in environmental consulting before coming to Trout Unlimited in 2012 because my personal mission aligned with theirs: to leave our children with cleaner waters than those we see today.
I am currently the Associate Director of Trout Unlimited’s (TU) Mid Atlantic Cold-Water Habitat Program based in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. Together, with our partners, we have restored hundreds of miles of streams and many watersheds, engaged thousands of people in hands-in-the-water activities, and made our homes a better place to live.
I really don’t like to tell folks how to fish, as I’m simply glad to see people out there enjoying it. But the editors here at Outdoor Life asked me to answer a few questions about brookies, so I obliged. I hope it helps you catch a few more fish this year.
A native brookie in hand. (Mark Taylor/)
1. Outdoor Life: What do you suppose the attraction is—that so many anglers seemingly share—for catching a fish that rarely grows past the fingerling stage in most places?