Western North Carolina is home to the native brook trout. Recently, the brook trout population has drastically declined. Many people see this trout as any other fish — something you can catch and [photograph].
But there is more to it than that: Out of the three types of trout in our streams, the brook trout is a necessity to the food web as well as an indicator species. For these trout to survive, the “brookies” require healthy water as well as water that is colder. This is why you can’t go fishing anywhere and expect to catch the brook trout.
These fish can be found in wild waters where streams have been restored or coming off a natural spring. Some of the major problems that are polluting the water can be construction, runoff and people littering and dumping chemicals into waters.
Although pollution is a major problem, other trout are another big problem. The stocking of invasive trout such as the rainbow and brown trout decreases the population as well. Rainbow and brown trout are stocked into the rivers to give anglers a bigger fish and more fish to catch, however. These fish have decreased the population because of the lack of size and aggressiveness of the brook trout.
Humans are also killing the population by poaching or keeping any brook trout that should be released back into the water. Most people don’t see the brook trout as I do. I travel back into wild waters just to be able to catch a wild brook trout for the beautiful color that looks somewhat unreal.
If we can reduce pollution and poaching, we can increase the population of these beautiful trout and be able to enjoy them in any stream.
— Grayson Hollar
Senior, North Buncombe High School