Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

The Philosophy of Brook Trout

If you have even a passing interest in brook trout then you will want to pick up a copy of Downstream by David L. O’Hara and Matthew T. Dickerson.

If we could explain why grown men are so fascinated with brook trout, or why we spend so much of our time waist-deep in their waters, soaked to the bone, shivering, and delighting in every encounter with a specked trout, we wouldn’t need to write stories. This book is the best answer we can give.”

So begins this excellent book that explores the nexus between brook trout, fly fishing and some of the more interesting locations these very special fish call home.

The authors switch off with narratives that reflect both their personalities and points of view. The joy in the book comes in how they share their experience of fishing for brookies and the insights they give to the importance of the habitat the brook trout occupy.

The only complaint I would lodge is that they did not include Virginia in their travels. It would have been wonderful to see my home waters through their eyes.

The authors explore not only the impacts wrought upon the brook trout’s habitat, they also share their experience as fisherman; the teaching, manners, politics and connections to home. Dickerson is quite adept and entertaining at sharing the conundrums many fly fisherman face.

At the beginning of the conclusion, O’Hara quotes Kathleen Dean Moore from Pine Island Paradox.

I believe that the most loving thing you can say to a person is “Look.” And the most loving stance is not a close embrace, but two people standing side by side, looking out together on the world. When people learn to look, they begin to see, really see. When they begin to see, they begin to care. And caring is the portal to the into the moral world.”

Then, in my favorite part of the book he delves into the question of why he fishes. No doubt the answer to why is going to be different for everyone; but he does a fine job of putting on paper something that I and many others can relate to, to know the world we live in and our own lives better.

Downstream delivers an excellent “look” that Moore describes and the reader will come away with a sense of having stood side by side with the authors as they share their sense of caring for these special fish and the places they live.


  1. Looks it might be A good read.I think Va gets left out of a lot of books because people just don’t think Brookies & Va

  2. I have been involved with saving south Jersey’s last wild brook trout stream for the past 16 years. My book “Saving Mason’s Run” is a chronological history of this unique site over the last 100 yrs. and is a good read for anyone interested in brook trout conservation. Proceeds from the sale of the book support Trout Unlimited. Saving Masons Run is available on Amazon.

  3. Tom Sadler says:

    Dennis, Sadly that may be true, but in this case it wasn’t intentional. They just didn’t get here. I have plans to fix that.

  4. Tom Sadler says:

    Brian, Good on you brother! If you have a review copy available I would love to read it and write something. about it. Are you familiar with the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture?

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