It’s been a while since that word has been used around anglers, but I like it, and miss hearing people use it. It’s one of those words that triggers the synapses and gets gray-haired anglers thinking back to canvas-covered Old Town boats and bamboo rods.
What’s a squaretail? Put that query to a fisherman next to you in a casting pool on one of the Tennessee creeks in the Great Smoky Mountains. Chances are he won’t have a clue. Heck, a young Mainer fishing Soudy might not have the foggiest either.
Game’s over. In Maine, a squaretail is a brook trout. And it’s the perfect, unpretentious title for a splendid showcase book by Maine fishing writer and trout activist Bob Mallard. Published by Stackpole Books, it is a rich, information-packed, photo-loaded collector’s book that is as fitting of a tribute to salvalinus fontanalis as any book could possibly be.
Knowing Bob Mallard over the years, personally and by reputation, I would have expected nothing less. The Skowhegan trout man has never been bashful about expressing his love of brook trout and his stalwart determination to share the trout-preservation gospel with anyone who will listen.
From his book, here are some expressions of his unbridled passion for trout: “Brook trout are the most beautiful fish … they are greatly unappreciated … brook trout need friends to survive ….the preservation of wild native trout is more important to me than fishing.”
I fished years ago with Mallard from his drift boat on the Upper Kennebec River. In between cigars and too many bass hookups, we talked trout, trout and trout. We agreed to disagree on the question: to eat, or not to eat — trout, that is.
Today, I noticed that, in person and in his book, he avoids the “never-eat-a-trout soapbox.” He’s mellowed with age. However, he did sneak this last sentence in his chapter on trout terminology: “And, like golf, you don’t have to eat the ball to enjoy the sport.”
The book certainly is, as advertised, “The definitive guide to brook trout and where to find them.” Mallard leaves no stone unturned. His wife, Diana, and other photographers have added immeasurably to the book’s eye appeal with exceptional photographs of stunning male brookies adorned in their fall colors. The book is available online at www.bobmallard.com.
You can’t say it enough. Maine is blessed with a wild native brook trout fishery like no other in the continental United States. And, as Mallard points out, experience elsewhere teaches us that there are perils for this coveted game fish, the most significant of which in Maine is the worrisome plague of invasive fish species in our trout waters.
“Squaretail” is a wonderful book about trout and how and where to fish for them. It likewise gives wider exposure and permanence to Mallard’s laudable trout-preservation message.
From all of us who love brook trout, a tip of the fly-studded fishing hat to Bob Mallard for all he has done, and will do, to keep brook trout preservation a fisheries management priority in this state and elsewhere.