During one of his autumn photo-and-fishing expeditions, Brown found a pair of brightly colored male brook trout locked in a territorial dispute.
"There was lots of thrashing and splashing, and that got my attention," he said. "I got into position and started shooting photos. Those two males were bumping and body-slamming to beat the band, just beating the heck out of each other. I probably photographed them for 30 to 45 minutes."
Brown also found male and female brookies paired up to spawn. The mating activity mesmerized him.
"If you sit there and just watch with the naked eye, you really don't see much," he said. "But when you play fish voyeur and zoom in so that they fill the frame, you find they do some fascinating stuff. When they're on their 'redd,' or nest, they swim around and over each other and turn their flanks upward.
"When I'm watching them through the camera's viewfinder, I'm struck by the knowledge that this is going on in thousands of places on hundreds of streams right here in West Virginia, and it's a show hardly anyone ever sees. These godawfully gorgeous fish are doing this little tango, and most people don't even know it's happening."
Brown estimates he's accumulated literally hundreds of images of spawning behavior - brookies fanning silt and fine gravel out of redds with their tails, brookies engaged in their pre-spawn mating ritual, and even brookies in the act of laying and fertilizing eggs.
"I've even caught them in flagrante - at the moment of climax, when the eggs are flying, milt is clouding the water and the bodies of both fish are shuddering with exertion," Brown said.
He shoots most of his trout photos with a Canon digital single-lens-reflex camera equipped with a 70-300 mm zoom lens with an image-stabilization feature.
"I shoot off a tripod most of the time, with the lens is zoomed in as far as it will go," he explained. "It helps to have a camera capable of getting good resolution in low-light conditions."
Though he's quite serious about improving as a photographer, Brown believes his adventures with a camera also help make him a better fisherman.
"A camera can turn a bad day into a good day," he said. "The fishing might be bad, but the photography can be really good. I'm a catch-and-release fisherman, so photos are all I come back with anyway. Getting good photos encourages me to go fishing more often. And the more I go fishing, the better fisherman I become."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.