Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blue Lines

Blue lines beckon this time of year, weeks before they'll be able to actually deliver on promises sketched on a tattered map. Their real-life versions are still smothered in winter, and the fish they harbor rest on the gravel waiting patiently for the sun to sink its rays through the ice and into the water.

But we hunker over maps anyway, dreaming of the high country as the valleys get a dose of real spring. The sun warms the grass, and the trees show a tinge of green. Winter is all but over, and our thoughts turn to wild, spunky trout.

Those maps are gateways to the little waters of our childhoods ... the quiet, willow-shrouded beaver ponds, and the tiny mountain brooks that hide wild, opportunistic fish behind every rock and under every cut bank. They help us recapture those earliest memories. Through dusty pages, we can smell sweet willows and hear the gurgle of trout water. If we listen carefully enough, we can hear the swish of towering firs as their branches push against one another in the Rocky Mountain breeze. We can feel the sun on our skin. We can hear our footsteps on rocky trails as we hike in search of the next little creek to pioneer.

Those blue lines across green paper satiate us, keep us sane during this shoulder season. Yes, we can hit the big water--everyone can. It's a welcome opportunity, and occasionally we can feel as if we're walking where others haven't. But it's not the same. It's not as pristine. Not as remote. Not as ... wild.

That's why, as we shoulder our way to the water and seek out a few hundred yards to claim for ourselves, we can handle the humanity. There's promise of solitary days on the water just a few weeks away, where the only interruption will come from wild trout crashing high-floating dry flies in a stretch of a stream only a handful of die-hards will fish all year.

Yeah, those maps give us directions, but, for blue-liners, they're more than that. They're conduits to warmer days, when a stretch of the legs will take you to places yet uncovered.

To wild trout country.

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