George Smith of Downeast.com lamented recently the notable absence of his state from Outdoor Life's list of best sporting towns in America.
George agrees that Maine's big-game hunting resources are pretty thin, especially with the decline of the deer herd in the northern half of the state. But he's got one on Outdoor Life--a full 97 percent of the country's remaining native brook trout swim in the great state of Maine. That says nothing for the landlocked Atlantic salmon that call this wild state home.
I've yet to have the pleasure to fish in this remarkable place, but someday I plan to make the trip and chase brookies where brookies belong (and, no, I won't eat one).
Sorry, George. But in my book (the one where brookies matter), Maine's just great.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Upstream, where hard-bodied trout swim in tight water chilled by perpetual winter. Where wildflowers push the snow away, shine briefly and then retreat. Where spruces pierce the sky defiantly. Where I can cast ... alone.
At the river's head, where water can't wait to run off the mountain, life takes advantage of its few short weeks free from winter's cloak. It pulses. It revels in sunshine, soaking it in, for it has to last a long, long time. Bumblebees work tirelessly from flower to flower. Voles and chipmunks furiously gather stores to prepare for the season from which they just barely escaped. Wild trout rise willingly to false promises.
Some say they're easily fooled. Others dare not waste a cast on something they see as diminutive... not worth the effort they invested crafting a fly meant for something larger, something that looks better in megapixels. I disagree.
"Where wild trout rise willingly to false promises."
Touching their life force reinforces my own. Fooling them with concoctions crafted in a winter-shrouded basement while they fin, nearly dormant, in water covered in months of snow and ice is an effort to touch Heaven while remaining on earth. It's a religion. It requires faith.
It's why, during winter's grip, I glance often from the valley floor at the high country. I wait for the snows to retreat, for the green shoots of wild iris and columbine to shoulder through the moist, black soil. I wait for the water to clear and the mosquitos to emerge hungrily.
Then I become a temporary visitor. A tourist toting a stick and the simple desire to be part of this place. Just for a bit.
Upstream. That's where I'll fish today.