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by Tom Bie

Blue-winged olives are sometimes called "drab" - defined by Webster as "monotonous" or "dull". But I think that's a wholly inappropriate term. Winter is monotonous. Waiting for bugs is monotonous. Frozen lakes and rivers are monotonous. Bluewings are the bridge leading away from monotony, not toward it - they're almost always

Image: Brian O' Keefe

What to do when a fish morphs from gills and guts into something larger - a memory that splashes across three generations of anglers, alternating between dream and reality? Born to my grandfather, this fish swam through my father Charles and landed with me. Even before I hooked her one cool April morning on Georgia's Soquee River, I dreamt of her - a big rainbow on light line.

The ancient Mako 17 lounged beside an Indian River fishing camp. Amid the rusted trailer and decaying leafy interior clutter was her magical and somehow readable stern message merrily announcing, "Reds R Us."

I chuckled at the irony of that sun-bleached clunker's name as I wheeled a friend's sleek, carbon-and-fiberglass Maverick down the ramp. Almost single-handedly, redfish have CPR'ed life back into the light-tackle fishing markets of the inshore Gulf and lower East Coast. Reds R Us was built over 30 years ago, in the bad old days, even before Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme's blackened redfish craze reached epidemic proportions. Thanks to proactive anglers and the multi-state Coastal Conservation Association, species-devastating commercial netting was reduced, and now even old time crackers are surprised at the booming redfish numbers.

"A brook trout wouldn't last five minutes in this water," I say to Haroldo as he leans over the gunwale and washes the slime off his knife. "Never mind the water temperature he'd be dead before he ever felt the heat."

Haroldo looked up, smiled, and nodded like he understood. "You believe in natural selection?" I ask.

Another smile, perplexed, and then a blank stare.

"You know...Charles Darwin—survival of the fittest?"

"Eh?"

"Never mind."

The sun is high overhead as I step out of the trees, drop my pack and flop down on the grass, watching the wind send long ripples across the lake. Bear, my grey-muzzled companion, quenches his thirst in the cool water We've been hiking all day and while my legs and lungs feel the mileage, the thick pine canopy shielded me from the intense summer sun during the hike from the trailhead. Exposed now to its golden warmth, I feel languid and dreamy. We have all weekend to fish, I think to myself, as I close my eyes and drift off. I awake to see that Bear has started fishing without me. He is stalking the shallows, ears perked forward, his head snapping left and right as slick cutthroats dart away at his approach. I can t help but smile. This is exactly why we hiked for five hours, climbing 4,000 feet, to fish this remote alpine lake. Nobody's here to complain about him spooking the fish.