Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter Reprieve

At three in the morning the screen to my bedroom window began to whistle as winters first storm rolled into the valley. Several freshly torn branches from the century old poplar that sags dangerously close to my home rattled across the roof. That was late December. Given winter’s tardy arrival, those who fish, greeted this storm with a sigh.

Winter’s critical snows arrive as if to wipe a season’s slate clean. Its dismal showing over the past decade have left many with significant trepidations. No more so than at the end of this past trout season. Recent western storms and ensuing artic temperatures have shaped a level of optimism that’s been absent through much of these past years.
Towards year end, winters onslaught has lent a mixed silence from a pastime that consumes us during the fly-fishing season. For many enthusiasts it’s a comforting reprieve knowing the sustenance that winter yeilds. Others perceive this frigid intrusion as an annoying distraction. For those finned creatures we stalk, it’s the first semblance of calm they’ll enjoy after a season of daily intrusions. Given this century’s persistent drought, they could use the time off.

One would think that given my profession and passion for fly fishing that winter’s intrusion would be annoyingly received. Instead, like the trout I pursue, I welcome the respite from summer’s heat. If it wasn’t for fishing and the opportunity to be submerged in cool waters, summers persistent heat literally saps the life from me. This year it came close. At one point waters therapeutic currents did little to relieve one of the miseries of summer’s lingering inferno. At such times there’s a longing for cooler climates and the need to don a layer or two to stay warm. As the season came to an end my thoughts traveled from home waters to the steelhead rivers of the great northwest.

I remember the previous year’s first outing. It was the last day of fishing I enjoyed with my good friend Rich Seamons. It was early February and winters artic temperatures broke to a balmy forty degrees. We sat that beautiful afternoon bathed in sunshine, alternately taking a handful of nice Browns that were delicately sipping on the smallest of midge. We never rose to take a fish, choosing instead to cast from the comfortable berth of several smooth rocks. Across the river a lone eagle perched in a solitary Ponderosa watched our antics. Towards the days end a solitary angler passed us. We exchanged pleasantries before he went on his way. Such are the pleasures of winter.

This morning’s reading from my porch thermometer dipped to zero. At elevation where our trout live, I’m sure it’s a few notches colder. Given the weather forecast and temperatures it’s probably going to be another week before I’m motivated to dust my rod off, put a fresh leader on and possibly tie a fly or two in preparation for my first day. For now that’s fine. I just as soon see the snow and cold keep me at bay for as long as Mother Nature has in mind. My fishing requirements, at this juncture, fall behind those acts of nature that are critical to our water resources health. For now I'm content to watch it snow, but before long that will change.

1 comment:

JayMorr said...


I really enjoyed reading "Winter Repreive". During this time of year it is fun to get out and take a photo or two, put some time in on the vise and reflect back upon the many fly fishing adventures from the previous years.

I appreciate your writing and hope all is well!