There's something melancholy about the first real snowstorm of the year.
Certainly, with that first blast of cold, Arctic air through the Rockies a few weeks back, my backcountry trout fishing came to a screeching halt, snow or no snow. But that first significant dump ... that's Mother Nature's message of finality. It's her not-so-subtle way of telling us to start tying flies.
I recognize that, without winter in the Rockies, there'd be no stellar backcountry fly fishing in the summer--no quality fly fishing at all, really. Without a good pile of snow in the mountains over winter, there's no potential, no future.
But winter brings on those bouts with the blues.
We got our first real storm of the year earlier this week--maybe six inches on the lawn here on the Snake River Plain. Just up the hill in the Big Hole Mountains, the storm marked itself on the landscape much more dramatically--it'll be the first to fall, and the last to retreat come spring. Then, as runoff, it'll shelter the spring run of Yellowstone cutthroats into the South Fork tributaries, and it'll allow the big browns of the Henry's Fork to move in behind spawning rainbows as they work to steal eggs from the redds. I get it.
But on the surface, the storm is just an indicator of things put on hold ... frozen. Trails to hidden backcountry trout haunts are smothered in white, and it'll be months before they're navigable. High, alpine lakes are freezing--or frozen already. The ability to move along swift, high-country creeks is no more. Months of this lie ahead.
It's depressing. Even knowing the eventual outcome--open water, clear, cold, trout-laden backcountry streams--it's downright sad.
So I sit at the vise, dreaming about the fishing I have to come, remembering those days, just a few short weeks ago, when silly outback trout nipped at high-floating flies. Perhaps this Adams in the vise, incomplete just yet, but, like the snow and ice, offering potential, will be just the tonic for my winter blues when the sun once again warms the mountains.