Monday, February 6, 2012

Why in Winter?

Cold fingers sting back to life, pressed firmly against the vent as warm air, fresh from the engine block, puffs on pink digits. The heat reawakens icy toes, and what was numb is now just painful.

I gobble a sandwich. Greg is lost in his Blackberry. We don't speak.

It's the wind, really. It's not terribly frigid out there, on the other side of the glass. But with a steady gale blowing up from the south and armed with a cleaver's edge, it feels cold. Bone cold.

As the blood begins to run from the heart out into all the little tendrils of capillaries, far into the hinterlands of our bodies, feeling begins to return. It's a crisp burn ... a sharp "remember me?" from the toes and the fingers and the ... other distant places that feel abandoned on frosty days like this.

The winter-brown grass along the river's edge bends stubbornly in the steady wind. Lingering January snow is crisp and crunchy underfoot. But the river is wide open, and, when the wind stops blowing, the hungry noses of rising trout appear in flat water. The midges are popping. Even in this god-awful wind.

Earlier, those noses were enough to make us ignore the wind, even as it poked through thick neoprene and fingerless wool gloves. But with so many naturals on the water, it was tough to get those noses to rise under the carefully tied flies attached to delicate tippet. We caught a few. Missed many more. Finally, we succumbed.

This is why...
Now, sitting in the idling vehicle and rummaging through paper bags for lunch and snacks to restore some of those calories spent trying to keep the body warm while standing shin-deep in the icy flow of the Bear River, it doesn't look that bad out there. As the truck's heat pushes away the chill and warms us throughout, our glances steadily shift from sandwiches and a flask of whiskey to dimpled water, where rises and tail slaps still break through the wind-rippled river.

Thoughts of fishing begin to return to our winter-numb brains. A streamer, I think to myself. Time for something big and meaty. I'm done with trying to find my size 20 Griffith's Gnat among the hordes of real midges floating helplessly on the water. I'm done squinting and guessing.

Our eyes are now solely on the river, staring through the glass of the windshield. An occasional grunt escapes our lips as sizable noses or massive dorsals break the river's surface. Our doors open simultaneously, and the wind reminds us why we left the river in the first place. We pull our hats low. Tighten our gloves. Zip up our jackets. Fly rods in hand, we start toward the water.

Yep. Time for a streamer. Time to go fishing. Again.


  1. Wind like a cleaver...I know it well. Good stuff as always.

  2. Only a fly fisher would understand.

  3. Indeed... it's a sickness, really.

  4. Fishing in the snow tomorrow morning. Hopefully the wind stays in bed.