Friday, January 11, 2013

The Weekend 10: Things to do when it snows sideways and your nostrils freeze shut

It's been a bit chilly here in eastern Idaho, and the week ahead looks downright dismal, with lows really low and highs ... really low, too. One look out the window reveals horizontal snow, pushed by a north wind that cuts right to the bone.

To put it succinctly, "It ain't fishing weather." Or to put it like I've been putting a lot of things lately, "I'm too old for this shit."

A few years ago on a spring steelhead trip to Stanley, I remember the dashboard thermometer on my truck reading a crisp 11 degrees. Later that morning, I hooked one of only two steelhead I managed to hook on the entire three-day trip.

'I'm damn near at the phase in my life where all fishing should be "sock-free" and anything frozen better have rum and an umbrella in it.'

Then I promptly lost the fish because my reel had frozen solid--I'll never forget the "ping" of my tight leader snapping back into my face while the massive buck took my fly and retreated to a lie beneath a snow shelf. That's when I realized that, as hardy as I was as a younger man, the farther north of 40 I get, the less I want to climb into layers of fleece and Gortex and go chase fish. I'm damn near at the phase in my life where all fishing should be "sock-free" and anything frozen better have rum and an umbrella in it.

Honestly, had I not driven four hours to Stanley, I probably wouldn't have bothered with fishing that particular day--I would have curled up in the cabin and watched reruns of "The Unit."

So, as it snows sideways here on the upper reaches of the Snake River Plain, I thought I'd offer up some weekend possibilities that don't involved shaking ice loose from the guides of your 5-weight, or plucking frozen snot from under your nose.

Here goes:

10) Get caught up on "Boardwalk Empire." I actually just started Season One, and I'm loving it. That said, don't spoil it for me.

9) Read about your miserable buddies who are yucking it up in Tierra del Fuego, catching sea-run brown trout as long as their inseams and sucking down great Argentinian malbec. Jackwagons.

My usual predicament when I play my son in MW.
8) Tie flies. Looks like I might be in for a musky trip to southern Virginia in the coming weeks, and my fly box is woefully short of flies that look ... musky-ish. Time to do some research and some tying. Of course, I'll need to tie some Adams, too, as I've determined this will be my "Summer of the Adams." Assuming summer ever arrives.

7) Try to beat your 10-year-old son at Modern Warfare. Cameron is an assassin. I'm usually the guy who's body gets blown to smithereens by some surgically-tossed hand grenade. It's worth it, though. When he laughs, my whole world laughs with him.

6) Stick to that resolution to drop a few pounds. You didn't just spend $50 on that Xbox exercise program only to watch it gather dust, did you? Yeah, me, too.

5) Playoff football. I'm a lifelong Denver Bronco fan (coincidentally, did you notice that September brook trout sport Broncos colors?). Here's hoping for a win against the Ravens. The good news is, if they win this weekend, I'll actually be in Denver for the AFC title game (oh, and the International Sportsmen's Expo at the Colorado Convention Center--something you can do next weekend).

4) Beef stew. Need I say more?

3) Friends. We have a few. We'll be enjoying their company this weekend if all goes as planned.

2) Shovel the walks. Or, rather, send your 10-year-old outside to shovel the walks while you practice a little virtual warfare. It's OK to be a little devious. He has it coming... trust me.

1) Read a good book. I've got a couple on my list that I'm ready to crack, but this one is calling to me. Have a great weekend. Stay warm... and stay classy.


  1. Every time I feel a wee bit jealous of your proximity to storied waters I recall that weather you get this time of year and count my blessings. It'll be in the mid-50s this weekend. Time to get out and stretch the legs.

    1. It's the price we pay, I suppose, for being so close to good stuff. We usually get this weather once or twice a winter... this is round 2, but at least this one came with some snow... for some reason, that makes it tolerable.

  2. Chris - another option not to deal with frozen guides is to whip out your tenkara rod. Not that I would recommend anybody to use it on steelhead, but then I have seen folks catch carp and pike with tenkara gear. Also, you also need one hand to cast/fish, so the other can be in your pocket holding on to one of those hand warmer thingys or a flask of bourbon.

    1. Oh, I'm a Tenkara convert, for sure... but steelhead... I suppose it's possible, but not desirable. I have caught pike and lake trout on a tenkara... and some big trout, but chromers? I don't know...

  3. "When he laughs, my whole world laughs with him."

    'Nuff said.

  4. Only thing on the list that makes any sense to me right now is #5. You can't be a life long fan and make this playoff run only #5. Go Broncos!!

    1. Howard... for me, it's No. 1, but I figured the readers can pick any of the 10... and I guess I should add, "In no particular order ..."

  5. 'jackwagons' - I'd be green with envy as well and there isn't anything better than beef stew on a winters day -except maybe deer stew and a scotch whisky

  6. Sounds like a 10 step winter program for Fly fishers. Sooner or later it will warm up..... right?

    1. It has to... any more of this, and I'll pull what little hair I have out. And it's only January.