Friday, March 28, 2014

A Day Off

I decided to take the day off yesterday and do a little fishing. The forecast called for a high in the upper 40s after a night in the teens. While the temperature may have reached the 45° mark in some places, it sure as hell never got that warm in the creek gorge!
Of course, that seems to be the theme so far this year... delusional weather prognosticators missing forecasts by 10° or more, the first of April is baring down on us, and the nights are still so cold the river eddies freeze over with more than just a little ice. Still, I can't help myself and sometimes I just have to get outside... and fishing seems to be the most agreeable excuse. After all, there are only so many nights I can spend tying flies by the fire without getting some of them wet.
I hiked more than a mile downstream from the road planning to fish my way back to the truck. Wood ducks and hooded mergansers flushed ahead of me as I picked my way through the giant icebergs that still line the banks of the stream. A great blue heron squawked in disgust having his hopes for a trout lunch thwarted by my approach. I was taking my time and being pretty careful. The last thing I needed was to twist or break an ankle!
My starting point was a spot lined with giant river carved rocks and old hemlocks on the far bank. The water was clear (and COLD!). It didn't take long for my feet to feel the affects of the icy water as I drifted my flies through the deepest sections of the run. I fished for what seemed like an hour or so without so much as a bump from a trout. I occasionally changed flies hoping one of the combinations of fur and feather would appeal to the trout. I realistically thought to myself that the extreme cold temperatures of the night before had probably pushed the fish into a state of near dormancy, not moving an inch to eat anything... no matter how enticing. But then it happened... my line hesitated during the drift and I lifted my rod. To my surprise, it was a nice brown trout!
I was happy. The fish fought hard and I marveled at its markings and color before letting it go. Five casts later, I had another.
And so it went for the rest of the afternoon. I caught the occasional fish... enough to keep me focused and happy. My feet got progressively more numb until I found myself stumbling along the trail unable to feel the ground beneath me. I even took time to get a few underwater shots of a nice healthy rainbow in an unusually clear stretch of stream.
 One thing about photographing fish in conditions like this... you work fast! It doesn't take long for all the heat to be sucked from your hands and turn them into useless clubs. For the next 15 minutes after taking the photo above, I might as well have been wearing boxing gloves. My fingers were not working at all!

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