Winters are tough for me. Opportunities to do what I love to do are extremely limited. As the days go by without any time spent on the water I get cagey and cabin fever starts to set in. There are things to do to keep it at bay when my spare time can’t be spent chasing fish. This blog is one of them but its success really is dependent on me getting out and fishing. My trip to Baja was a nice break from the snow and cold that hampers my fishing but since getting back I had not been out.
When I got up Tuesday morning the snow was still falling and there was at least 30cm on top of my Tahoe. The head muckety-mucks at work called a ‘powder day” and everyone went to the ski hill along with the rest of the town. I don’t ski anymore so while everyone headed to the hill I decided to do what I always do when I’m not working and go fishing.
The Elk River is deep in the grips of winter. Much of its waters are buried deep under snow and ice and its banks are surrounded by mountainous piles of snow. I headed out to a section I knew had some open water and place to park not too far from the river. Big heavy wet snowflakes were falling adding to the already stark white landscape but the temperature was right at freezing. Pretty much as good as it gets for January in Snow Valley. That’s what the Elk Valley is called during winter.
I parked the Tahoe and climbed over a 10’ pile of snow to start the 200-meter journey to the river. Halfway there, stuck in snow up to my crotch, I began to question the sanity of this venture. The thought of turning around this close to water was crushing so I trudged on huffing and puffing from the effort of having to lift my feet over my head to take a step. I eventually found the river’s edge. Its banks were lined with 5 – 6 foot walls of snow and ice. Should it really take snowshoes and ice climbing gear to go fishing? I managed to slip down one into the water. An unsettling feeling crept over me as I found my footing on the river bottom. There was a very real threat of a titanic sinking chunk of ice breaking loose and running over me. There would be nowhere to go. The best case scenario would be a life-threatening swim. Worst case would be drowning, pinned underneath an iceberg. Not that it helped but I “cautiously” made my way to the head of a pool out of the current and felt okay to cast from there. From this spot I could cover a lot of water and didn’t have to worry about icebergs. After several hours of swinging a fly from every vantage point possible, I had thoroughly covered all the open water. My efforts produced a nice meat eating cutty and I crawled my way out of the river and back the through the snow drifts and called it a day. My cabin fever had been medicated but not cured.
If having cabin fever isn’t bad enough, The condition is made worse by the fly fishing industry as retailers use print and social media to bombard us with tantalizing offerings of the upcoming season. Their Facebook posts of leviathans caught in clear waters surrounded by blue skies and lush green backgrounds creating an anguishing impatience. Magazines offer teasing write-ups of manufacturers latest and greatest gear offerings for the upcoming season. My unfishable hours and days are occupied by falling victim to the industry and researching gear and dreaming up more modifications for the jet boat. Which wouldn’t be so bad if I could actually implement them but the jet boat is encased in a tomb of snow.
Just looked out the window and it’s snowing again.