. So I suppose instead of saying I’d be casting to the wrong feeding lane it would be better to say that I probably wouldn’t know where to cast and I’d just be casting to nothing. Which I do a lot of year round, not just in the winter. So maybe it’s not just a winter thing, but since the fish are actively feeding during the spring through fall seasons maybe I’ve just got better odds of casting close enough to get a reaction now and then. The more I analyze this, the closer to the epiphany that I might just not be good at any of this fly fishing stuff I get, so I’ll stop now while I still have at least a shred of dignity left.
There’s only so many flies you can tie, so many books you can read, all the while telling yourself there’s only so many days in the winter. I’ve actually got a couple winter fishing trips planned in the next coming weeks, but they’re not to warmer climates, no. They’re within driving distance because it’s all I can afford and a couple days is all the time I have. That means layers of clothes, frozen fingers and toes, and in my case, most likely a lot of casting and very little catching. I don’t mind the very little catching, but I mind it a whole lot less when it’s not fourteen degrees out and the temperature is going to reach a high of nineteen. But I shouldn’t complain. It could be worse. Not much, worse, but at least the rivers aren’t frozen over like the lakes.
I’ve never gone for steelhead. They’ve always been attached to a stigma for me that was called the Salmon River. And to me the Salmon River has ninety-nine percent of the time meant crowds, anglers at every bend and pool, before it’s ever meant big fish. To me. I’ve fished it in the heat of summer for smallmouth and it was great, but maybe I shouldn’t say that out of a fear of giving away a good secret. But then you have to ask yourself if I’m just lying to distract you from other waters in the summer time. I am a fisherman after all, and all fisherman lie.
It ended up being a beautiful day. The sun would hide behind clouds and then the clouds would move past and you could almost hear the temperature rise a degree or two before more moved in and you could feel the drop. When the temperatures are hovering right between those two numbers where one means snow and the other means rain, yet neither is happening, I seem to notice the rises and falls of the thermometer with more awareness. Of course it might just be that I’m enjoying feeling the sun on my face only because I’m hoping it doesn’t warm up enough to feel a freezing rain on it instead.
As the wind rattles the windows of my writing room I sit here and consider possibilities. That downstream on the creek, closer to its mouth where it enters the Mohawk, where the banks are all ten feet tall and cut out of the sand of the Oriskany Flats, that there, the wind is most likely screaming by over the tops of the trees, easily sixty feet, far above where the loops of my line would take shape. Or that standing below the face of Delta Dam, where the top of the dam and the rim of earth and trees surrounding me would be an easy hundred-plus feet above me, that there as I could usually find it, it would be calm enough to the cast the fly rod. A bubble for anglers to practice their art inside of on some of the windiest days. As I sit and search my memories for other places that could work on a day like today the house shakes for a second like a train traveling over an old trestle and leaves pass the windows at a high rate of speed, making it look as though for a few seconds the house is moving at a good clip. Holly speaks up from the living room as if reading my mind, there’s no way you could go fishing in this.