Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thoughts on Winter

The short dreary days, the seemingly endless rains and the bone chilling cold is what awaits me in the months I dread this time of year.
I guess at this stage of my life I could be called a fair weather fly fisherman and maybe so but I think I've earned it. Life has slowed down for me and I am fortunate to be able to pick and choose the days I spend on the river. I fear that I may have squandered too many of those ideal and perfect days which, as I grow older, will become harder to come by.
It's cold outside, very cold and my mind has not yet accepted that. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was on the Deschutes and Metolius? Didn't I just get back from a leisurely day of coastal cutthroat trout fishing? No matter how I try to prepare myself for the winter it always seems to take me by surprise.
I will pursue winter steelhead with my spey rod and hopefully have a breakthrough season however it's not the same as a spring or late summer day on the river with a big mayfly hatch and rising trout.
I have discovered one thing about my angling life though and that is simply this. The whole experience of fly fishing is more than just the single moment of hooking a fish. Of course that is the ultimate goal in any anglers life but is it really?
The sheer joy of a perfectly executed cast or the satisfaction of a well placed fly has become of greater importance in the over all scheme of things in this old fly fisherman's life. It's a well worn cliche to say that fly fishing is so much more than just catching a fish but however over used that statement may be it is something the the famous fly fishermen of days gone by absolutely believed. I believe it with all my heart because as I've grown older the simpler things are most important and I seek the simpler things especially when I am on the river. Just the day to day struggles of life are complicated enough for me so I want to have things simple while fishing.
Despite the dreariness that defines winter, I do find the notion of a fly caught winter steelhead as the ultimate challenge and that will sustain me this winter.
In the final analysis though, the winter will be totally what I make it. If I want to mope around the house most of the day in my underwear watching Jerry Springer or sitting in front of the computer that will be easy enough to do....I've done it before.
As I get older the more the winter brings out the little aches and pains as if I didn't enough trouble with those through the rest of the year. I actually do feel best while out on the river and so that shows me that my winter "blues" are purely of my own making.
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has diminished now that my children are all grown and dealing with their own holiday issues so the anticipation of young children on a Christmas morning is past...I do wish I saw more of my grand childen though. Traditionally I have kicked off the winter steelhead season around Thanksgiving but thanks to the engineering of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife the hatchery steelhead arrive late in the winter along with the wild steelhead.
So here I perch on the brink of yet another winter and wonder what this winter will bring.
It reminds me of of an old song by an obscure rock group named "Firefall"
I especially like this verse.

"Last night it snowed for the first time.
Everythings covered in white.
How many months till the springtime?
It's a long winter's night"


  1. Shane, that's a great post. If you get a chance, let's check out a coast stream or two this winter.

  2. It would be my pleasure Matt

  3. A thoughtful post, Shane. Thank you.

    I am busy planning all the flies that I am going to tie this winter (like heck!); improvements that I am going to make to my kit; and I will go down to the River a few times to sample the nymph life.

    Do you tie your own flies? If so what are you planning?

  4. Anonymous12:43 PM

    You must be reading my mind my friend.