Sunday, January 30, 2011

In From the Cold

-11 and rising

It's COLD this morning. -11, to be exact.  My floors are painful to walk on with bare feet, so I made the coffee, went back upstairs and checked out the work of some of my fellow bloggers on OBN.

The common theme seems to be a complaint about the weather- "when-will-spring-finally-be-here-" kind of a thing, and I must admit that I'm kind of looking forward to brookies by day and browns by night.  But why rush it?  I get up each morning, sip my coffee, watch the metallic sunrise, steam rising off the river.  If I'm fortunate I'll get to see trumpeter swans floating or flying past, most certainly an eagle.  Goldeneye are a special treat this time of year only. I've had white-winged scoter (an arctic and eastern sea duck) out front.

I wish it was like this now
Bird watching isn't fishing though.  About the only ice fishing I'm willing to endure these days is for Whitefish on Little Traverse Bay, an undertaking not for the faint of heart.  When I started fishing for them years ago, we had ice by now, but the years of fishable ice seem to get farther between. This year I predict there will be no fishable ice, as the pack ice has just moved into the State Park, and the Harbor just froze out to the end of the breakwall this week.  I like to see the bay frozen to the horizon- the Big Water makes me nervous- and I doubt we'll see that this year.
So what is a fly fisher to do? Tie, tie, tie.  Tie some more.  Some of my friends tell me they won't tie eggs for steelhead, they're snellin' guys- good for you.  I've got the time.  Give me some yarn, 400 or so size 10 egg hooks and some music and I'm good to go.  You're not a tyer?

Here's my list of tips to get you through the winter.

- Take a tying class.  Even if you don't buy a vise you'll learn something, and it will get you out 5 or 6 times.
-If you already tie and have some buddies, host a weekly tying night- it can be themed (streamers), a competition, or just an excuse to have a beverage and some popcorn and tell stories.
-host a movie night- get your hands on some of those slick new fishing movies that seem to get better every year.  I still haven't seen Eastern Rises. Hint, hint.
-catch up on your outdoor reading list.  If you don't have or can't afford all the books you want, make up a list, have each of your buddies that are willing buy a book on the list, then exchange them.
- Attend a TU event, go to whatever your local outdoorama show is, do something.
- Get out your maps, guidebooks, go online and check satellite images, and make up a to-do list for your spring/summer fishing.
-This one could make or break the rest of your fishing year:  spend that quality time with your kids and or significant other doing something they enjoy.  If you are the Lone Outdoor Ranger in your household, this is your chance to perhaps buy some outdoor time.  Give them your undivided attention.  If they say you talk about fishing too much, then make a resolution to not talk about it for a month or two, now that the slow season is here.  It just may get you some leeway when the weather is nice and the fish are biting.
- get outside and DO something.  Try cross-country skiing or snow shoeing.  When I can't take it any longer, I go hiking on the frozen lakes around me at night.  The nights are breath taking, the air invigorating, and I stick to the car tracks as an indicator of thick ice.
Spring will be here soon and then we'll have too much to do- never mind the yard work etc., the fishing opportunities are endless in Trout Country.  Savor the time now to prepare.


  1. Single-handedly the best off season advise I have read. Texas doesn't really have an off-season, but if it did, this would be golden.

  2. Thanks OneBug. You have to do something to keep from getting cabin fever here.