Sunday, December 23, 2012

When your hands stop working....

You're off work for 7 days. The first day of vacation, your area gets clobbered with rain, and the normal flows of 100 turn into quasi-lakes running at 800.

Three days later, 2pm rolls around and you get the itch to get out of the house. Three days after the onslaught, it's running at 250. Tough, but fishable. You check the weather. 35 degrees. Urgh. Still fishable. You also notice sunset is 4:28pm. Not much time to fish.

You first sort it out with the wife, and make sure the kids are going to be ok. You then run as fast as you can, gathering your gear. You only grab the 6 weight because streamers should do the trick.

You head races with thoughts of water that's not quite muddy, but more of an emerald green as it starts to clear. Trout just have to be on streamers. They'll work.

Half an hour later, you're at a red light in a gauntlet of holiday traffic, tying up a leader and knotting on a big black bugger you just tied with some oversized grizzly hackle. It looks fishy as f*ck. You won't have much time so rigging up now will get you five more minutes on the water. You also realize your car is on fumes. 22 miles to Empty. You can make it.

When you finally get to the stream with only 4 miles until your car dies, it's just as you imagined. That deep emerald green, with just a tinge of leftover muddy brown, still running a little high and fast. There are only two other anglers. One you pass as you're getting your gear out of the car. He mentions he was there all day and only got two on buggers. He wishes you luck. You know this guy from fishing this stretch and he always does well. If it took him all day to get two, you have your work cut out for you. The other guy said he missed two. Great.

On the way to the run, you realize that you're an idiot because you checked with weather, but dressed for it to be in the 50s. This windbreaker is not cutting it. By the time you get to the fishable water, your hands are already numb and your nose is running. The sun is starting to drop below the trees and it's only going to get colder.

First cast. Strip, strip, strip. Nothing. Repeat. Repeat. Move 5 feet downstream. Repeat.

OK. You decide to swing. Swing, twitch, swing. nothing. Repeat Repeat. Damn it. Your hands are getting cold. The gloves are on the car but there's no time. Swing. Strip. Swing. Strip. Nothing.

It's getting dark, and you realize that if you have any chance in hell of catching a fish, it's not going to be on a streamer.  You then also realize once you clip off the bugger, your hands have stopped working.

It's something we've all been through. Your hands just are too damn cold to do what you want them to do. It feels like someone has injected ice cubes in your knuckles and they are locking up. You fight through it and after fumbling for 5 minutes, you have an 11 foot leader setup with a big nymph, and a worm pattern you came up with a year ago that's heavily weighted. You also opt for a strike indicator, sensing that if they do take, it will be subtle today. You second guess yourself with the indicator since you rarely use one, but you continue on anyway.

Your cast in a run that you KNOW must contain fish. It's getting darker. A giant brown trout comes up, and gingerly slurps up your strike indicator, pulls it underwater for a foot, then releases it. He does it to spite you. This is why you never use indicators. You consider an egg pattern the size and color of the indicator, but then realize your hands have the dexterity level of 0 and there would be no light left after trying to tie one on.

At least you know for sure a fish is there. Four more casts through the run with nothing. You're frustrated, cold, hungry, and you aren't looking forward to standing in the cold and getting gas.

One more cast. You decide to cast closer to the bank. The indicator gives a little nod. You think it's a snag but you set. All of a sudden a silver bullet shoots out of the water, shaking it's head. You bring it to hand and marvel at all 15 inches of it's beauty. It's really chromed out and could pass for a small steelhead. You then smile as you release it with ease because you remembered to crimp your barb.

You head back to the car and want to warm up a little bit before driving off, but there's no time. Only one thing left to do.


  1. Hey Mike, I clicked on the microphone but it didn't work! Seriously, I really enjoyed this post a lot and the photos were perfect. Fix that microphone will ya?

    1. Keep clicking on it Howard. It will work eventually.

  2. Perfect, Mike. I should have headed out today but didn't want to deal with the cold. Glad you did and shared the experience.

    1. I'm usually more prepared for winter fishing but I was in such a rush I just didnt think.

  3. Nice one Mike. I'm headed out some time this week too...let hope!!

  4. Totally enjoyable read... These are the ventures out that deserve to be written about! Have a great holiday season.

    1. Thanks. I do love winter fishing, and do I love writing about it. :)

      Happy Holidays to you as well

  5. Nice read. I know the feeling of trying to fish and everything is against you. LOL
    Nice to read someone pulled it off and caught a fish.