by Mark Littleton
It was cold and I had been working too much and spending way
too much time indoors. Having a
troutbum around is kind of like having a Labrador retriever around the house,
if you donít get them outside regularly, they get squirrelly and start to stink. I needed to air it out. Randal was on the phone saying the magic
words ďsuper secret fly, lots of big fish, letís goĒ.
I had been below freezing for quite a few days and when we
got to the river, the place we wanted to fish was unfishable, a steady stream
of baby icebergs. We continued upstream
looking for a spot where the water ran a little faster and found that one our
favorite nymphing spots was clear enough of ice to fish.
We geared up and waded downstream, breaking through the ice
near shore as we went. We started to
catch fish almost immediately, but reaching into the icy water to release them
wasnít all that pleasant. I wasnít yet
acclimated to the cold, too much time indoors, and after each of the first two
fish I caught, I had to wade to shore to warm up my cold, numb hands in my warm
nooks and crannies. In desperation, I
found myself trying to let the fish get off before they got to hand by giving
them slack, but that only works when you donít want to lose a fish.
By the time we had been there an hour or so, I had become
fully acclimated and could plunge my hand in the water to release a fish and my
hand wouldnít get cold or numb, itís amazing that your body can do this and I
donít understand it but it happens (And no, no alcohol was involved).
We fished for a total of about two hours, balancing the
bigger fish on our frozen tennis racket-like nets. By the end of the day we were spending as much time breaking the
ice off of our guides as we did casting our stiff frozen lines. The last fish I caught was the lunker we had
come for, a beautiful, rock hard rainbow.
By this time the water we were fishing now had a steady stream of ice
flowing by and we decided that it was time to call it quits.
We trudged back to the car, our waders stiff with ice. We
were cold but as happy as a couple of puppies on a spring day.