It’s mid-January. The busy holiday season is over, and we are in the dead of winter longing for warmer days and ample dry fly fishing. We have the choice to sit inside and day dream of future summer days or layer up and brave the winter cold in the hopes that we can find some fish. Finding fish is always the choice.
Winters in Calgary are one wild roller-coasters to say the least. We often get Chinook winds, where will have a 20-degree change in the course of less than 24 hours. These temperature fluctuations that range from well below freezing to quickly rising above, often lead to one big flowing slushy that is practically unfishable. We venture out anyways in hope to find a spot that looks promising. We are determined to be outdoors and on the water. Staying inside all winter and hibernating with the rest of humanity when conditions get tough isn’t an option.
So, we layer up. We throw on long johns and base layers, don’t forget the warmest pair of wool socks we own. Then it’s time for the waders and boots. We have discovered putting our waders on in the warmth of our home instead of waiting till we get to the river is the much smarter option.
We trudge through snow, cursing the spots where the snow is almost hard packed enough to hold your weight only to fall through and scramble to step back out. Ugh, winter. Once finally at the river and having rigged up our rods we carefully step out into the icy waters and start casting. Hopeful to see our indicator submerge, setting the hook, and feeling that tug on the end of the line. A more likely scenario is making a few casts and then stopping to pick ice out of your guides, thinking to yourself “I hate winter. How much will it cost for me to plan a trip to the Bahamas ASAP.”
But it happens, indicator down and rod tip up. You catch a decent sized Rainbow and painstakingly pose for a few quick photos in the sub-zero water. You release the fish and then head out of the water to warm up the best you can on the snow covered bank, sharing a beer or a sip of scotch from a flask with your friends. Hands cold and the guides of your rod have frozen back over, only now winter doesn’t seem so bad.