Friday, February 19, 2010

Roots.



A long day spent swinging flies in single digits and teens left us weary and tired. After downing some delicious Wegman submarines we ascended upon the hotel. Pulling into the lot, there was a fresh three inches of snow with more coming down. Rearranging the gear, we made room in the front and back seats of the truck, gathered the sleeping bags, and extra blankets and started packing it in. Still wearing my five upper and lower layers I crawled into a cheap sleeping bag rated for temperatures as low as 33 degrees. I draped a swimming parka over top, pulled on a beanie, and tightened my hood. Time for some much needed shut eye.

I am awakened nine hours later to Disturbed's Down With The Sickness. For a brief few seconds I have no idea where I am but I inhale a breath of cold northern New York air and it all begins to sink in. With crusted eyes and blurry vision I reached for my contact case and peeled open my eyes and begrudgingly forced them in. With everything in focus, I arise to in the cabin of the truck and try seeing out the windows. A long nights sleep in a car leaves considerable condensation on the inside of the windows that has frozen solid in the low temperatures. A first. I unravel myself from the cocoon and join Adam back in the front seat. The vents on full blast we await the de-melting of the ice. Outside, the parking lot is plowed save for a three feet radius around our truck. Apparently we were too tired to be awakened by a plow truck whizzing by our heads. We head to Dunkin Donuts for some grub, coffee, and napkins to wipe down the inside of the windows.

After some much needed coffee and hash browns, we head back to the Salmon with an entirely different game plan. We are about to go back to our roots. Nymphing. On day two, the air temperature is much warmer registering in the high teens and reaching into the low twenties during the day. However, the wind has picked up and occasionally gusts to 30 mph. Probably a good day to swing some flies but we had our fill the day before. We needed to get into some fish. We waste little time. Adam hooks two fine steelhead along the inside seam of a deep run. One is short and strong and the other is long and mean. They both make runs downstream and Adam loses both near his feet. Rotating in the hole, I hook into a twenty inch brown and land him quickly. The action slows and we change positions. We work our way to the opposite side of the river.

Getting Under the Tree.

The Home Stretch.
Lost.

Good Way To Start The Day.

Brown Beauty.

Off You Go.

I reach a fresh spot on the opposite bend and on my first cast I am into some sizable steel. It bolts and snaps my 4x. I wasn't ready. I retie and on my next cast, I am into another brown. This one much larger. He too, bolts into the current and after several hard head thrashes throws the hook back at me. I give the hole a short break. On the next cast, I approach from a new angle and am rewarded with another brown. The largest one yet and after a brief few moments, I tail her in a slow eddy. She is my Valentine, and she is gorgeous. Dark golden browns with greens mixed in and a bluish hue to her cheeks. A typical Salmon River brown. After a few moments of admiration she slowly glides off, back to her lair.

Admiration.

First Big Brown of 2010.

The Close Up.

The Valentine In All Her Glory.

Sending Her On Her Way.

For the next several hours we experience some midday blues and barely receive a strike. We make our way up and down river slowly losing feeling in our hands and feet. We fish every likable holding area. After a long walk back to the truck, we decide to take a break. I can't feel my right leg above my knee. It needs some reviving. After blowing some time in the truck we head back out. I decide on working the pool from yesterday afternoon where I landed my steel. Its the latter half of the day and the temperature is dropping and the wind is getting worse. On a long drift, I hook into a slab but have too much slack on the water. The line wraps around my tip and the steelhead takes off snapping the line. The lack of feeling in my extremities is messing with my reaction time. After awhile I finally get a second chance. I hook into another fish in a closer run and the headshakes signal a brown trout. He shakes it. I lose another.

An Early Black Stone.
Probably Should Have Tried These.

Desperation Throws.

Adam About To Lose Another at His Feet.

Frustrated & Cold.

Winter Obstacles.

A Tangled Shit Show & Adam Is Taking My Picture.
Can't Feel My Feet, Can't Feel My Hands.

At this moment in time, I am on my last legs. Adam has been on the bank for sometime watching, too cold to stand in the water. The last two fish are the only reason I am still there. I decide to change flies for the third time and give them a fresh look. I go small, size 14 egg. On the third cast a fish takes and runs straight at me and the down and across the stream before leaping out of the water. Its a big one. I play her for some time before slowly working my way to the bank. She runs further downstream and the fellow angler in the stream doesn't provide any room. He just stands there as the steelhead approaches him. I have to pull the fish back upstream and around the friendly angler if I have any hope of landing the fish. I put some extra pressure on her and the fly shoots back at me. She straightened the hook. The guy tells me what a nice fish it was. I just nod. After a few more attempts I have had enough.

Ice Islands Dot The Landscape.

Constant Battle With Ice in the Guides.

Wind Whipping at My Coat.
Hoping For One Last Shot.

What We Love.
Open Air, Open Water, Beautiful Scenery.

We head back to the truck and Adam and I start doing laps trying to regain some feeling in the feet. Its only 3:30, plenty of time left to fish. But my leg is dead and I say enough is enough. I take off my waders to discover a soaked right leg. I had a leak and didn't even know it. I was too numb to realize it. My foot does not look good and I put it on one of the vents. I place hand warmers all along my feet. After a few minutes my whole foot begins to burn and itch. More than anything I have ever experienced. Dark purple blotches erupt all along my foot and I am forced to call my buddy back home for some Web MD analysis. Signs of frostbite. After a few scary moments I begin to feel alright and we decide to make the long journey back home.

Two long days in freezing temps, biting wind, and wintery conditions. It was slow, a lot of fish were lost, and few were landed. Yet it beats anything else we could have been doing. Heck, even if we didn't catch anything, it beats sitting on our asses back at school. Such is the lure of water and the calm it brings. The silence of the woods as the snow crunches under your feet and the possible pull of a large fish that can come at any moment. We made the decision to take the chance at a long distance trip and were rewarded with more than just fish, and thats one of the things that makes fly fishing so special.

2 comments:

ahope said...

That middle finger shot would make a great magazine cover...

Fishing Fury said...

beautiful fish!