Friday, December 19, 2008
Sometimes reason has no play in my decision making. Sometimes pure logic and fact are ignored. A blatant disregard for the obvious is overcome by pure desire and passion. Sometimes we walk a slippery slope. Today was one of those days. With the threat of what the media had billed as "Snowmageddon" rapidly encroaching on Southwestern Ontario we decided to go fishing. How bad could it be? Honestly...
How about -19 with the wind chill, and snow laden winds gusting upwards of 50 km/hr.
As Gene put it...we are Cock-a-roaches...we can't be killed! Nice...we are the Cock-a-roaches of the shire.
I set the alarm earlier than normal this morning fully expecting to wake and look out the window to find a fresh blanket of snow covering the landscape. Much to my surprise the snow was not there. I rushed to the computer to check the radar imagery and was surprised to see the storm had wrapped around the southern Lake Huron basin. Having commitments later that evening I was feeling pretty good about our chances of actually making it back if we did indeed make the journey up the lake. On the drive to Norlands I tuned in to FM 96 to catch the morning show. Tucker and Taz were commenting on the fact that it just started snowing in London and "S-N-O-W-Mageddon" had arrived. With all of the media hype and scare tactics this system was falling short of threatening.
Arriving at Norland's we proceeded to load up the Tercel when one of us throw out the disclaimer... "We can always turn around if it gets too bad" to set ourselves at ease. For the most part the ride up was uneventful. The roads were dry. The snow had started and was driving right into our faces. Nothing out of the ordinary for winter and really posing no threat. Arriving to our access point the phone rang. My wife informed me that snow was falling hard and accumulating rapidly at home. We decided to hike in and have a quick morning fish and book on out early in hopes that the highway would be open. By this time the winds were picking up and we sought the refuge of the forest. The morning was bitterly cold. A far cry from the -1 projections of earlier in the week. The wind and driving snow only compounded the effects on the body. Once in the forest the much welcomed cover made the journey somewhat bearable. Arriving to the Wintering Hole we could tell we were in for some extreme winter steelheading. By now the winds were howling above us. Being down in the valley we were afforded some cover from them but the snow had now increased. I began to second guess myself for being there but the water looked spectacular. Anticipating great things I slid into the tail out and started to float a preferred line. The wind was driving downriver and was not affecting my drift at all and the toque Norland lent me was keeping me quite content. The river was slush free but the guides were icing up severely. Guide de-icing operations were being completed every 10 or so drifts and line and float buildup was also a problem. We fished this hole long and hard to no avail. Norland blew a fish above the hole in the slot and managed a shaker shortly after but other than that things were looking dismal. The storm was intensifying and so were our concerns for getting home. We decided to slip up to the "New Run" and give it a quick fish then jet out of the shire and attempt to make it home before all hope was lost. By now the wind was driving down river harder. The drifts were difficult and the driving snow severely impaired our vision but the water looked spectacular. There had to be fish in this run I thought to myself. After a few drifts on the top end I opted to slide down to the tail out. With the wind being a major factor I was forced to drop into the run and wade out to my waist. This allowed me the opportunity to drift the line I wanted with some manner of control. The first few drifts were wasted as the wind scurried the float rapidly across the surface. About 5 drifts in the float disappeared and instinctively I set the hook. Confirmation was instant and I proclaimed "Fish" to notify Norland. By now my hands are cold and hurting and this is a good fish. The snow was driving into my face and at times I lost sight of where the fish was. For as cold as the water was this fish was a handful and I was glad I had the big stick to offer some forgiveness. With luck on my side I managed to put the fish on the bank. A big winter buck in full colour. Truly a reward for perseverance and confirmation that we weren't total idiots for embarking on this journey today. After a few photos the fish was released unharmed and I slide back into the run to see if I could persuade another participant. I diligently started picking away at the same line in hopes that a pretty lady may await my offering. Another 5 or so drifts and the float disappears again. I set up on another fish. Initial flashes of chrome are realized as the fish surfaces and then seeks the depths of the run. After a worthy battle and the grace of God I managed to swing another buck into the grass. By now my hands are smashed. My fingers are cold and sore and the zippers on my wading jacket are frozen. I struggled to get the camera from it's pocket then proceeded to gather a few quick pics before releasing the fish back into the run. This was more than I could have asked for and I break down the stick in anticipation of the hike out in hopes that I may warm up while Gene slides down to give the tailout a try. Struggling with the wind, ice, snow and the nasty feeling of what may lie ahead of us on the way home we decide to make the call and hike out. By now the wind is literally screaming above the valley and we make short time of the hike out. Once at the car we don't even gear down in hopes that every minute saved my be needed to get home. The roads were in fair condition considering the nature of the storm and visibility was in and out for the most part. The lack of traffic made the journey somewhat stress free and we arrived home surprisingly early and unscathed. As I drove from Gene's driveway my cel phone rang. It was my brother-in-law. He had to work a night shift up at the Bruce and was asking my how the ride home down 21 was. I told him not too bad considering and he quickly informed me that we just made it out in time. They had shut down 21 completely and the inland routes as well. I had a little chuckle to myself..."the Cock-a-Roaches...they can't be stopped" I whispered.
Today we took it to another level. We pushed our bodies, abilities, and luck and put it all on the line for that one shot. I don't know what that says for us but I'm glad we did it...