Monday, December 21, 2009
Today marked the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year and the official beginning of Winter. It also quite possibly marked our last attempt at the home waters.
Today we ventured out on what was to be a yet another true winter steelheading experience. The air was cool and the sky was grey. The river ran transparent and the slush seemed to keep itself somewhat in check. The valley was void of all human life with the exception of us two cock-a-roaches. The shelf ice imposed an unavoidable danger and inevitable fishing challenge.
As you all know true winter steelheading is a crap shoot. One can do their homework and still have to rely on sheer luck for favourable conditions. Today we peered over the edge of our lookout to once again see a fishable river. Today we battled shelf ice more than slush. Today we crossed fast water sections with snowbank collections of slush under the water. Today we again threw caution to the wind and pushed our souls onward and upward in search of success. And just when all hope was about to be lost the little orange speck disappeared into the green unknown. The water exploded and the aches and chills throughout our bodies all but disappeared. Once again an outing on the edge did an about face and all confidence was restored for the remainder of the afternoon. The fish didn't come without work but the successes we did enjoy were that much more favourable.
Today I witnessed tragedy and redemption. I witnessed a good friend lose a fish on the shelf ice that was much needed to set his soul at ease. Shortly after I witnessed him throw extreme caution to the wind and enjoy the success he so much needed. The emotion behind both events made me truly feel alive. I shared his pain because I knew how much that first loss would wear on him but I also shared his jubilation when the second fish was landed against all odds. Today I once again returned to my youth and forgot about life. I feel sad for those who do not have something that offers so much gratification and escape as this sport does for us. As I type this from the comfort of my house the fire is warm and the beer is cold. My body aches and all I can think about is our little river. Will we have another shot before the seasons demise?