I knew it was time to leave when I noticed a Mallard drake and hen frolicking in a muddy hole, against the opposite bank of the pool I was fishing. Their icy feathers gleamed in the bright, golden afternoon sun as they stirred up a steady flow of chocolate colored water. It was so cold that these birds were willing to bet I would not cross the deep run which lay between us, and they were sure as hell right. My Nalgene water bottle was almost frozen solid and a sheet of slushy ice coated my boots. Icicles hung from the guides of my fly rod and my fingers had made their way to bright red–nearly blue. It was twenty degrees and the wind made it feel like two. I was loosing my mind, shivering–talking to myself as I moved pool to pool. But by God, the sun was shinning and I was happy as sin, but now I had begun to notice a steadily increasing tingling feeling out of my frozen hands and feet. I had proudly braved the elements and joyfully froze out on this icy river for three hours, but now it was time to leave.
I love fishing through this weather because the cold renders most people too lazy to wet a line—so I alone become the keeper of the river on February weekday afternoons. There is a particular stream of enlightenment that flows through the solitude of standing along a frozen riverbank under a full moon. Only the trees, trout, birds, and deer are around to hear your footsteps—the trees they speak as the bitter wind cuts through their branches, obliging them to creak. Your eyes trace these bare branches and the soft hum of the river helps your busy mind to sleep. And there you are, standing face to face with the water’s edge, wielding your trusty four weight.
By Austin Green