The offseason is halfway over. Within the next 6 weeks the river will start to wake up a little. Sculpin and Whitefish will begin moving about the system in preparation for spawning. Larger trout will start to seek out protein rich food in preparation of their spring spawn. Skwalla Stoneflies in the LC will start to move around and prepare for the annual early spring late winter hatch. The wary trout angler stirs with anticipation for the spring that is now within view from the icy snowy mountain of winter.
This winter has turned out to be a snowy one. Right now there is well over 15 inches of hard compacted snow on the ground with 2 inches of fluff from yesterday. The mountains are full, and the sub freezing temps have settled in. The upper river is asleep, with ice along its snowy edges. More water flowing now then this past October. A healthy sign that the mountains have water again.
If the winter trend continues we shall have a better season in many ways than this past one. Hatches may come off properly, insects that lay dormant during the drought will hatch, the fish that made it through the rough season will gorge, grow fat, and spawn. The river will rebound, as it tends to do. The one thing that climate change does is exacerbate the normal weather cycles making light now years worse, and big snow or cold years worse. We had a rough drought year and now the winter seems to have returned us to a somewhat normal state for now. The last drought had the same rebound trend albeit far less of an issue than this past one. I am looking forward to more water, healthier and more robust wild trout to come, and lots of happy anglers in my drift boat this year.
With the offseason hitting its halfway mark its time to start thinking about trout again. Flies will be tied with more enthusiasm, leaders tied, rods fixed, renewed insurance and permit, and researching new patterns, tactics, techniques, methods, and ways of fly fishing and teaching the art and craft that makes this sport so unique.
I like to give trout a break from my constant berating of flies into their world during the winter. The winter gives me a chance to spend time at home. It also makes the anticipation of the season and the first taught line with a large trout aggressively fighting against angler that much sweeter. Trout have had time to become comfortable in the river, they forget the angler for a time, and when trout and angler meet again as the river thaws, they meet each other with renewed vigor and respect for one another. At least that’s what happens for me when I return to the river after the winter.
I look forward to the season. Lots of things are happening, I am already seeing that I will be quite busy, and I look forward to meeting new people riverside. I long for days of introducing people to wild trout, with a net, a release, and a handshake. Till the season starts my fellow anglers…till the season starts.