Here in the South, I don't get to fish in falling snow too often - but I love it when I do. Here's some pics, and a little narrative to go with them, from this past weekend.
Airborne, my light blue heron Sharkskin disappeared into the thick, falling snow; slate grey strand invisible against the backdrop of heavy, leaden skies and white-coated tree branches. Without visual cues, the other senses are enjoined – feeling the flex of the rod, hearing the textured line whisper through iced stainless steel guides, sensing the gentle rhythms of the slow, steady tick-ticking metronome that is the cast.
There’s magic in fishing the first snow.
It was out of character, and probably foolish, for this southern boy to point his truck into the teeth of an approaching weather advisory, but the thought of standing on a quiet trout stream as winter arrived had great appeal. The day didn’t disappoint. A half-mile from my entry point, the snow appeared as a wave, rolling down the tailwater, an ethereal first surge of dam release, without siren warning, crashing over the angler, muffling the white noise of the tumbling stream as if with a soft, ivory blanket. My world shrank to that which I could see, fifty yards upstream, fifty yards down. That was enough.
I shook the skunk early with a small brown trout, fooled by the venerable prince nymph – preferred, it seems, over the copper john suspended below it. Having heard that browns get aggressive, and foolish, with the arrival of snow, I switched to a white streamer and quartered my way upstream as the fat flakes swirled around me. I hooked a dozen and long line released most as they tumbled along the wintered waterway; my frustration with each loss was tempered by the notion that, this way, I need not dip my hands into the frigid water.
The chill of thirty-degree air and frigid tailwater flow was forestalled by two layers of UnderArmour, a light fleece jacket, and rainshell - all over waders with two warm fleece layers for my legs, silk wicking and heavy wool socks. Four hours on the stream and not a moment’s shiver. Warmed from the inside, shielded from the out.
My thanks to Matt from Greensboro for his brief trailhead company and much appreciated stream courtesy. Those out on such a day are looking for communion with the season, not man, and your path upstream while mine lead down was kind acknowledgement. Upon my return, your tracks were fresh, so you had embraced the day in its entirety as well, undeterred, perhaps energized, by the appearance of the white wall. I suspect that you savored it as much as I and hope your travels home were similarly uneventful.
Winter’s arrived. It seems that just last week I was trumpeting the arrival of fall. Time moves fast, except, perhaps, on a cold mountain stream in snowfall.
Picture Comments: These shots were already fairly monochromatic out of the camera but I wanted to make them more dramatic. I put them through the Bleach Bypass preset of Lightroom 3, darkened the exposure a half-step in most cases, saturated an occasional color, put a light vignette around a few, and then made them as grainy as Lightroom would let me. I hope you like the results.