Stalking In The Ice

I am deconstructing my held opinions of winter on the river.  The life that is present is astonishing.  Today alone I saw four kinds of ducks and the biggest Great Blue Heron of my life.  Last week I interrupted the final inning of a what I am 95% sure was a Golden Eagle hunting a mink.  The darkened entrances to dens of various kinds and sizes along the river bank are a reminder that many things are sleeping or at least staying out of sight.  At one point today, I am convinced I was being watched from cover.  I played the scenario in my mind of a mountain lion exploding from the brush, famished and a little desperate.  Get your fist in their throat.

The forecast says we stand a chance this weekend of some moisture.  It will only be a literal drop in the bucket, but bring it on.  These feeder ditches and streams are usually moving heavy this time of year, instead of the trickle pictured above.

Winter means it’s imperative to sight the fish first before fishing to them.  I’m not adept at sight fishing.  I bought the book.  That didn’t help because I already had polarized glasses.

Still, I’ve found a few here and there.  They have taken a wide assortment of winter-bugs but mostly small baetis and micro-mays.  I’ve noticed some are holed up in the same slots I found fish in during the peak of summer. And while everyone is saying slow froggy water is your friend, I’ve found just as many in typical spring lanes…likely because the weather is unseasonably warm and the water is painfully low.  A sample of my findings:


Occasionally you get into a fish that has a grudge, one with a little extra wind in the sails.  The one below ripped upstream going airborne a few times.  With all the might and vigor of a two footer, I was surprised once I finally got a look at this bow, a hair under 20″.  He ran like a agitated brown, but did so with only a remnant of a pectoral fin.  Wouldn’t have landed him with two healthy fins and that attitude.  Swim on, Nemo.

Most of the anchor ice is gone, but with low temps and snow moving in I am hoping the fish will end spring break and head back to their winter hotels.  The truth is I want one of those winter browns I’ve seen in pictures…usually sporting a kype jaw, dark copper coloring and in the grip of someone wiser and more learned than me. 

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