January 1, 2018,
I decided a week prior to New Year's Day that no matter the temperature, my sleep deprivation, or my health I was going to fish the first day of the year. That plan was tested when the forecast the night before proclaimed it would be 7 degrees at 8:00a.m. with a 5-10 m.p.h. wind. Did I really want to spend a few hours out in that?
Mentally, nothing was going to stop me. However, I won't pretend there wasn't a struggle of the will when I woke up at 6:30 sleepy from the New Years Eve shenanigans, cozy in bed with an outside temperature reading 1 degree. I got up anyway. When I arrived and geared up, I checked the temperature one last time. When the car turned back on the thermometer read a cozy 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Off I went.
I tromped down to the river looking like an army-green marshmallow man, and slowly slipped into a pool I knew held lots of fish in winter months. It's also close enough to a spring that I knew it wouldn't be frozen. As I came closer to the water I saw the mist pouring off of the spring-fed water. The trees and bushes surrounding the river were covered in a layer of ice, but the water kept rolling on. This was a rare beauty.
I stood for a moment off to the side of the river and applied some flotant to my little wool indicator when my rod tip accidentally dipped into the water. As soon as I realized my mistake and lifted the tip out of the water ice already began to form. Seconds later, my leader was frozen solid onto the rod. It was in this moment that I realized, I am crazy.
I peeled the frozen line off the rod, and broke the ice off the guides then began a slow ascent towards the pool. I made a few casts and changed depth once. On the next cast my indicator made a conspicuous jiggle. I set the hook and found the culprit, a small rainbow trout that was just as lively as ever. With a few dramatic splashes and leaps he set himself free.
I practiced a long-distance release...
I continued to cast and was rewarded with nothing other than a chilly nose. I checked over my rig to ensure everything was working properly, and noticed the wool indicator had small droplets of ice in it. I wondered if it would impede the sensitivity of the takes, but I didn't feel like switching to another indicator method, so I continued casting the frozen wool. After several changes to both my flies, and the depth fishing I had another take from a small little rainbow trout. I quickly subdued him, though he had a good deal of fighter in him, even for these cold temperatures.
I didn't want to expose him to the freezing air in fear it may freeze his eyes or gills, so I took off my gloves and dipped my hands in the water. I was quite shocked - the water didn't feel all that terrible. In fact, in contrast to the air temperature it was almost kind of pleasant.
I set the little guy free and looked down at my watch. I landed my first trout of 2018 pretty early into the year, it only took 7 hours and 53 minutes.
After a little while longer I'd landed several other fish, but decided to retreat back home. The thought of warm coffee, breakfast, and a nice heater made it difficult to continue fishing in these frigid temperatures. Besides, I got what I came there for - my first trout of the year