Winter. The world slows down. Humans tend to go inside -- into their homes and houses, for sure, to tie flies or to read -- maybe re-read -- our favorite book by Kreh or Gierach. And we also go “inside” of ourselves as winter invites reflection and introspection.
Some of us probably have a story or two of catching a fish in the winter months. I do: the afternoon in the Canyon a couple of winters ago, on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, when just so briefly in the warm afternoon sun there was a flash of a hatch of a mid-winter midge. I tied on a very small BWO and tossed it out, not knowing if I’d even get a fish to look at a tiny dry in this crystal clear water when they are sluggish and unwilling to work too much for such a small offering.
But a fish did rise. Ever so slowly. From down deep in the hole. I watched him the entire time as he made his way up to the drifting fly. He rose so slowly, in fact, that I actually had time to question whether he was even coming to the fly. His slow-motion journey made it seem unlikely that he was rising to it. And my reaction to set the hook when he did hit the fly was equally slow. I brought him to the net, unhooked the fly, and sent him back in the cold winter water.
Most of my time in the winter, though, is spent inside.
Reflecting on the year that was -- the road trips, the conversations, the walks down to the river’s edge. Watching for that first rise. Moving up the small stream from riffle to pool. And again. Making that last cast of the day. Pausing to enjoy the rising moon.
Planning for the year to come. Preparing a fly box or two. Cleaning line. Lubricating reels. Mapping new destinations to explore. Envisioning the next trip to familiar places.
And I think about how the simple act of picking up a fly rod a few years back has impacted me. How it recovered the joy I spent backpacking in the Colorado mountains in my younger years. How it reawakened my connection to the natural world and to the Power that created it. How the solitude on the river strengthens my relationships with friends and colleagues back in town. How, when we are on the river, my relationships with the loves in my life renew, again and again, when I look upstream and see their silhouette backlit by the late afternoon sun.
I am grateful: the world slows down in winter.
As do I.
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Orvis 201 Streamside