Our winter weather this year has been wildly unpredictable this year. We've seen temperatures below 0F for the first time in 30 years, and streams that haven't seen significant icing since the loggers came 125 years ago were plunged into the deep freeze. On the other hand, the latest round of "polar vortex" brought us 18" of snow, followed immediately by temperatures in the 60s and 70s for several days in a row, resulting in a rapid and dramatic thaw. Work, weather and maintenance work aimed at fixing all the little incidental problems that crop up when a property gets hit by repeated waves of rapid cooling and heating have mostly kept me cooped up indoors, a less than satisfactory state of affairs, as far as I'm concerned.
I finally made my escape the other day, and headed deep into the hills in search of peace and trout. My initial destination was a lovely stream that plunges through a narrow gorge and can be reliably counted upon to provide decent fishing and superior solitude. Unfortunately, after hiking in to streamside, it was quickly apparent that the rapid thaw and an overnight thunderstorm had left the river a raging torrent howling for the blood of any angler foolish enough to try and wade it.
After some deliberation, I decided to hop over to another flow in the same drainage in search of wadeable water/ This creek has a wider, less channelized stream bed, and the stretch I hoped to target is situated further up the ridge line (hopefully upstream of the main bore of melt water). Here, I found a stream that, while still swollen and off-color, could be fished, so long as I was creative with my casting and willing to fish from some unusual places.
(I love to see things like this; faded regulatory signage is a reliable local indicator that a stream is rarely visited.)
Winter fishing is often a real hit or miss affair. The trout species present in the area tend toward torpor once water temperatures dip below 42F, as their digestive process becomes significantly less efficient at that point. The action was, not surprisingly, quite slow most of the day. Eventually, I came across a new deadfall, its skeletal limbs reaching down into a deep, slow hole, perfect habitat for a boss brown trout.
(Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.)