On the Fly: Taking the fifth | AspenTimes.com
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On the Fly: Taking the fifth

I like to think that my life is lived in seasons. Not traditional seasons like winter, spring, summer and fall, mind you, but outdoorsman seasons. And there is seemingly always a new season looming on the horizon.

For me, it might go something like this: archery season, duck season, rifle season, trout fly-fishing season, ice-fishing season, carp season, bass season, pike season and so on. Noted fly-fishing author John Gierach has said that fishermen and farmers might be the only two types that recognize the micro-seasons — the seasons within the seasons.

Fly-fishers in our valley especially have come to recognize that the fishing in February and March is a season in itself — fifth season, as I’ve come to dub it over the years. This season within a season is my official kickoff to spring. Fly-fishing in the winter, albeit good at times, is still fly-fishing in the winter. You have to be somewhat crazy to be wading in a cold river, bundled up like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story,” hoping that you might be able to pry the waters and maybe catch a trout that doesn’t really want to be caught. Then again, fly-fishers in general like the thought of being perceived as crazy to the outside world. With the abundance of bitter, cold weather over the past few weeks, I felt like I needed a change of pace. I’ve been fishing the Fryingpan, Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers weekly and was quite honestly tired of feeding my ego. Sometimes I feel that I go fly-fishing in the winter just so I have street cred among my customers and peers. I needed to get back to my Michigan and Front Range roots and head out on the hard water for some ice fishing.

I am by no means an expert ice angler, but I do own two augers, six rods, a few buckets and a shanty. I’ve been ice fishing for 200 years but have probably only logged a hundred days on the ice over that period. That equates to five times a year, but there were years when I’d put in 25 days and years where I didn’t go at all. In other words, I’m a novice ice angler at best.

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I’ve caught some stocker rainbows, some lake trout, some yellow perch and even a small northern pike. Despite this, while being cooped up like a vampire in my dark-as-night shanty, I couldn’t help but think of how much I miss fifth season. The anticipation is killing me like a wooden dagger through my heart; the thick midge hatches, the rising fish, the longer days and the feeling of warmer water wrapped around my wader-clad legs. It’s almost here — get ready!

“On the Fly” is provided weekly by the staff at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.


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