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.
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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Two years have passed since the AHS mountain bike team has had the chance to defend its championship. But the wait ends this weekend in Durango, the final races of the Colorado Cycling League season. Competing as a composite team with Basalt, there is belief a repeat championship is within reach.