Scrolling Instagram and Twitter, there are a lot of “wishing it was summer” posts. Pictures of short-sleeved anglers against ardent backdrops do make you wish that the weather – and the hatches – was a little different. But it can’t be, at least not for much of the world. So suck it up and deal with it.
Okay, maybe that is some sub-40-degree bitterness coming out. But let’s look at this with a level head. So most of us don’t reside in a perpetual high-70’s climate. For a lot of fly fishers there is a time when ice literally makes a proper presentation, not to mention a drift-free drag, impossible. Is that such a bad thing? Is the promise of spring and a few month’s distractions all that bad? Probably. But is it as bad as we make it out to be?
I wholeheartedly believe that the late fall and winter give most of us a chance to catch up on other things, and that it is a “net good.” Deer and turkey hunting, tying flies, watching the football playoffs, spending time with family… Yeah, imagine if Thanksgiving and Christmas lined up with the green drake or trico hatches. Your behavior would most definitely not help you get that new fly rod for Christmas.
Plus, this is the time of year when most of the fly fishing shows are going on. If it was a fish or go to a hot, overcrowded free coozie affair, which would you choose? The organizers and vendors aren’t dumb. Do you think that the guys giving the seminars would be talking to you if they could be on the river? Thank goodness for the cold season, otherwise we’d never get to buy discount rooster necks in a gymnasium somewhere.
That being said, there are plenty of guys that just switch up their routine to replace the time they’d be on the water that has frozen over with more trips to tailwaters and spring creeks. I do that. But man, is that morning air still cold. Plus if you live south of the Mason-Dixon line, there is very little in the way of adjustments that need to be made at all.
Bear with me on this analogy: Sports science-types have been warning against the year-round little league trend that has arisen in the last generation. Little boys are throwing as hard as they can, some of them even twisting their shoulders and elbows to throw breaking balls, twelve months out of the year. Sure, baseball is fun. Why not play it as much as possible? Well, if Tommy John got a dollar for every invasive procedure bearing his name performed on a young man in his 20’s, he’d be able to buy a few hot dogs at a Red Sox game (that is a lot of money, if you aren’t aware).
I’ve mentioned the “too much of a good thing” concept in the context of a day-to-day decision before, and I know it doesn’t apply to everyone. The same thing holds true to the seasons. There have been ages and stages of my life where being on the water sounded like the best way to spend a down minute. But the rhythm of the year has its merits, and the fly fishing community seems to have responded. Shows, new product lines, and conservation banquets fill those voids when the bugs, fish, and anglers are a bit more lethargic.
So post some shots from last April’s blizzard-like caddis hatch, but also post a picture of the vice in front of the snow-covered windowpane. Those caddis come back this April, and you’ll be happy you were waiting for them.