Fifty-four days and counting…

Still February

It is a balmy seven degrees here in Crooked Eddy and, though inside I am still basking in last week’s sunshine and the grace of a single cast, my outside shivers in the cold between these old walls. The sun hasn’t risen, though it will do little good against the air mass occupying the Western Catskills.

Another warming trend is coming, though with an inch of rain that will take the remaining snow from the mountainsides along for its journey to the rivers. They will run high and brown before the moisture in the tail of that front turns to snow and coats the mountains once more. It is of course still February.

I tied some flies yesterday, nearly two dozen. That is a pretty significant daily production for me, particularly in winter, when the fires that drive my creativity at the vise burn low. Traditionally, winter is the time for many anglers to stock up, to fill the fly boxes they will carry through the season ahead. I do a little of that, rebuilding my stores, but much of my tying involves experimentation. There are many ideas that pass through my thinking, and some wait seasons before they find their way to a hook.

I promised JA a handful of Copper Foxes. I set a few aside for him yesterday, but I think he should have some of the larger ones for his trek to Argentina. He has plans to return if the changing drama of international health and travel works itself out. Two years ago, he enjoyed an amazing journey, great fishing with small dry flies. Sounds about perfect to me! Conditions vary regardless of the river, so perhaps he might find it prudent to swing a flashy little streamer fly born here in the Catskills.

I took stock of my calendar again this morning, counting fifty-four days before the week I can truly expect to cast a dry fly arrives. Winter is passing, and brief interludes like last week’s span of warmer days help me navigate through all of the freezing ones. In December the icy walls ahead stand like stark timber, and then the slope steepens in January. Here, in mid-February, there are openings in the forest of ice, little clearings where the terrain flattens and the sun pays visits to cheer my soul.

Technically, there is a fortnight remaining in our grouse season, but I deprive myself of the comfort of the mountains once they become treacherous with ice and snow. JA and Finn went looking on Saturday! I’d not try to keep up with a dog in snowy woods, though a nice walk with the 101 would be a pleasant farewell to the month. Maybe if that coming snowstorm turns further north…

There’s some gold in the sky now that the sun has nearly scaled the far side of the ridge to the east. I love the light, both early and late. Even as a boy I appreciated the quality of light from a low angle in the sky. There’s a richness to it, and promise!

Morning light graces Ohio’s Conneaut Creek on a November morning hunting steelhead…I found them!

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