Streams carry their element’s trait. Water, moving one direction while eddying back another — a transparent base manifested in myriad ways like ancient deities of the Greeks. Streams are a visible echo. And often we look at them speaking when really, we should be listening; waiting for them to answer themselves back. Of varied depth and pocket holes – wading in brings thoughts just as hard to balance and often, just as deceptive.
The river isn’t here to stay and so she can afford to not be truthful, no one will recognize her tomorrow; much like the trains whose tracks are so often built bordering her banks, she’s just passing through. Even so, she guides while not always staying on track. Her character forces focus on the limited time given to figure out her lay and lies, and so we have to learn to pay attention. Although sometimes the truth is very simple, it’s blasted cold.
Icicles drip and fall into pools, sounding the forms of rises that make you remember that you’re fishing. No, you weren’t paying attention.
Winter is only just beginning and the water is low and clear with crystal translucence indicative of the harder self it will be in a few months, weeks, or days should the weather change. And similar to summer matching of hatches, winter calls us to match its toughness; testing our perseverance when things aren’t hatching and the trout are holding down deep. They aren’t so hungry anymore as they are cold and picky — and I can’t see anyone blaming them for that — I can be called a great many worse things than picky, when cold.
And yet winter is different, too — perhaps the most distinct of seasons in the Rocky Mountains. It’s certainly the longest. It’s harder, and more technical, and not just when wading or rigging up. While it seems as though this would be more trying on nerves and patience, those are often concurrently (and thankfully) frozen. Everything is slowed — late morning starts let the water warm, and heavy nymph rigs are only given one false cast — more relaxed as if we and all of nature have taken a few shots of whiskey and can’t feel the numbing of fingers and toes. With summer’s urgency past, winter ushers acceptance. Soft alpenglow hems the day as breakfast and supper, as sustenance to get through the darkness of the long way home.
Photo by Jay Zimmerman