Last day of trout season.

It’s the last day of trout season and I wanted to celebrate this day with an extended outing fly fishing the Deerskin.  While I usually fish in the evening, those are shorter outings due to the failing light. As it will be seven months before I can get out again, I wanted the last day to be a more complete fishing experience.

I arose at 6:45 AM and went through my normal morning routine that included a nourishing breakfast that I figured would stick with me for the several hours I expected to be on the water.

I suppose a rational person seeing ice on the deck and a thermometer reading 27 degrees, might have re-thought his fishing plans.  But this is THE LAST DAY of the trout fishing season and, as it will be seven months before I can go out again, rational thought has to be set aside in favor of idiocy.

I loaded my fishing stuff in the car, cranked up the heat and headed off to the stream. I made one stop along the way to take a picture of some fall leaves framing a frosted pine meadow but that only took a few extra minutes and I was able to be at my put-in by 8:10 AM.  I noticed as I rigged up my fly rod that my fingers seemed a little stiff from the cold air but assumed that once I got to casting they’d warm up. I was wrong.

I stepped in the water and exhaled sharply as ice water crawled up my waders.  I felt like a maraschino cherry floating in a brandy old fashioned loaded with ice.  But I assumed that once I got wading and casting I’d warm up. I was wrong.

I noticed that on occasion as I cast, my fly line made a funny scratchy noise as it sped through the line guides.  That turned out to be ice forming on the line whenever I paused for twenty seconds or longer to plan for a good cast.

After 20 minutes of wading and casting a line with ice on it, I noticed that I couldn’t feel my fingers any longer. I was wearing fingerless fishing gloves which I figured would keep my hands warm enough.  I was wrong.

My legs were moving through ice water, my fingers were so cold I couldn’t feel them and it occurred to me that if I was this cold, maybe the fish were too.  I took the water temperature and it was 39 degrees. What rational trout would come up to the surface to take a fake insect when: a. no insects were flying and b. the water was much warmer and cozier in their deep hidey-holes.

In what for me was an unusually insightful flash of rational thought, it dawned on me that if I tripped and got dunked in 39 degree water with 27 degree air temperatures and I was a half hour wade from my car, my brain might go as numb as my fingers and they’d find my body floating face down in the water with a fly rod sticking up like a maraschino cherry stem.

With the maraschino cheery scenario emblazoned in my consciousness, I very carefully waded back to my put-in.  Because I could hardly feel my hands and fingers, it took an inordinate amount of time to get out of my waders and boots.

With an expected day of full sunshine, they say the air temperatures should moderate to the upper fifties by this afternoon so I will attempt to go out for a couple hours after dinner. I’m pretty sure the water will be warmer then too and, after all, it is the last day of the trout season.