Winter’s Beat

As I go outside to start my truck, the morning air is damn cold, the kind of biting cold that freezes my nostrils when I breathe in, and leaves my breath frozen to my beard. Add to that cold a swift north wind, and you have yourself a recipe to stay in the cabin close to the comfort and warmth of the wood stove. Unless, of course, you’re a fly fishing junky living in Island Park…

The engine slowly and unhappily rolls over and starts up, and the stereo yells at me to ‘let yourself go, slow and low that is the tempo.’ I laugh to myself at the Beastie Boys’ lyric simply because the Beastie Boys will never cease to entertain me, and then grab the brush to sweep last night’s snow off the truck.

It was well below zero at 9am, and yet that frigid air somehow has found a way to warm up enough to be filled with anticipation by the time I find myself post-holing through the freshly fallen, waist-deep snow. It has been snowing for what seems like a week straight, and I am hearing that there was outstanding midge activity and some sporadic hatches of baetis during the harshest part of the snowstorm.

However, having two girls under the age of two has its own scheduling demands. So taking advantage of a rare opportunity, while my girls and their mother are all napping at the same time, I’m off to the river for a couple hours.

The storm broke during the night, and the sky is now clear and sunny. The wind is up too, and out of the north. The bugs that had supposedly been so plentiful only a day prior are nowhere to be found. And neither are the large rainbows which had supposedly been feeding consistently and strongly on the huge, early-season baetis and clumps of midges during the shelter of the storm.

As I scan the water looking for signs of life, all of a sudden the Beastie Boys pop back into my head. Such is the way my mind works…

“So let it flow, let yourself go, slow and low, that is the tempo…”

Repeating the lyrics in my head, it comes to me….it’s streamer time. Downstream and across current, slow and low, that is the tempo.

It’s not long before my line is tight.

As I slide the fish back into the icy water and watch it disappear out of sight, again my mind wanders. “She’s crafty, and she’s just my type.”