January 5, 2014
The weather honks weren't joking around. I thought they were messing with me. Last month, they called for a colder than usual December here on the Alley. I scoffed and called bullshit. In past years, they never got it right. The last couple of years, we were spoiled with warm winters. There was never the thought of having to wait weeks for a thaw. But, the cold snap did arrive and streams started to lock up in ice. They were extremely low and their feeble flows would easily fall victim to old man winter's deadly grip. A sense of gloom fell upon my fellow steelheaders.
I managed to get out the week before. I struggled on one stream and found redemption on another. I took full advantage of the day. I was on the water at first light and I was driving home in the dark. Because who knew how long the streams would be locked up. The window was closing quickly. Monday morning as I take the trash out, I look down at the Rock and see side ice and slush. The inevitable was going to happen.
The weekend finally arrives and the Rock is locked up tight. Driving along the metro park and there are narrow channels of open water. The entire drive through, there are little pockets of water. It's not even enough to get off a meaningful drift. My gut tells me that the Grand might be fishable, but that's a big but. I arrive home, kick back and watch a movie. I get up to go to the freezer for dinner. Looking inside for the burgers, there's the eggs. I stare at them and I'm tempted to pull a pack out and thaw it. The freezer is loaded with eggs as I splurged this season. Suddenly, there's an urge to pull a pack out. I resist and instead grab the burgers. Through out the night I have this nagging feeling. The urge is driving me crazy.
Saturday is devoted to Christmas shopping as the Grand is still too high to fish. Through out the day I check the flow data. It's coming down nicely. The mall is a zoo and I go from store to store. I weave around a mass of humanity. I dodge small children and inattentive shoppers. Eventually everything is checked off the list and I can relax. I seek refuge in the liquor store and I go through the massive selection of Christmas beers and ales - it's a beer snob's paradise. On the way home, I thought to myself "why didn't I drive out to Lake County and go shopping?" I could of stopped by the Grand right? I never really though of it. I guess it's because I loath shopping and I wanted to stay close to home, in case I had a meltdown in Macy's or something. The urge is really getting to me.
Sunday morning and the windows rattle from the wind. I peek outside and there are some flakes starting to fall. The sky is gray and dull. The temperature outside is 22F. Not my favorite fishing weather. Lying in bed, the urge starts. Get up, roll the dice and go. What's there to lose? Scenarios play out in my head. Drop a lot of money for gas, drive 60 miles, only to see the Grand choked in slush and side ice. But, it might be opened below the dam. Open water all the way downstream. There isn't a soul on the water and the fish are in a playful mood. I hate fighting the urge. Happens every year, especially in the winter. In past years, I driven out only to see a sliver of open water and nothing else. Other times, I thought the stream would be iced over only to find it wide open. The urge starts to go away as I look at the weather forecast for next week. There is a warming trend right before Christmas and that will free the rivers of ice.
That's enough for me to go back to sleep, the urge is finally gone.