Sunday, March 8, 2015


Editor's note: I think this post from my buddy Chad sums up the feelings of many anglers in the Northeast that are itching for spring. 

I didn’t even bother to change the calendar from February to March. Now six days in, and still looking at J Tomelleri’s Sockeye Salmon and its native range three thousand miles to the west of me, a pink blob running from Bearing Sea south along that long foreign coast. On this forlorn and barren coast I am socked in by three feet of snow still, and the winter lags like an illness taken deeply in the chest, frozen in deep, with roots that break apart the land in their freezing and half-thawing, make ruptures, refreeze.

It has been a hard winter here, the coldest ever month of February they say, and none can doubt it. Most water is utterly gone. All covered in snow and ice still. The winter creeping and creeping, freezing and refreezing until finally, a leak in the roof, ominous dark spot on the ceiling bearing a steady drip. 

I call a friend of a friend skilled and unemployed enough to do the job and in short order he has shoveled the roof clear of four foot of snow. This is work I could not do, having tried it weeks earlier to be unceremoniously dumped off the roof in a slide of ice and shit pinged off the rickety ladder and deposited rib down on the frozen porch. With life flashing before my eyes certainly a wise choice to pony up the cash to someone with the skills. Someone less top-heavy then I, Mike works the roof with the easy foot guise of a squirrel.  Deep gratitude I feel and the leak stops.

The sun is out on the weekend and it is time to go fishing. I do not care where and have little to no hope of catching a fish. This is how you know you fish, when you go anyway. A bluebird day, and though only just above freezing the change is inevitable and with good intentions I am convinced that the end is nigh of the cold hard season. 

The only option is a brown line that flows through a mill town. I can see it from the highway; it has open water and that is all that matters. There are no fish living there, I am convinced. If they do live though, I am sure they are too cold and sluggish to eat anything. Not essential. This is the Smarch season in Northeastern Connecticut. It is nearly the opposite of what fishing should be, wherein you value the day on not catching any fish. A good day is no fish at all, but out in the field no less.

You belly up to the bar afterwards and order up with your wind chapped face and your sore bone fingers. “How’d you make out?” the bar keep asks. You smile and shake your head slowly like you are in a beer commercial and just say in a grin “Phenomenal.”

So you enter the water in your leaky waders with a white mink Zonker and you practice. And you cast to all the likely spots, and work the visible bait in rhythmic urges downstream, quartering it against the places you would be if you were a fish and you were feeding. Quartering it where in a month or so there will be a fish feeding. An hour in you feel you are fishing well, and you slump down for a cold beer into the streamside snow.

It gives hope, the flowing water and the sun climbing high through the growing afternoon. The snow takes on that shine, the metallic luster that it gives off in its melting. The shadows of trees are blue on the snow and they cross over a tiny dark stonefly crawling on the snow.

The old timers down around Beaver Brook call them snow-flies and the hook keepers of their grey un-sanded blanks bear tiny black nymphs to imitate them. Forcing the issue through all this slow crept winter that bears down on the land, forcing the issue both the flies and us old timers. Hope flies away into the sunlight and I reach for the fly box.

Could you imagine catching even one? Probably not. But still.


  1. Summed it up very well.
    Hope this week will be a one to try.

  2. I'd be out there too not catching anything if it weren't for a need of new waders.