It’s windy. Really really windy. The kind of wind you can actually see. The kind of wind that leaves its signature for a moment all around you. The grass parts, twigs and leaves are sucked up off the ground and reverse course away from the earth again. Cold water from the river around your legs forms spray as the wind makes its mark with ribbons of air that blast by. Fishing in January can be a venture of questionable intelligence.
Why even bother? In all reality you are not having fun. The wind has made casting such chore, you can’t even find reward in practicing your technique. You’ve had a dozen too many cups of coffee, but wading to the shore, and de-robing a bunch of icy wet gear is not sounding enticing, so you continue to suffer. The 33 degree water has given your numb legs a case of “beef leg” however the tips of your toes are conveniently firing constant signals of sharp pain to remind you they are cold and pissed! Your line is freezing to the guides, and ice must be picked and broken off the rod with numb fingers several times each hour.
Cast after cast, and not a trace of fish. How can this be called fun? Well really its not. There are plenty of days on the water that are absolutely thrilling. Warm weather, beautiful surroundings, cooperative fish, and great company. Those days are priceless, and what we all hope for more often. But the fact is that there are days on the water that are just tough. Streelhead fishing especially, there are days when grinding out a single fish simply feels out of reach. The process of switching everything from technique to location to try and crack the code is less than fun on days when the conditions are miserable.
For some of us, we head out to fish on days when we know these are the conditions that await us. The question is why? One way to look at it is that even though the actual time on the water may be tough, it will forever be warm in our memories to enjoy as we look back on days like those. Sometimes a fish is caught while struggling to get out “one last cast” , and savoring that moment will last over countless cups of hot coffee like right now.