Yesterday was the beginning of the Winter Solstice and mother nature knew it. Her light shone bright and glaring for the few hours she had. The wind was harsh and bitter, but the sun warmed you quickly. It was a perfect combination for the first day of winter.
We were lucky enough to feel tugs often, but few made it to the net. The fish seemed to be aware of the trick nature was playing. Good enough to keep you there, but with just a touch of bitter discomfort to round it all out.
Winter makes you tougher as an angler.
When you're surrounded by the "comforts" of life it's good to get away from that. To remember that life is not always comfortable. You will not always win, you will not always land 60 fish in a day. Your feet will not always be warm and you will not always enjoy your entire day outdoors.
But, you will learn to enjoy different things.
The way the sun warms your face and you leave the stream with new freckles.
Multitudes of bugs floating off the surface in appreciation of the contradicting weather.
How tough your hands become, but still able to tie on a size 20 dry fly.
The way the birds sing and how much more crisp it sounds.
Healthy, happy, firm trout. No longer fatigued by the warm weather, lack of water and minimal bug life.
If you look hard enough you'll find that the winter solstice offers just as much as any other season, if not more. For it creates you and may teach you more than any other time of the year.
So, enjoy it, learn from it, come away better because of it.
Now, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
The to-do lists have gotten longer. I've been trying to fit everything in. Finding time to get outside, be free.
This means fishing in places that are "easily accessible." I hate easy access.
There are generally too many people and sore lipped fish.
Yesterday, Jacob and I visited one of those streams and the day began with that easy feeling. We met disfigured hatchery trout and saw catalog fishermen. It was time to wander off the beaten path.We headed downstream, further and further away from the recreation area.
The reward was great.
Sometimes life will get hectic, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for me, it's good; but, you have to find a balance. Some days it's going somewhere close to home, but taking the time to find your own way. Understanding that the moments you're taking to "get away" are just as important as everything on your calendar.
So, travel off the beaten path.
Seek out the trout you haven't met.
Get away from the masses.
Smell the earth and stay up late to howl at the moon.
Your soul will be filled and the reward will be great.
Jacob is a fly fishing guide with a passion for conservation and brook trout. He is an accomplished rod builder and restorationist.
Jillian is an outdoor photographer and blogger, using her voice for Public Lands and Cold Water Conservation. She specializes in trying to out fish jacob whenever she puts the camera down.