Friday, December 2, 2016

Bark Eaters

At left, birch tree bark as photographed by Mariah.lobely and hosted on wikicommons. Used here for merely the attribution. Nice photograph Mariah, and thanks!

I'm pretty much a bear.

My doctor -- the vet -- tells me to chew on the bark of a couple birch trees, drink plenty of tea, and hibernate. If I still have a cold in the spring, make another appointment.


I've a cold. I've had this cold long enough now I should name it and buy it a Christmas present.

I want to be on the water.

I've some weighted spiders I tied last spring using the last of some tungsten beads I'd found in a bag. I want to get out and try some upstream contact nymphing while the weather is above freezing in the afternoons.

I've trout to hunt on my local restoration stream and oddly, this is one of my favorite times to really work a piece of water thoroughly.

The fly fishers I talk to this time of year are either fondling new gear or casting streamers. I nymph.

I get possessed by the feeling of a trout on the rod lift.

I like the sudden excitement of the wriggle from down deep at my feet when I've no business expecting anything expressing interest in my offerings. They're never large fish -- for me -- but I like the nymphing in the fall.

I dislike contact nymphing come spring. No good reason for that feeling, either.

I was out three times in November last year on my little Mill Creek stream and was able to really fish a section of water thoroughly. I didn't feel hurried and I had no expectation so I could just wade upstream like a heron and solidly fish the fifteen feet of water in front of me. By the third outing, I was confident in just barely leading my fly downstream and the takes managed to hook themselves on the lift.

"Are you there?"

That's the question Dave Hughes asks of the trout in one of his books. I think it is in Trout From Small Streams. I'm not going to dig for the citation this minute but if I'm wrong, it was a good-natured error and not a slight.

I like that routine. I get a kind of itch to be alone on a stretch of water and try to cover it completely while barely moving. I like asking the trout "are you there?" when I'm not impatient for the warming days to come.

I relax on the water. I know it is late fall my future promises ice. 

The gift of a trout way past "shoulder season"? Almost as good as a Christmas dinner. Almost.

I've had this cold and haven't been out since early November.

I need to eat my bark, get better, then put my feet in a cold stream.  My herons have gone. I don't think I'll have any trouble with their union if I give their routine a try.

I will put hot tea in my thermos with perhaps a little Bushmills for the flavor.

The trout won't mind the Irish one bit, either.



  1. Spike, hope that cold leaves you soon. Hey you're welcome to come hang out at SHJ. Hot enough there you'll sweat it out. You can share the whiskey with me. Smoke a pipe. Or, as a more comfortable alternative: mix 2 shots of the whiskey with a mug of lemonade sweetened with a tablespoon of honey. Throw some extra covers on the bed, heat the drink as hot as you can stand it (this is important), chug it down as fast as you can stand to, then immediately get under the covers. You'll sweat. And chances are the bug won't survive the rapid temperature rise. Repeat if necessary. This works better than a trip to the doctor.

  2. Love the SJH article. Mobilize the bears. Get the deer out canvassing. Alert the turkey. All good stuff. Be careful no one treats you like a Cheney hunting partner, though. Wouldn't want you to have to apologize for getting shot.

    A cold is like demonic possession and in my case, I'm just not interesting enough to hold the attention of a first-order baddie. Too dull. I think the virus is figuring out he's crawled inside the wrong bear. I'm not social enough to worthy of any respectable "communicable" disease.

    I think I'm going to try and kill him off with Glenfiddich. I've ink to spill and it mixes well with a good scotch.