Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Winter's Trout


At left, Mike Cline graciously allows us to use this image from the Firehole River in Yellowstone via wikicommons. I'm not sure that's Mike but if it is , you're not smiling enough, fella !

I am suffering the winter doldrums and it isn't really winter yet.

I'm going to have to gear up and do some winter trout camping. Several of the top Michigan rivers are open year round for catch and release with flies and nymphs. They're all -- to me -- three plus hours away and so that makes them camping destinations. 

Cold weather camping.

I've some of the gear necessary for winter trout camp.  I'm shy on some of the gear to make it a comfortable experience.

I've plenty of mid-layer wool sweaters. However, my wool field pants shrank badly some years back (ahem) and I need to acquire some new suitable wool trousers. Also, I have rain bibs but NOT snow and rain and camp bibs for a couple layers of waterproofing.

I'm good on the general camp sleeping shelter and tools but need to adjust a tarp for cook/eat/sit/reflect heat shelter. Have to rig a flat tarp for that [ and rig wind-ready]. 

I no longer own a liquid-fueled stove. I think I'd be fine with the small propane tanks but pressure regulators do poorly in cold temps so I need to re-think my assumption. I usually cook over fire and coals. Might need a backup.

I'm good for fishing. Considering a long winter outing for me is four hours in the water (and I'll try to avoid any "in the water" if fishing alone), I have what I need to make slow deep passes. I'm tying Syl's Midges this week just in case I pick a nice weekend and get a hatch. 

Last year cutting wood on a sunny January day, the snow here on bear hill 200 yards from the Huron River turned brown as it was covered with millions of size 22 midges. All I had was a chainsaw and it is damn hard to cast.

SO, I have a serious "get there and back" 4Runner. I have fly gear. 

I need - what? - BWOs, Midges, and a trio of flymphs for the bottom 1/3 of the water column ? 

Oh, I always have a bail-out bag with warm clothes for accidental dips in the river even in summer. Getting to the SUV means life. If I am on a slippery bank for entry, I'll rig an assist rope to haul myself out even if footing is poor.

I am "adequate" for camping but could use a higher R-value inflatable pad to sit on my closed-cell foam pad. I have a 0-degree bag.  A pair of fleece blankets for a top cover wouldn't hurt for the camp chairs. 

I'm close. I'll practice in the north meadow here before it turns brutal. I'm targeting nights around 20 as my threshold.

I need cold weather practice. I was in my mid-20's last time I camped with more than an accidental dusting of snow. My meadow looks like it may get a workout.

I have to get away. Winter trout during the months of covid looks like a plausible escape.

I need to have a conversation with the winter's trout. 


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