This time of year it is hard to not occasionally have your mind be other places. The temperature seems like it will never be above 20° again and the snow flies constantly. The days it does manage to get above freezing feel like a blessing and remind you of a warmer place and time. Peoples minds wander on different subjects, for some it might not be to very far off. Thinking about the fresh snow on the ski mountains, powder turns and fresh tracks on a bluebird day. The warm, dry rock as you climb a perfect pitch late on a summer afternoon. Tight lines as a fat Madison river trout peels away at your drag. The warm summer sun that seems like it might never set. For me, more often than not, it seems like my mind is always coming back to fish. Not even a specific fish or a specific section of river, just fish. Even when the weather isn’t exactly cooperating my passion for fish never waivers, just changes a little bit. Winter time is a time to re-coup, in life as well as fishing.
For the fisherman this means making plans and gearing up for the season to come. The rods and reels need to be cleaned, reels need to be oiled, eyelets checked, line restrung. It’s the time of year to pull the drift boat into the garage and get it repaired, cleaned and ready to go for summer. Fly boxes will obviously need to be meticulously organized, ideally over a nice whisky next to the fireplace, the same with tying. You remember that you can never have enough size 16 caddis flies, or that those sparkly yellow sallies were dynamite. Luckily fly-fishing is just as fun to talk about and prepare for as it is to do. Winter is a great time to make the plans that will ensure you have as good of a fishing season as you are dreaming about. It’s no time to slow down or get complacent because as sure as the sun will shine, it’s not going to be long before there are hungry fish feeding again. As flyfishermen go, this is not unique to each of us if you are as addicted to it as most of us are. Many shops (I can name 4 here in Bozeman alone) have weekly fly-tying groups that get together to disregard winter and think about fish. Every shop owner in Montana is sitting by the window, drinking coffee, watching it snow and waiting for that guy thinking about fish to call the shop and talk their head off. When the phone call doesn’t come its straight to the Instagram to check on the dorado, bonefish, and tarpon from the other (warmer) corners of the world. I have been tying up streamers like a maniac. Its more or less my new winter-time flyfising addiction.
But on to my larger point, this article is hardly about fishing and thinking about fishing is hardly ever thinking about just fishing. There is hardly any point in explaining this to a flyfisherman as its more or less common knowledge. For those of you that aren’t I will fill you in. Its about those special times and moments, those little ephemeral snippets of time that make you say Wow! As my preacher would call it, “God things”. For me fishing has always and will always be about my idol, mentor, and hero, my father. As I finished up a fly-tying book the other night I noticed he wrote in it that whenever I sit down to tie flies he hopes that my thoughts are with him and the memories we have made together while fishing. They always are and always will be, because thinking about fishing is never just thinking about fishing. I think of fish as more of a placeholder or bookmarker, something that takes me back to that special time, place, or moment whenever my mind happens to wander to that fish.