Along with the rest of the West, we are behind on the snowpack so far. But there is reason to hope for a good year.
There is also the promise of good flows and water levels in our lakes and rivers this Summer, with the resulting good fishing. I've also been thinking about the local river and wondering what affect last week's Pineapple Express Pacific Storm would have on the Steelhead. Coastal rivers in Oregon are blown out, according to the The Caddis Fly. The local river is still choked with ice. But I've been anticipating the first opportunity to get on the river again, looking forward to February and March and their usually rapidly improving conditions and numbers of fish. In fact, you might say in some ways I was depending on it.
The word is out, though, that Washington rivers will close to Steelheading on February 1 because of low numbers of returning wild fish. (I read it first in Blood Knot.) I'll have to decide what to do about that. As will we all.
Even though I have not yet caught a wild Steelhead out of this river in my own backyard, I believe there is always the chance. I've fly fished enough to know that the realm of possibilities is very large indeed, and miracles do happen. That has always been a part of the anticipation as I have fished, and as I've worked a hooked fish in close enough to get a look at. I will continue to anticipate, and dream, two things that no one can close the season on.
I will be in Oregon in the middle of February. Again according to The Caddis Fly, there are so many Steelhead they're overflowing the rivers. Dig this, in a photo posted tonight:
My trip in February is not a "fishing trip," but I wouldn't be surprised if some fishing happened. But, for now, it looks like this little hatchery fish may be the last--and only--Washington State Steelhead for me this Winter. And I'm grateful for it.
Meanwhile, the snow is still falling, gently but with determination. And of course there's more to a good snowfall than the replenishment of the water table and the promise of good fishing. This one tonight is the kind that makes you glad for the respite of deep Winter. It awakens those ancient archetypal instincts of us cave dwellers to hole up and make a big fire. The temperature is just at freezing, and there is just enough breeze to make the flakes dance in the light from the windows. It makes the fire in the stove glow even warmer and cheerier, so that it's a pleasure to settle in for a long Winter's evening.
Which is exactly what I'm doing.