You finally manage to leave the house with the sole purpose of heading down to the river for the first fishing trip of 2013. You wader up in the garage, wade into the snow, and make your way down to the river bottom. Winter lies heavy on the silent land but the river runs quick and lively.
You push through the snow along the bluff and make your way toward the access. The hardest part of the trip will be slogging through the deep snow.
Once again the deer have been here before you, their tracks pointing the way to the shallow ford and your way into the river.
And then you're in the river again.
You're going to throw a sparkle stonefly nymph, a pattern that has brought you success before.
You start working downstream. You decide to go no deeper than thigh-high in the strong, frigid current. Maybe it's wise, or maybe you're just getting cautious in your old age. Even at that depth you can cover a lot of water, and you do.
It feels good to stretch your casting muscles. And you find yourself engrossed with every swing, and your mind races as it processes what you're seeing and feeling in the complex dance of the current, the undulation of the line, and the tension of the rod. This is new water--this is only your second time here--and you're eager to learn the lessons that the river tirelessly teaches.
You reach the limit of your wading and casting. Nothing has come to the fly. You wade back upstream and sit on the bank with your feet out of the icy water. You watch the flow and wiggle your toes methodically.
This time you wade upstream and fish back down. You know there are some chest-deep potholes along here because you inadvertently stumbled into them when you crossed the river back on your first trip in November. You're charmed by the glassy glide, the rippling rings of the water droplets you fling on your casts, and the smooth cutting of the line through the water on the slow, deep swings.
You don't find a fish, but you feel more ready than you have for a long time. You consider whether to go ahead and attempt the crossing and fish some more, but the light is beginning to wane, and the old familiar numbness is in your toes and the tips of your fingers. You wade back to the bank. Now all you have to do is climb back up.
You make it easily and start the slog back home, retracing your footprints. You feel good.
You know that feeling that fishermen get on days like this: even without a fish you've accomplished a lot.