Terry Otto for Anglers Club - 12/5/2016
COLD WEATHER FISHING IS GOOD FISHING
“I’ll be really glad when I’ve had enough of this!”
- Fred J Taylor, on Cold Weather Fishing
It was an offer I couldn’t refuse: A chance to spend the day steelheading with one of the best-known outdoorsmen in the Northwest? It meant a day on world-class waters with a world-class host. Great! So, why the anxiety?
Let’s look at that invite phone call. We talked about what I should bring and not bring, and the what and where of the trip. Then I asked a totally logical question: “What’s the weather supposed to be like down there tomorrow?”
“I have no idea,” was the reply.
No, he wouldn’t. You see, the weather has no bearing on many hard-core outdoorsmen, absolutely none. They really don’t care, and it’s as simple as that. So what if the wind is blasting thirty miles an hour? So what if the rain is coming down in buckets? So what if the temperature would make an Eskimo blanch? It means nothing to them. There are fish to catch!
I must confess I have become a weather wimp myself. I used to sneer at the nasty stuff, and unless it was unsafe, I could always bear up. I’m not sure when that changed. At some point my aging body began to rebel against the abuse I was feeding it, and over the years that rebellion has gotten stronger.
Actually, it may have started decades ago. In my early years a fishing trip required the clothes on my back and some gear. At some point I started carrying water, and then food, and then some extra clothes against the weather. By the time I was thirty I needed a whole van full of stuff to go fishing. I had become needful of comfort.
Many outdoorsmen I’ve admired have no need of this comfort thing. How many times have I sat in a boat, huddling from the freezing weather, and looked up to see my host leaning into the wind as he powers the boat forward, with a look of absolute joy on his face? And there I am, sitting miserably in the boat, trying to maintain a cheery countenance while others around me seem oblivious to the effects of foul weather. Strong liquor is what’s needed, but most top-notch outdoorsmen leave the alcohol until they are back at the dock. So, strong coffee has to do.
Why Cold Weather Fishing Is Good Fishing
It’s one of the great paradoxes; that the same weather that makes the Northwest such a great place to fish can be so hard on a body. The rain and cold are what these fish need to thrive, and I would never wish for them to be poorly. No, I just want to be comfortable while fishing for them.
Photo by T. Otto
And yet, when I think how nice it would be to live and fish in a clime with warm weather and sunshine, the thought never gains much traction. No matter the weather, the Northwest may be the best part of this country to live in. The wild beauty is matchless, as are the fish that thrive here.
So let the weather rage. Let the cold chill my bones and bite my fingers till they are numb. I’ll take that, and more, for the opportunity to hook just one more of those incredible fish. In fact, hooking a salmon is the best way to forget the miserable weather. So, when the phone call comes I always say yes, and I do what I can to stay comfortable. When I stop doing that, it’s time to give up fishing.