It may sound cruel to stand by and watch something die, but this is winter we’re talking about and there’s nothing you can do to help it along. The thing is — and this also applies to things other than winter — you don’t want to go poking at it or looking too close too soon. Under the influence of syrup, my last post did just that and winter delivered a reflexive kick to the cranium, knocking spring right out of my mind and causing me to put down the shears, deciding the beard can stay for while — at least until I get tired of it or burn it off feeding the arch at Bobo’s. One or the other; I can’t decide.
Winter and spring duke it out as they do every year and, as ugly as things get, they both end up just looking silly. Meanwhile, the rest of us wallow out through the mid-day slop and bounce home over frozen ruts at night, feeling like the punchline in some kind of big cosmic joke.
A small cosmic joke, I suppose, would be that after relating the tale of nearly kicking a lady wearing yoga pants and Ugg® boots at the grocery store (see link above) I looked out the window yesterday and saw a lady walking up the road wearing yoga pants and Muck® boots.
Regular readers of these pages know how averse we are to jokes (cosmic or otherwise) here at Fish in a Barrel Pond and will understand our desire to keep things serious while everyone else is yukking it up this April Fools’ Day.
The cold this winter was not especially extreme but it was unrelenting and it settled in deep. The “January Thaw” took place one afternoon (the 19th, I think) and there was not a single minute in February above freezing. Well into March, the sap run took a ten day break and the few woodland creatures that have been seen look a little worse for the wear. Even the fish are showing signs of the cold; this beauty was caught by my friend Eugene and his pal Purly:
Taken on the last day of beaver season, they’re hoping the Game Warden will let them tag it as an “incidental, miscellaneous fur-bearer” because trout season is still a couple of weeks away. It may not help their case if someone points out that the Catholic Church declared the beaver a fish in the 17th Century.
(Using many of the same technologies developed for their Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods, Eugene and Purly have been hoping to announce the release of their new line of Vermont Hand Crafted Selfie Sticks. An unfortunate deluge of legal actions prevents us from even mentioning the product at this time.)
One thing the members of The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society do not joke about is the general desire for a return to “The Good Old Days”. You know, back when no matter what fly you tied on, the fish were as long as your leg and just jumped in the boat as you passed by.
They talk a good game, those intrepid anglers of Fish in a Barrel Pond, but this ain’t my first fish shoot and I insist on proof. Fortunately, at least one of them is honest enough to submit an actual photo taken back then, although he admits it was a slow day and most of the fish were small.
An exceptional day in a good season is one thing– we’ve all had one or two ourselves– but were those Good Old Days really more than a few epic afternoons here and there, the mist of time diffusing their glow and bathing even the slow days in their warmth? Every fishery hits a point where all anglers are satisfied as to size and quantity of fish caught but that point can be but an instant, related over time and passed down over cocktails (because no great story has ever begun with a salad) and burnished to the point where it becomes the standard to which all fishing tales are held.
And, by Jove, if the biggest fish a guy ever caught here took a hot pink #4 Zonker, he won’t care who says it was foul-hooked and a hot pink #4 Zonker will always be his go-to fly. You’ll see, it’s going to pay off again one of these days.
My mind can be changed and, just as I can be dissuaded from kicking women wearing yoga pants (them, not me), I can be convinced that the Good Old Days lasted a lot longer than I thought. As it turns out, guys really were hauling out big fish way back when, as shown by this actual photo from 1912, before the days of digital manipulation:
It can feel like we’re the butt of a joke, flailing away the way we do sometimes in pursuit of trout, and it doesn’t help to see actual photographic proof of the way things used to be, before whatever happened happened. But we can fix it, us humans, because we are smart and powerful and can do no wrong. Some day soon ,we will all hook fish on every cast, no matter the conditions or choice of fly, and the fish will thank us for it.
In the meantime,
Happy April, fools!