Recently Sanders and I made a trip to one of the most fishy looking rivers on the planet Earth. The South Platte. To me, fishy is technical, confusing, and incredibly hard to fish. Just my style. Fishing isn’t really fun unless you work at it. This day was that very definition of the word fun. It was the best bad good day a person could have. Good: Watching healthy fish feed in every seam. Bad: Well, I guess that deserves a story.
The day started early with a phone call that I thought was my alarm. It was Sanders, I answered.
Sanders: You ready?
Me: (thinking Sanders was lost in my part of town trying to get directions) Where are you?
Sanders: In front of your house.
Me: What time is it?
Sanders: 6:00 am
Me: Shit! I’ll be out there in a minute.
As I scurried out the door trailing my boots, bag, and fly rod behind me I thought that even the best good bad days ever begin with a hitch, right? My hair was matted down from the pillow and there were creases in my face from sleep. It’s ok when you are fishing. I guess that applies when I’m not at work. It was cold in the morning. In the rush, it went unnoticed. Before I knew it we were off. Then again, maybe I didn’t know. I hadn’t yet fully awakened. To the gas station for crullers and coffee! Closed. Ok, to the river!
If I remember correctly it was in the teens. That’s too cold for fishing. Not because it is hard to endure, but because of line freeze. Being from New Mexico, I know cold. It is a place where fishing in the morning is a pipe dream with days that start from 0 and go up from there into the 50’s. Here, it’s just cold. All day. That canyon never saw 35 that day.
When we peeled ourselves from the warm car to greet the river I was chilled to the bone. Must have been 33 degrees. I’m not cold when the temps drop below 33 or when they are above 35 or so, but when it is in the 30’s woah nellie. We gawked at the river and the fish that were crowded therein. I walked along the ice that had collected on the waters edge. I had forgotten to bring the studded soles and was slipping around in the snow and ice. I felt like a child. I knew at some point it would give way, and it did. I’m glad I was wearing waders. I was ecstatic that the water was only knee deep. Hiking over snow covered boulders where the river was impassible was impossible. This is what I needed. Punishment. Punishment for a prior skunking. After wetting the lines in a few pools and coming up with nothing, I was only left with hope. Then, when we least expected it, success!
All of the time driving was worth it. Enduring the cold, worth it. Falling through the ice, worth it. Scrambling out of the house, worth it. Sanders stealing my glasses and holding them hostage, worth… Wait, that wasn’t really worth it. A day with a good friend and a few fish in the cold is the best bad good day I can think of.
Lesson 17: Test ice before walking on it. You never know how deep the water really is.