Fly-fishing Voices

It’s spring, sort of

Photo Credit: Don Oliver

As you read this column the calendar says it is April. By my reckoning that makes it springtime. However, if you are watching the weather map, the entire country is not warm and good fly fishing weather doesn’t appear near. In fact, it seems to be either raining or snowing all over the country. I remember different weather patterns when I was a kid. That was a really long time ago and I could be mistaken. Regardless, no matter where you live, I think spring means it is time to go fly fishing. With new weather patterns that can be challenging, if not downright dangerous. 

Therefore, I think some self-imposed rules are in order. These rules should be looked at as ways to stay safe. I believe the rules should start with: don’t believe the published weather forecast. I have experienced a day starting out bright and sunny, then get cloudy, have the wind pick up, watched the temperature drop by twenty degrees, rain start, get even colder, snow falling, then clear up, all in a two-hour timeframe.  

Needless to say, if you have experienced weather like this, and left your rain jacket and sweater in the truck, you are going to be wet and cold. In some situations, so wet and cold as to be life-threatening. That scenario can be avoided by making sure you have a sweater and rain jacket in your vest. Neither weighs much and can be a lifesaver. 

If you are fly fishing during the early spring season try to find out what the conditions are upstream from you. Just because the weather all around you is clear and pleasant does not mean the weather is nice where you can’t see. I have been knee-deep in a great small stream when suddenly I was thigh-deep in cold, brown, icy, rushing water. This happened when an ice dam upstream broke loose and had nowhere to go but downstream. While this experience was not dangerous, it could have been and certainly got my attention. 

To carry “know what is going on upstream” a step further, don’t put yourself into a stream that doesn’t have any easy way out. There are lots of places to fly fish that require a hike down step paths. These paths can become inaccessible if the river rises quickly and without warning. While the thought of fly fishing where it is very hard to get to, therefore having few if anybody else fishing, sounds appealing, it can be very dangerous. Steep canyon walls, while pretty, can block your view of moving storms that can suddenly make the river high and fast. Plan on the worst happening in early spring weather. 

Now that I have painted some ugly thoughts about fly fishing in the early spring, don’t be discouraged. Know the area you are planning to fish. If you don’t know the area get someone to go with you that does know the area. Dress properly and take clothes and rain gear with you that might come in handy. Without the rain gear you can end up like the bicycle rider tapping on my truck window to get in as I sat out a sudden rainstorm by a stream. She didn’t have any rain gear and hypothermia was closing in on her.  

It is spring. Enjoy the warmer weather and bug hatches. Just stay safe as you enjoy the fly fishing. 

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