The snow piling up outside reminds me that another
winter is about to begin. I spent my day off this
week, cutting and stacking the last of the winter
firewood. I would like to have been hunting, but
some things are more urgent than others. I really
don't like cutting firewood in the snow, so hunting
took a back seat. Heck, I really don't like carrying
firewood into the house in the snow either, so I loaded
up the basement wood box and nearly had it full before
the snow started.
This is supposed to be a healthy snow, so I got the
snow blower ready for the worst. I'm not complaining.
We need a lot of snow to help make up for four years
of drought. A foot or two of snow will make hunting
better too. I don't like shoveling the stuff, and I
got spoiled by four winters that didn't pack enough snow
to fire up the snow blower once. I also watched streams
dry up in the summers that followed those mild winters.
The weather folks say they can't predict how the winter
will go, but long-range indicators look like a colder
and wetter winter than we have had in a long time.
That will probably stress the deer and elk that have
grown very abundant in four years of mild weather.
Although it sounds cold and heartless, that is exactly
what we need to strengthen the herds. We are having a
bit of a problem with disease here, and tough weather
serves the purpose of thinning out those animals that
are diseased and weak. Nature isn't very forgiving,
but that lack of forgiveness makes the majority of
the animals stronger.
Unfortunately, too much of that good white stuff makes
human animals crabbier. We don't do real well cooped
up in the house for long periods of time. The ailment,
otherwise known as cabin fever or snow fever, lets the
rest of us know who is infected and who isn't.
Unfortunately, it also serves to thin some from our
ranks. Tempers and feelings get pretty raw during the
snow fever months, and some will likely depart our ranks
due to a confrontation. Unfortunately, this type of
thinning doesn't do much to improve the overall health
of our group.
Fortunately, there is a way to treat snow fever, and it
makes winter pass faster. It's called a hobby. Sure,
I know fly fishing is a hobby, but for many of us, it
isn't a hobby we can pursue with any kind of regularity
in the winter; so we need to find something else to do
with our time and energy. I think I could come up with
a short list of possible hobbies you could start that
would take you through the winter and add to your fly
fishing pleasure in the spring.
There, you see, that wasn't so hard. If you want to,
you can do a lot of things that will make the winter
shorter. In fact, there are so many things you can do,
you probably won't have enough time to get them done
before fishing season starts in the spring. You better
get started right away before snow fever sets in. It
usually attacks people who have little to do first.
1. Build a fly rod. If you do it right, you can
use up about two months just looking at all the
possibilities that exist and shopping for the right
components. It doesn't have to cost a lot either.
There are a lot of good books on the subject, and
Tom Kirkman's Rod Building Guide: Fly, Spinning,
Casting, Trolling is one of the best. There are also
free instructions here on FAOL.
2. Take up fly tying. This is another area that
can consume a lot of time just deciding what gear you
want to start with. It is also an area with free
instructions here on FAOL. If you already tie, maybe
getting into classic salmon flies would be a good way
to consume some winter hours. Ronn Lucas has the best
collection of instructions on that subject here on FAOL
that I have seen anywhere.
3. If you are handy with wood, you could build
a new fly tying bench or rod wrapper. If you aren't
handy that way, just think of all the time you can
consume getting handy.
4. Take up photography. Here is one subject that
can really consume some time if you get serious about it.
You could photograph all your fly patterns and compare
what you tied last year to what you tied this year. If
you don't already have the gear, just shopping for the
right stuff can consume a month or two.
5. Consider writing a few articles for the Readers
Cast section on FAOL. I'll bet you know something the
rest of us don't know, and maybe you have had some great
days you'd love to tell us about. You have the opportunity
to have those memories published here on FAOL if you can
put together a decent article. Hey, you don't have to be
a pro to write for this magazine. They even let me do it.