It rarely snows in the South. When it does, we Southerners act as though it will never snow again, and to get snow during Fall is an even rarer occurrence. My husband Daniel and I have two vehicles, one’s a truck, the other is a mini-van; both lack four-wheel drive. My brother always teases me about having a truck that isn’t 4WD, saying it’s like having sex and never being able to finish. To each their own, I guess. Today would have been a good day to have something that would get us to the river without slipping, sliding and having me grip the “oh shit!” handle the whole ride up there. I just assume that adding another element of adventure to my chosen sport amplifies my feelings towards it. It usually takes us a short 10 minutes to get to this section, but we stopped multiple times to clear limbs and whole trees from the road. By the time we get to the pull-off Daniel smells like bar oil and gas and is covered in sawdust.
At the river, we are the only ones there. My favorite. Any angler’s favorite, I know, but today especially. The snow insulates all the sounds of the woods around us as we dress for cold water. Sounds of cardinals dashing from limb to limb, ice-laden branches creak as they sag and sway. The ripple of the river, still a few hundred yards away, hums like it’s running underneath my feet. This is what it’s all about, I think to myself; the resonances, the land, the river. And off we go.
I see fish rising for snowflakes. “Yep, that’s pretty damn cool,” I say to Daniel as he laughs at the excitement of throwing dries during a snowstorm. Never knowing what to expect before hitting the river, I take this as a sign from the fish gods that today is going to be fun and easy. Opening up my fly box, I choose the smallest, whitest fly I’ve got which happens to be a size 18 Light Cahill Dry, Catskill style that my friend Ed tied for me 2 years ago, has never been used. My fingers take their sweet time with the small fly. I blame my eyes, for they’re not as keen as they used to be. People always told me that it would come… it is here.
First cast, boom, fish on. I look over at Daniel and see he is using a big black and red Royal Wulff and right as I am about to say, “You aren’t gonna catch anything on that fly,” a brown trout sips the Wulff down right before our eyes. I swallow my words and we both bring our fish to the net. An hour or two into the session, we have caught a healthy number of fish as the snow starts to lighten up. The sun is out and the snow is melting. Just like the South… you can have the snow, but you can’t have it for long. Our feet are frozen and our hands don’t work well enough to tie on anything else. We succumb to the elements and call it. It’s still early but there is firewood to split and a list of other irregular chores to complete since we haven’t had power for two days.
The ride home is shorter. We know where the fallen trees are hiding around the corners and there is more road than snow this time. With the dog in the back curled up asleep, Daniel and I listen to the only station that will come in on the radio. With CCR as our background music, we take in what’s left of the snow. Daniel pulls into the country store for a little gas; he never fills up, just puts in $20 at a time. He comes back out of the store with two bags of Zapp’s kettle style voodoo flavor and a 12-pack of Miller High Life. This is the life.
Katie Cahn is a fly fishing guide out of the Blue Ridge Mountains, check her out on Instagram @katiecahn
Be sure to read our other posts about making the most of winter fishing: