Saturday below Freezing
It was ice blue sky cold
It was wintry tree branch rattling cold
It was frozen rod eye cold
It was dam cold
Jeff didn’t drive all the way from Pittsburgh to talk about fishing and I didn’t drive all the way from Clarion just to visit with him. When he arrived at the parking area we put on our fishing gear and strung up our fly rods in the chilling breeze. We walked down the snowy uncleaned gated roadway aside the guardrails. We carefully descended the uneven snowy hillside to the Shenango River. Jeff cautiously waded across the current towards the opposite bank. I followed giving him back-casting room when he decided to pitch a nymph. He settled down around 2/3 across while I worked the near side.
Four gates gushed water out in an inverted ‘V’ pattern, spilling gallons of water, bubbling below, from the bottom of the Dam wall. The sound was like a never ending emptying of limestone upon dry pavement. After awhile it got to be common place and not distractible except when we were trying to communicate with each other. The wind wasn’t as strong as it was above but the frigid air made exposed skin, red and tingling downright cold.
We stood fishing in thigh high, somewhere near 32 degree, water for near 3 1/2 hours straight. We were withstanding the elements causing tightening muscles and stiffening joints. Tying knots with almost frigid numbing fingers while trying to forget about how cold our feet were getting. We chipped ice from the rod eyes and then tried to warm our fingers with our own breath. When we felt we were challenged enough, we waded out, climbed the hillside and made it back to our cold vehicles. After a beer, chips and good conversation, Jeff headed back towards Pittsburgh and I took towards Clarion.
On I80 I lit up a Fuente Candela wrapped cigar. I had caught my first walleye on the fly rod along with a double digit length rainbow. Jeff caught 2, one being a thick girthed bow of holdover colors. We both missed a few in the wavy uncontrolled river water, while casting towards the dam wall and fishing back towards us.
Was it worth it? You betcha!!