Monday, January 19, 2015

Here Comes the Sun

There’s a thin, icy glaze on the Ankona’s front casting platform and there’s no way I’m stepping up there, especially after the long skate I took down the boat ramp when we launched the damn thing. Landing on one’s ass at the bottom of a frozen dock is one thing. Landing on one’s ass at the bottom of a sixty-foot deep, forty-degree lake in the dark is quite another. I’m perfectly comfortable casting from here in the pit, thank you very much, although “comfortable” is a relative term considering the fact that I can’t feel my toes.

I switch off the Petzel and slide it down around my neck, over my stocking cap and face-warming buff, and stuff it into the awkward wad of fleece layers and zips that bunch up under my chin. I don’t need the torch now as there’s just enough light leaking over the shoreline behind us to begin to see what we are doing and to get a good first look at the lake that surrounds us. Birds. Where are the birds?

It’s a two-edged sword, the sun. We need the light so that we might find the birds that, in turn, lead us to the bait; bait that, with any luck on this bitter cold morning, might be interlaced with feeding landlocked stripers. And we certainly could use the thin warmth that it brings; de-icing the decks, taking the edge off the chill that has settled into our cores, warming the top thermal towards a more hospitable feeding clime, and defrosting my regrets over not bringing that extra layer of quilted poly.

But for all the good it does, the sun brings its issues. It’s bitter cold, here at daybreak, as there’s not a cloud in the sky to hold in the heat, whatever the source. Our window is small, for, with the arrival of daylight, our star-strewn indigo ceiling will quickly turn bluebird bright and drive the bait deep, out of the reach and the interest of the gulls, changing the game from looking up at the birds to staring down at an eight-inch Lowrance display; searching for dark arcs at thirty feet. Video game fishing.

Do we want the sun, or don’t we? The question is moot as it’s coming regardless; rising out of the trees and illuminating our fluid surroundings, sprinkling diamond-sharp sparks into the skiff’s trailing spray as we skip across the lake, trying our darnedest to keep up with the terns. And besides, with or without the sun's small winter comfort, I won’t feel my toes all day.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Photo Bin - December 2014

I'm not much for looking back so you'll get no in-depth review of 2014 around here. What's visible in the rearview mirror - just about a month's worth - is more than enough for me and just perfect for the Photo Bin. Let's get to it.

I have a fixation on the view from my sister-in-law's front porch, out across the Indiana corn fields to the homestead just up County Road 800, and it's never quite so captivating as it is during the winter. This holiday's visit was no exception. Our early morning departure for home was delayed when the packing of the truck was interrupted by gorgeous light playing across heavily frosted farm acreage under deep purple skies. It was well worth the delay.

As you can imagine, the vast majority of last month's shutter clicks captured Christmas activity. Not wishing to subject you to a deluge of someone else's holiday snapshots, I offer but a single image that captures what Christmas morning is like with a 6-year-old. Actually, this blur is pretty well representative of most days around our grandchildrens' Chicago household. To have that much energy again...

It always looks like Christmas at The Flying Saucer; a beer lover's haven and our base of operations when we head south to Charlotte to visit. The plates that adorn the ceiling and walls commemorate patrons who have "sampled" two-hundred different brews. Two of those plates bear our son's name; the first accomplished on his own and the second completed, in memoriam, by his legion of friends who miss him as much as we do. We gather there, each December, for the Delivery of the Tea Rings, a family tradition he embraced with gusto.

And just to remind you that this is a fishing blog (yeah, that makes me chuckle too) a gratuitous shot of one of the last fish of the year; a healthy Davidson rainbow I snuck in between days at the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Expo. Always a good time, both the show and the river. My thanks to the Davidson River Outfitters for another mighty fine day on their waters.

Finally, my favorite little Polar Plunger with her best "that was fun but let's go home and get into a hot bathtub" look. Technically, this image should be used for next month's bin as I shot it at our 8th annual New Year's Day dip into the neighborhood pond, but what the heck. We gather at noon on each January 1st to re-establish our lunacy and start the year off with an exhilarating dive into frigid waters. It's hell going in, but, when you re-emerge, it's life affirming and exactly how you need to start a new calendar year.

I hope that yours has started with equal enthusiasm. Face it. It's 2015 and there's no looking back.

Happy New Year!

What is a Photo Bin?