January 30th, 2006

Spring Is Coming
By James Castwell

Soon, at least we all hope so, and I have a few ideas for you. I am mostly talking to those of you who are lucky enough to have some streams or rivers to get back on. The winters seem way too long and after all the planning and preparation we all get a little giddy with just the mere thought of 'Opening Day,' as it is sometimes called.

Here are a few tips for you to think about. For instance, over the winter that favorite stream you have been remembering all winter long is gone, gone at least as you exactly remember it. Things change and you had not better forget it. That delightful hole you worked so fervently last year may now be filled in with sand from the winters activity. Even the normal high run-off of late winter can change things a lot. In contrast, the gentle glide you fished now has a deep trough that on a blustery overcast day could overtop your waders in a heartbeat, especially if you are fishing in the downstream mode. Be careful of those changing conditions.

There is the possibility too that the nice gravely bottom of last year is now floored in slippery clay. Will upend you just as quickly. Approaching an somewhat unknown set of conditions from upstream may lead you to some shifting sand or small ball-bearing sized gravel and down you go, into the deep. It might be a better idea to consider making your first outing a upstream effort and play it safer.

Something else for you to be on the look out for. How about pollution? Be on the look out for signs of anything different from last year. More weeds. Plant growth in a place where it wasn't last year. Keep an watchful eye out for telltale signs of contamination, evidence like grey-brown slim objects and things that just don't smell right. You might not find these days where a city or community is discharging effluent directly into your favorite stream, but accidents do happen. So do unknowing or unscrupulous land owners. Things get into the water that shouldn't and you might be the only, or at least, the first line of defense.

On that subject though for a moment. When there is a large amount of fertilization entering a stream, it does many things, some of them seemingly for the good. The weeds love the stuff, after all, it is fertilizer. They grow and they are home for the insects the fish love to eat. The fish grow well also. The oxygen levels fluctuate during the days and nights and this is not a very good situation though. The excessive growth of weeds also slows down the flow of the stream again reducing the oxygen levels.

Most of us, but certainly not all of us, recycle our fish these days. It might be tempting to say, we should let the pollutants pile up some and grow bigger fish for better sport. The flip side of that is, I at least do not want to catch any that are unfit to eat. That, for me, is not what this game is all about. I would much rather go after a slightly smaller version that is in pure crystalize environments than in a contaminated channel.

How about taking someone with you? Many fly shops have closed down lately and the big-box guys aren't really tripping over themselves to give free instruction on much of anything.

That might be the biggest thing you can do this spring. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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