May 24th, 1999
Is it Spring Already?

by Don Chianca

Darkess comes early in winter. By the time the pots on top of the stove have started to boil and the bottle of wine has been opened, blackness has covered the landscape. The evening network TV news further intensifies the gloom, which tends to overtake us during the short days and long nights of winter in the Northern Rockes. Once finished with a warming midwinter supper and continue with a slow paced evening, which might include the normal domestic chores, a stroll to the fly tying bench could be an option for the balance of the evening. The drive to do so is really not there however. Still, a hook is put into the vise. What scraps left on the fly tying table end up being contributions to some new creation which may or may not ever become attached to a piece of leader material.

We have survived the Christmas holidays, like most fishermen, we patiently await the flood of catalogs, and fishing magazines that we know will come soon. As sure as there is a spring thaw, catalogs and magazines begin flooding the mailbox. When evening comes, those "normal eveing chores" are ignored and the time is spent curled up in a comfortable chair instead. Each catalog page is thoroughly gleaned. We tell ourselves how one day, no matter what, how that elegant nine foot, six-weight rod and $400 reel will one day find they are ours!

The magazines have stories of exotic places, photos of gigantic trout about to be released. Chapters on fly tying reveal new materials, techniques, and patterns. Some patterns are unique and some familair. In fact, you see a fly that almost duplicates one you threw away a few evenings ago because it looked so ridiculous. One of those tied from the trash still on your fly tying table . . .(well, MY fly tying table.)

After the catalogs start looking like the pages of an airport telephone directory used by thousands of people, and the magazines have been read and re-read, the days have gotten longer. Dinner is finished and it's still light outside. The added light allows a trip into the garage and you start looking for your fishing equipment which the family has managed to bury under less important things. You discover you never took the time to clean the flyline on the last reel you used and decide to take it into the house and clean it, and the rest of your equipment. When cleaning the flyline on your best reel, you become aware of cracks because the soap just wasn't getting the dirt off the line. You also think back and remember how difficult it was to keep that line floating that last time you used it.

The catalogs come out again. Courage is mustered in preparation to buy a new flyline. However, since this is serious business, it will take time to research. Magazines are once again opened for the reports on flyline performance. Then, after all the reading, the only remaining thing to do is talk to a couple fishing buddies and get their opinions even though you know this is a big mistake. But, you do it anyway.

When you drove into your driveway today, you noticed the grass was turning green. Dinner is a good half-hour away and it's still light outside. As you close the car door and head for the house, you hear a telephone ringing. "It's for your, Dear" your wife tells you as you enter the house. An excited voice on the other end tells you, "Would you believe there were a couple fo good hatches on the river today? There were a gazillion rises too. Do you want to go in the morning?"

Winter is over! You say to hell with a new flyline, this one will be okay. Although you intended to patch the little pinhole you found in your boots, you're going to use them anyway. After all, you can always fix them later and will better know where the hole is.

Almost suddenly, you find you and your partner are on the river. The sparkles of the sun on the water and the warmth reflected onto your face, erase the memory of the recent long cold winter nights and you ask yourself (as your boots indicate there are more leaks than you thought, your line dressing container is empty and your flyline is acting more like a fast sinker instead of a floater,) What did I do with all my time this last winter? ~ Don Cianca (aka Uncle Don)

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