Al Campbell, Field Editor

November 24th, 2003

Snow Fever
By Al Campbell

The snow piling up outside reminds me that another winter is about to begin. I spent my day off this week, cutting and stacking the last of the winter firewood. I would like to have been hunting, but some things are more urgent than others. I really don't like cutting firewood in the snow, so hunting took a back seat. Heck, I really don't like carrying firewood into the house in the snow either, so I loaded up the basement wood box and nearly had it full before the snow started.

This is supposed to be a healthy snow, so I got the snow blower ready for the worst. I'm not complaining. We need a lot of snow to help make up for four years of drought. A foot or two of snow will make hunting better too. I don't like shoveling the stuff, and I got spoiled by four winters that didn't pack enough snow to fire up the snow blower once. I also watched streams dry up in the summers that followed those mild winters.

The weather folks say they can't predict how the winter will go, but long-range indicators look like a colder and wetter winter than we have had in a long time. That will probably stress the deer and elk that have grown very abundant in four years of mild weather. Although it sounds cold and heartless, that is exactly what we need to strengthen the herds. We are having a bit of a problem with disease here, and tough weather serves the purpose of thinning out those animals that are diseased and weak. Nature isn't very forgiving, but that lack of forgiveness makes the majority of the animals stronger.

Unfortunately, too much of that good white stuff makes human animals crabbier. We don't do real well cooped up in the house for long periods of time. The ailment, otherwise known as cabin fever or snow fever, lets the rest of us know who is infected and who isn't. Unfortunately, it also serves to thin some from our ranks. Tempers and feelings get pretty raw during the snow fever months, and some will likely depart our ranks due to a confrontation. Unfortunately, this type of thinning doesn't do much to improve the overall health of our group.

Fortunately, there is a way to treat snow fever, and it makes winter pass faster. It's called a hobby. Sure, I know fly fishing is a hobby, but for many of us, it isn't a hobby we can pursue with any kind of regularity in the winter; so we need to find something else to do with our time and energy. I think I could come up with a short list of possible hobbies you could start that would take you through the winter and add to your fly fishing pleasure in the spring.

    1. Build a fly rod. If you do it right, you can use up about two months just looking at all the possibilities that exist and shopping for the right components. It doesn't have to cost a lot either. There are a lot of good books on the subject, and Tom Kirkman's Rod Building Guide: Fly, Spinning, Casting, Trolling is one of the best. There are also free instructions here on FAOL.

    2. Take up fly tying. This is another area that can consume a lot of time just deciding what gear you want to start with. It is also an area with free instructions here on FAOL. If you already tie, maybe getting into classic salmon flies would be a good way to consume some winter hours. Ronn Lucas has the best collection of instructions on that subject here on FAOL that I have seen anywhere.

    3. If you are handy with wood, you could build a new fly tying bench or rod wrapper. If you aren't handy that way, just think of all the time you can consume getting handy.

    4. Take up photography. Here is one subject that can really consume some time if you get serious about it. You could photograph all your fly patterns and compare what you tied last year to what you tied this year. If you don't already have the gear, just shopping for the right stuff can consume a month or two.

    5. Consider writing a few articles for the Readers Cast section on FAOL. I'll bet you know something the rest of us don't know, and maybe you have had some great days you'd love to tell us about. You have the opportunity to have those memories published here on FAOL if you can put together a decent article. Hey, you don't have to be a pro to write for this magazine. They even let me do it.

There, you see, that wasn't so hard. If you want to, you can do a lot of things that will make the winter shorter. In fact, there are so many things you can do, you probably won't have enough time to get them done before fishing season starts in the spring. You better get started right away before snow fever sets in. It usually attacks people who have little to do first. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

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