Four years ago, if you would have told me I would be living in the Pacific Northwest chasing steelhead with a double-handed rod, I might have laughed. I never thought I would leave the flats and mangrove islands of Islamorada and Florida Bay, certainly not in the winter. This was where I started fly fishing over 20 years ago and the game fish of these waters are in my blood. Of course, I return as often as I can to not only get my saltwater fix, but also to absorb a little vitamin D, which is in short supply in these parts.
I would be telling a small white lie, if I said I didn't miss it. Please, don't call me with news of laid up tarpon sunning themselves on a warm, calm winter day in Florida Bay. I don't handle cold weather well and last week's snow and ice storm, power outages and 50 knot winds gave me a bad case of cabin fever. I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool winter steelhead fisherman. Pam cooking spray may prevent the guides of my rods from freezing, but it does nothing for my hands. I have even hand stitched and adapted a hunting muff which I stuff with heat packs to prevent my hands from turning seriously interesting shades of purple and red. Honestly, it's not the freezing that is so painful, but the thawing. Why is that?!
So, while it's hard to watch the snow and rain fall for days on end, when the rivers come into shape and the air temperatures moderate, I may forget about the fish that consumed me years ago. I doubt it, but I'll be at ease wading deep and swinging flies. Until then, I'll be dreaming of chrome sweet chrome.