Winter bound…

It is snowing heavily outside my study window this morning as I write and I, like many of my fly fisher brethren, are wondering aloud – “will it ever end?” It’s not that there’s not a lot of fishing-related things to do: Waders need patching, reels need lubrication, lines need cleaning – gear needs going over. And flies – well, tying always seems to call before the season. Still, the snow and cold of winter can seem to stretch on endlessly this time of year and just plain “get to you”. In the words of one fellow fly angler hailing from equally frost-bitten western PA: “I think I have the opposite of seasonal affective disorder; the lighter it gets means trout season is coming, and the more impatient and irritable I become…”

The cold, the snow, the silence - it can get to you...

For the most hardy amongst us, even winter fly fishing is limited by this most recent spate of bitter cold. Just a few weeks ago, before the Arctic enveloped the Southern Tier, I made it out for a walk along the main stem of Nanticoke Creek, up north of the village of Maine, NY. This little put and take fishery was largely icebound, save the riffles and glides…

Nanticoke Creek in deep winter...

The Nanticoke is closed in the off season to fishing but it did offer respite for this winter-bound angler. The creek-side snow was deep the day I hiked its course – the surrounding woods silent, save the sound of the wind whispering through boughs of hemlock.

Flowing sweet and black...

The soft murmur of it’s icy black water soothed my soul like a lullaby; the contrast of the stark colors of winter – the deep green of hemlock against the white snow – enough to offer promise of spring.

Looking upstream to the junction pool...

Although it’s hard to acknowledge in the depth of winter, especially when we are assaulted each weekend with fly fishing shows from southern locales, there is purpose in the off season. Like the seventh day of the week, we all need time to reflect on the past, rest in the present, and look forward to the rebirth that comes with spring.

So for inspiration to the winter-bound out there, I’ll close this post with one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems – Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening. While there are many themes found in this poem, including Frost’s own bouts with depression and dealing with loss, its words speak to me about the importance of balance: Valuing rest, symbolized by the alluring beauty of the woods in winter, with activity, which there seems to be so much of in modern life.


Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.


My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.


He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.


The woods are lovely dark and deep

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Sleep softly, Nanticoke Creek…


6 Responses to “Winter bound…”

  1. I know the feeling. We are heading to DePuy spring creek here in Montana on Sunday to shake of the rust. DePuy’s has a few warming huts on the creek with wood burning stoves so anytime a chill kicks in you can take comfort in a toasty hut!

    • stflyfisher Says:

      Thanks for the comment. Warming huts – great idea. unfortunately I’ve never seen one in these parts. This morning it was 7 degrees here, so we are still winter bound, although it seems like next week may warm up some.

  2. jamesti Says:

    that looks like nanticoke right across the street from my place. can’t wait to hit it again.

  3. stflyfisher Says:

    It’s not a bad fishery – mainly stocked, but there are holdovers in some sections. The DEC stocks small browns early, but also stocks 2 year-olds later in Spring.

  4. George Young Says:

    Need to get a picture of the Creek today!

  5. Johnnyrainbow Says:

    1 mile of public access. Mud and rubble bottom. Crowded beyond belief for what it actually is! But, it keeps a lot of “Sportsmen” off the flows that I fish! Enough said.

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