Winter has had a firm grip on the landscape the last few weeks and although today is fairly mild - mid-40's - it isn't going to let go without a fight. I drove along the South Branch today and the local wild trout stream, and they are both locked up pretty well with ice. Even in the faster water stretches, the ice reached out far from the banks, with only the center flowing freely through narrow gaps in the ice. The river looks beautiful cloaked in ice and snow; I like to think of it as in hibernation, a well deserved rest after a year of hydraulic and temperature extremes. Come spring, it will blossom with insects just as the landscape around it turns green and flowers with color.
For now, we will keep our faith and look forward to another year on the water as the days grow longer and sun continues to climb higher in the sky with each passing day. There is plenty to be done in anticipation - tying flies, reading new books, writing, and dreaming of hatches and rising fish and good times to be spent on the water with friends.
And in the meantime, don't forget to take in the winter sunsets.
Sharpen your hooks.