Photos: The End of a Long Wyoming Winter

Written by: Bob Reece, Reece’s Thin Air Angler

Ice-out means that fish become more active and start feeding in earnest after a long winter.
Photos by Bob Reece

On the wall above my son’s bed sits a torch. Battery operated, this mass-produced element of the Minecraft game glows soothing green when bedtime rolls around. This past week, the glow had ceased. Noticing this, I removed the batteries and replaced them. As I went to throw them away, I paused and stared down at the drained metal remnants that sat in the palm of my hand. I felt a hollow connection to them.

Winters in Wyoming can be long and grueling. While this year’s has been milder than most, it had still been filled with countless hours indoors. Many of these were spent behind the vise. In a warmer-than-usual twist, winter finally began to leave and spring has decided to arrive. With this came the always welcome site of solid water returning to liquid on my favorite local lakes. Lucky for me this process coincided with my annual spring break from teaching.

Knowing that foul weather days have a tendency to both keep people away and produce larger fish, I chose the worst weather day of the week. I arrived at the lakes disappointed to find that the ice shelves had retreated out past casting distance. This was largely the result of the previous day’s wind, which continued to blow a sustained twenty-plus miles per hour. The constant flow of air was accompanied by a steady supply of snowflakes that traveled more horizontally than vertically. Thanks to the application of six layers of clothing, a small heat pack and numerous sets of squats; I was able to spend a comfortable full day on the water.

After a few fly and depth changes, I was able to crack the code. What followed was a blissful day. Hours filled with raging elements, unhooking my Fusion nymph, and watching as well fed fish slid out of my hands into to their underwater world. I felt the energy from the environment around me, my flexed rod, and dripping net filtering its way back into my being.

While I was alone, I was not lonely. I left the lake with a lowered body temperature and a fully elevated energy level. I hope that as we progress into spring that you, too, have the opportunity to effectively complete the recharge that fly fishing provides.

Bob Reece is a junior-high science teacher from Cheyenne, Wyoming, who is also an accomplished fly tier and a former Trout Bum of the Week. You can learn more about Bob and his fly patterns by visiting Reece’s Thin Air Angler.

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