Laugh a little and slow down

Everything is harder in the winter, I’ve discovered it can be pretty funny too. The comfort and warmth of the indoors confuse the urge to spend time in moving water enough to make it a major decision. Tying flies on, untangling a client’s new leader, scrubbing the mag chloride from your boat or even enjoying a handful of skittles just become more time consuming. Anytime there is a trip booked in the harsh months of December or January and I am pleased, no matter the forecast. This is much different than it used to be when there were enough winter clients to keep pop tarts in the cupboard. Like elsewhere, it’s become more of a struggle and lest we forget I live in the Beverly Hills of the Rockies where its simply harder to get by. Winter peeps have evolved a touch in the time I’ve been doing this. With no tone of prejudice I can explain that during certain holiday events here, my client base is very Latin. In the past, winter was when we got “true” fishermen, guys with experience. Not so much anymore; true blue Patagucci wearing Americans got a little soft with the economy or something. Latin it is, the Euro aint bad either.. Incredibly nice people for what I understand, I hope they say the same for me.
A big key to winter fishing or winter guiding for that matter is to take things slow, think things through. So just before Christmas I pick up a very excited “Pablo” and his not so psyched uncle “Juan” from a snow ridden fancy hotel in Vail. They are from Mexico City and Madrid with so much baggage I thought I was dropping them at the airport when we were done. Air temp 5, expectation meter reading around 100 but no pressure, so I just try and go slow. Slow to answer, slow to drive. The pace of summer is all around guides and sometimes its hard to shut off. We are always in a hurry. Hurry to get there, hurry to rig, hurry to fall in line or better yet beat it, hurry to eat, hurry to bed and sometimes in a hurry to level out the expectations. The excitement surrounding a 400 dollar float trip understandably includes some expectations, almost like, the cash that bought this person dressed in drab colors driving the truck and boat guarantees lots of large Trout.
Pablo is a “very experienced” salt water fisherman all of 19. Juan is the 40 something uncle who pays for these “crazy” adventures. Never fished a day with a “fly pole” though, but “they should be fine”. Before they both took a pre float nap in the 4 Runner (which was weird but relaxing) they spoke endlessly of the great success they were looking forward to. I took it slow and said nothing. My spirits jumped when I arrive at the Fork to 35 degree air, 39 degree water and not another fisherman to be seen. What shook me from my optimistic glare made me want to laugh, no cry with laughter…….bright sky blue neoprene waders, a few sizes to small, with a very confident Pablo packed inside. I took it slow and said nothing. About the time I thought I had seen it all, Pablo produces a bottle of Powerbait spray. He turns, holds the bottle at me and says “this stuff only works in the summer right?” I smile and nod. Maybe I should have said something cuz it just didn’t end, before I knew it Pablo came across some more gear he could not live the day without and wanted to know where my dry bag was. I only smile as he buries his Berkley scale deep inside the bag like it would be ruined if it got wet. I took it slow but had to ask, “how high does that scale go?’ I heard 50 lbs and then smiled. We didn’t catch a thing.
The wind really started to howl around 12:30 so I found a bridge and some bushes to take shelter for lunch. I never understood a word spoken at lunch but I come from a time when you didn’t need a language class to escape high school. After 17 mins or so they were nice enough to ask if I understood Spanish and then promptly went back to speaking it. Sure it would be easy to feel sensitive or left out at this point but I just enjoyed giggling once in awhile to make them wonder. Tone is universal. I didn’t need to understand the language to know uncle Juan was over it. It was 2 or so when the weather went bad enough for the snow to hurt. It was 3 ish when after a spirited discussion I didn’t understand ended with “how far to the truck Bob?” In English, in the winter, that means, Time to hurry.

A helpful winter tip for booking a trip: If you call the shop during an arctic cold blast to schedule some fishing with your 6 year old daughter, don’t explain you are from Minnesota if you’ve lived in Arizona the last 9 years. Lasting 1/4 the time of your trip should convince you that you are no longer a northerner. Your little girl was a trooper though.

Definition of the month: Chewer: A trout that puts a fly in it's mouth long enough for Helen Keller to set the hook; a fish trying to give you a chance