The holiday season gives most us rest and peace with the follow up of a prosperous and Happy New Year but there are also a few negatives about this time. Unfortunately it can a very difficult time for some. There are many tables with an empty seat that wasn’t empty last year. There are many Christmas trees with an empty spot underneath that held a present a year ago. Today I think about one of my neighbors who lost his sweet wife a few months ago. My heart also goes out to a dear friend who has a young beautiful teen age daughter who is at the end of her fight with a dreaded illness.
I know what it’s like. I’ve been there. At Christmas of 1966 I was far away from my family. My father, who was 43 years old, was deathly ill. He was taken to a hospital in Salt Lake City leaving my mother and my 5 younger siblings at home with the almost certain prospect that he would never return home again. My youngest sister was 10 at the time. It was only a miracle that he was able to get an extension on his life for another few months. We were all together again the next Christmas after I came back home. He died the following February. Christmas of 1968 was a very sad and empty time.
It is my hope that we can do whatever we can do to help make the holiday season a little better for those in need, that we can reach out to those we love and care about, especially those who are lonely and down. For those of us who fish, and it isn’t likely anybody will be reading this who doesn’t, there will be some empty parking spots in the upper ranch parking lot and some empty spots on the river this summer. I don’t want to mention names here because I’m afraid I’ll miss somebody but we lost some fine anglers and friends of the river during the past year. We want all of their families and friends to know that we care and we think about them, especially now.
I don’t mean to be preachy. Another reason I’m not real crazy about this time of year is because as I’ve gotten old (not older but old) I don’t really like the cold, ice and snow. Not long ago it didn’t take much to get me out of the house and on the water no matter how cold it was. Now if it is cold enough for the ice in the guides to freeze, I’m out. That means if I stay here it will likely be another two months or more before I’ll be fishing again. Fortunately we’ve been able to break up the winter by going to places where it’s warm. I’m thankful that we can travel to places like New Zealand along with a variety of salt water destinations.
If you can handle some cold icy weather there are a number of great fishing options very close to home. The Henry’s Fork can produce some great fly fishing both above the Island Park Reservoir and below. The tailwater stretch below the Ashton Dam rarely gets cold enough to start icing up. A number of years ago my brother Rick and I made a decoy set off the tip of one of the islands below the dam. The air temperature was in the single digits. There were no ducks flying as we sat in our blind watching trout eagerly feed on midges. It didn’t take us long to gather everything up, head back to St Anthony and trade our shotguns for our fly rods. We caught a number of nice fish even though we had to drench our rods under the water after every cast to keep the guides from freezing.
The Madison River at Reynolds Pass is another great option for winter fishing. One of our customers who has a cabin in Island Park never misses an opportunity to fish there whenever he drives up from Utah no matter the weather. He always catches some nice fish. Two years ago Todd Lanning talked me into joining him for an afternoon of fishing. We headed to the Madison where we had the entire river to ourselves. We were loaded to fish nymphs but to our surprise there were lots of trout rising in the margins to midges. We actually caught most of our fish while sitting on the bank.
Above all, we want to wish all of our many friends, associates, employees, guides and customers a festive and happy holiday season. It’s been a wonderful year and we look to an even better year to come.