Forty Below Zero

Forty Below Zero

Matt Klara | Sunday, 18 December 2016

The temperature at West Yellowstone, MT bottomed out yesterday morning at 40 degrees below zero. I don’t need to tell you whether that is in Fahrenheit or Celsius because, in fact, minus 40 is the only temperature that is THE SAME in both systems. Do that math. Or look it up. Finally, we Americans can agree with the rest of the world about something!

It is about 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer here where I live.  29 below zero Fahrenheit.  But that is still too cold to do much outdoors other than run out to check the mailbox.  It’s dangerously cold in fact, but it is also stunningly beautiful.  It never gets this cold when it is cloudy.  All of the moisture in the air freezes in tiny ice crystals which twinkle in the brilliant sunshine - a phenomenon commonly referred to around here as "Fairy Dust". It is quite pleasant to watch it twinkling through the window from the comfort of your favorite chair. Outdoors, the cold will literally take your breath away. Fortunately, it is not always this cold here in the winter.

Most of the time, weather and temperatures are just about perfect for outdoor activities like skiing and snowshoeing – especially right after a fresh snowfall.  A lot of folks here enjoy riding snowmobiles, or ice fishing.  Snowmobiles can be fun for sure, especially if used to access secret ski spots!  I’ve tried ice fishing a few times.  Enough to know two things. 1) Freezing my butt off while staring down through a hole in the roof of a frozen lake is not my favorite thing to do, and 2) my chironomids and balanced leeches will catch trout year round!  So, I stick to skiing, or if I want to really get out on the frozen lake, I strap on my hockey skates.

On really warm days and especially during a series of warm days (when the lows are in the 20s and the daily highs are at or above 32 Fahrenheit, with little to no wind), winter fishing becomes a legitimate option for me again.  Usually this is done on one of the tailwater reaches of river that remains ice-free, and is focused during the warmest part of the day.  Nymphing is the most effective with the fish.  Swinging flies down deep in the soft currents can produce the type of strikes that either jolt you out of your cold induced stupor, or make you question whether that was a fish you felt or just your frozen fingers playing a trick on you.  When everything comes together just right, the midges will hatch and a few trout and whitefish will begin to feed on top, reminding you that summer will be back soon.

But today, dry fly fishing is just a daydream, and it’s too cold for that other stuff too. So, my list of weekend activities some of the other fine things in life like tying flies, reading a good book, watching some football, baking cookies, and writing Sexyloops FPs!

Until next time, stay warm, and have a Happy Holidays.  I’ll see you again in 2017.

Take Care and Fish On!