Certainly, we've all heard the phrase "life is about the journey, not the destination" or some version of it. Whether you consider that phrase accurate or not, it is undoubtedly true that fly fishing is too about the journey and not the destination. At least in my opinion.
Though it can be testing for one to focus on the journey at a time such as now—the dead of winter—when you'd rather be roaming the globe as a saltwater nomad. Instead fomo trickles in and perhaps even a little envy but yet we continue to scroll, double-tap, scroll, double-tap until reality hits us—the coffee kettle screams from the kitchen and damnit you're already running late for work. Witnessing others experience these exotic fishing locations is now engrained into our daily routine thanks to the internet, and it can make you question yourself—thinking things like; "where did I go wrong? Why is everyone doing something cooler than me?" and so on.
If you're here reading this, then you probably already know that these dreamy destinations aren't easily attainable. For one, they entail months of planning, researching and can require years of saving or that lucky break. Still, it's all too easy to get caught thinking that gal in Belize who landed the grand slam in one day or that guy posted up in Mexico chasing the elusive permit has something on you this winter.
But cold weather winter anglers are seasoned at the art of optimism. Dedicated guide, ultimate trout bum or a bold weekend warrior we all share mutual ground—we have to be savvy, resourceful and just a little bit scrappy. We're either putting in work at the tying desk or headed down a frosty road, clinging to the hope of only one grab. If the latter ensues, chances are the rig is full to the gills with days' worth of brews, grub, and sleeping bags. The weather forecast isn't exactly reassuring, but the chance is enough to convince us it'll be worth it.
Inherently, everything slows down in winter. Our familiar rivers have entirely new aesthetics. The grass has turned from vibrant green to a dull brown and patches of snow cover the river banks, water that usually rushes past us seems to grip us, the airs usual warming presence has turned sharp. An hour or more might pass without a single take, but we're not focused on matching the hatch or racing toward the next bend. We're focused on what's right in front of us. A flawless dead drift, slowed-down casts, quiet mends.
When morning comes, we indulge in a cup of coffee and then a second — sipping slowly from the comfort of a zero degree sleeping bag, savoring each sip. Only when the frost begins to melt away from the windshield slowly, do we don our waders, fire up the trout-o-wagon and hit the dusty…err…snow-packed trail yet again. Sometimes that hope we cling to repays us in the form of a tug, and sometimes it kicks us in the rear. But it always proves worthwhile—with or without catching trout—we find ourselves exactly where we need to be.