The car thermometer read 18 degrees a little before 7 a.m. as I pulled into the parking lot above the Grand River. Nearly five hours later, after a morning of fishing, the thermometer hadn't budged. Still 18 degrees.
That explains why the fish fire was built and so much appreciated by our threesome and a few other anglers as well. It has been a harsh winter in Northeast Ohio and steelheaders are suffering severe cases of cabin fever. So even though the thermometer says "don't fish," we fish. Or at least we try to fish.
Starting the fire took a little more work than normal. Sub-freezing temperature will make wet wood and twigs appear dry. The best fire-starter this morning were thin, dried out roots from the root ball of large trees that had fallen over. The fire allowed us to thaw out our hands, and our flies, in between short stints on the small feeder stream that flows into the Grand, which was swollen at 4,000 cfs. Ice coated our flies, leaders and fly line. But a few fish, including the same one twice, were willing to entertain us -- although most did so unwillingly, snagged.
The flow was good and the color was a little off. If not for the temp, it probably would have been perfect. But rarely do you get everything right, so one has to just take it as it comes. Today it came with an extra dose of ice and wind.
Even after a long, hot shower I still smell like fish fire. It's a good smell.