GET OUT: Fish out of season

By on February 17, 2015
At least some of the author’s friends can catch fish in the winter. Sarah Zermani gets stoked on her winter catch. (Photo credit: Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

At least some of the author’s friends can catch fish in the winter. Sarah Zermani gets stoked on her winter catch. (Photo: Elizabeth Koutrelakos)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – When the weather warms and the days are high pressure, part of me longs for the ocean. Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, I don’t really care, but the idea of sunbathing on a nice beach drinking margaritas makes me warm on the inside.

I know once I get to the beach, I’ll likely be bored within the first hour. I would gaze emptily at the flat lands and wish they resembled some shape or form of the Tetons. From there I would likely regret every penny I spent on an exorbitant plane ticket, wishing I had bought a new splitboard instead. I know this would happen because I’ve been there multiple times. I always think I like the ocean, until I realize I don’t.

The ocean is a fearful place. At least when I am tromping around in Wyoming, I don’t need to be concerned about crabs nibbling at my feet or shark attacks. Yes, I am a complete gaper in water, learning how to actually swim around the age of 25. Hence, I tend to stick to the land, but on one particularly glorious day, I decided to edge closer to the water somewhere in the Cowboy State.

There are multiple accesses to the river this time of year. One may start at the dike by Wilson Bridge, or any other river access. I believe the river bottoms from Moose to Moran are closed this time of year, but it doesn’t hurt to check with a ranger to clarify the closures.

I began my trek in the late morning. It was 52 degrees, and I was set with a fanny pack stocked with Kombucha, my bikini and fishing gear. I’ve always heard people fish in the winter and deemed this to be a slightly boring and trivial existence, but why not? What else did I have to do?

A wave of calm overwhelmed me and I was inherently happy with my choice. Down by the river, a hilarious social scene ensued. Trumpeter swans flew overhead and some elk swam across the river. I thought I saw a fish jump; maybe it was the red-tailed hawk above me pooping. In any case, I had no choice but to attempt to fish.

I once thought I was an awesome fisherwoman. I caught a state record grayling on my first fly on the Talkeetna River, so I began this specific Wyoming venture with confidence. I feebly attempted to tie a fly and after poking my fingers numerous times, my hands were a bit frigid but the fly was finally on. Tiny spots of blood oozed from my fingertips, causing my hands to stick to the metal pole. I quickly slapped some tape around them. I plopped it into the water, swinging it around like Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It. I don’t know if they had a stunt double when he caught the fish, but his technique was definitely not working for me.

In fact, I ended up getting my fly caught in the middle of the river. Luckily, it was shallow, and I waded across, loosening it up from a large chunk of moss and rock. A 52-degree day may be warm in February, but it is not so warm in leaky waders and winter water. After freezing my toes off, I decided it would be best to give up my fishing quest that day.

Instead, I tromped around with my fishing pole for the remainder of the day, and used my T-shirt to create a makeshift umbrella over my head while I laid out in the sun. From the shore, I spotted some people on a boat. They had a bucket filled with something. It was probably fish.

I was likely in the correct spot for fishing on the river that day, but how was I to know? Perhaps it might be a good idea to get a guide or at least someone that knows what they are doing to prevent me from hurting myself and others with long strings and sharp hooks. Either way, attempting to fish in February had given me my fill of water. I retreated happily into the sunset, content to explore the moving element of water, but even more excited to return to dry ground.

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