By Nick Simonson
At this point in the season, it’s almost pointless to check the long-range forecast. It’s been the same thing on repeat for the past month: cold, wind and a shot of snow, followed by bone-chilling cold. While the pattern may be disheartening and – don’t look now – continuing over the next couple of weeks, it has provided and will continue to provide preparatory time for spring and summer plans. What follows are a few of mine, which will hopefully give you an idea for some things to try out when winter finally subsides.
Force Spring’s Hand
With discount tickets bought in the dead of one of the recent cold nights, my wife assured me that there would be warmth in the near future as she planned a trip to visit my in-laws who winter in Laughlin, Nev. On first thought, I wondered what I would do in the sprawling desert of the southwest, besides enjoy the beach with no water nearby, but when I looked into the accommodations, right on the shore of the Colorado River, my browser quickly flickered to the game and fish management agencies for the Silver State and neighboring Arizona. There I found all the stocking and fishing reports I could handle for the striped bass big and small, along with the rainbow trout that are frequently planted in the flow each spring. Since then, my desk’s been a blur of feathers and fur to get caught up on the patterns I’d need, many of which will easily transfer over to fish back home upon my return, whenever the melt turns on.
Plotting & Planning
Thwarted by last year’s late spring, I struggled to make a trip up to the family farm in April or May to stake off two strips for the local Soil & Water Conservation District to plant with food plot seed. No weather will force me to abandon my plans for plots this year, with seed already ordered and ready to haul up to the agency as soon as the soil is warm enough. Investing in the highly-touted Blizzard Buster brand put forth by Pheasants Forever, I envision five-foot tall strips of tightly-packed sorghum providing not only a perfect flushing area worked hard by a dog between two hunters next fall, but also a safe stand of food-providing cover close to deep thermal environs to help the birds in the area rebound from a tough pair of years that have hit their populations hard.
Finally, with the start of summer and the stateside return of my fishing buddy and fly rod mentor, Einar, we’ll take to the old fishing trail we’ve run before from Bismarck, to Valley City, to Detroit Lakes and up to the North Shore, cramming in as many favorite flows and fishes as we can. When he stayed with my family after school let out in 2003, we covered as much water as we could in two weeks for panfish, pike and bass; and when I joined him in Norway in 2004, we drove two-thirds of the country in search of grayling, trout and arctic char. We’ll do our best to get to all the places that paid off in the past, and hopefully explore some new ones. In the meantime, it just means I need to grind out more jigs, flies and lures to get ready for that run.
These are just some of the events I have circled on my calendar for when winter releases us from its icy grasp. From fishing places far and near to setting things up for a fall filled with flushing birds, amongst the dozen other items I need to get ready for including sturgeon and high school trap season, it seems like spring will be here sooner than expected, despite what the long-range forecast and the projected temperatures might be…in our outdoors.
Featured Photo: The author and his friend Einar, here with a pair of Norwegian brown trout, look to continue their fishing adventures throughout the upper Midwest. Simonson Photo.