I snuck out to the Otter Tail before picking up Abby this afternoon. I knew it was a fool's quest, as water temps aren't anywhere near warm enough for suckers to start moving in to the streams to spawn. Still, the comfort of the blue sky was calling me out with a false sense of hope. I pulled off to the side of the highway and stepped out of my truck, quickly shuffling down the steep embankment as I put on my polarized glasses. The water was fairly clear and not one fish silhouette was spotted. I knew very well that the white suckers weren't running until the third week of April last year, yet I went back to my truck, grabbed my 6 weight, and tied on a size 12 buffalo soljah. I managed a few drifts behind the rock weir that we modified in the Hwy 10 culvert last fall. Nothing. I headed downstream to the blown-out weir/riffle that we also repaired. I noticed a few small stone flies crawling along the snow pack near shore. Always a good sign. Due to low flows, I managed to get out towards the middle of the weir and drifted my nymph through the riffle. Nothing. I shot some line across the run and tried to drift along the current seam into the pool. Still nothing. Several more casts into the pool proved to be futile. What did I expect anyway? It was way too early for any fish to be this far upstream.
I glanced at my watch and noticed that I had to leave the pool and go pick up Abby. I strung up my rod and made my way back through the crusty snow along the bank. As I hiked up the hill to my truck, I knew that I was pushing it by going out this early. But I also knew that it felt great to get the long rod out, make a few roll casts and watch my fly drift. The touch of cork in my hand and line in the other, as my rod tip followed through my drift, was such a visceral feeling. It was wonderful to be back.
Now I just need some patience.