So it's been 18 days since I've been on the water and it feels like it's been an eternity. Like having to read four chapters in an evening from that dreadful Structural Geology text I had back in college. Between work, the weather, and a new roughfisher at home, there just hasn't been any time to even think about sneaking away for a few.
Surprisingly enough, I have been handling the stress and rigors just fine. Typically, time spent on the river is a release for all of my worldly concerns. I am probably still riding high on the euphoric of being a new dad. Before long, though, I fear I will feel the urge to return to the stream and unwind. If not for one last dance before winter sets in.
Flows in the region have been sky high, rising above flood stage to near spring flows. It would be obtuse to not correlate the fall flooding to poor agricultural land use practices in the region, but I'll leave that to another rant. Regardless, flows on the Otter Tail are well above the 80th percentile, which makes for difficult fishing conditions this time of year. Not only are fish scattered, due to cooler temps and fall migratory patterns, but higher flows makes for more difficult drifts and access to certain stretches of productive water nearly impassible. Increased turbidity from run-off makes sight fishing impossible; blind nymphing and high sticking are the only effective techniques to use right now. It is a numbers game, and right now, the cards are not in your favor.
I'm sure by the time flows finally subside to normal, that I'll be available to chance an afternoon stream-side. By then, the water should run low and clear. Sight fishing is the only advantage to chasing roughfish during the cold-weather season. Since few fish remain, being able to spot them is the only saving grace. Of course, tricking them to taking your fly is another feat. I'm sure snow flakes will be chasing my ass by then too. Nothing like having to fight jack frost and Cyprinus carpio. Hopefully some of you are out there fighting the good fight and sharing your stories, so that too I can live through them for the time being.