Chris Hunt's blog

Despite winter, we fish

Undeterred by the frozen toes, numb feet and the stinging wind, we make our way to the water
Photo: NPS

Cold fingers sting back to life, pressed firmly against the vent as warm air, fresh from the engine block, puffs on pink digits. The heat reawakens icy toes, and what was numb is now just painful.

I gobble a sandwich. Cameron is lost in his phone. We don't speak. Not because there’s nothing to say. Our faces are frozen.

It's the wind, really. It's not terribly frigid out there, on the other side of the glass. But with a steady gale blowing up from the south and armed with a cleaver's edge, it feels cold. Bone cold.

Paying it forward for summer

Winter's short, dark days and icy weather are an investment in new seasons to come
Photo: Whitney Kamman

This first week of winter offers hope here on the slopes of the Caribous. The shortest day of the year is behind us and between now and late June, we’re graced with a little more light each day.

We’re not necessarily graced with more sun. Winter is cold and gray … almost sepia. The sun doesn’t really shame the remnants of the Northwest cloud cover until April, sometimes May. The calendar may claim differently, but winter is our longest season.

The old lady

Other fishing buddies have come and gone, but Phoebe has always been there
Surveying the kingdom (photo: Chris Hunt).

There’s a lot of white on that black muzzle these days. Flecks of canine wisdom. I never thought Phoebe would get old, but then, I had a hard time imagining me getting old right along with her.

Several months back, she stopped trying to jump into the truck. It was just too much. Now, she just lifts her front paws onto the seat, turns around and looks at me expectantly and seems to ask, “Hey, bud. You mind getting the caboose?”

The autumn swindle

There’s no such thing as dependability when it comes to seasons
Photo: Chad Shmukler

It got so cold so early this year that our aspens and cottonwoods didn’t really turn. Their leaves simply froze in place when the mercury dipped below zero in early October, and they’ve spent the last six weeks or so drying into sickly, gray, paper-thin ghosts and falling without ceremony to the ground.

Season theft. We were robbed of one of the best parts of fall.

It's tomorrow

It’s today. But yesterday, today was tomorrow.
Photo: Chris Hunt

Son of a …

My eyes flip open. I reach for my phone and blindly swipe the screen to turn the damned alarm off. Everything is blurry. The alarm keeps blaring. I close my eyes tightly and reopen them.

The phone is upside down.

I flip it and slide the alarm bar to, “OK, already! I’m awake! Sweet mother of Christ!”

Yes. I know. Blasphemy is no way to start the day. But, seriously. It’s 6 a.m. already? Where did the night go?

Maybe I'll fish tomorrow

Mother Nature clearly has it out for me
Photo: Chad Shmukler

What the …

Is that … ?

Oh. The alarm.

I reach blindly for the phone on the nightstand. I don’t usually set an alarm, but today is different. As consciousness slowly overcomes dreamland, I have a vague memory as to why.

The Firehole. Fishing. One the last shots at it for the year.

Giving away fly rods

Parting with rods can be like parting with memories
Photo: Toby Rose Photography

My cup runneth over.

Or, rather, my fly-rod collection is embarrassingly big. I’m not braggadocious. There’s actually a bit of guilt associated with this claim. No one angler ought to have to spend 20 minutes debating which rod or rods to pack for a single outing to the river.

Dear Chad

You should have been here last week
Photo: Idaho Fish and Game / cc2.0

Oh, man. You should have been here this last week. By the time you’re reading this, it’ll be over.

That first blast of real winter is on its way in a day or two. Not the snow. The snow isn’t what kills it. It’s that blast of Arctic air that crystallizes what little water is in the air around here and just puts everything in a funk.

The day after the deep freeze is the worst. Skim ice on the river. Layers of fleece under waders. Raw hands. Frozen beards. And fish that just don’t give a damn.

But did I tell you how good this last week was? Like, how it was the best week of the year? Yeah, we got some rain and even some snow, but it didn’t get too cold. Yeah, it cooled off quite a bit. The baetis started hatching in earnest. The cottonwoods are finally changing to match the aspens, and the river, right after lunch, boiled with risers. Big ones, too.

Best. Week. Ever.

We're all landowners

Protect what's yours from those that would seek to take it from you
Photo: Chris Hunt

It’s no spectacular feat of modern engineering, but it represents one of the greatest achievements in the history of conservation. The Roosevelt Arch, constructed to mark the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park just outside of Gardiner, Montana, captures the essence of public lands protection in America, and it’s a threshold every American should have the chance to cross.

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