Yep, That's how my hand felt after about 30 minutes of fishing Chickahominy Saturday evening. The stiff 30-some degree breeze blowing over wet hands made it painful. Sure, I've been there before. Many times. We all have! Sometimes I'm smart enough to bring gloves. Sometimes, I even tear open a package or two of the disposable hand warmers and have them activating as I pull on waders and rig up the fly rod. Sometimes...I don't.
I need to figure out why my gloves are not in my wader bag.
And I need to put some hand warmers in my wader bag. And sling pack. And vest. And anything else I may be bringing along, just in case.
So, after 20 or so minutes of fishing (more on the fishing report momentarily), I ventured back to the rig, sorted through the early season and unprepared gear, and found some toe warmers (more on the toes coming up, too). I figured if they can keep toes warm, they'll take the edge off the inferno in my fingertips. No go. Not an ounce of heat coming from them. Of course, they've probably been in my wader bag for several presidential administrations. Mental note made...
The hands got their initial dousing upon releasing a fat...no, FAT....15" 'bow on about my sixth cast. At the same time, I glanced over to see my son-in-law hooked up as well. The water is still cold, of course, so there were more head shakes and throbbing surges than line-peeling runs. These fish are in excellent shape! A couple more casts found the line tight again. The takes, I had a half dozen or more in that pre-sunset hour, as did he, were all subtle. The line came tight, and a raise of the rod tip indicated it wasn't the weeds we were fishing in. Ok, maybe once or twice, but most were "fish on" indications. My SIL did say one of his strikes was solid, but the rest were simply a slight sensation in the line as it was retrieved. More than one fish was lost in the weed growth we were wading around, so not sure if we hooked up with anything in the 18-20" range which we know are prevalent in pretty good numbers. Another trip, adequately supplied with survival gear, will hopefully answer that.
Now, regarding my toes. Wading thigh deep into water which was covered in ice a week ago often makes one aware of the appendages below the knee. For this trip, I was wearing a pair of WetSox which had been sent for me to try from the company, and I'm pleased to say I didn't even think about my feet. They were warm! WetSox are lightweight, lined neoprene socks which I must say, so far, I'm pretty darn impressed with. The outer lining makes them a breeze to slip into and out of the foot of the waders. This was my first time fishing with them. I had tried them on one cold coyote hunting trip, found them warm for that excursion, as well, but a bit damp inside after a long morning of hiking. But still pleasantly warm. I may have to consider handling these in the shop. WetSox is now making a set of waterproof wool socks, which has me a bit intrigued, as well.
As for other "Chick info", the water is very clear (maybe 3' visibility) and water level is good. Just wishing it was "great", but will suffice to get us through the year, at least, pending no run-off or spring rains. And the flies getting bit? If you have to ask, you haven't been reading this blog.
...a reason to start getting excited.
Last evening I was shown a picture of Chickahominy. I had heard Friday that there was a crack in the ice, which means it wouldn't be long until there is open water to fish, especially coupled with the "warm" temps we are anticipating. I was planning on checking the pond this next Friday to check on the progress of the ice regression. Imagine my surprise when I look at a pic on a friend's phone which shows OPEN WATER. And I'm not talking a sliver, but what appears to be the entire south side of the reservoir being open.
Break out the Woolly Buggers, friends!!
OK, maybe some emergers and nymphs, too...
Keep an eye out here for a fishing report, as I hope to shake off the cobwebs and coyote hair from my casting arm later this week. I guess there is room in my rig for both my predator hunting gear and fishing equipment, too.