Words and Photos by Dave Fason
In the Southeast, the month of January is always a toss up. Everyone is ready to get outside after the holidays but if we’re lucky, the winter hasn’t truly shown its face. Even though we typically plan hunting and fishing in advance, the one glaring curveball is always Mother Nature. Waterfowling or catching a monster winter brown seems to drive enthusiasts out into what many would call “unbearable conditions.” so we chose to toss on extra layers, crack hand warmers and wear three pairs of socks under our waders to make the elements a little more bearable. For those of us hooked on the feeling of a great catch and hunt, a little cold weather never stops us.
We planned a two-day cast & blast in Virginia which included hunting grouse in the Blue Ridge mountains and then a float trip for trout. Two days before the trip, a cold front came through the east coast dumping a foot of snow in many areas. Running dogs in ice was out of the question and hiking up a snow covered mountain for grouse wasn’t likely either. Since duck and goose season was still on we decide on plan b: we’d float down the river fishing for browns or rainbows while keeping a shotgun handy for duck or geese. An even truer cast & blast.
Since duck and goose season was still on we decide on plan b: we’d float down the river fishing for browns or rainbows while keeping a shotgun handy for duck or geese. An even truer cast & blast.
Rafts were prepped, rods and a shotgun were packed, and we were on our way. Like many cold mornings, the day started slower than expected. A few missed hook sets and then a flared group of mallards. Everyone was feeling a bit off and half frozen so we decided to anchor the rafts for a hot lunch and a few (very cold) beers. With our bellies filled, our bodies a bit warmer and our spirits higher we jumped back on the boat to continue down river.
Shortly after lunch, we landed a couple of trout, missed a few more, and finally started seeing birds. A group teased us being slightly out of reach but they were followed by a pair. Two shots and suddenly we had our first duck of the day. Finally, it was all coming together. We closed the day with a couple more trout and a single goose, then made it back to base with the sun setting behind us. We pulled the rafts back on the trailers, cracked open a few more (still cold) beers and joked about the missed shots and frozen hook sets.
You never know what Mother Nature will throw at you but there’s no reason to let that hold you back. Make it an adventure and try to work with what you’re given. All you need are some good friends you can laugh with when times get hard, warm clothes and an opportunity for some great memories to make any day in January a good one.