Frozen River

What Are Cold Days For?

The start to the year was brutally cold. I am guessing you don’t want me to remind you, as you are already enjoying the warmth that has now followed. But those were a tough few weeks to start the year.

Now I am no negative-degree hero who went out fishing, but on days with a glimmer of hope of being warm enough, I tried to get outside. Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. Partly for my own sanity of actually touching the water. Partly for being with friends, doing something we love.

It is easy this time of year, the proverbial “Off Season,” to hang it up until it gets warmer. And this strategy does have some merit. But this summer when the fish are hammering the top water, I may look back at today and actually appreciate what the summer moment is giving me. Excitement. Fun. Memories.

I find that this is a missed step, not only in fishing, but in life. We all go through life trying to smooth it out as best we can.

We try to dodge Leg Day at the gym and chores by watching Netflix or doing something else on our busy list. We try to avoid social engagements because we don’t feel like it. We all try to move to sunny San Diego where it is 72 degrees year round.

More smooth, less downside.

It is natural to want to avoid the downside. Downside hurts. It isn’t fun. But downside makes us appreciate the upside. Without downside, pain, struggle or challenge, we can never grow, learn, or appreciate.

When it comes to fishing, we spend a lot of time trying to avoid the bad days on the water. No one likes getting skunked. Or imagine this: you are walking, wading or sitting under the hot sun all day, and the only thing you catch is a “stick-fish!” This is enough to make many fishermen never step foot in the water again.

But no one who ever just sat on the couch watching Netflix got better at fishing. They didn’t learn to appreciate more, or learn anything of value. They didn’t push themselves to try new fly patterns, or a different fishing technique.

When it comes to cold weather fishing, we still get reps in. And with reps, comes growth. We work on our cast a little bit. We learn to nymph fish with size 22 hook, maybe without even having an indicator.

We also learn to know what cold feels like, and how much more we like it when it is hot. And when it is really hot, we learn that 75 degrees with a slight breeze is perfect. But without addressing the extremes, we can’t appreciate the optimal.

Even if you strung together endless amounts of optimal days, with no real attributable difference, you may say that you have won the game. But I can assure you, that you have not. It gets boring, and you take it for granted. You get lulled into this being the way it will always be, until Wam! a day you can’t handle comes along.

We do the cold days, the hard things, and the chores, so that we can appreciate the days when everything goes right.

Don’t skip the hard things. Embrace them.

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