View Full Version : Winter fishing perils

02-02-2010, 07:34 PM
This is a letter I wrote to TFO about a year ago. I put it on another site at the time but probably few of you read it.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am enclosing $25.00 and my TFO Axiom 9í 4 pc 6 wt fly rod for repair or replacement because of events that occurred in December, 2008 on a Level 6 day of fishing. By way of explanation:

A Level 1 day is a normal summer day of fishing with warm water and warm temperatures. Waders not needed.

A Level 2 day is a cooler than normal summer day with some drizzle. Waders are needed to stay warm.

A Level 3 day is a rainy, windy summer day. Warm clothing and waders are necessary. This would also be a nice, warm winter day.

A Level 4 day can only occur in summer if you fall into the river over your waders on a Level 3 day. A Level 4 day is a typical cooler, rainy or light snow winter day.

The day in question started as a Level 5 day. It was snowing with gusting, biting wind. It had recently snowed heavily and I had to trudge through knee to thigh deep snow about a hundred yards to get to my favorite holes. I did this three times. The third time I went through the woods after parking my car about a mile downstream. When I got to the other side of an island in the river, the wind was blowing the line back into my face. So far, in hours of fishing, I had found no fish. I was cold and tired.

Rather than trudge back through the woods to the car, I decided to go downstream walking along the riverís edge whenever possible to stay out of the thigh deep snow. I was wearing hip waders and they were beginning to feel heavy. After an hour or so, I finally got to the next drift but it was dark and I had no flashlight. The only light was reflected off the deep snow. I decided to fish anyway. I had not had a bump all day. I knew the car was parked above a steep wooded embankment about ľ mile downstream and the water was low enough that I thought I could make it to the spot below the car. This was a mistake.

After fishing without so much as a nibble, I began walking downstream in the dark. Sometimes I would have to climb over tree roots and branches when the water was too deep. When I finally got down below where I thought the car was parked, the snow had changed to freezing rain and sleet. The wind was howling and it was as dark as the inside of a pocket. I started to climb up the somewhat undercut bank, but the level ground was about ten feet above me and there wasnít much to hang onto. This is when conditions hit Level 6.

I was almost to the top of the bank with my rod in one hand and the other hanging onto a small sapling. As I pulled myself up, the sapling snapped and I fell backward sliding in the snow into the water above my waders and snapping my rod. I was exhausted, wet, and cold and now my rod was broken. I started back up and finally was able to pull and claw my way out into the woods but when I reached the top I noticed I was missing the top section of my rod. I looked down the bank into the dark water and could not see it. I elected not to try to find it. I worked my way through the snow drifts up to the road and back to the car. It was still sleeting but I stripped off all my wet clothes anyway and changed into dry ones and drove home. I never caught a fish.

A Level 7 day would have occurred only if I had lost my car keys or the car hadnít started and I had to walk or hitchhike home.

A Level 8 day would have been if my wife had been with me at Level 5 or above. I hope I never have a Level 8 day.

By the way, the TFO Axiom is a wonderful rod that casts great; very smooth and accurate. Unfortunately it didnít survive Level 6 conditions.


Randy Knapp

02-03-2010, 05:45 AM
So what happened next?

02-03-2010, 10:34 AM
They sent me back a new rod without comment for $25. I soon sold the rod because I decided to go back to fishing smaller streams again last year. I moved from Seattle to Virginia. I got into Tenkara fishing. This winter I have decided not to take risks for the odd chance of catching something in extreme conditions. I have been out but only to the easy spots.


02-03-2010, 01:47 PM
hilarious, esp the part about a level 8 day.

02-04-2010, 04:14 AM
Tongue in cheek :) Good stuff.
Level 8 would have been the last straw..... ;)

02-08-2010, 08:38 AM

That's a cracking report of a truly horrendous fishing exploit; although, I must admit I enjoyed reading it - It was so well written! Reminded me of Gierach - Trout Bum! But I'm so pleased you got home safely!

Thanks for sharing your adventure!