I am a big trout fly fishing junkie. Unfortunately, my place of residence in Baltimore typically doesn’t allow me to get my fix for this endless chase without extensive travel. 2010 has been an especially favorable year for me in my ongoing lifetime pursuit of trophy trout that included a trip to Taupo, NZ in the early spring to visit my brother (currently living the fly fisherman’s dream) and was blessed with some off the most scenic country and marvelous people I have ever met. That trip granted me good graces from the trout gods and I was able to bring 3 double digit browns to the net that included raising some DD’s to dry attractors and cicada patterns. This past fall trib fly fishing on Lake O tribs was my best season in years where I was again looked favorably upon and fortunate enough to bring more than a handful of browns to the hand that exceeded the 10lb magical number. So, this brings me to my recent story in December as I sat in the office and watch the harsh winter weather slowly settling across the great lakes region and I begin to realize that any future opportunities this year at my favorite small Lake O trib chasing big browns is fast departing. So, after studying the 10 day forecast and seeing a serve cold front in the near future with highs not reaching 30 I erratically pulled the plug to use a free round trip flight on a December Friday morning for one last weekend chase. I would make the push solo. I knew the weather would be cold with highs not reaching the freezing mark and recent precip had brought all tribs high/dirty but was hoping I could catch the backside drop and score a few hook-ups. Arrive at my hotel at midnight and awake at 5:30 to prepare and strategize for the day and conclude to start the day at the smallest trib I knew that typically holds lake run steelies/browns and work my way up in size throughout the day. I didn’t learn until my arrival that just days prior stretches of the major instate 90 had been closed with abandoned cars left because of an unexpected big snow storm, so was unprepared for the foot or so of snow around but it didn’t bother me…at first. Long story short, I would proceed to visit/fish a handful of tribs that day with all but the smallest trib which had already gone low to being still high & dirty and my confidence began to slowly dwindle throughout the day. I would find myself more and more later in the day cursing myself, talking out loud to myself and just generally being very hard on myself for putting my body through the all day battle in the freezing weather. My hands had never been more numb during a day trip and I thought to myself, “who the hell wastes a roundtrip free flight to come up to NY in severe weather to fish alone and freeze?” I even went as far as to contemplate just becoming a future “fair weather” fly fisherman and packing it up once the real cold fronts started coming in. And, thought about booking a return flight that night and calling the trip early. I was surely whinning. After an all day fish I had nearly been skunked had it not been for a merciful small steely, who ate my brown trout killing big streamer very early in the day. Needless to say, I was broken. The severe cold and near fishless day had all but shattered any confidence of having a decent next day before my departure, especially knowing that most tribs would not be in much better shape the following day. So, I slept in till 8am the next day to find a few inches of snow on my car and snow still dropping. I moved slower that morning, preparing. While driving that morning, I decided to fish my favorite trib which was clearing/dropping but still only with about 2-3 feet of visibility. I planned to fish any slower holding water pockets directly above the fast, long riffles. Little did I know I would only fish 3 spots all day. In somewhat of a pouting mood I started striping/swinging my favorite double streamer rigs through the head of the run. Nothing happened, as I had come to expect already that morning. Got to the tale and felt a thump and without thought assumed it was bottom/grass and wiped the rod around to pick-up the line and it shoots up stream. I see a nice brown trout run by me and seconds later it’s gone. I again start talking to myself but the mood has changed! I would afterwards get a dozen whacks/hook-ups there but only 1 smaller fished landed in that stretch. Needless to say, compared to the previous day, I was very thrilled. So, I drop to the next spot in my plan and immediately I was into a big brown trout. But he doesn’t fight in typical fashion and shoots down stream. I can’t turn him in the higher water, so I start to walk the dog … 200, 300 yards downstream in the snow storm and I take my pack off because I know I need to chase the fish down through some fast water. And, sure enough, Down I go in the ice cold water but I hang on and get up quickly only to take a few more steps without any idea of the bottom structure because of the clarity and DOWN I go again. This time time I loose my rod. I scramble for the rod and fortunately find it still tight. I end up landing a big 11lb hook jaw male brown in the next slow water section. At that point I am yelling, screaming and again talking to myself but this time in feverous joy and point, thanking the fish gods for the blessing! For the rest of the day the confidence was back and surprisingly I do not remember ever feeling cold again, even after being wet. I walked back up to that very same spot and three casts later hooked and landed another long female DD brown trout. I felt alive in the cold, snow storm in solitude like I hadn’t felt in some time. For the rest of that day I would land another dozen or so nice trout with as many misses, at that spot and one additional hole while striping/swinging my favorite biggest, gnarliest streamers. An Unforgettable day, after being broken mentally the day before by the severe weather … but it’s the game that we love & live for and keeps us coming back.