I blinked and February was nearly over. Vince was right earlier this month when he told me that the challenge wasn’t catching a fish each and every month this year…the challenge was going to be finding the time to go.
Between kids’ sports and activities and the hurricane force wind and the temps fluctuating between mid 50’s to -30 degrees…February really threw me for a loop. I was legitimately worried that I was going to fail at my own challenge on the second month in!
Then I decided it was the perfect time to get married. Whaaa?! I threw a wedding together in 5 days and married my betrothed. I was tempted to use the opportunity to declare him as my February catch. But decided it would be offensive to confine his greatness to just February…..after all he is the catch of my life.
So I pushed through and tried to find spare moments to get on some water.
What ended up happening however, was finding better luck on the ice. After checking the forecast, I was excited to see that there was a beautiful day in my sights. Little wind and low 50’s. We planned an ice fishing expedition.
Now, I was raised in Wyoming. I know to the depths of my soul that you don’t go anywhere or do anything in the winter without coats, hats, gloves, boots, all the things. But it has been an unseasonably warm winter, the temp was right, and I didn’t want to hike across the frozen lake and be sweating and irritated. So, I dressed in my favorite light hunting pant, an insulated jacket, wool socks and boots, and….that’s it. No gloves, no hat, no buff.
I froze my tail off. The wind picked up and was a steady 25-30 mph with gusts reaching about 45 mph. The temp was nowhere near the 50’s and with the wind chill we were looking at about 15 degrees. We started fishing as the sun’s light started to peek over the hills and inched over the ice. We fished for 5 hours. I can honestly say that nothing pisses me off more than the wind. I know what you’re thinking – buuut, you live in Wyoming. Yes, I am aware. But, man, the unrelenting wind that is blowing so hard that you can feel it permeating the fabric of your insulated jacket, sweatshirt, and skin right down to your bones….that flips my switch.
Needless to say, I probably wasn’t the best company that day. I was cold, windblown, and had to pee but refused to try and accomplish the feat in that kind of wind. It is the kind of wind that doesn’t matter what direction you are facing…when the pee stream hits the air stream it sprays in every direction. Don’t ask me how I know.
But the fish. THE FISH!! They were plump and heavy and happy…beautiful rainbows and cutthroats. I got it done in February, with the help and support of some good friends.
Reflecting back on this month’s experience, I felt a twinge of disappointment in how I approached this challenge. Because I wasn’t able to get it done at the beginning of the month, I let the challenge kind of get to me and I started to feel stressed and burdened. Discomfort.
The whole point of doing this is to make the time to do the thing I used to love so much. Casting, tying knots, marveling at the beauty found in nature, spending time with friends. Practicing, learning, growing. That’s the point. And although I had many enjoyable moments fishing during February – one of which was my bachelorette party – I let it become something that caused stress and anxiety.
But in discomfort, there is growth. Giving yourself grace is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. Recognizing that while I’m not where I wanted to be, I am a lot farther than I ever thought I would be…I needed that acknowledgement from myself.
I have fished more in the last 53 days than I have in the previous 365. And that is heading in the right direction. I am learning and I know more now than when I started. I am gathering all these moments while I’m out on the water.
And they are being compiled in my heart. The laughter from my friend downstream, the way the light dances on the water, the infinite shades of pink and orange as the sun sets, watching a fish break the surface to sip flies, the oakey spicy bite of whiskey straight from the bottle.
These are the stories that shape my experience. This is why I wanted to challenge myself to catch a fish every month. It guarantees that I will have more sunsets, more laughter, more rivers. So I breathe. I extend myself grace and accept that I am where I am. And there’s more. I just have to keep going. I’ve already made it farther than I ever thought I would.
And next time I’ll bring gloves.
If you haven’t yet caught a fish in 2022, you can still join us! Whether you have gotten skunked for two months in a row…or just heard about this challenge, jump on board! Pick up the challenge regardless of the month and finish out the year! And if you’d like to do 12 months in a row, start now and finish up with the January/February podcasts. The more the merrier! #wyonthefly