Will winter ever end? Even the creatures that love cold are fed up. Said Monroe Mizel, whimsical trout fisherman, "The water is so cold in the freestone streams that the trout's metabolism has slowed and they are not feeding with any avidity."
Avidity. Honest, he said that.
Mizel was one of a half-dozen anglers contacted for advice as snow drifted and swirled at week's end. We all wanted to be on the streams, but only Mizel actually intended to go.
"Where would I go if the weather broke? I'd hit one of the limestone streams in Pennsylvania with a heavier rod than I usually use so I could fish weighted, sculpin-type streamers if the fish weren't feeding on nymphs or cress bugs."
That is the way Mizel talks.
"In fact,"he went on, "that's what I'm going to do tomorrow, anyway, come hell or high water."
Other Washington-area anglers were less dynamic, but each had a plan for when the sun finally shines.
Panfish freak Bob Bohrer, who keeps records on his perch and crapple successes, will head straight for Allens Fresh at the head of the Wicomico and drift dolls flies to attract yellow perch.
When? "You want a technical answer?" he asked feverishely. "As soon as the water hits 38 degrees. They spawn at 38 degrees, and that should be just a few days after the ice breaks, because the water where we fish is pretty shallow - less than 10 feet."
Soft spoken Jim Donald had the most auspicious hopes. He'll head for Burke Lake in Fairfax County the first decent day and troll for the king of the fighting fish, muskellunge.
"As soon as the ice is off the lake and you can get a boat out, I'll be there," he said.
"One theory I subscribe to is that the supply of baitfish muskie feed on aren't abundant early in the year. And I think that just after the thaw they're easier to fool. They haven't seen a lure all winter long."
Donald will troll deep-running lures off points and over deep dropoffs and brush piles.
Saltwater folks will have to wait awhile unless they are like the wealthy Bill Perkins, who maintains a cottage in Hatteras, N.C.
"I got word last night that the big bluefish are off the South Carolina coast.They should be off Hatteras by March 20. The big ones come first - six to 20 pounds."
Perkins will heave Hopkins lures off the beach, retrieve them fast and wait for a strike.
Bass fan Buddy Norman will head tl Lake Anna near Frederickburg the first warm day. "I'd go to Lake Gaston (on the North Carolina border) for big fish," he said, "but my first stop will be Lake Anna for a shakedown.
"I'll be fishing crank baits about eight to 12 feet down off the points and deep dropoffs. In March and April the fish seem to respond better to crank baits than to plastic worms. You can fish worms, but you have to work them very slowly."
Norman acknowledged that Anna isn't known for lunder bass. Once he's sure the boat's running right he'll head south. "A lot of eight- and 10- pounders come out of Gaston in March and April." he said.
Dick Houghland, who runs a charter boat out of Chesapeake Beach in the summer, hails from Pennsylvania and would love to go after freshwater fish in the spring. But his boat needs work and that's where he'll be.
What if he could do whatever he wanted?
"Pickerel. My favorite spot is the Severn River, because I'm familiar with it, but I wouldn't say it's any better than any of the other Bay tributaries.