There are advantages to freezing temps. The biggest one is clear water. All the precipitation we have received has been locked up in the growing drifts, so our rivers have stayed clear. Cold but clear. The sun came out after an overnight ice storm and the air warmed to 42 degrees, the warmest it has been in two weeks. I took advantage of the heat to get into the water. Problem was the warm air melted part of what accumulated over the last two weeks, and our creeks rose and got muddy. I found a stream that was clearer than most and got in.
The flow was strong, and the water lapped at the bottom of the ice cover. I had to work hard to not get swept downstream. I only stayed in the upstream part of this 30 foot long open water section to give myself more chances to stop my downstream flush if my grip came off the bottom. After that there was no open water. Just a thick ice sheet. I was very careful that I had solid foot and hand holds as I moved through the creek. Water fell through a chute and cut across the width of the stream. It hollowed out under the ice shelf where it eddied and detritus gathered in a swirl. A dragonfly nymph spun in mid water column and looked very much like a piece of anoxia darkened bark.
A black nosed dace half-heartedly beat its tail in the current, then decided the current was too much and swam off to the side under the ice where there was less flow. I crawled upstream to see if I could find any other fish. The water flow noticeably increased and I had to work harder to keep from getting swept downstream. I decided to follow the lead of the dace and swim to the side, and get out. This isn’t the final melt, but it is the beginning of the end of winter, the beginning of the play between frozen and thawed, muddy and clear, and I look forward to experiencing it all.