ICY, I SEE

Thanksgiving is looking alot like Christmas

There are several places around the world where it is often claimed that the weather is so variable that one need only wait twenty minutes or so for a change if the current situation isn’t to one’s liking.

SoCal would not be one of those places.

Instead, one of the claims to fame for SoCal is that the weather and geography is such that one can ski in the morning and turn around and surf in the afternoon.

As a native Angeleno I can vouch for the accuracy of the second statement and as a fly fisherman I would further refine that phrase to say that one can stream fish for trout in the morning and surf fish for perch in the afternoon.

It often happens that, depending upon the time of year, one can also be standing in the snow in the morning while roll casting a 3-wt. on said narrow mountain creek and then be wet wading in the surf with an 8-wt. come the afternoon.

It’s an awesome thing, even if it does make packing the car and loading the vest or pack a tad difficult.

Now as most of you probably already know, this past weekend we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday and, as is the common custom here in SoCal, about a hundred thousand of us trekked up into the mountains to “get away from it all”. As much as I hate crowds, I must confess that I, along with my lovely wife and some of our dearest friends (yes that includes my fishin’ buddy Sean and his beloved bride) were among the mobile masses.

Nothing says “over the river and through the woods…” like struggling to maneuver around a thirty-five vehicle long line of SUV’s in the drive-thru for Starbucks and then crawling along in a twenty-five-mile long traffic jam while the vehicle next to you literally shudders from the bass beats of the Black-Eyed Peas.

However, once we eventually inched past the turn-off toward Las Vegas, where most of the vehicles seemed to be heading, traffic opened up and my mood lightened in proportion to the frequency that billboards gave way to oaks and then pines.

We finally arrived at our mountain retreat by late afternoon under clear sunny skies and mild temperatures.

My parents had made the drive up the hill (as we call it– even if it is a 6500 foot high “hill”) earlier in the week and good ‘ol Mom had immersed herself in a cooking frenzy such that we were greeted by the mouth-watering aromas of turkey in the oven and sweet potato pie cooling on the counter.

Needless to say, in addition to our feast, we had much to be thankful for and the rest of the day, including the moonlit walk along the boardwalk over the southeast shore of Big Bear Lake, more than made up for the mildly rocky start.

Before retiring for the night, Sean and I confirmed and reconfirmed with our spouses and the rest of our party that they had absolutely no intention of arising early (as in before 11 a.m.) and thus assured, he and I made plans to hit the upper portion of the Santa Ana River while everyone else recovered from a turkey and stuffing induced coma.

Friday dawned clear and cold. We fortified ourselves with hot coffee (I also managed to break into the fruitcake — yes the fruitcake — without making too much noise) and we headed off.

If this “Black Friday” was chaos at the malls, it was bliss in the local mountains. We saw only two other vehicles during the entire drive to the river and encountered no other anglers the entire morning. Tens of thousands of people in the mountains and we saw no one – such is the paradox of SoCal.

But then again, perhaps the rest of the angling world had heard that conditions were less than suitable and we were the ones on a fool’s errand.

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