It is one of those sly ironies of the English language, not lost on those who fly fish, that the measurement for wind speed is a term labeled “knots”.
Technically, one knot is equal to 1.15 miles per hour, 6076 feet per hour or 1.687 feet per second. Not so technically, a knot is what forms in a flyfisherman’s… uh… undergarments when wind speed exceeds one’s ability to roll cast, double haul or side cast into it.
Sadly, knots are also what accumulate in my leader and gut in a quantity proportional to the wind speed.
Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that the hard-blowing Santa Ana wind that confronted my fishin’ buddy, Sean and me was a source of many knots this past Sunday as we tried to sneak in some quality fly fishing.
Not to say that we didn’t suspect that it was going to be hard going from the get go. The fact that every tree on the way to our first target lake was in motion was a pretty good tip off.
Now, in the days before wristwatch-sized anemometers and instant access to the Weather Channel via cell phone, folks relied on simple things like…trees uprooting in front of you or waves taller than the masts on your ship as tip offs to weather conditions. In fact, the whole idea behind the Beaufort Wind Speed Scale was one 19th century British Admiral’s attempt to standardize wind speed terminology using relatively consistent observable conditions rather than actual knots as the basis for an informative 0 – 12 scale, with zero being dead calm and force twelve being something like, “Duck! Mrs. O’Leary’s pig has learned to fly!”
That being the case then, Sunday afternoon found Sean and I trying to cast little black and olive feathers and chenille attached to tiny pieces of sharpened wire into a wind somewhere in the Force six possibly Force seven range on the Beaufort scale.
Add to that the fact that the Eucalyptus trees near where we were are “self-pruning” (which means large limbs randomly break off without warning in even milder breezes) and the 100-foot tall palm trees were losing their years-overdue-for-pruning dried fronds in this particular wind and you might get the idea that we were in what you might call a real flyfishing “adventure”– ah, good times.
Nevertheless, we gallantly attempted to salvage the afternoon and pitched weighted wooly buggers and Sean’s own shrimp pattern until our arms ached.
Finally, when it became oh-so-obvious that nothin’ was bitin’ and when most of the moisture had been evaporated from our bodies, we decided to call it quits.
Now, it may have just been the adrenaline dump still coursing though my veins from having a hypodermic-sharp size 8 hook repeatedly whizzing atypically close to my right ear or it could have been the sense of gratitude derived from not being crushed to death by a falling tree branch but I was pretty happy with the day – we got a ton of casting practice in under less than favorable conditions and we learned a little bit more about the wind patterns on the two lakes we tried to fish. Both things we will use to our advantage as the season progresses.
I love this addiction called urban flyfishin’.
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