About the Author:
John Merwin lives in Vermont, where, when he's not tying flies, building lures, or digging up worms with his backhoe, he writes the monthly Fishing Column for Field & Stream magazine.

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October 29, 2008

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Merwin: Terminal Dust

This was the scene outside my house this morning: 3 inches  of new snow, 30 degrees, and a west wind gusting to 30. Not exactly  the kind of warm, soft morning when I most like to go fishing. So  maybe I'll hang it up for the winter, at least locally.          

While doing some late-fall fishing in Alaska years back, I  first heard such early snowfalls called "terminal dust." For the  locals up there it meant the end of a season. Salmon runs were over.  Time to fire up the snowmobiles.          
This good be a good thing. If I lived in the Deep South  where I could fish all year 'round, I'd probably fish myself to death  or bankruptcy.          

There's still deer hunting to be done. The new snow will  make them easier to see in the woods. And I can chase ruffed grouse  around here until the end of December. But hanging up the rods is  still painful. At what point do you quit, if you quit at all?


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You never quit...if you want it bad enough there is always something to catch. Every season I say I'm hanging up the gear and chilling out for a couple months, someone inevitably calls and says there is a late run of this or they're catching that or they heard the pickerel are feeding hard along the edges of the ice etc, etc. Just when I decide to hang up the rods for good, it's March and it all starts up again. It's easier not to try to quit


I usually quit flyfishing when the woodcock move south, and archery deer and fall turkey seasons start. Too much overlap and too many choices to make. Right now I am trying to fill my turkey tag. Using my bow, just in case a nice buck wanders by. But later, there's winter steelhead, overlapping with snow shoe squirrel hunting (I am wearing the snow shoes - snow can get quite deep in the Michigan woods). Then the spring trout opener. By the way, a few weeks ago we had fresh venison tenderloin, grouse, and woodcock for dinner. Doesn't get much better than that. Okay, maybe if we have some fresh trout, too.

Blue Ox

Two words: Ice fishing.

I never quit.


Usually I hang it up about this time of year, although to Blue Ox's point, I'm going to try ice fishing this year. Never tried it before, and looking forward to it. In winters I usually take the time down to bend some inline spinners. Making your own tackle can scratch that itch (for a while anyway...)


Fish are harder to catch once the weather turns real cold but, it can still be fun if you try. I am also looking forward to ice fishing season in another (6) weeks or so.


Nice little tail water 45 min away. Trout season year round. That and Steel Head 6 hrs north all winter long.

John Merwin

Well, you're right, of course, it never really ends...and "somebody inevitably calls..."
So I got the call last night and I'm heading off steelheading on Monday...details to follow, assuming there are some worthwhile details to relate...


That a way John!! Go beat'em up! Bring gloves.


Well, I fish whenever it isn't frozen over and some when it does.