Cabin fever


Day 5, 0715 hours, 14 degrees
I feel like I'm a prisoner of the weather in my own home. It's been less than a week now that the BassCat hasn't been in the water and I have the worst case of cabin fever ever. Ever.

Oh, I could probably get the 'Cat in the lake, but with the ice as thick as it is around the edge, I'm pretty sure there would be some cracked 'glass on the fenders and some serious scratches on the hull. Not worth it.

According to ye olde weather almanac, the average high on a January day in Central Arkansas is 49 and the average low is 31. Key word in that sentence is "average."

The last day I spent on the water before the weather went to crap, the highest temp I saw on the SmartCraft gauges (which has an air temperature sensor under the console of the BassCat; too handy) was 34. That 34 didn't last long either, as there was only a period of a couple of hours shortly after noon when ice wasn't forming in the guides of the St. Croix's or in the line guide of the Ardents. How do my northern brother's handle the winter?

Living in Arkansas, it's normal to be able to fish, at the very least, one day a week every week of the year, if you're so inclined.

In the central part of the state, we might get 3 or 4 consecutive days of cold, blustery weather where the high temps are in the 30's or low 40's. Occasionally, we'll get a dusting to a few inches of snow or, more likely, an inch or two of sleet or ice.

These winter blasts rarely last more than a week, if that. Mother Nature must have kicked Old Man Winter to the curb and he's moved down South for the winter this year. He needs to go away.

0730 hours, 13 degrees

Sonofa ... The temp outside is dropping. High today is supposed to be a balmy 25 with a northwest wind of 15-20 miles per hour. Brrrr.

The wind whipping across Lake Conway behind the house has started to build up in rings around the stumps. Two days ago the entire bay was covered with a thin sheet of ice. Cypress trees are not supposed to have ice around them' — it's a very unnatural sight.

As a northwesterly wind picked up to 30 miles per hour and ushered in the most recent Arctic front, the ice on the bay disappeared, only to be replaced by the stump ice rings. A pair of mallards and a few buffle heads splash around in the frigid water. They need to fly further south.

0830 hours, 14 degrees

Wow, finally back up to a balmy 14 outside. I just might have to don the ol' Speedo and take a few laps around the bay.

1430 hours, 28 degrees

What feels like Day 63 of my captivity here on the shores of frigid Lake Conway has been less than action packed.

I'm afraid that if I had to deal with weather like this for any length of time, I'd probably pack on another 100 pounds, my eyes would bug out, and I'd have a permanent drool stain out of the left corner of my mouth. No clue how the guys and gals up north live in weather much worse than what we're having here in the Natural State.

So far, I've made 38 laps around the house. Looked out every window numerous times. Walked out to the mailbox three times. Opened and closed the refrigerator, pantry, and cupboard doors so many times that K2 glares at me when I even look at the kitchen.

The Keurig has become my go-to and we're running low on Chai Latte (part of the weight gain problem I can see on the horizon). I've opened the OXO cookie container so many times that it's starting to squeak. Not good.

Sure, I can get bundled up and go outside, I've got all the winter duds in the world to keep me warm and toasty, but what am I going to do out there? There's no ice on the lake. If there was ice, it wouldn't be thick enough to do anything like, oh I don't know, drill a freakin' hole in.

If it was, the fish in the lake are probably so stunned from the cold they can't open their mouths to eat anything. There's no snow to ski or snowmobile or even make snow angels. Guess I could make a frozen mud angel — or would that be a mud devil?

Day 7, 0800 hours, 21 degrees

The northwest wind died on the night of Day 5 and the freeze began on the lake. Now the entire bay behind the house, probably 500 acres, has frozen from shore to shore. As far as I can see up the lake, around 2 miles, there is ice. Not really thick, but it's solid all the way across and all around the cypress trees. Crazy stuff.

Day 9, 1200 hours, 42 degrees

The sun is out, there's no wind, and it's a blistering 42 degrees outside. I actually think about donning a pair of shorts and a T-shirt for a walk in the sun.

Now I'm beginning to understand why bears are in such bad moods when they come out of hibernation. If I was cooped up for several months, I'd be pretty hard to get along with too.

K2 says I'm not just real easy to deal with after only nine days. I also have a better understanding of why those who can leave the lands above the Manson-Nixon line during the coldest months and head south at a high rate of speed, do so.

I'd really like to hit the water, but there's a slight problem — the places I want to go are still covered in ice and quite a bit of it, too. Can't remember having to wait for ice-out to go fishing. I would definitely not make it very long if I lived much further north.

To all my Northern fishing brothers who stick it out year round — Salute! I feel your pain.

I enjoy visiting the North woods in the summer, but you don't have to worry about me moving in next door, especially for a winter. This little spat of winter weather has cured me of any thoughts of a northern migration.

For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.