Frozen fishing: A trip cancelled

Steve PiattAs I type this, I'm sitting here from the sixth floor of the Comfort Inn at The Pointe in Niagara Falls, overlooking the falls – to be honest, I'm not sure if they're the American or the Canadian (Horseshoe) falls – and the commercialism (casinos, towering restaurants, T-shirt shops) that looms as soon as you turn away from the natural wonders.

I should be fishing.

But the polar vortex or whatever this latest blast of cold weather is called – I have my own phrases – has stalled a mid-day trip on the Lower Niagara River for steelhead and lake trout and left me incarcerated in my hotel room until the 5 p.m. start of the Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo, which is the real reason I'm here. Parlaying the show with a side trip for steelhead with guide Frank Campbell of Niagara Region Charter Service was just a bonus and the kind of forward thinking any sportsman would manufacture, especially if you knew Frank and his track record of putting clients into fish. Big fish.

I should be fishing.

But when the wind chill stands at minus 12, you're way beyond that stage where getting out on the water shows your hardiness, your willingness to ignore the elements. Fishing can and does hurt at times, especially in winter. But when it's dangerous to be out there you've reached that stage where other anglers no longer admire your determination, they instead call you an idiot.

Frank puts his clients into fish but not in harm's way. So we set up for the show on Thursday afternoon, chatted about the prospects and, really, there was no decision to make. The fishing would have to wait for another day, another time.

It has happened before, these weathered-out fishing trips, albeit under entirely different circumstances and in an entirely different climate. A couple years ago a family get-together on the Gulf Coast of Florida, on beautiful Anna Maria Island, brought together 19 of us in three beach houses of varying sizes. I proudly planned a one-day tarpon fishing trip with a quality guide, my first outing for silver kings in about 20 years. Back then, my brother Jeff and I cleverly disguised a tarpon trip, wrapped in a trip south to see our niece graduate from high school. We did, for the record, make it to the graduation, and we also jumped five tarpon, landing none, but getting the thrill of a lifetime when a hammerhead shark ate Jeff's 120-pounder in two bites, cruising in front of us to finish his meal as the guide attempted to gaff what was left.

That second tarpon trip never happened, thanks to the arrival of Tropical Storm Debbie. I instead wandered around the island in ankle-deep water, relegated to pier fishing for catfish and the occasional bonnethead shark.

So I've been here before. And, to be honest, I do have plenty of work to do. Niagara Falls is now just a few hours away thanks to our move south from the Adirondacks. So I will be back.

And I will be fishing.

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