Editor's Note
By Greg Thomas

Punta Gorda, Belize, Christmas season, 2021

Hey summer, where’d you go?

That was my question back in late September when the first slashes of snow hit Montana’s high country and I couldn’t spend a couple hours each morning punching keys and drinking coffee on the front porch, which is my standard summer routine. It just emphasized how short the seasons really are and how fleeting the warm months can be.

Although I treasure fall fishing, I always feel a little trepidation when the leaves change color and the temperatures fall. And I’m not alone in that sensation. A lifetime family friend, a true outdoorsman, recently visited and said, “My favorite time of year would be fall, if it wasn’t followed by winter.”

You never know what might happen. Shifts can happen overnight and when they do, the season’s fishing options may go from great to gone in a flash. That happened one year when I was living in the Gallatin Canyon south of Bozeman, Montana. On September 6 it snowed a pile and we didn’t see bare ground again until May. I still fly fished, albeit with frozen fingers and stinging cheeks. One day, just to see if could be done, I threw on the Gallatin River when it was minus 12 Fahrenheit. Got one. Point proven. Headed to the bar for coffee.

Our dour months in the American West, which may be different from yours, range from just post Christmas through March. We often get snow into June, but by that time it’s sporadic and short-lived, and complemented by great caddis, mayfly, and stonefly hatches between those weather events. I don’t ski or snowboard, don’t ride a snow machine either, so winter taxes me heavily.

I used to just suck it up and plow through. But I’ve learned there’s a better way. The formula is this: Fish as many gorgeous fall days as possible while eyeballing one or two trips away. Last winter I hit Belize in December and Alaska in April, and the combination of anticipating, enjoying, then recalling those wonderful days made winter pass in a heartbeat.

So what’s your plan?

One thing to consider is that many saltwater lodges, including those we represent, run discounted trips during the holiday season. Good way to save a few bucks and still see some pretty good fishing. While you may not hit 80 to 90-degrees temperatures at that time, 70s are in order and the sight of Christmas lights hanging off palm trees may give you a true Snoop Dogg moment—Call me Slim . . . and grab some of those Snoop cans.

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, and now living in the northern Rockies, holidays spent in the tropics is a weird deal. In Belize last year, I never got used to the reggae Christmas music, but I savored walking out of my cabin each morning, onto the veranda, and being greeted by warmer temperatures than I found in the air-conditioned rooms. Almost had to pinch myself and say, “Why only now did I unwrap the secret?”

Whether it’s a two-day escape or something better—along the lines of a week or 10 days—consider your reasons to get somewhere warm as twofold: fishing, yes, at some of the best places in the world to do so, but also a reset on summer and the traditional holiday season, something to carry you all the way through to spring.