CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginians have to be pretty hardcore to fish in January.
The month named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, usually lives up to its name; it starts off cold and nasty and becomes even colder and nastier as it wears along.
For anglers, cold weather is seldom a good thing.
The kind of cold West Virginia gets in January often freezes the surface of streams and ponds, but seldom thickly enough to allow for ice fishing. Frequent snows make auto travel treacherous and foot travel downright hazardous.
Cold weather saps anglers' energy. Cold fingers make knot tying frustrating at best, maddening at worst. Cold noses, ears and feet make anglers wish they were home, sitting in an easy chair by the fireplace, drinking hot coffee or something a little stronger.
But there are those who can't resist the masochistic inclination to wade thigh-deep through ice water, hoping all the while they might catch a fish or two. I know this because I'm one of those weirdos.
I've gone fishing in January more times than I'd like to admit. Many of those outings have long since disappeared into the mist of faded memories, but a few still come readily to mind.
I remember wading almost up to my waist in an ice-rimmed Nicholas County trout stream and standing there, probably for 15 minutes or more, making cast after cast to try to get just the right drift through a particularly difficult-to-reach spot.
When I finally gave up and decided to move on, my legs wouldn't move. The cold had rendered them numb and immobile. Only after I reached down into the water and pushed at the backs of my knees was I able to unlock my legs and hobble stiffly toward shore.