Thursday, August 24, 2017


I was on the edge of my seat - for 12 hours.

We were driving from Montana to southwest Washington to visit family and friends over a long weekend. I was going to be steelhead fishing the next day, back in familiar territory from nearly a decade ago now. I'd lived there for six years and had fallen in love with steelhead in small streams.

Who wouldn't?

Since then I've been back for them only once. I hoped that I'd get the opportunity to tangle with one. I only had a single day to try. And steelhead - well, if you've fished for them you know -  can be like hunting for sasquatch. Elusive. Seemingly impossible, nonexistent. Like elk hunting - you wander the hills for days and question your own sanity until suddenly you are into them with nonstop thrilling action. Much like that hour-long line at the roller coaster for a 90-second ride. But I'd be fishing with one of the best friends I've ever had. So really, catching one would be icing.

Joe and I met when we were both in our 20's. One of us turns 40 this year.  I do not entirely remember the sequence of events under which we met, those piddly details are overshadowed by the fishing adventures that began almost right away. On top of that our wives became good friends and the four of us spent lots of time together. Joe and I endured their wrath [loving tolerance?] whenever a fishing trip resulted in returning closer to midnight than suppertime.

Even on this trip when it was over and our families were saying our goodbyes, I kidded with Joe that I would pick him up before daylight the next morning to fish. His wife Amber slid over and said,
"Are you serious about fishing in the morning?"
"No," I said, "Just joking."
"Okay, I'll give you a hug then."

Wherever I have lived and fished in my life I have always seemed to leave behind a trail of disgruntled wives. On this day-trip Joe and I came rolling in somewhere near 11pm. Barely an eyebrow was raised, so somewhere along the way people have at least gotten used to us.

We met in the morning shortly after 6am. Our start time was limited by the opening of the establishment where I could purchase my license. We tossed our gear into his pickup truck and then loaded the four-wheeler on to the back. The thought was to use it to access some more remote areas. But in the end what it actually did was allow us to bite off way more creek then we might have fished without a shuttle and ensure that we would be home just as late as ever.

After an hour of rolling through the hills over familiar logging and forest roads we parked the truck at a spot we knew we didn't want to miss. We still had not formed a plan exactly, but there was no one on this stretch and there's a hole here that's as close to a sure thing as we know to exist in steelhead fishing.