Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Creek Walkin'

Let me preface by saying that two days removed, I'm still buzzing from two of the most enjoyable days of steelheading I've ever had. They didn't come without a cost though - I'm not sure how many river miles we walked, but if the soreness-turned-to-stiffness in my quads is any indication I'd say it was around 647. In retrospect, a small price to pay for one hell-of-a good time.

I realize that if the average blog-readers' attention span is anything like mine, I'll have to maintain a high picture/prose ratio to keep your interest. That said, this was a great trip with many memorable moments, so forgive me if I get a little "wordy". In my defense, once upon a time I was an aspiring journalism major...

For the purpose of the blog I've reduced the trip to a handful of memorable moments that I'll try to impart to you as best I can. Hope y'all enjoy it as much as we did...

The Mojo Fish
Any fishing trip, even a quick jaunt to your home water, begins with a degree of anxiety. On familiar water the feeling is subconscious - after all these years you probably don't even notice it. You want to put a fish on the board, but you're not desperate. You know where they like to hold, you know what they like to eat, and success becomes a simple matter of execution. Not to mention the fact that on your home water, there's always next time.

On special trips though, the anxiety weighs on you. The moment you hit the water all that anticipation bottled up for days, weeks, sometimes months at a time suddenly explodes in an overwhelming desire to catch fish. You can take all the deep breaths and sentimental gazes you want. You can try to take it all in, remind yourself that you're in a beautiful place, that it's about the overall experience, that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work, that you're just happy to be out, blah blah blah blah blah: The truth of the matter is, in that moment, you need to feel a pulse at the end of your line.

Steelhead fishing in particular can produce excruciating levels of angling anxiety. Weather, water conditions, and most notably the fish themselves offer very narrow windows for success. When the stars do align long enough to provide ideal conditions, you'd better make the most of it. Knowing this, you fish with purpose, in search of the Mojo Fish.

That first fish of any trip gets the positive energy flowing. It lifts the burden of anticpation, inspiring confidence, allowing you to pat yourself on the back for a brief moment. Steelhead fishing is ultimately one big game of hide and seek, and while it's nice to win every once in a while, for reasons already alluded to it's best to do so at the beginning of the trip.

When fishing with your buddies, you want to build mojo not only for yourself but for the group. If your buddy hooks up first, you are in one way relieved and in another suddenly even more desperate; the last thing you want is for the whole group to get skunked, but the truth is you made the long drive, you tied the flies, you've been dreaming about this trip and, damnit, you want to catch a fish!

So when everyone in your fishing party pulls a mojo fish out of the same run, it's probably a sign of good things to come. And that's what we did on Monday.

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