All I want is a chance to swim. Meanwhile the other side of the box grows sparser by the minute; Olives, whites, coppers. They've long been the standby's, coming and going in steady rotation. No, that side won't stay sparse for long. A new batch will soon replace those moved on to that Great Wall in the sky. The rest of us - the real steeelhead flies - sulk here like jobless court jesters, assembled in an attempt to round out the color palate and to impress his friends. Pawns, nothing more. But hey, at least it's warm in here. That water looks awfully cold.
I saw it once. He was retiring an olive intruder and I caught a glimpse. In fact, I smelled them before I saw them, the thick aroma of hardened fish slime too strong to ignore. Hackles torn, colors faded, I couldn't help but envy them. Retired to a life of luxury, they spend their days telling stories of bullet train rides upon the jaws of steelhead and comparing battle scars. Others, memorialized in picture, live forever. I'll never join them; of that I grow more certain by the day. The best I can hope for is to get lost in a log jam or hooked on a piece of shale. At least I'll have gone out honorably. As some of the veterans like to remind me, there are less desirable fates for a steelhead fly.
What's this? Daylight. The shadow of a lurking hand over the left side of the box. Standard. But the shadow shifts, hovers over my head... everything goes dark for a moment. Suddenly I'm being strangled by a piece of 20 lb. test fluorocarbon and now, now, holy shit, I'm flying!
Straight towards that tree. This is it, I'm done. One cast, one lousy freakin' cast and I'm done. But he must have checked the cast; Suddenly I'm submersed and falling, pulled by some unknown weight. Now I'm swimming slow, steady. Pulsing feathered appendages, kicking flashabou tails, trying to act like I've been here before. Nearing the bank there is less and less water covering my head. The current loosens its grip, I begin to fall. And just like that I'm flying again.
I might puke. This has gone on too long and frankly I'm not sure I'm cut out for it. Maybe he was right to ignore me all those years. Maybe there is no place for a pink and blue steelhead fly on a Midwest river.
A thundering jolt and the world goes black again. What the fu-
I'm flying again, but not of my own accord. Whatever this thing is, it's pissed. At him or at me, I can't say, though I suspect the latter. Regardless, I seem to be bearing the brunt of its discontent. If I was thinking about puking before, it's over now; I purge a couple loose threads. God I wish he would've pinched my barb. This thing is ruthless. And it smells like shit.
Before long it's over and I'm in the winners circle. He's snapping pictures, I'm trying to make sure my feathers are full and my collar's not inside out. It's just like I dreamed it. Soon I'll be drying out on a patch with a picture window view, telling sories about my own bullet train ride. And I won't be alone for long. Hang in there Pink and Orange!