The perpetual 5:30 AM wake-up calls threaten to jeopardize my fledgling marriage. My basement looks like an abandoned chicken coop run amuck by an alcoholic farmer. Feathers and flahsabou flutter about the room as I make my way from the stairs to the laundry room, stepping over empty red and white cans as I go, to retrieve my underwader garments from their third wash of the week. I don't even know why I bother. I suppose it's like the whole showering before fishing thing... as if the steelhead give a flying fuck whether my Capilene smells like wader farts and BO, or Irish Spring and Right Guard. I should know by now that if they're likely to show a preference for either, it's the former.
I do my damndest to wet a line at every possible opportunity, knowing the questions that await, day in and day out.
"How's River X fishin'?"
Ehh, it's alright. Better off goin' to river Y.
"What are the steelhead bitin' on these days?"
Egg patterns, mostly.
"OH MAN, we killed 'em up at Oak Orchard last weekend."
[OK, not a question, but exponentially more irritating.]
"Hey buddy, if you were fishin' on Saturday, where would you go?"
Ehh, probably Elk. It's gonna be on fire. Crowds shouldn't be too bad either. It's deer season ya' know!
"Hey, shouldn't you be out fishin'?"
The last one always strikes a certain nerve. He's 100% right. The rivers are green. I should be fishing, and it's a fucking crime that I'm not.
For the record, no one should ever complain about working in a fly shop. So I'm not. OK?
My waders are mired in a constant state of musty wetness. That is, when I remember to take them out of the truck and hang them in the garage. When I forget, they freeze in the bed of my truck. Which chafes me to no end. Figuratively speaking, for the non-indoctrinated.
"Jimmy. JIMMY! Did you hear me?!"
I'm sorry baby. What did you say? I was doo-daddy day dreamin'.
I tie new flies but fish the same old ones. Tough to get away from what works when you're fishing on borrowed time. The most a steelheader can ever hope for is proof of concept, and when you find it you damn well better hang on to it. That concept is liable to un-prove itself tomorrow.
Catching fish is actually counter productive. It only makes the fever run higher.
The chocolate lab is stricken with the same affliction. He knows the drill, smells the 5:30 wake-up coming long before the iPhone blows up, is waiting at the door with his God-given G4's on, ready to hit the water.
Dragging others into the fray is part of coping. Even my bride cannot claim immunity to the steelhead epidemic. Bad news for steelhead.
'Tis the time of the season indeed, when chaos reigns supreme. Normalcy won't be restored until the rivers freeze over. And given recent climate trends, don't hold your breath. For better or worse, chaos figures to reign for a long, long time.