And when I walked into that bar at a quarter past midnight to meet a collection of friends who had been at it since brunch, the tones of their conversations revealing their drunkenness, they asked me, "How was the fishing?"
How do you explain an eight hour drive straight into the eye of a lake-effect storm to stand knee deep in winter water for ten hours a day while the temperature never reaches 20 degrees and the constant snow makes sure that as long as you're cold, you might as well be wet too, and you watch that indicator and that fly line float across the river all day, never going upstream or downstream or across following a fish, and you curse the weather, curse the fiftieth and fifty-first time you break the ice out of your guides and you don't talk to your best friends for hours at a time and you watch a man with one arm hook five fish in front of you and your waders are leaking but you guess it doesn't matter much because both of your feet are numb anyway and you're sure that this drift is the one and you're staring at that indicator, sending all of your power to make it stop floating downstream and tick once or twice or go under water or do something besides float and the best part of your day was when you woke up in the middle of the night and you knew you didn't have to get up yet and the only word you can think of to describe the situation is 'beatdown' and you wonder how it is that you thought you were a pretty good angler and the only time you crack a smile is when you laugh at yourself or when you watch your buddy curse after unsuccessfully un-hanging another rig and have to break it off only knowing that it'll take fifteen minutes of using his tired, frozen fingers to tie three knots and pinch on some split shot and you curse the river and the snow and when you get back to that cabin and it takes an hour for your feet to finally feel normal again you laugh and hand your friends another beer and then on the last leg of your eight hour drive home you smile because you know you'd do it all over again?
How was the fishing? How was the fishing? I'm not even sure that I know myself.
Robbins, this was one of those posts that is a complete thought process in writing that reads so fast that the reader can predict the next word, sentence, or thought. I can feel the pain of the cold and the pain of this trip in every word. It doesn't get worse and the only way to look at it is that the next trip can only be warmer/better in general. Thats Steelheading for ya...
Winter steeleheading really makes a man appreciate the canyons. Whatever, I'll do it again in a couple weeks. Hopefully the guy with one arm isn't there to sting all the fish.
Sometimes I think the steelhead know how to put out just enough action to keep us coming back...I love them!
Amen, Sir. Amen.
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