Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Salmon River (A Trip Report): Day Two - Bust

The thing about dreams is that they sometimes do come true. Sometimes you pick the winning horse. Sometimes you kiss the prom queen. Sometimes you get to play the hero.


More often than not, however, dreams remain dreams. Your horse breaks a leg before it ever reaches the starting gate. Try as she might, the prom queen cannot pick you out of a police line up, and the closest you've ever come to being a hero is when you camped out to be the first in line for opening night of the Star Wars prequel. Jedi dreams die hard, and on that second day of fishing, our steelhead dreams may as well have been Jedi dreams.

When we set off on Tuesday night for the two hour drive to the river we were giddy with enthusiasm. We believed with every bit of angler-instinct we possessed that the river gods were smiling on us. How could we not? Only three days before we were set to leave, the river flowed at a staggering 1850 cfs. So much water isn't impossible to fish, but it is uncomfortable to fish, and bringing steelhead to hand once hooked can be very difficult in the swirling currents of a swollen Salmon River. But in only three days the river had dropped to 500 cfs - just about perfect for a group of intrepid steelheaders. Surely the fish would agree.

And they did, but only for a day. Day two of our expedition saw air temperatures rise from just above 30 degrees to nearly 60 - a trend that would continue for the remainder of the trip. The sun, high in the cloudless blue sky, shone brightly on the water and cursed us with its warmth. In nearly twelve hours of fishing we managed one fish to hand. For my part, I drew only a single pull after a half day of swinging a 13'6" 8# around my head like a drunken Scotsman practicing his caber toss.

The one fish brought to hand - Photo (and fish) courtesy of Shawn Brillon

So I guess Thursday was a lesson in perspective. Yes, the fishing was difficult. Yes, I found myself frustrated at times, but the old cliché held true: a bad day of fishing is better than the best day at work. Any pressure I felt was pressure I put on myself, and that was pure foolishness. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a bit disappointed, but more than disappointment I ended the day feeling hopeful. I still had three days ahead of me, and as I had the night before I laid back in my bed, closed my eyes, and dreamed steelhead dreams.

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