Monday, December 26, 2011


The dead eye of a salmon stares up at me, as if to say "I've served my purpose here, what's yours?"

The answer is, I don't know.  I've fished this spot a lot lately, as it's some of the only ice-free water nearby, but the water is so low and clear as to nearly rule out the possibility of it holding steelhead, or at least where they would be reachable.

The sky and landscape are monotone and monolithic, carved from a single piece of gray flowing stone.  Even the cedars have muted their green, embarrassed to show their color when everything else is so dull. The wind is calm and even the river flows in muted tones, as if sound could break this sculpture.

I don't know why I've come back again, what my purpose is.  Maybe it's just to cast.  It's certainly not for the exercise.  The fishing has been slow.  I wade in, aiming for the only piece of dark water around.  After a few casts my line zips sideways and I'm tight into a small rainbow.  The water temperature must be perfect, as this little fish actually puts up a struggle against the 8 weight I'm using for steelhead.   The fish races back and forth, jumping repeatedly before finally coming to me.  I admire it, snapping a couple photos before releasing it.  Grow up, buddy.

I stop at the next dark pool, and on the first cast my line again zips tight, there's another merry go-round, and this time a small brown is landed, carefully recorded digitally and sent on his way.  There's a cold spot on my left leg- I really hope my waders aren't leaking.  That could make for a long winter.  I'm surprised by movement and a greeting from the bank.  My vehicle is the only one here, but another angler hails me with the usual "Any luck?".
As I answer, my line comes tight with a serious weight, and a long silver flash.  A few head shakes and it's off, and like any dedicated fisherman, my new companion groans audibly from the bank.  On my next cast, the line comes tight again, and this time we're off to the races.

It's not a huge fish, perhaps 22 inches, but very hot, porpoising and tail walking all over the place.  It zips downstream, and then disaster-  the line I had stripped in my hand wraps around the tools on my lanyard.  The fish continues it's frantic fight as I frantically fight to untangle what is a rather complex knot.  After some tense seconds I work it out and play the fish again.  As I grab the leader the fish- a very fat and energetic young steelhead- starts to roll, and out pops the hook.  Oh well, I was going to release it anyways.  My friend of the moment shoots the breeze for a couple of minutes before wandering on.

I fish for another hour, landing one more small fish, but the light is failing and I'm having a tough time reading my line.  The landscape, sky and river are starting to merge back together.  It will take the sunrise to sculpt them again.


  1. Even the cedars have muted their green, embarrassed to show their color when everything else is so dull.

    A great image. Well done! Glad your getting to the water and I hope the waders are un-nicked.

  2. Thanks Mike, come to find out the waders are fine. I hope you're getting out there too.

  3. I'm waiting for the sunlight to "sculpt" everything once again...tomorrow! And I will try to stay out of "tangles"! For some reason they follow me... : )

  4. Great post. "The landscape, sky and river are starting to merge back together. It will take the sunrise to sculpt them again." Awesome line.

  5. Awesome stuff as always. It's nice to know that even though we might not know our purpose on the water some days, someone is looking out for us. I guess the only way to know for sure, is to keep going...

  6. Pretty good stuff my friend...thanks.

  7. Well, thank you all. It's such a somber time of year here. Part of my "lack of purpose" is that the water is super low in what is already a tiny stream, and there's hardly any steelhead this year. I guess it's the river itself that keeps me coming back.

  8. Sounds like you had a perfect release of a steelhead. Great post.