Deep Thoughts by Sinktip - Fly Fishing Forum
Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum No such thing as rainbow trout, only landlocked steelhead

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Old 09-14-2004, 03:56 PM
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sinktip sinktip is offline
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Deep Thoughts by Sinktip

The local rivers are all blown out and I have not wet a line in a week. My withdrawl is both mental and physical so to partially feed the monkey, I decided to do a little introspection.

I discriminate and I freely admit it. I have been forced to examine my true feelings lately and there is just no escaping it, I am a steelhead snob. Oh sure, I enjoy my yearly drinking, I mean trout fishing, week on the Deschutes. I also enjoy getting out for a couple days in the fall to catch salmon. But I could give up these diversions with nary a thought if I had to. Ask me to give up pursuit of steelhead though and there would have to be some wrenching cost-benefit analysis done. I am not sure which would win out if it came down to family, country and steelhead, but I fear I would end up homeless and with a rod in my hand. What is it about this fish that has such a strong pull? What makes it the piscatorial equal of the strongest narcotic? Why am I so single-minded in my desires?

After years of thought, I have determined it has nothing to do with the catching of steelhead. While I enjoy catching one as much as the next person, and probably more than some, it is the actual pursuit that feeds the fire. I have concluded that at least for me, the whole of the experience is so very Gestalt. While I might not have identified all the components, I have managed to isolate a few of the pieces.

It is the peace of mind that comes during the o’dark-thirty drive to the river. The cool feeling against your legs as waders meet water for the first time that day. The heightened palette of senses that compliment the day’s first run and the sense of sensory detachment in the ones that follow. It is the ritual of checking the river level before bed and at first rise. The comfort of a new length of tippet to replace the one that has gotten a bit too short. The contrast of the reels ratchet against the gentle gurgle of the current. The joy in watching the flight of the first swallows of spring, the last bats of dawn or the upriver blow of emerging March browns. It is the smell of rotting salmon in the fall, snow crisp mornings in winter and the budding salmonberry in spring.

It is the first taste off the flask in the morning mist and the way that gas station coffee and deli-sandwiches can taste like 5-star cuisine on the water. It is the gentle lap of water against the side of the boat and the low rumble as the oars slide down into the locks. It is the discomfort of the pinhole in your waders and the relief when you finally get it patched. It is the dissonance of finding joy in drizzle and distain in sun. It is the frustration that the river is never just right and the confidence that if it was, “boy would we be catching them”. It is the understanding that the fly matters little but the sudden “knowing” that you need to use a particular pattern on a run. It is the priceless solitude of a day alone on the water and the almost loving camaraderie of a day spent with a small group of similar affected peers. It is the small smile as a powerful cast unfurls pulling a click of line off the reel. It is the rhythmic swim of a deeply sunk fly and the erratic surface chug of a surface pattern.

It is all these things and countless more that draw me back day after day. Draw me back through month long dry spells and weeks where the fish seem to come to hand daily. These are the thoughts that fill my head before sleep. These are the things that define not why I fish for steelhead, but why I am a steelheader.

This sentimental piece reflects only the opinion of the author. If you are one of those people that feels that steelhead are just a fish and you fish for them with both gear and fly, you've caught tons and always catch tons, and you don't subscribe to all the hype, etc, etc, etc. This was not meant for you.
There is no substitute for time on the water.

Last edited by sinktip; 09-14-2004 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 09-14-2004, 04:07 PM
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Dble Haul Dble Haul is offline
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Thumbs up

Bravo, Duggan!
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Old 09-14-2004, 05:25 PM
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kush kush is offline
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When do we leave ...
Tight lines - tyler.

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Old 09-14-2004, 06:20 PM
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Dana Dana is offline
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Amen brother.
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Old 09-14-2004, 07:20 PM
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juro juro is offline
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To the death, my fellow steelheader, and with two hands on the rod.
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Old 09-14-2004, 07:20 PM
old man old man is offline
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I think that you need to rent a car and get out there before you fall completly apart. I think that you are starting to hallucinate. You need a river fix bad.

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Old 09-14-2004, 08:14 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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Well said my friend.
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Old 09-14-2004, 10:57 PM
beau purvis beau purvis is offline
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interesting thoughts that happen to come at a time when I am formulating some of my own.I have been in the PNW since june.My childhood home is on Hood Canal.I have taken a breather from work.My mom is old and I am hanging out taking some care of her and my family is in and out.Plenty of free time!I have fished for silvers twice.once with conventional gear in puget sound and once with flies at Neah Bay.Conventional gear did very little for my heart other than it was a nice day on the water and my son had a good time landing 5 silvers.the fly trip was for sure more interesting.Neah Bay is my old kelping spot from college days.Casting a fly rod is way more pleasant. the really cool thing was that my son felt the same. Said it was best trip he had ever had,because he was doing it all by casting.Keep in mind he has caught sails on conventional.Really is neat that he now senses the difference between fly and an easier way!Anyway,it has become even more obvious to me this summer that I just cant get excited about salt water let alone conventional gear.I am on a beautiful body of water with 2 fast boats and I am thinking about a spey rod in my hand on the Skeena system.this doublehand stuff and hot kings,ateelhead and atlantic salmon in rivers is the only thing that rings my bell.It is not a curse!It is a blessing that I feel that way. It is a blessing that a lot of wonderful people helped me come down that path.2handers and steelhead will always be my main obsession!Beau
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:13 PM
wet fly wet fly is offline
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All dressed and no place to go

What is a steelheader to do? I plan all year to fish September and October. My home river is out. The river across the mountians is out. The river 800 miles to the north is running high. I just bought a new line for a "spare". My reel is cleaned and I have parafin on the joints of the new rod. The high water is great for the fish. In the meantime I can still dream of the great trips of the past. My fishing partners and the steelheaders I have met along the way. When the time and place come together I will be there. Jerry
wet fly
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:16 PM
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MJC MJC is offline
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Hey tip...

but I fear I would end up homeless
Don't worry, we've got a spare room.

As for the rest of it, well said my friend! You've nailed it.
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Old 09-15-2004, 12:49 AM
Hammer Hammer is offline
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rotting salmon inthe fall!

yes,,,you ARE a steelheader,,,that time is near,,,oh so near,no sledboats boiling the water to-fro endlessly for salmon,and then it will be,,,,steelhead,,and all the things you related with the abilty to enjoy oneself again on the river,hat's off lad!,,,,but that smell,,
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Old 09-15-2004, 07:00 AM
fishinfool fishinfool is offline
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Amazing to see my feelings put in words so completely. Truly well done!
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Old 09-15-2004, 12:48 PM
GPearson GPearson is offline
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Very well said Sinktip.

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Old 09-15-2004, 10:46 PM
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Big K1 Big K1 is offline
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They will have to pry it(twohander) from my cold dead hands!

Tip if your jonesing real bad head over to the Methow. It was in good shape
when I left today.

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Old 09-15-2004, 11:19 PM
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Bunny Leech Bunny Leech is offline
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Without that annual pilgrimage (trout trip) to the deschutes the AM nip o' scotch may not come so easily. Glad it does. Glad to share the sentiments. And glad you put them here for us all to share. Thanks ST.
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