I think alot about the cliche fisherman often throw around “Its not all about the fishing”. For me it truly does explain how I feel about my whole fishing experience. I love to catch fish as much as the next guy. But I have to say that there are so many facets that come with fishing that I enjoy too. It really does connect us to the outdoors and the world we live in. The friendships, comradery, art, skill, and challenge. One of my favorite parts of that list would be the friendships.
Allot of fisherman I talk to in my travels all seem to have that one trip a year they take on an annual basis that consists of old friends and traditions. Mine is in March when I go chasing steelhead in northern Idaho, with buddies that I have had since middle school. These are the kind of buddies you may not talk to since the last trip and the minute you see each other its like we never missed a beat. Get the first insult or two out of the way and off we go. All of us love to fish but for whatever reason the rest of the year we don’t seem to connect, be it, different schedules,
different preference for fishing locations and species. Or maybe we just really don’t like each other as much as I think we do. Whatever the reason I am happy we have this trip.
This years trip was cold with blizzard conditions. We got up and left Utah at 3:30am and what is normally a four and a half hour drive turned into six hours because of driving conditions. Fishing was slow the first day and with Dustin on the sticks he almost ran us into a rock and succeeded to get us caught up on a sweeper tree that had fallen across the river. In his defense it was a tricky situation but I am sure we could have navigated through this spot allot better had it been the first part of the day with a full cooler and not the end of the day with an empty one. The best part of this day, since no one caught a steelhead, was Travis Doxey catching a twenty-nine inch Bull Trout.
The second day started off a lot better. Doxey out of the gate caught the first steelhead of the trip at the boat launch and that seemed to boost moral amongst all of us and get us excited for the day.
An hour later Brian Neilson hooked up with our boats first steelhead of the trip.
Then a little while later Dustin Gilbert connected with this beauty
After which I finally hooked up
The action tapered off midday and it got slow going. But later in the afternoon we caught a few more and ended the evening on a good note. All in all I would say it was a good day. We caught five or six and Travis Doxey and Lance Henniger caught ten.
After a full day of fishing we were ready to drink a few, eat something and get to bed. There is a bar/restaurant at the dive hotel we stay at that in its hay-day I am sure was a great place to stay. It had nineteen seventies, early eighties wood paneling. An old pool table, I am sure was from the same era. Old chandeliers hung from the ceiling, old beer signs hung on the wall. I could see Hank Williams JR, Merl Haggard, Willie Nelson, and country music from that time frame being played over and over on the jukebox. Guys with beards, cowboy hats with feathers stuck in the headbands, wearing bell bottom jeans. The only problem is, that was forty years ago and the place hasn’t seen an upgrade since. Don’t get me wrong, I like the place. It has just seen its better days. By the time we got there to have dinner. The only people in the room were two drunk guys at the bar(really drunk guys) arguing about who loved each other more. Not sure that they ever got it sorted out by the time they stumbled out of the place. I should have gotten pictures of the joint but I was to tired to even think about it.
Just like fishing goes, the next day none of us caught a steelhead. We worked the same spots hard to no avail.
The bummer part of any fishing trip for me is the afternoon of the last day. It feels so anti-climatic. Fishing trips never feel long enough. The beer is gone and its time to get home to the real world. The only good part is getting home to our families.
I haven’t seen any of the guys since the trip. We have talked about getting some trips together this summer and I hope it works out. But if it doesn’t I’m ok with it because I know we have next years steelhead trip to get together and catch up on all things important.