Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Man of Steel

The other day, I went steelhead fishing for the first time. I hooked two steelhead and landed them both, but I can only show you this photograph because I fear the other will give away the location. I can only tell you that on the way home, I passed Grandpa's Cheese Barn. But, I digresstivate, and I've already said too much.

In any event, this is a "How to" piece. In the paragraphs that follow, I am going to tell you how to become an expert. You may be wondering how I could claim to be an expert, having caught only two steelhead in my life. You are misunderstanding me. I am not going to tell you how to catch steelhead - how could I, as I myself still have no idea how to do it? I did it, but I don't know how it happened. No, Gentle Reader, I'm going to teach you how to become an expert. There's a big difference.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must explain that I, myself, am not an expert. I was an expert at one time, but then I got smart. If that sentence doesn't make sense to you, consider reading it about once every five years until it does. And until then, please avoid me on the water.

Expertise, in fly-fishing, has nothing to do with catching fish. It's all about presentation. (Get it?) Now, it is crucial that you catch at least two steelhead (or whatever it is that you're going to be spewing on and on about). Anything less, which is to say one or zero fish, and your drivel will rapidly deteriorate to whatever it is that drivel becomes once it has deteriorated. I was fortunate to have caught that second steelhead. Things were not looking good, but fortune smiled upon me, and hence I am now in the position to claim expertise.

Why it is so important that you catch two fish? Because then you can say things such as those that follow (and please, feel free to use these in your own writing, as is or modified as necessary - the list is really endless, and I could do this all day, but my book isn't finished):

"I find steelhead will take egg patterns in a variety of colors. About half of my steelhead have come to pink eggs whereas the rest have been taken on yellow eggs."

"When I fish for steelhead, I like to work through the slower, deeper pools as well as the faster, boulder-strewn runs, as I have taken fish from both kinds of water."

Disingenuous? No. Well, initially, perhaps. But if you say these things enough, you will begin to believe yourself, at which point you're no longer being disingenuous. You're being something else, perhaps, but not disingenuous.


  1. T.J.,

    Keep up the great writing-- you'll be a guru in no time! (no fishing required)


  2. Great stuff...only problem is your screwed..Addicted for life. Consider your free time and money gone from here on out. Look forward to reading more of your steelhead chronicles.


  3. This is also the way to become a tarpon, salmon, bonefish or redfish expert. I know quite a few...

  4. TJ assimilated his angling troubles many years ago. But they weren't ever as bad as mine - money got real tight with all the carpin; wife left, took the kids, you know the way it can go.

    Free time. Money. Yeah - never did have none.


  5. Dave,

    As much as I'd like to post more steelhead chronicles, I'm so busy writing magazine articles about how to catch steelhead, I seriously doubt I'll ever have time to fish for them again. But that's OK, since I was ultimately more interested in the expertise than in the fish.


  6. Thank you for this timely article. I depart for the tributaries of the great lake Ontario this evening and will be sure to try both the egg patterns that have seduced all your fish.

  7. Troutless in TorringtonMarch 21, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I envy you. Being able to put aside the arduous task of catching the fish in order to focus strictly on the expertise is something that has eluded me for many years. How can I be more like you?

  8. Dear Troutless,

    You've made the common and timeless mistake: you assumed that the experts are catching more fish than you are, and that the solution is to fish more.

    You probably can't be more like me because you've already done too much fishing. It clouds your judgment.

    Sorry I don't have better news. Looking forward to your first article!


    T.J. Brayshaw

  9. Troutless in TorringtonMarch 25, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Sometimes the truth burns like a rock salt enema, but regardless, it is the truth.
    I stand humbled in your presence.
    I am beginning to understand one of the most misunderstood people in the game.