|Adventure ain't what it used to be.|
That first trip to the Salmon we played how many can we catch. We’d get lazy and stretch out in warm November sun after tangling with another nature-defying steelhead.
It wasn’t meant to happen again, but exceptional years became normal. Another year followed when the river was all ours and we lost count of monotonous ten pounders, each as pristine as the wildest salmon, and twice the fight.
These steelhead made us dream of going back; to thinking well of six hours straightalong 90 West; looking forward to staying at Roger’s place; rising before December dawns to all that inevitable weather.
Until they weren’t there.
Steelhead numbers have fallen away in recent years and now we’ve got cold feet. Adventure is taking a backseat because the catching isn’t the way it was. We’d have to fish all day for no takes, maybe only one chance for the hero shot the whole trip. Those odds aren’t good, so there’s no need to long for something we never thought attainable.
It’s easier this way.
Going now would be “like real steelheading is meant to be”, and we’d still have everything else – pretend cabin comforts, friends distracted from work, the whiskey and music, and likely more rested river than ever before. We’d have to work for a fish, to hunt the river like we always wanted to before all those fish spoiled us.
Chances are good the rewards would be greater now than ever before.
PS. I wrote this to highlight what, to my mind at least, seems like an imbalance between what I've come to expect and what I actually always wanted. Multiple fish days are great, but I got to asking myself whether they have dented my sense of adventure, and the greater satisfaction of attaining something that is harder to come by. Mostly it's my own reminder to go and find out, to put in more time exploring the river for the chance of a fish that deserves our effort, rather than waiting to see what will happen.