I’m cursed, of that I’m sure. Why? I couldn’t say. It’s not a permanent thing, nor is it a constant. It only occurs, in fact, when I invest in new gear. The new gear curse. What makes it really unfortunate is that I’m a gear head; I love having new things. It’s an odd thing too; sometimes it will last only a couple of weeks and other times an entire season. Last fall it was the entire season, and actually ended disastrously, and this fall is starting off the same.

This isn’t something that just began, it started years ago, the day I got my first centerpin. I had no trouble at all catching steelhead under a float with a spinning reel, but I was convinced by my steelheading buddies that the ‘pin was the way to go. I have to admit that it truly was the way to go, but it came with consequences in the form of fishless spring and fall seasons. I finally hooked and landed my first fish on the ‘pin a mere eight months after my first drift.

But that first fish did come and I steadily enjoyed a lot of great fishing afterwards. Then I had the bright idea of getting a custom float rod made. Once again any hope I had in catching steelhead was gone. The drought didn’t last as long this time, but it was a drought none the less.

I recently made the decision to purchase yet another custom float rod. The first day I had that rod on the water held mixed emotions. I was pumped to be running drifts with what can only be described as a work of art, but in the back of my mind the curse loomed, and deep down inside I knew it wasn’t going to turn out well. But then, a few drifts into my day the float shot down and with a quick lift of the rod the fight ensued. It was a short fight, and the fish got the best of me but the fact that I hooked a fish on the first day with the new rod had me feeling optimistic at the very least. The day continued in that fashion; fish on, fish off; fish on, fish off. I left the river happy, even though I hadn’t brought a single fish to hand. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps I had beaten this thing. The fall continued on this way. Outing after outing I hooked fish after fish, and lost every one of them. I changed every little detail as I tried to figure out just why I was having such a hard time landing fish. Everything pointed to the rod. There was something wrong with the rod. The action was too soft, or not fast enough to get an effective hook set, the list could go on and on but I knew there was nothing physically wrong with the rod (I’d fished a couple of identical rods before making the decision to buy one, and never had a problem with them), it was the curse. It was different than it had been in the past, but that’s what it was.

This pattern of losing fish continued for more than a few weeks. It wasn’t until mid-November that I finally landed a fish. It wasn’t a big fish but it lifted a huge weight off my shoulder. That very moment was a confidence booster. The curse was immediately erased from my mind. My head was clear and I could carry on caching fish. So that’s what I did, I carried on, until I was stopped in my tracks as I made my way down stream to the next stretch of holding water. It was then I realized I had been a fool to think that all my fishing woes were over. The distinct snap of a breaking rod can be a heartbreaking sound. I don’t even know how it happened (or it’s a memory I’m repressing) but the rod that was only a few short months old was now missing the top six inches. I felt like screaming, but couldn’t muster the energy. That was it, I had been defeated. The curse had finally gotten the best of me. For once in my life I had no desire to continue steelheading. When I got home the gear got put away and the rod was shipped to the builder for repair. That was the last time I fished that fall.

For a while I didn’t even miss it, or at least that’s what I tried to convince myself. But there’s a need to be fulfilled when you’ve got an obsession like I do and as winter shifted to spring I once again hit the river. To make a long story not quite as long, I caught more fish in that first day out than I did the entire previous fall. My faith in my ability to catch steelhead had been restored. Had the curse simply run its course over the fishless winter? Not exactly, no. See, the new rod that the curse was associated with had yet to be repaired. I was catching fish with equipment that was tried and true. And so continued one of the most productive springs I’ve had in years.

And that brings us to present day. It’s been more than a few week since the first steelhead of the fall began trickling into the local rivers. It’s been a long, fishless few weeks. The curse has once again taken hold. I’ve got the rod back in my hands, but I don’t think that’s any longer the issue. It’s probably the new reel I picked up to go along with it. If I keep buying up new gear like this I may never catch another steelhead. I am a sucker for punishment and a slave to the curse.

*It is important to note that since writing this I have, to my amazement, landed a handful of steelhead. It would appear that for the time being the curse has been lifted. I now have no excuse for not catching fish.*

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