I’m old enough to know better, not smart enough to change. Or maybe just to pigheaded. In any case it starts out the same way, so you would think I would know better by now. When it comes to steelhead, well any fish for that matter, prep work is essential whether the trip is for a day or a week. That’s what I do; I prepare. Ninety percent of the time the first step in that preparation is pouring myself a drink. Sometimes it’s a cold beer or a glass of wine, but there is something about the combination of steelhead and whiskey that just works. The two go well together, on or off the water. If I’m lucky prep time is minimal, resulting in a drink or two before crashing for the night. Most of the time it ends up being more than that.
Late night; more than a few drinks and I’m less than eager to be getting out of bed so early. And my head hurts. A lot. There was a time in my life when I used to be able to pull this off. That time has passed.
Of course, nothing dulls the pain but time; coffee and time, but mostly time. Whether the fishing is hot or not, it doesn’t matter, although not catching any fish does make me focus more on how bad my head hurts. I obsess over the pain, trying desperately to wish it away. It doesn’t work. What could possibly be wrong with me that I think these fish are worth this kind of suffering. I should be sleeping it off. Instead I’m waist deep in water that feels colder than it actually is, not catching any fish.
By mid afternoon, fish or no fish the throbbing starts to dull. By the time I’m off the water, it’s nothing more than a memory. Maybe I have time to do some things around the house when I get home; usually it’s right back to preparing for the next day. The first step in that prep work? Pouring myself a drink.