The end of salmon season was like the end of a lot of things. It was a sudden surprise that left me in shock. It was the day my universe came crashing down. It seems like only yesterday that salmon season started. Now it is all over. You can lose track of time when you're fishing for salmon. It's a theory of relativity thing. A person can go to a job they hate where one shift seems to last for two days. The same person can start salmon fishing at daylight, fish for what seems like a few hours then act confused when it seems to be getting dark.
“That's because the sun went down,” I explain. Call it a coincidence or a guide's intuition but I started noticing years ago how it got mighty dark after the sun went down. It's all part of being a guide, to share the wisdom of years of experience on the river, in a way that enables a responsible stewardship of the eco-system as a whole.
Without the salmon my life had no meaning. The day became a long dreary exercise that stretched to a bleak horizon with absolutely no possibility of clubbing a fish. My self-esteem issues were in the ditch. My psychologist did not return my calls. I tried the suicide hotline and got a machine said my call was very important but they were busy with more important calls. In a final act of desperation I sank into what many consider the modern opiate of the masses, Monday Night Football.
I remember hearing a vague rumor out on the river about the Seahawks having a good chance of getting into the playoffs, which seemed strange to me. I didn't even know it was baseball season. It shows what I know about professional sports.
All I knew for sure was that as long as our beloved Seahawks were winning, people would abandon the river to watch a ball game on TV. This means that every Sunday you could get the river to yourself. And if what that famous French philosopher, “What's His Name” said was true and. “Hell is other fishermen,” then Super Bowl Sunday can be a little slice of heaven.
If all our football dreams come true and the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl forget about other people fishing the rivers, there would be no one on the road. It could be one of the best steelhead fishing days of the century!
That's when it hit me! The end of salmon season is the beginning of steelhead season! It just goes to show how fishing can be like life. About the time one boat sinks another one floats by to pick you up. Steelhead fishing may not be a matter of life and death. It's probably much more important than that. Steelhead fishing is a lot like salmon fishing only worse or better depending on your perspective. All I know is the thought of a steelhead swimming up the river without me catching it at least once is disturbing. Maybe it's because steelhead fight harder than salmon. That could be because they don't die after they spawn. Or maybe it's because steelhead are more intelligent than salmon or at least on any given day they can be smarter than me. Steelhead run prediction is an inexact science that has combined elements of science, technology and the ouji board. Now with the Seahawks win on Monday Night Football we have a new tool to determine the success of this winter's steelhead run, the NFL. Go Seahawks!