“Being stupid should be painful” – Unknown
This past weekend’s trip I was reminded of a very valuable lesson that I have learned many times over throughout my years of fishing. It is a lesson that I have shared with many people, both experienced and new in relation to their level of experience. I committed a cardinal sin and didn’t have my head in the game the entire day while fishing. As a result I paid dearly for it.
We got on the river around 8:30 AM and within the first 30 minutes into the day I was into what I thought at first was a steelhead. The bobber on my indy rig dropped, I quickly set the hook and something big and heavy began to move. At that moment a familiar feeling of elation quickly overwhelmed me as line began to quickly peel out of my left hand and come tight to the reel all in the matter of about 4 tenths of a second.
The feeling of elation quickly turned into grave disappointment when I realized all that had happened is that I had inadvertendly dislodged a piece of lumber from the bottom of the river, and it immediately was caught in the current, displaying many of the same characteristics as a hooked steelhead. In my frustration I immediately started to “horse” the log in so I could unpin it and get back on with my day. The stress placed on my rod was substantial and quickly resulted in the rod snapping with a sound similar to that made by the .22 caliber gun my father used to hunt small game with in the days of my youth.
So, it wasn’t a fish, I broke a rod, and now I have to walk up 144 steep and icy steps back to the truck to re-rig another rod? Now I’m pissed, but mentally chalked it up to some sort of necessary penance required by the Fish God’s – a toll I’d gladly subject myself to if it resulted in a great day of fishing.
Only it didn’t result in that.
On a river that I know relatively well that had been holding several steelhead as of late, in several cases being the first angler through sections of particular runs, with a good selection of proven flies would usually result a decent outing. All it resulted in for me throughout the day was losing about $467 worth of flies lost and a helluva of a lot of knot tying. I’d rather have walked down to the river, opened my wallet, pulled out $467 and thrown it straight into the river (from the top, not the bottom of those damned stairs of course), and turned around and went home.
After about 7 hours of no fish encounters, Dan questioned whether or not I had the correct depth set on my indicator – stating that I might not be fishing a run not quite deep enough. At this point my head was someplace else other than focusing on what I should have been, I was more or less going through the motions. I turned to Dan and assured him that I had the correct depth and to further prove my point I said “watch, if I cast a few feet closer I’ll drag bottom”.
Upon casting in closer to me the bobber lurched towards the river bottom as I had previously, indicating that my rig was set too deep for the water I was fishing. I turned to Dan and smugly said “see, I told you”.
My confident assertion was met by him emphatically screaming “FISH!”. I quickly turned around and quickly recognized my bobber nearly a foot below the river’s surface, screaming towards the opposite bank with a large silver steelhead not far in front of it.
I lifted the rod and came tight on the fish. The physical attachment to that fish lasted about as long as my mom’s apple pie at a family dinner. All because I was being an idiot and not paying attention, it was over as quickly as it started.
Instead of having an opportunity to land a beautiful January steelhead and erase all of the hardships THAT I CAUSED myself during the day, I added to it because I committed the substantial crime of not having my head in the game at all times.