Whenever I take a steelheading or any other fishing trip, I get the First Day Blues. I can prepare all I want and I will have a major fuck-up on my first day. I don’t know why this happens. I can get to my destination camp or room or lodge with all of my equipment and necessary items; clothing, camera stuff, fishing gear and toiletries. I have everything to make a successful trip. But I guess I get so excited to actually be where I’ve been planning for a year (more or less) that my brain goes askew and doesn’t arrange my gear and other stuff. As much as I try to follow my list (written down), I go blank on parts of it every first day on my trips. I cannot remember one that didn’t embarrassed me when we get to the fishing part of the trip.
I have fished for the major part of my adult life and I have always suffered this affliction. I think it is a little worse as I put more days on the water, but I think that is because I can’t remember my earlier days so clearly. My worst consequences have been while traveling tropical areas and have forgotten my sunscreen. God, I have had some bad sun burns. And I am still paying for it decades later at my annual trip to my dermatologist. I have had Squamous Cell Carcinomas carved out of me on three occasions. I asked the surgeon to carve it out like a fly or hook, but they weren’t cooperative. Now, I just have non-descript scars: but think what it would have looked like with a fly scarred on my cheek or chest or nose. I have basil-cell carcinomas taken off my skin several times and annually, have pre-cancers frozen off my face and hands. All for forgetting my sunscreen decades earlier.
First day blues have included forgetting my camera, lenses, flies, leaders and tippets, snacks, water, rod or reel, rain gear and polarized sunglasses.
However, my worst first (and second) day blues happen just a few weeks ago. I met two friends up on the Thompson River. We were to have three days of fishing. Ok. So, the first morning I secure my magnetic rod carrier on my truck and we head upstream to see what is available to fish. My friend John asked if my carriers were safe and I said that I have never had a problem with them. Even so, he put his rod under my canopy in the truck bed. My other friend, Darc, put his rod and my rod on the racks. We trucked on up the river, finding our first two preferred fishing spots occupied. So, we continued up the highway at 50 mph and the worst nightmare an angler and driver can see; the carrier with two rods and reels fly off of my truck when a semi passed us going the opposite direction.
I immediately looked in my rear view mirrors and saw the carriers and rods and reels lying on the highway, but (luckily) no trucks or cars behind us. I asked Darc to run back to get them. He was reluctant because this was a narrow part of the highway. But he did and got back in my truck so we could continue to the next turnout. We got there with Darc holding on to the rods out the window. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. I expected the worst, but the reel showed scars of road rage and some of the guides were bent some and my reel was left without a handle. I didn’t look at John, but I know he was congratulating himself for not putting his rod on the carrier. I felt terrible. It was my rack. My fault. Couldn’t get it out of my mind. It was the first day, though. So when we arrived at a fishing run, I put together another reel and we went to the river. When we got there, I realized I left my tips and flies at my truck. That wasn’t so terrible, but then I realized I left my camera back at the cabin. I am so far in the blues, now, that I have to look up at the ground.
We leave this run to check out another one. It is open so we drive in. I actually remember my flies, tips and leaders. We hike in and get spread out. I am going through the run and get hung up on a drift. Rather than changing tips I continue through the run. Then, I get hung up seriously. I cannot break it loose while wading. I make my way ashore and wrap the line around my arm in my raincoat. It finally breaks loose, but without my head. I am left with only my shooting line and backing. I reel in, find a comfortable place in the rocks and pull my rain jacket over my face and lay down. I’ve had it. Several minutes later, John asked me if this is my head in the water. I yelled yes and he retrieved it. So all is not lost. I was telling Laurie (of the Log Cabin Pub) my tale and she put it all into perspective for me. I crying in my beer and told her my story and then she said “Stop you whining”. “What are you complaining about”. She was right. I felt better.
The next day saw us get out late, but we got prime water. Darc was at one his favorite places and I decided to just stay ashore and man the camera. He soon had a fish on and it was a good fish (but they’re all good right?). It was the biggest steelhead he had ever hooked and landed. I got some good pics and then John came up to see us. I told him to go out and give it a try. I really wanted to take pictures. But he insisted that I go first. I did and left my flies on shore, of course. So, when I lost it, Darc brought me out another one. He stayed out there with me. I made a few casts, then I thought I felt a tug, and I set the hook so hard, my feet slipped out from underneath me I went down soaking my left arm and side where the water rushed in. Darc helped me from going all the way down; holding me up from behind.
I was wet, but not soaked. We headed back to the cabin so I could get out of the wet clothes and take a warm shower.
When I told Laurie about this, she just laughed and told me to quit my bitchin’. She was right, of course.