Scintillation

Time: 06:00
River: Skykomish
Rod: Okuma SST 6' 6"
Reel: Shimano Sahara 2500

Oft I wonder how many scintillating, sun-scorched skylines we're afforded, reminded by divinity in nature how man but hobbles by on borrowed time, prized ownership of nature herself. The choir of churning pistons neath' steel hood of my noble steed illuminated the convalescent dawn. Aberrations concluding their evening valley tenure torpidly retraced their familiar alabaster vapor trails, returning them to familiar daytime forest haunts. Through the ghoulish fog caressing the fringes of tiny-town Startup traveled I, thick as silence on a freshly dusted winter’s eve. Arriving three minutes ahead of schedule lightened my heart; arriving eight wholesomely earned minutes ahead of time afforded my morning repose amidst the sea of glowing eyes casting glares down upon my silhouette, ethereal tranquility eviscerating fearful feelings, solitary in the dark.

Some mornings bequeath feelings of hope and resilience, however this daybreak procured sentiment of solace and mourning. I came naught for silver-sides and olive-backs, but to uplift my friend and kindred spirit, willfully returning to the earthen-walled caverns of empathic service. Friendship weathering enumerable hours earned companionship. Bonds of brotherhood were wrought with iron-tempest and testing squall. Though he strolled through the emotional deluge—as a fresh widower—alone, we found ourselves scratching the surface of our souls, each successive cast cleansing layers asunder, constitutions collective; paths conflagrant. This I dedicate to you, my friend—my heart goes with you through this vicissitude of life.

I find it trying to take angling for sport these days; it has evolved to the liking of an ancillary play-thing, harnessing an ideal of child-like essence, touting freedom from life’s cornucopia of responsibilities—it is the peg that hangs my trench coat of faith in humanity. Frequently unable to commit mentally to the task, I still find it useful for ameliorating character flaws and fortifying integrity. As the iron dumbbell to the body builder, so the cast to the angler, dross removed from the spirit with each repetition. That we, my fellow angling brethren, may increase, let the steelhead garner new title as the “fish of ten thousand casts.” To tougher fish; to greater men.

Much to the dismay of his dual rods-and-reels was the unconventional armament of my own. Towering seven-feet-save-six-inches, factory embellished a jovial pearlescent pink was my Okuma SST rifle. And while my counterpart snickered incessantly, my opponent-to-come would furnish no mirth, solemnly cutting his teeth on fewer words to say.

With surgeon-like precision, we voraciously blasted each seam of the low-and-clear Skykomish puddle. By the first hour's last breath, we parted ways organically, allowing the guiding morning ethos to plot our remaining casts. Out-geared and under-gunned by my contemporary, I chose the overgrown path of gut-feeling, averting gaze from the riffle above promising a pair of fins. Refocusing on frog-water below, I prepared my mind to paint flawlessly upon the liquid canvas. Resounding with deft accuracy, two hand cannon-like casts later, my DNE float dove beneath the surface. Garnering all might and tenacity of ten thousand men, I violently flogged the air behind my head, activating the non-existent backbone of the ultralight attempt-of-a-rod, clenched tightly between sore fingers. Fish on!

To the surface he gallivanted, spreading wide his angelic water-wings, importunely pushing his weight laterally while viscerally shaking the soul of my tremulous curve of graphite. Eyes glaring and ectoplasm pouring from his snorting nostrils, he skillfully advanced to my rod tip, six feet and inches commensurate in distance—I could taste the repugnance of his will, respectfully coupling the acrid aroma that tingled my olfactory sense. Succumbing to ennui along the slow and unchanging inside seam, he stormed off, evincive of his willpower, sapping the strength of my recently borrowed six-pound-test Maxima leader. After primitively alligator-rolling in its entirety and deftly unwinding himself—as the seamstress her thread—he viciously propelled himself upward towards the sky, akin the reconciliatory flight pattern of the spring-swallow, subsequent to dive-bombing his evening meal. Following a flurry of reel cranks and a nine-minute engagement of hand-to-hand combat within arm’s length, he finally revealed his Leviathan-like size. Three failed attempts to water-land my opponent—girth nearly insurmountable by mere mortal hand—procured a successful fourth, splintered shield and battered sword, cautiously wielded by weathered hands. Of worthy opponents, I’ve faced many; of brilliance and decorum embodied in 36" x 17" of refined determination, musculature and will, I’ve seldom received the invitation. I'm haunted by intellect insurmountable and equanimity of steelhead, juxtaposed with their subordinate: the pursuing angler.

While many days populate the interim where no worthy opponent is to be found, it takes but one properly trained set of fins to set the soul afire. This past year trading reel for real estate has been rewarding. Meticulous transference of cultivated skill from the world of angling, to one stacked with investors and property acquisitions, has deemed a mightily successful endeavor. The lessons earned by the pedagogue—nature—being reverently returned to domesticated man, one word and one property at a time.

If you're interested in procuring residence or investment property along the Skykomish River—or the greater eastside— I warmly requite my real estate contract and negotiating skills to you. If the recent landing of a dream investment property across from Reiter Ponds Hatchery for a friend and client of Reel Priorities wasn't enough to set conflagration in mine own, it most certainly will yours when you no longer need pay hours of commute for entrance to one of Washington's finest winter steelhead fisheries. Let not the morning woes sequester the joy from the consummate fishery you deserve.

May your rods retain crescent arcs; may your investments abound fruitfully, availing opportunities to reinvest in that which truly matters. Thank you for reading—Priorities Reelty, out.

Hypothermia

Time: 10:00
River: Skykomish
Rod: St. Croix IPC 13'
Reel: Islander Steelheader

Though seemingly innocuous, the waking chime of a cell phone alarm holds the gavel over the land of slumber, especially when the clock illuminates late-in-the-morning digits, eyelids glued shut during the maturation of the morn. To make matters worse, the pursuit of a lethargic set of fins and scales included masochism at it's finest; howling winds and frigid rain pounded heavily upon the soil ahead. For the pursuit of adventure, creature comforts must be forsaken, and how forsaken our comforts would be! Thus the morning began, to the tune of Sparco rims dragging through the compact snow, like a teenager headed to first period class.

I never thought all roads leading to steelhead would have ended like this, the culmination of zealot-like discipline and sacrifice eventually leading to a more meaningful type of social bonding. After all, the olive-backs only draw us to the river; it's the person nudging our dominant casting shoulder who solidifies the experience. Be it fishing partner, friend or foe, we all meander the same clandestine route, to the same glorious location. And one day, I hope the Wild Fish Conservancy comes full circle to understand this -- that hatchery fish play a beneficial role in our society. Yes, your gear fishing counterparts are indeed rough around the edges, and though less elegant in technique, remember how sport angling actually helps some of these "rough edges" figure out their problems, out on the water. Eradicating the entirety of supplemental sport fisheries, too precludes many philanthropic and beneficial sects of society -- may you see the picture sooner than later. Higher minds call it "Piscatorial Therapy;" I call it life. And after pushing aside such troubling, late morning thoughts, the festivities began.

They call him "Loudmouth Johnny." Standing 6' tall and perpetually clad in tattered ACUs' covering needled-pierced-flesh-work, he's become quite the angler -- infamous to many, yet loved commensurately. The rate of progression for our relationship has been astounding; from acquaintance, to student, to friend. He'd been faithfully working winter seams since 06:00, without a prick beneath his float nor poke to his jig. He did in fact succeed in priming the waters for the silver-silhouettes, as they took kindly to my offering by second flick. I always remind Johnny to work the inner seams, though I suppose he found gratification this particular morning in watching his float approach mach speed, bobbing happily down the spine of the river, unequivocally a fascinating sight indeed. So the day continued on Wallace cast #2, with a zealous winter buck orchestrating the day's events, signaled by the now head-banging extension of graphite, clutched tightly between nitrile-clothed hands. Venturing out from his final hiding spot, he inhaled my iridescent-peach headed, 1/8th ounce jig, tethered beneath a Crayola green, 20 gram DNE float. After the initial shake-and-bake steelhead writhe, he sprinted down towards the tail-out, belting out notes from my Islander Reel, alike a child puffing on a primordial, hand-me-down Kazoo. 10 minutes of bending the 13' St. Croix, tucked amidst the softer water, left him weary as blood-shot eyes, eventually accepting his fate as a smoked-delectable -- to be vacuum sealed and delt out like cards, come Christmas. So the winter buck became another inscription on the multiple reprint of catch card; score one for the late rising angler.

Johnny catches on quickly. After a swift "jig weight and pattern consultation," he was quite literally "hooked." Not 15 minutes passed when he ushered his war cry, stout Lamiglas X11 bowing gently towards the river, furiously recovering line stripped from his Pflueger Supreme, a "gift" from his shorter, more bait-friendly and wide-screen visioned mentor. Judging from the forlorn fight, I took solace in seeing the removal of his genetic code from the hatchery gene pool -- even if the water was cold enough to accommodate such lackadaisical demeanor. After a few additional head-shakes on the opposing end of Johnny's #8 Maxima leader, the battle had been won. In death, some shine brighter than in life, his final purpose taking precedence over his days while 6 feet above ground. What winter fish lack in fight, they most certainly make up for in appearance! On the bank went the buck, another successful conquest by the embodiment of the reason Lisa and I were riverside this particular day -- one of friendship. By this time, Lisa's hands were inoperable, no thanks to just-before-freezing rain, piling on her hands like cake batter. Off she shot up the trail to warm up at Johnny's cabin, while we continued our labor of love working the steelhead green riffles and seams, to remove hatchery fish from the mighty Skykomish. And remove we did.

Casting a center pin is like driving a high-end sports vehicle; one millisecond late on the double clutch or rev match, and the entirety is spoiled. Though no longer bird's nesting nor inadvertently short casting, I still find perfect timing to be the challenge at hand; the battle goes naught to the swift nor strong, but belongs to the angler of precision. While working the rockery along the inside seam, I arced out a picture-perfect wallace cast upstream; though she accurately sailed a country mile, one coil lay hastily abandoned in my reel. While extenuating the circumstances a quick glace above revealed the absence of my float. Had I been float fishing this whole time? A quick rip backwards on the Croix' sent line screeching off of the spool in the direction of the tail-out at a most alarming rate -- fish on! I watched helplessly as the chrome-armored hen relentlessly tore line away from me, on haphazard path into a remnant of braided line from a novice angler. As quickly as I hooked her, she had been lost -- or so I thought. Much to my surprise, my #6 Izorline XXX held up long enough for Johnny to secure the snagged line to a spoon, backed by #15 Power Pro. After 10 minutes of watching the once ferocious hen flop helplessly atop the river surface, I began to strip my layers. Hell, I supposed it was time for a bath; it had already been a day, or two. And not a moment too soon had my last shirt covered my eyes during the process of removal, as an old friend appeared through the bushes. Only the influence of a 20 year Navy veteran--an experienced water craft operator who shuttled SEALS in Zodiacs, to and from "work"--was enough to get me to re-clothe, sit down and shut up. Possessing #40 Power Pro braid came in handy, making quick work of all 3 lines surrounding the fish, and one inside her jaws. I'm certain that God smiled upon Mike this afternoon, having preserved another Asian, skyrocketing up the ladder for the winning spot of this year's "Darwin awards." In short, his kindness saved me a hazardous dip and recovered 2 of my jigs, along with a gorgeous winter hen. All proceeds--fins and jigs-- were donated to the "Save an Asian Foundation." He deserved more than a fish, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

It's funny how life has a way of weaving patterns so intricate, they're beautiful, even if they appear muddled or disfigured at first glance. Seeing how a fish nearly lost rekindled a friendship, I hope to see many more "lost" fish this season ahead. For those of you struggling to procure opportunities to "lose fish" this season, come take an early January fishing break at ReelPriorities.com. Peruse exclusive winter steelhead articles, or take a sneak peak into my on-the-water, personal steelhead journal; you'll be dialed in to all the facets of steelheading on the Skykomish and surrounding rivers, in no time at all.

May your reels gush line, leader rolls empty and jig hooks remain ever-dulled, by an overabundance of steelhead tearing your gear to shreds. Thank you for reading -- Reel Priorities, out.

Commandeer

Time: 06:00
River: Skykomish
Rod: G.Loomis IMX 9'8
Reel: Shimano Stradic 2500

It was a throwback type of morning. With the ribs of the river poking through the skin of the river surface, I deemed it fit to go old-school. And so I discovered myself, rustling through the dense brush of fishing tackle at 05:00, in search of my highly prized cork float.

I am meticulous when it comes to preparation for a day out on the river. Every jig and piece of bait is accounted for, and every box previously inventoried, each slot containing a freshly tied jig from the evening prior. This morning however, I brought one jig to suspend beneath my float. It may have been the way it undulated so gracefully, backed by the late night glow of Netflix Lisa so intently watched, jig swaying in a manner only a store bought Aerojig can boast.

When I'm on a mission to stack the shelves of my Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, I cure up a batch of eggs--no Pautzke Boraxo-whatever here--and polish up my hardware for the Summer Run. Starting from the head of the run, I aggravate our finned friends downriver with the flutter of a 2/5th ounce Rvrfshr spoon. Upon running out of desired water, I retrace my casts upriver with the #5 green bodied, hammered-silver-bladed spinner. If nothing has risen to the offer, I bobber-dog each slot downriver with my home-cured batch of quarter-sized eggs; you can assume by now,
something has gone belly up.

To the author who explicitly stated that fish "spook" from larger presentations each and every time, I'd like to place you in my chest freezer, atop my horde of low-water Skykomish River fillets. Similarly, to the author who wrote how "fish don't care about line color when it comes to hardware fishing," I've reserved a special spot in my kitchen freezer for you. Though I've caught myriads of fish on high visibility line closely spliced with clear copolymer to my hardware, empirical evidence and 30 dedicated days straight of low-water angling has stated otherwise. It is easy to walk up to a hatchery slot subsequent to a rain, and hook fifteen to twenty fish; sadly, I feel as if the majority of Steelhead know-how has been catered to this mindset of meat fishing. The river rises, the fish stack and it's game time. When the water recedes, the less-intelligible fish--my favorite type to entice--are thinned out and 5-10 of their intelligible brethren remain, this time scattered over a quarter mile stretch of river front. Luck being no longer the viable option for the committed angler, must be tossed out the window. This is the crossroads where everything you've read about Steelhead is turned upside down.

For some reason I decided to work the jig from the middle of the run, upriver. The evening prior, I reasoned that a glow headed jig would force a limit of Steelhead upon me, without even having to cast. Much to my dismay, I was fishing empty water prior dawn; by the time I reached the intended slot, a fisherman was found pounding away at it with his super-clear-stealth-float. If we were better men, we gear-fisher-types would work the river from head to heel, rinse and repeat, a quality I've always enjoyed about feather flickers. But we are not, and I greatly respect water space, especially to the kindred, early rising fisherman. After a cordial "hello" and introduction, I slithered through the rocks another 70 yards above him, prior to placing deft cast. An hour later after many walking-speed-presentations, the Skykomish deeply sighed, refusing to surrender any semblance of fins and and a 8" tail. So I began, traipsing carefully downriver to stand atop a rock now 15 yards above the fisherman.

To seasoned river anglers: do you know when you can "feel" a fish in a slot? Inexplicable, yes; undeniable, even more so. It's one of those things that happens, irrespective of water conditions--too fast, too slow, too shallow--where you know you have to cast if you'd like to reaffirm your feeling, with the resplendent arc of a graphite rod. So I watched, cast by cast, as the fisherman pounded the slot with no "rhyme or reason," reaffirming to the slot inhabitants no matter how clear his float was, to feign the offering. "He's still throwing that pattern of jig?" *Fins to the side after hundredth brief inspection*. By this time, I'd had enough. With the morning bite slipping away with such haste, I'd reasoned it was time. In to the gunmetal grey sky my cork float sailed, landing hard on the water surface with a "plop," loud enough to dismantle the spirit of the most courageous fish. Thankfully I read those "Steelhead books," and placed the cast 20' above the slot. To some, faith in non fluorocarbon leader is tough during low-water--no thanks to business marketing. For others, floating extremely high in an undefined, deep slot is even more hair-raising. As planned and not a moment too soon, my cork float violently plunged beneath the surface above the darkest portion of the slot, poor claustrophobic jig now in the jaws of a disgruntled fish, still hanging 18" below the float though much lower now in the 7-foot-deep slot. Fish on! Gallivanting downriver, I gracefully passed the now vehement fisherman, continuing battle well out of earshot.

You can tell when a hen takes your gear by the way they fight; such grace and spunk is reminiscent of group of girls-night-out-chicks, clad in Nordstrom apparel, high-heeling around downtown Bellevue. This gal was pissed, as I would be too if I were hooked and invisibly pulled out of my seat after taking a bite from my morning toast, eye crusties still firmly attached to the face. Hadn't I spooled up the evening prior with fresh monofilament tip, I would have been one disappointed angler. She screamed my reel like a death metal rock star during a hit-song-chorus on a Friday evening. Though certainly not the largest fish on my line this summer season, without contest she took the cake for the "reel-screeching-run award." I allowed the air to cool off my now molten hot reel, spool glowing like the eyes of a man unwrapping Simms waders from his wife on Christmas morning, proceeding the gentle sway of the IMX graphite to steadily drain the remainder of life from her. 5 water landing attempts later lay a gorgeous hatchery hen atop the water surface, index and thumb knuckles wrapped securely around her peduncle.

I'll never fully understand why I angle Steelhead, though I believe the beauty lies within the challenge. Maclean once wrote how man is capable of "loving completely without complete understanding." Maybe one day, I'll be able to firmly grasp such modicum of truth; until then, I will continually pursue the understanding of what I love. I believe in another form of truth: Love God, love your woman, serve others and produce as many reel-screeching-orchestrations and crescent-shaped, pulsating rods as humanely possible. I raise my IMX to you: may the sunshine warm upon your face, may the road rise up to meet you and may your creels overflow with Steelhead. Reel Priorities, out.

Alkaline

Time: 06:00
River: Skykomish
Rod: Okuma Celilo 9' 6"
Reel: Shimano Stradic 2500

Upon entrance into the sport of river angling, the salient points were: reel-splitting runs, aerial acrobatic displays and adrenaline induced comas, catalyzed by the take of a Steelhead. These days, memorable moments once set ablaze by adrenaline remain rather occult, as if the sport has grown geriatric. Thankfully, I've matured--in both mentality and through the personal refinement of skill--and have grown to appreciate the many underlying constituents, each adding up to create the hell of an experience we call "angling." Since Steelhead on-the-wire no longer infuse my veins with epinephrine, I've discovered other venues of enjoyment; these days it's all about scout-and-stalk, running high mileage in river soles, pursuing Steelhead in water with high barriers of entry.

They say we "become the average of our three closest friends." I've chosen to run with a tight crowd. If one falls behind, another goes back to carry them. Conversely, if one develops laziness in one of the four corners of life (physical, social, mental and spiritual), they are cast out. The last time I checked, Musk, Gates and Buffet have kept their friendships few and seldom; there is a calculated reason as to why they are the best at what they do. So my goals remain: to attain mastery in Steelhead angling, achieve Socratean-spoken physique and impact this world with such great positive force that it can no longer gorge itself on lackadaisical days, trading down knowledge and growth for ignorance and obesity.

The morning whispered her benevolent words to the fresh, dew-dropped day, as I ran my fingers along the matte-olive seams of my vinyl-wrapped Audi. "Another day we've received, Kerrigan. It's a day not to be wasted, so let's see how fast we can get there." 45 minutes of revitalization--thanks to the precise hand of German tektons--later, I arrived to the amusement park. 06:00 glowed on my digital timepiece, as I further depressed the gas pedal; olive-backs and steel-plated warriors finned through the drink of my thoughts and beckoned me onward.  Kanzler and Coward arrived not a moment too soon, accompanying me on the walk to the riverside. When it comes to top-notch anglers, these two boys have paid their tabs and pack the heat.  It felt like a metal day, so on spun the purple-bodied, silver-bladed, number 5 Rvrwhirler. Second cast out, a half-hearted tug was deemed remuneration, for showing up. "Geez, they're stingy this morning" I exhaled mid-cast.  After switching up to a copper spoon, I whipped out the last cast of my spool--too much pressure being applied in casting--to the measly amount of line left on the spool. As my fingers fumbled for the bail--post-cast--they came back with naught but air. Since the algorithm of luck includes preparation, I had a spool of #10 XXX Izorline Copolymer hiding somewhere between the folds of my waders; in a matter of minutes, I'd circumvented the obstacle, fresh line wrapped around the spool, ready for action. I proceeded to work the tail-out and entire section of rapids, to no avail.

And then it happened after latching on to a bright idea. Spinners work well casted upriver, which was just the direction I was headed. After identifying the reworking of river stretch and locating suitable pocket water, I began my craft. Not two casts in, my rod doubled over; line gushed out of my reel, akin to a hemorrhaging knife-wound. He railed on my spool, sucking line into the abyss of the river, darting south of mountains, hastily executing his counter-attack plan; I could tell this was his "first rodeo," in light of the miscalculated energy expenditure on his first run. Subsequent to ensuring the set--setting the hook twice has been a precautionary measure I always take when fishing hardware--I let him go to work. He took a deft fin to the shallows, sharking his way through the obstacles in the two-foot-deep pocket water. Unsure of whether or not to jump, he stayed the course faithfully to fatigue. Tired, he attempted to clamp to three submerged boulders, like Mussels do wood pilings. After increasing mileage on my boots in response to his last run, I prepared for water landing procedure, a respectful alternative to the barbaric "reverse-run-and-drag" the majority participate in. And how I wish my Oakley optics were covering my eyes rather than my hat! His blinding diamond-plate, paired with obstinate attitude, nearly thwarted my empiricist-minded landing hand. Thankfully, today's tune subdued all melancholy tones of yesterday, and the contrast of gun-metal grey and 22"-rim-silver lay in surrender upon the bank.

Though ambivalent to sedentary fishing, I was feeling rather languid, subsequent to my cardio-heavy adventure in the rapids. I took a knee to taste the ethereal morning air and popped on a cork float worthy enough to bob my Boraxed eggs down the snowmelt. Fifteen casts made those Whitefish sitting in the upper slot, "quake in their shoes." In actuality, I was the one "quaking," feeling the weight of the situation, along with my rapidly dwindling supply of albumin. Breaking up the monotony the 12"-and-under-school expounded whilst happily snacking on my eggs, Coward came along and struck up a chat. Listening to him recant his adventures in the midnight lands of libation was quite the treat while tying on my favorite bead, in hopes of finding that one like-minded creature that too appreciated the radiating silver sheen of the bead--which persuaded me to snatch the package off of the bead shrine--found near the middle aisle in Ted's Sportscenter; if Mike had erected the shrine in a less tasteful manner, I may have been able to come out a few nickels on top.

I'd say that two casts to fifteen provides a highly rewarding experience with the minimal amount of effort. I watched as my primitive excuse for a float attempted to hide itself in the drink, from a pair of Asian eyes--contact lens prescribed, mind you--which possess Sauron-like powers. Seriously, you can't hide from my wide-screen peripherals; if you don't believe me, go watch Bruce Lee pick on Chuck Norris in "Way of the Dragon." I screeched like the resident Skykomish Bald Eagle and ferociously waved upwards with rod--like Thor and his beloved Mjölner do to those bad guys, pre-squishing. Her antithesis was powerful; from the Seahawk-like game-winning-sprints, to the discord she shared through aerial display, I was honored to be that "jerk" standing atop the rock, receiving jerks on the opposing end of my rod. The battle was the archetype and epitome of Summer-Run Steelhead; truly, I wish you could have been there. Slowly but surely, the consistency of my tastefully lightened Shimano drag precluded her from further existence; she came in with such beautiful surrender, I suppose a better man would have released her.

It has been a privilege serving you, my brothers and sisters who frequent river haunts. Thank you for your support and encouragement. As always, you will have my words, knowledge and teaching, to aid you in your river pursuits. On to the next chapter of life, I am closing out my tab as a guide. To the pursuit of excellence in every worthwhile, lifelong pursuit. Reel Priorities, out.

Enclave

Time: 04:00
River: Skykomish
Rod: Shimano Clarus 11' 3"
Reel: Shimano Stradic 2500

For the past few months, angling has taken a back seat in my heart. June first clambered in at Reiter, like a stumbling drunkard three sheets to the wind. Bodies were strewn messily about, and wands waved violently in the air; confused Steelhead clamped onto the most bizarre of offerings. Though my limbic system pulled me to the river at first light, a few short casts and long-winded greetings later, I found myself back behind the wheel headed home; not three hours into opening day, I returned beneath the summer quilts, firing off casts in dreamland. Thus passed the infamous opening day on the famous Skykomish River, a day always fondly forgotten.

I call her the Moving Couch. Seitz car that is, the reliable result of Asian engineering; shines a brilliant bronze, in her mom-esque splendor. She sports cushy cloth seats worn light tan through years of shuttling legions of sugar-high children, back and forth to soccer practice. Ode to the memories that live vibrantly through the carpet stains, 68,702 miles later. Despite her homely chassis turning away the most beautiful women, she will forever remain in my heart, with her sexy gas economy and pillow-like suspension.

Third Eye Blind bellowed in the background, filling in the reverberating sound of silence during the early morning hours. A few depressions of the gas pedal later and we arrived at Boulder Gardens. With the sun rising at such an alarming rate, it turned into a game of splice, tie and sprint. After the twist of a Double Uni knot coupled with a round cork float, my gear was soaking up the snowmelt. Seitz sat back and observed, patiently biding time. Could he forsee the fish seated along the back seam at the top of the run? I watched as my civil-war-era float bobbed happily downstream, before I heard the distinct chirp of "fish on." And so it went, a low-water Silver Ghost was found in want, persistently tugging at the opposite end of his fluorocarbon leader.

It was like clockwork: his elbow automatically raised to shoulder height and his Shimano rod cocked parallel to the water, the preface of surface-leap-inhibition. I even recall hearing the distinct "clicks" that signaled a coolly lightened drag with the left hand, in preparation for the ubiquitous warm water run-and-jump behavior, exhibited by Summer Steelhead. Other than slipping on a stone laced with algae and haphazardly navigating the coarse terrain, it was like gazing into a mirror. The only thought in my head was: "this kid is turning into a fine angler."

The grey outline motored in with conviction, a common tactic mistaken for an invitation to the bank. Many a Summer Run have escaped the dance of death with such wit and will continue, so long as man probes the river-melt with rod and reel. Seitz counter attacked with a few quick snaps of the rod, sending shocks down the wire. Shortly thereafter out burst 17 yards of line from his Shimano Stradic CI4, as the fish sprinted down and out towards the tail-out, attempting to escape the slow moving, oxygen deprived water. And then it happened: a pink ribbon lay parallel to the river surface. He thrashed, dodged and slipped the punches from oncoming obstacles, even managing to crank out an Olympic-quality submarine cartwheel. Naught but a few minutes later, it became evident that the sheets of fatigue were clouding the judgement of our finned friend. When the opportunity arose, Seitz carefully backed the torpedo along the surface of the inside seam and into the soft water. No sooner than it raised it's tail in surrender, had my tailing hand found it's grip, firmly secured around the peduncle. Onto the bank slid his personal best, and out went the lights of the magnificent creature.

We blazed river trail for another two and a half miles. After thirty additional last casts and growing weary of our sweat-drenched, Simms wader material, the spring sun successfully precluded us from continuing course.

The gin-like water recedes with each sunrise, while the finned rounds of .223 stand early morning watch. Anglers of proficiency will continue to procure their bag limit; I dare you to fill each slot of your catch card. Only the noteworthy skills in life take time both time to build and prove extreme difficultly in obtainment and accomplishment. Remember this: success rests upon the bed of fearsome and prolonged failure; it's life's way of separating the wheat from the chaff. Bring me your incompetencies and fears of failure, and we'll iron out the creases in your angling skill.

With the same glacial-fed blood coursing through my veins, I bid you the utmost success. May the sun shine upon your back and may the Summer-Run Steelhead captivate your heart this season. Reel Priorities, out.