January

Time: 07:00
River: Skykomish
Rod: Okuma Celilo 9' 6"
Reel: Shimano Stradic 2500

Life has a way of interminably piquing my curiosity. From simplicity evoked from a dime sized ember transforming a lifeless pile of logs into a living entity, to the mystery of a float slipping beneath the surface, each boast most salient qualities. Though physical miniature in size and seemingly insignificant, the ember and 1/32nd ounce jig are alike, each harnessing the capacity to positively impact this world.

Three thoughts materialize upon waking: gratitude for another day in my wading boots, curiosity as towards current location of my Simms waders and gratitude for the wonderful woman I call my better half. So it began, securing my yellow jig box in the left pocket of my rain coat, cinching tight the cables of my boots and groping the darkness for my rod and reel. After all, it was my day off, and time to synchronize with nature, probing the winter-riffles for olive-backs.

The conditions were not ideal, wind raging and water tainted an off-green color. The river -never content with it's current course nor depth- always seems to have a mind of her own . Glacial runoff -stimulated by the rise in air temperature- had caused the resurfacing the river bottom; once known fishing haunts had become distant and cold to the touch. With much reluctance, I accepted the challenge before me, relinquishing all desire to control the conditions and redirected my approach to angling. Nature, the most candid instructor of life, had a few lessons in store for me this ethereal Wednesday.

Not a half mile into my stroll, favorable water finally presented itself; out flicked my 27th cast -like a trick kite in Long Beach- slicing through the assailing Northern wind. With laser guided precision and supreme peripheral vision, my Asian eyes traced the faint fluorescent top of my 20 gram DNE float. As it danced parallel to the far side of the bank -the river had etched a small pocket into the hillside- something stirred beneath the surface; my float was no more. I returned salute with 9' 6" of graphite, and was met with a solid *thump.* Five ferocious head shakes and a barreling sprint down and across the river, it was on! He assailed the upper water column, darting to and fro, slapping his speckled, silver-striped tail against the water surface, akin to a boxer rattling the speed bag. I took a knee down on the grapefruit-sized stones of the river bank, being forced to play the Steelhead low, leveraging the rod sideways. Three more attempts to sprint in the shallow water the mighty buck panting for the oxygenated water churning below his pool.

If you're reading this from your desk, you have my compassion; the weekend will return and so will you to your true residence. If you're reading this clothed in ACU or NWU on foreign soil, you have my reverent thanks for your service. As we near the season's close for our Puget Sound rivers, we enter the time of return for behemoth-like hatchery Steelhead. Like thumbing through the pages of your favorite novel, the river begins to reveal her favorite chapters in these seemingly forlorn weeks.

I dare you to take a day off from work, to pursue your fish of a lifetime. May your rods stay flexed and your creels overflow. Reel Priorities, out.