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.