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.