This season, however, I've begun to more clearly understand the steelhead narrative. It started in October with a seemingly innocuous, unguided, trip to a Northern California steelhead river. My friend Aaron and I spent three full days (sun up to sun down) relentlessly searching for fish. Each run we fished look more likely than the last. By the end of the weekend, we'd hooked and landed two smallish steelhead and I had shattered a rod while setting up my drift. In all, a mildly successful steelhead trip.
Since then, I've been twice more. Each trip becoming more successful than the last. Better river conditions, cleaner drifts, and bigger fish, up the appeal each time. It's never easy, but when you hook one of these fish... there's no turning back. Steelhead give real meaning to the phrase, "The tug, is the drug".
Steelhead fishing is more than the pursuit of fish. It's about a state of mind. A lifestyle. The fish are a big part of it but it's the search, anticipation, and constant optimism that make it an addiction. The feeling consumes you whether you land fish or not. I use to lament the day that trout season ended but for years to come, it will only be a signal that steelhead fishing is right around the corner.