“My friend (the rookie) and I will be heading north friday night until tuesday night. You free to fish? float? drink at camp? all of the above?”
Fifteen minutes later I got back to him.
Phone numbers were exchanged and some loose plans were hashed out, and on Friday night I parked under a freeway overpass and shook hands with two guys I’d never met before.
“Are you Average Joe?”
“Yep. Are you LTFI?”
“Yep. And this is the rookie.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“OK then. Let’s go.”
LTFI and the rookie each had their own vehicle, so the three of us formed a caravan and headed north.
By the time we pulled into camp it was nearly dark, and after we unloaded the trucks and organized the gear I put together a quick dinner.
The next morning I was able to get a better look at our surroundings.
After some coffee and breakfast burritos, we dropped off the boats and ran the shuttle.
Rods were rigged…
… and knowledge was shared.
Once everyone was stretched and warm, we launched the boats and were on our way.
Whenever someone mentions steelhead fishing, my immediate thoughts are, “Cold. Wet. Hands so numb you can’t even tie a proper knot.”
That would not be the case today.
I hadn’t purchased a steelhead report card as required by law, so I didn’t fish. I did other shit instead.
LTFI brought a dishwasher...
… and it’s possible he ate better than any of us.
Once you’ve got a full belly on a warm winter’s day, nothing beats a nap.
In the afternoon there was more fishing...
… and more instruction...
… but the fish remained uncooperative.
That night we ran the shuttle, headed back to camp, ate, drank, and burned wood.
The next day, and the day after that, we did it all again.
The fish remained elusive, and then my raft started to complain...
… but the weather, scenery, and company remained remarkable.
By Monday night I’d caught just as many steelhead as LTFI and the rookie.
I’m confident that the bananas in the rookie’s boat had nothing to do with that.
Even so, I left them and headed home a day early, partly because I always take the Old Man out to lunch on Tuesdays (he can get a bit squirrely when his routine is interrupted), and partly because I felt something needed to be done to change their luck.
I had a glorious time, and hope I have another opportunity to float (and maybe fish) with these fine young men.