Published Piece in the November 2018 Issue of This is Fly.
Steelhead: Individuals usually traveling in pairs that evolve differently depending on their environment. They are born in fresh water and migrate to saltwater in order to grow.
It’s rush hour on I-80 through Salt Lake City and I’ve locked my steering wheel in a death grip as a Semi passes me going at least 90mph on a four lane highway for the umpteenth time. I reluctantly loosen my death grip with one hand but only for a second to radio Dave, also known as Bandit, on the road.
“Bug to Bandit, do you copy?” I peak in my rear view and through the casting platform on the skiff I’m towing to make sure he’s still on my tail. “This is bandit, come on back now.” Another semi flies past. I undesirably inform Bandit “We’ve got another six hours along the open road before we reach our destination.” By the end of it all, we’ll have traveled just over 800 miles from our stomping grounds in the mountains of Colorado.
The Pacific North West had been calling our names, even though we’d spent limited time in the area and even less time in Idaho. We were fortunate to spend a week in Idaho this summer, surrounded by incredible fishing and good company thus triggering our sense to “run.” The opportunities appeared endless—filled with high mountain lakes, winding rivers and wide open spaces. The allure of challenging opportunities with a fly rod in hand—especially those of anadromous species was impossible to ignore.
I spent many evenings—glass of wine in hand—tirelessly researching potential fishing opportunities and thanks to a few good friends familiar with the area, I was assured that we wouldn’t be in a bad place. On one particular evening just a few days prior to packing our bags, I landed on an article that read “In one to three years, Steelheads migrate out of their biological streams and travel over 800 miles from the ocean inland to Idaho’s Salmon, Snake and Clearwater rivers.” I couldn’t help but feel a relatability to these fish, as we too would be traveling the same distance in less than a couple days.
As rookies to this style of fishing, there will be unavoidable challenges but that’s just fishing. Steelhead aren’t all that Idaho has to offer—mention the state to any angler and day dreams of long summer days, salmon flies, and willing, wild trout commence.
Change doesn’t come without the taste of bittersweet. Of course, there will be aspects of what was once home that are missed—three hundred plus days of sunshine, champagne powder and that Yampa River gold. A late summer evening throwing dries on our turf and stripping streamers in the afternoon after a spring powder day is now a fond memory but it won’t be forgotten.
The routine of a home inevitably becomes comfortable, easy, and ultimately requires little effort. There’s an undeniable satisfaction that lies in what is familiar but there comes a point when it’s time to migrate from such routine in order to grow. For now, we’re moving waters into the blissful unknown.