Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Becoming a Ghost: A Letter to Myself



Kirk Werner once stated that he didn’t want to introduce anybody to steelheading, because he didn’t want to be responsible for the emotional and financial ruin that may follow. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I understood his warning.

Granted, I wasn’t in the Pacific Northwest. Nor was I anywhere near a river with a run of fall chrome. Rather I was up on “The Mile”, swinging hookless Scandi lines, learning to throw a two-handed rod for the first time. A transformative experience that has consumed me since breaking down the borrowed rod, opening up something I was afraid to admit was inside of me. Hooks or not, broken D-Loops and all.

The rip of line off of the water is on an endless loop in my mind, as perfect casts roll effortlessly out into the abyss of unknown water and spirit. The tug of shadowed shoulders can be felt in workless daydreams, as two more steps have been taken in search. And it’s no wonder why fiercely bearded men reappear in small town diners for bowls of soup and smuggled whiskey. But as quickly as the appear, they return to the river, where they wade stoically as ghosts. These men and women are far gone to the drug, swinging on a pendulum between sane and permanently out there.

I haven’t even thrown a fly.

And as I watch social media’s unpatchable drip from my computer screen, I write this as my first admission of guilt. An admission that may or may not lead to emotional or financial instability, but rather an admission to myself, that I recognize a problem.

Thanks Grant and Jin, I’ll be sending you the bill. For all of it…

I’m all in.

33 comments:

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    1. Thanks my friend, I appreciate it.

      Cheers

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  2. And you'll never be able to go back! Huzzah!

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    1. I know...this may be the last you hear from me...ha!

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  3. Funny that you know trouble is ahead but it feels so good, poetic sir.

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    1. Thanks. It's like watching a train wreck and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

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  4. Mystical, methodical, maniacal...I have watched the masters of the spay and wondered: "Am I worthy of such a powerful wand?" Having been in the Pacific Northwest just weeks ago, time, space and rod dictated old school. Two handed on the fly was not in the cards, and probably all for the better. But still, after losing the battle with a 15 pound chinook, I again, wondered: "What would've that been like on a fly?"

    At some point I'll find you over said bowl of soup and cast a knowing glance as you steal a swig from a hidden bottle...and nod in approval.

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    1. I will probably be growling with my head down...unaware there is actually an outside world around me :-)

      There are definitely a lot of fine points to line position etc...but when rubber hits the road, the cast is nothing more than a roll cast (it's just getting properly set up that makes it or breaks it). You should give it a go...

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  5. Clearly, as evidenced by this, and your comments about reading a particular post when you were explicitly told not too, you do whatever the hell you want with little regard for what is in your best interests. I want to be no part of this. (Come on up and we'll go swing some flies for steelhead).

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    1. Bridget has expressed her frustrations at such selfish behavior...but she knew what she was getting into.

      I should have listened to you Kirk...but I'm past the passing blame phase and have accepted it as a hole I dug for myself. You're off the hook...

      You'll be the first guy that knows when I make it up that way...

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    2. Well, all I can say about Spey casting is that (I need to do more of it) it is quite enjoyable just to be out practice casting. I can't say that about single handed casting. Yes, I rather enjoy fly fishing, but I will not go out for the sake of practice with my single handed rods. I can't say the same thing about the two-hander. Oh wait, I'm pouring gas on an already-lit fire. Never mind.

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    3. the fire has been stoked...I've been telling Bridget that I will be on a rigid practice schedule indefinitely, and she should just accept it...no questions asked. I'm glad that I've got you in my corner for support.

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  6. careful, I've heard of steelheading ruining trout fisherman. Sounds great though. I've tried the snap-t before, and am haunted by the vision of spey casting.

    I hope you have or will see Low & Clear soon. JT Van Zandt is haunted by the ghost. Have fun, and best of luck to ya.

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    1. I don't think that it will ruin me in the trout regard...it will just be another way to experience the sport. but we'll see...ha!

      I need to see Low & Clear...I've seen the trailer and it looks awesome!

      See you on the other side...

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  7. Slippery slope my friend. Spey casters are crazy. Just ask Kirk. I had thought "tug-is-the-drug" was just jingoism, but it turns out it is an actual drug. I'm just warning you. Masterfully written by the way. You need to channel that into a book. JT

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    1. I know...there are many on the front range in "recovery". A different breed for sure. I'm anxiously awaiting my first hit.

      Thanks. We'll see... :-)

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  8. Scandi? Chrome? D-loops? What are these words of madness!?

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    1. I know...I'm scratching my eyes out trying to figure out what all of this means.

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  9. Wonderful read and a great warning to those of us who have not yet been exposed. Reminds me a lot of what picking up my first fly rod did to me. I'm sure when I am near it, I will be forever lost.

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    1. Thanks

      Like Kirk, I will not be held responsible for anything that may result from someone reading this piece...I still feel the same way about fly fishing. I guess this is just another way to spend time on the water.

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  10. Wow, well written.

    You are all in. Most start with bouncing lead deep in holes. But to leap to d-loops and Scandi, you've walked into the heart of the den and breathed deeply the vapors. Have a Steel heart my friend, the ride has just begun.

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    1. Thank you sir!

      I'm looking forward to wherever this may lead...not sure my wife feels the same.

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  11. Sounds like you're hooked already...enjoy! It's always exciting to start a new endeavor and take a path you havn't traveled before.
    I'm pretty sure it would consume me as well , better stay away...at least for now.

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    1. A new path indeed. I haven't even thrown a line with a hook on it, and I can see why so many people get so passionate about it. A different kind of relaxing for sure.

      I'll keep you posted on my progress...and you can watch and see what this turns into for me...I'm sure you'll love it once you take the plunge.

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  12. like a sinning.... its sailing into a storm, with a wicked smile on your face... I know lots of realtors in Oregon and Washington.. let me know if you need one..

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    1. i feel like I'm looking directly into the storm as I type this...

      I'll look you up when I need that realtors name.

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  13. You do realize that gripping a rod with two hands will not make you a better anglerman, yes? Your fate has already been sealed: you are not a good angler, no matter what type of rod you employ to deliver the fly improperly to uninterested quarry. The truth hurts, which is why I speak it.

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    1. Well well well...looks like someone is becoming awfully hormonal these days. You better control that temper, you're about to get stuck...

      oh...thanks for stopping by :-)

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  14. I used a switch rod for the first time last steelheading season and immediately fell into its grips. It's soooooo zen and feels so natural. I've been dreaming of days filled with leaves on the water and hypnotizing spey casting ever since. Just a week away for me! Enjoy the new addiction.

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    1. Sounds like you may fall into the same trap is me...be careful out there!

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  15. Sounds like a warning sign is needed! Approach with caution and at your own risk! Seeing how I'm going broke just trout fishing I'll stay away for now. Don't become the next Big Foot headline, "Wild and crazed man animal swinging long stick spotted in the river."

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    1. I have no intentions of becoming the next headline...but who am I to try and stop this natural progression.

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  16. Dude.. Yes. Ha ha. You felt it man, and penned it PERFECTLY!! Which is either really bad or really good, really good in my opinion. No joke, today I sat in a diner (no beard of course, not by choice) after 4 days of swinging and catching nothing. I ate soup because I couldn't afford a burger, and drank my lunch beer sitting on my tailgate so I didn't have to buy one. The fishing was tough which kept most of the people away. Around the fire one night someone commented on the fishing conditions and said " I love seasons like this, keeps the trout fishermen away". Everyone ( mostly drunk bearded fellows who hadn't taken showers for days, or caught a single fish) laughed, then agreed. Sanders I kid you not once you throw that perfect Spey cast, swing it perfectly through the run, then feel the electricity in the water before that mean anadromous fish smashes your fly, your life will change. You won't look at places to live based on how cool the town is, but how close it is to steelhead water. Maybe my favorite thing about steelheading are the days when the weather sucks, the fish aren't in, you can't feel your feet, and you don't touch a single fish. I think it's because then I feel like the next fish I really earned. I could go on obviously, but I'll just say I'm an enabler, so when you can't resist it any more give me a call. Hope things are goin well in CO.

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