Brah’s Annual Steelhead Weekend
Preparing for the annual weekend of “hot steelhead action” with Sam, his high school best friend, Dale Unger has a pretty good idea what to expect. Sam, a tantrum-prone 35-year-old, predictably goes through the same rituals starting with a healthy dose of pre-trip boasting about all of his new gear, secret bugs, and YouTube prep for an average of 12 weeks prior to the outing culminating in the purchase of a top shelf rod, reel, or waders, typically a brand name he’s spent years criticizing. About one week out Sam’s focus and attention is directed to heavy internet analysis with hourly USGS updates, Facebook puffing, and sarcastic forwarding of fishless outing reports from acquaintances with taglines like “not gonna be us pal”.
Knowing the impending events about to unfold, Dale endures Phases 1 and 2 like a pro realizing that this, by far, will be the most joy Sam will feel during the entire experience. Phase 3 starts in the parking lot where they meet Saturday morning when, while gearing up, Sam begins laying out a carefully orchestrated series of handicaps and disadvantages for use at some appropriate moment during the day. In a futile attempt to lower the odds of a meltdown, Dale often gives Sam’s gear a quick once over for obvious flaws.
During the walk in, Sam treats Dale to stories of his many successful outings in this river, often recounting events that Dale is pretty sure never involved Sam. Tuning out Sam’s tall tales, Dale recounts some of the more memorable blowups, fondly recalling the 2013 event when Sam spent 45 minutes fighting a “monster chromer” that turned out to be a despondent turtle. In 2014 it happened when Dale hooked and landed a large buck in water Sam had fished for over an hour. 2015’s meltdown resulted from Sam ripping a hole in his waders trying to step over a low barbed wire fence and snapping Sam’s brand new Sage 8wt that he’d nicknamed Excalibur.
Desperately trying not to trigger Sam’s impending hysterics, Dale fishes secondary water two bends down from his pal. After about an hour and when some of Sam’s gear begins floating by, Dale knows his buddy is upstream going ape shit. Thankful for not having to witness this years meltdown, Dale quietly gathers his gear and prepares to call it a trip.
Reflecting on the galactic disconnect between Sam’s expectations and reality, Unger notes that it would probably help if Sam got out and fished on some of the 363 days between outings.