Sometimes connecting with nature unfortunately means disconnecting with those around you.
Many times during the heat of a hot bite during winter steelhead season, I’m constantly scurrying to get caught up on everything. I go to work, get off work, throw on my waders, jet over the mountain and hit the river for the evening bite.
I bring home my catch, peel off the wet clothes, clean my catch, cure the eggs, brine the meat, make dinner, brush my teeth and go to bed. If I’m efficient enough, sometimes I get to take a shower or do some laundry. The bills start to stack up on the kitchen table, and it’s not because I’m broke, it’s because I can’t buy enough time to sit down and mail out the checks where they need to go.
Often the few chances I get to make or return a phone call are when I’m drying out filets, smoking filets, and canning the finished product. Even still, every one of these processes means my hands are wet, sticky, and gross. I can’t take your call when my hands are covered in goo or being washed in the sink every few minutes. Even if I could, it’d be tough to hold it to my ear and do everything I need to do with the other hand.
Modern technology just wasn’t developed with those who love the outdoors in mind. Touchscreens are made for the guy who gets his meat from the supermarket and drives it home in a minivan, or sits in a restaurant and lets somebody else prepare it for him. This does not work for the guy who stands in the river, in the rain, plucking slimy silver bullets from the water, driving long distances home to pull the catch from the cooler, get covered in slime, blood, eggs and milt, only to brine it in the most delicious, sticky, brown sugar concoctions.
So when I can’t take your call, please don’t take it personal. When you want to go out for a drink and I’m in bed before 10pm because I’m getting up at 5am, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to catch up. The few instances where I get a break to drop a line somewhere other than the water are usually reserved for family. Because they live in different time zones and are a few hours ahead of me, sometimes that means it’s tough to keep in touch with them, too.
However, winter steelhead season, like all good things, comes to an end eventually. I often find myself with idle hands at the end of March, wondering what happened to all my friends that spent the last several months wondering what happened to me.
To those who don’t understand why I disappear for several months out of the year, please accept my sincere apologies, and let’s have a dinner party sometime so I can make space in the freezer for spring chinook. Who’s hungry?