It’s the peak of bird season and all I can think about are these silvery muscle bound pissed-off ocean jocks turned river bullies who have nicotine scars patinated on my primate brain center as much as chukar.


My iPhone camera doesn’t pick up chrome on a cloudy day.

*I apologize for the crappy iPhone pics.

  First off, I am not a steelheader. I live in the driest state in the union, the Big Empty, the high desert wasteland that everybody dreads even driving through. I get down to the coastal ranges of California a couple of times a year, along with a few trips to the western Sierra’s Yuba and American rivers, so at best I am a tourist. Northeast Nevada used to have runs of steelhead and salmon in the Owyhee, Jarbidge and Bruneau rivers as well as Salmon Falls Creek, all of which are tributaries to the mighty Snake of the mightier Columbia River drainage. I didn’t know that till a few years ago and am still amazed these creatures swam from the vast and distant Pacific to the tides of sage brush and high desert just above the north rim of the Great Basin. Anadromous salmonids are truly amazing fish and a pure symbol of determination, especially the steelhead who might make the round trip several times between salt and sage in their lives. Oregon and Idaho are lucky enough to have chukar and steelhead available at the same time in the same canyons and that’s made me seriously consider a move to what probably is my simpleton Valhalla.

  But for now I’ll let the battle of priority rage on and plot courses down isolated coastal rivers while I hoof up lonely desert peaks till I can’t stand to separate the two any longer.


  The pup isn’t always stoked to go to the lowlands in freezing winter water in search of “riverbirds”, but she manages to find high ground and takes advantage of my sympathy for her complete lack of body fat.



See you soon you legless devils, see you soon.

5 responses to “Priorities

  1. If you ever make it up the the Skagit or the Oly Penn after the new year drop me line, there are no fish left in those rivers but the locals brew some good hooch that makes the infestation of beginner yuppy spey-tards and their poor casting with $3000.00 rod-reel combos seem more funny than sad.

    • I was on a bicycle trip and rode up the Skagit from Anacortes in early June of 2007. It was properly blown and intimidating. We did spend a day off where the Cascade River runs into the Skagit and it happened to be right when the Cascade opened for the first time in like 25 years or something for spring chinook. I had to leave my partner there and after I went on he ended up catching a few as well as a massive bull trout on a 4wt with 6lb test.. we packed light trout gear for our long journey because we didn’t figure on salmon fishing. A baby bear also ran out and tried to steal one of his fish. That was one of the prettiest zones I’ve encountered, and I really fell in love with Mazama over the pass. Fly shop, bike shop, and North Cascades heliski and the Methow river in a town about the size of the one I grew up near.
      Where are you at in that area? I’d love to head up and fish or shoot birds sometime.

      • Mazama is a great little town, I like Winthrop too despite its touristy charm. I hear the Met has been doing Ok for steelhead in recent years. I keep going over for a cast and blast trip, but there is usually so much blast I forget all about the cast and never actually wet a line.
        I am located near Seattle most of the year.

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