Monday, February 27, 2012

March Madness

As we close in on March, the familiar rumbling in the pit of my gut tells me it's about that time again.  (Granted it may just be gas from the gut bomb burrito I just ate but the calendar assures me otherwise)  Time to load up the 4runner with my son Marshall and whatever two of my dirtbag fishing buddies decide they want to drop over the top of Lolo Pass with us.  Drop over the pass not only into Idaho, but into the (at times) whiskey-soaked shitstorm of steelface blood-fueled debauchery this now annual spring trip can usually devolves into.  Whether it's the last minute addition of Hungus automatically putting us into two rigs-twice the gas bill, and two motel rooms-twice the price.  After watching Hungus swill cup after cup of booze in a certain Kooskia dive (is there any other kind of bar there?)  Marshall and I are actually happy to pony up for our own room.  It was almost worth stumbling around the South Fork going 0-fer on even touching a steelhead to watch Hungus, all wadered up mind you, literally laying on the side of the road too fucking hungover to fish.  Yes you read that right too fucking hungover to fish!  He struck out with the floozehounds at the dive the night before so why not keep a perfect record huh?
It could also go the way of the last winter trip we made over, sitting in the same motel tying up egg "flies" while it drizzles some chill-you-to-the-taint concoction of rain/slow/slush that one is only lucky enough to witness a few days a year, and i'll be damned if it doesn't descend into the Clearwater valley almost the entire two days we were there.  Brooks actually brought one fish to hand that trip and had another one or two fish on briefly.  On the other hand I had but a single fish on momentarily.  This is also the trip that Brooks chose to get cute with me by offers such as this "Fish on!  Hey Craig do you want to reel this one in for me?  I just thought that maybe since you haven't caught one yet you might want to.  It's up to you"  "It's gonna be up something" I mumbled under my breath.  Well we all know that karma, especially steelhead karma is a filthy bitch, just ask Brooks how his next trip went.  How did that one work out for ya buddy?  No hard feelings though, I'm sure my next miserable shitbag of bad steelhead karma is boxed, labeled, barcoded and shipped express to (insert name of 1 star motel here) room 6 in Koosia, waiting for me to crest Lolo pass and drop into it's lap like a sweaty trucker at the local strip joint waits for a lap dance from the "twenty-something college girl dancer" that looks suspiciously like a pushing forty "therapist" from the parlor across town.  Yes Brooks, you don't even have to re-grief me in your next literary offering, I've officially beat you to the punch.
Oh sure there was the trip last spring, which was relatively mild in comparison.  Hell there were even some highlights.  My brah Bill did not leave the South Fork with his steelhead hymen intact I'm proud to say.  It was also a pair of firsts for his "real life bro" Neal.  He bought a fly rod (hallelujah, his first)  and went steelhead fishing (but with his gear, fuck) for the first time.  Didn't pop his cherry though.  Not to worry, who wants to be known as that big of a slut anyway?
The same trip we started with four of us in the 4runner, but we met up with Graybeard (don't worry Bill, soon) at Lolo wherein Bill jumped ship if for no other reason than to keep Graybeard company and whiff some secondhand.  Come to think of it, maybe too much secondhand.  Promptly upon arrival in Kooskia we exclaimed how crazy it was to see a cow elk laying literally on the shoulder of the road.  So close to the road that one had to swerve ever so slightly to the center line to miss her.  There she was, ears up, alert chawing some cud.  The response out of Bill and Graybeard...."Elk?  What elk?  Whatever.  You're bullshittin us".  whatever is right dude.
Several steelfaces came to hand that trip, and a couple of them were slaughtered for the grill.  In fact when Graybeard "snuck off" late one morning we all figured he wanted some "scoobie" snacks, but damn if he didn't bank and bonk a hatchery steelface, bust out the table, the grill and the potatoes and cook us up what admittedly turned out to be one of the best shore lunches in recent memory.  And this out of the guy who is accused (only somewhat jokingly) of showing up for a 5 day Smith River float with a bag of bagels and a green pepper.
Where it went downhill was packing all five of us into the super 8 in Grangeville (I know what you're thinking, pussy asses, but it was cold out damnit) and promptly turning it into a mancave replete with March Madness blaring on the tube, plenty of Kettlehouse Cold Smoke and Double Haul (I know, i know) but also enough PBR tallboys to cancel out that high class shit.  Unfortunately some of the boys were a little soft and out of true "man" shape because the poker game never quite made it off the ground let alone any drunken primal mangrappling you know the kind where it gets violent and both guys being out of shape it calms rather quickly and then just before it gets too slow and intimate enough to get weird both guys break apart and posture about how the other guy was lucky blah blah blah then they continue to shotgun beers until one or more puke and rally.  THAT   kind of man shape.  To add insult to injury even though we were in Idaho the bullshit ISP listed us as a Washington address, and this just after Washington was one of the first states to ban access to Full Tilt along with other online poker sites, what the fuck?  No pot limit omaha for the dude.  It just made me survey the scene of half-drunk half passed out sea of out-of-man-shape fishing buddies with nothing but disdain at the moment.  All was forgiven and washed away the next morning though, as was the sin and bad karma of looking upon my steelhead chasin' brethren the night before with anything other than unequivocal respect when upon my maiden ford of the South Fork that morning I made a tiny misstep and was promptly baptised in the morning chill and the 37 degree water, well fuuuuck me!  Little did Marshall know with his laughter at my baptism, the fire was lit under the cauldron and his own batch of bad steelhead juju began brewing.  With my spirits lifted and renewed hope I did bring two steelhead to hand that day.  It didn't take long for the timer to ring on Marshall's batch of shit karma as he hooked up, played to perfection and brought a hefty b-run in close.  I took an ill-adivsed early swipe with the net and promptly watched the monster take Marshall down the run and around the corner to a stretch of water impossible to wade.  Already well into his backing Marshall had no choice but to palm the reel, hold the line to the rod and hope against hope to turn the steelhead.  He shuffled back upstream, head down feeling the sting of being that close to tailing the giant b-run hatch mutant and not closing the deal.  My mojo began going south at that very moment and was worsened when I managed to bumblefuck yet another attempt to net a South Fork b-run slab for Marshall within 20 minutes of the first one, in the same run.  Do you see a pattern here of synergistic toilet-bowl spiraling bad steelhead karma the likes of which my son and I may not have yet completely fought our way out of?
By the way, William Patrick wants a nickname so we'll solicit here for any suggestions.  There may be a little bit of future flyfishdude swag for the lucky reader if we choose to bestow your monicker on our buddy Bill.  Get creative...Here is a picture to help your imagination.
Like I said it's getting to be that time again...........
I can hardly contain myself.

Bill, in the glow post-steelhead hymen pop