Passing through the kitchen on our way out the front door of the Steelhead Lodge this morning at 5:50 a.m., my son, Matt, and I had the good fortune of running into James Kirtland, captain of the Row Jimmy drift boat on the Salmon River. He insisted that we follow him and his client to Whitakers Sporting Goods, where he picked out three packs of beads, and instructed me to select yellow for low light, tan after the sun came up, as well as the pink-purple, "They don't see a lot in this color."
James put us on fish upstream of the 2A bridge. This passage of moving water is almost exactly like that we fished with Eric Geary, Row Jimmy just ahead of us, on Friday, catching about 10 steelhead between three boats. I know steelhead were there this morning because I had two on, saw several more leap, and witnessed one caught. It's generally understood among Salmon River fishermen that to have a fish on doesn't count for nothing. After all, "Fish on!!" is the common battle cry.
We fished about three hours. Just as Matt and I began to head upriver, James had asked to see my float set-up. It would have passed--five-pound test Drennen leader and all--if my split shots had been lead, not tin. "They're shiny," James said. He also expressed particular concern about the relative lightness of weight. I confess that yesterday I felt concerned myself. But I dropped the rig in front of me a number of times in the current to see how it behaved, and it seemed OK. Nonetheless, I took the shiny, expensive tin off, and put dull, heavy lead in place of it. Again I tested the rig several times and it rode about right down at bottom level, with the bead riding out ahead of the weighted line above the 15-inch or so leader attached to a micro-swivel.
It was a great trip. Now back in New Jersey, we've had a steelhead dinner and much of the putting away of gear is done. I had felt that if we caught a steelhead apiece on Friday, I'd be happy. I sort of felt maybe I'd catch two; this seemed the expected, but I also doubted this. And after all, we had great weather the other day on Friday to make this better than expected catch of five between my son and I--30's, intermittant snow, sleet, and cloud variations, strong breezes. That's proper weather on a steelhead river. The bluebird Saturday and easy sunrise this morning made the fish timid.
I think it's never luck. It only seems luck. It's being. Each of us is individual and hits it differently--there's really no shared standard between us all to judge luck at bottom, despite all of the objectivity of conditions and skills which generally we interpret to make expectations and confirm them after an outing is done. And yet, the world's being is different in relation to each of us, and the quality of individual involvement, regardless of skill, can have a lot to do with success or lack of it.