Steelheaders Anonynmous?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Dan Cuomo, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. Dan Cuomo

    Dan Cuomo Active Member

    Having given up drinking a long time ago, and finding cigars to be exquisite but not nearly dangerous or destructive enough for my addictive personality, this past fall I decided to bypass heroin and see what there was to see about steelhead. I'd been a fly fisher for four decades. How bad could it be, I thought.

    Yes... I'd read the articles in The Drake, seen the glazed look in the eyes of the twenty and thirtysomething chromeheads kneeling in what I knew to be bone-chilling rivers as evidenced by their hoarfrost encrusted beards and eyebrows, but these were kids. Had they been tested? I'd gone to Catholic school. (SEE ATTACHMENT) I'd survived 10 years of playing punkrock in NYC. I didn't own a CBGBs tee shirt but I'd played the place a hundred times and even used the bathroom. (SEE ATTACHMENT) I'd been to law school, damn it! If that didn't suck my soul dry nothing could. So far as I knew there weren't groups of humbled steelheaders meeting in church basements, recognizing their higher power, making amends, and introducing themselves with, "Hi, my name is Dan, and I'm a steelheader."

    I figured I'd start slow. I bought a switch rod. It seemed so... innocent. Big deal... the cork extended above the reel. I could handle it. It did feel nice in my hands though. (Little did I know at that time, was that what some call a switch, others call a gateway-rod; but the cruel bastards never told us that in the DARE program did they?) I was invited to a little party for the other "initiates." They called it a "clinic." Ha! The fact that myself and three other hapless fools had paid good money to stand around in the Puyallup River, dodging tribal salmon-netters in speed boats should have been enough for me to see where this was all going, but it's true... there ARE none so blind as those who will not see. I awoke the morning after this free-for-all with my shoulder so sore I couldn't dress myself, and without a clue that it was already I, and not the fish, that was hooked.

    The switch rod kept me happy for a while, until I closed it in my car window one day and crushed the tip. Looking back on that day, I can't believe I didn't see it for what it was: the prelude to a wakeup call. I sent the rod to the people I bought it from. They call themselves The Sage Company. Company??? I say cartel. They told me I could have it fixed and back in my hands... IN SIX WEEKS! I put a seven hundred dollar spey rod on my credit card and bought a DVD by some pimp called the Skagit Master.

    Armed with just enough know-how to ensue the loss of an eye, I went "fishing." They call it fishing but it's anything but. No one tells you that you've got to drive three or four hours to find the goods. ( They send you to a town called Forks; a place even the vampires have deserted.) It's horrible now when I see it for what it is: half-a-dozen motels that look more like opium dens wedged between gas stations selling over priced fuel, rancid coffee, and stale baked goods. The toilets haven't see a role of Charmen since Clinton was in office. Men who probably once had jobs and families barrel through the town in gas-guzzling Monster Trucks, careening around corners followed by fishtailing trailers transporting drift boats paid for with their children's college funds, leaving a garish trail of marabou. But I was telling you about the "fishing."

    Let me simplify it for you. Cast, mend, step, drift, repeat. Do this for nine hours and then go home. No hook sets. No fish. No breaks. Every once in a while you think about how pissed off the woman in your life - if she's still around - is going to be about the fact that you left at 3:00 am and you won't be home until after normal people eat supper. Enjoy.

    Then one day it happens. Maybe during your first YEAR on the water.... maybe not. Your line stops mid drift. You yell F*CK, for the seventeenth time this particular run, and as you rear back in an attempt to dislodge the fly you've spent way too much money to construct out of the plumage from a bird you're sure must be extinct... out of the freezing green foam erupts the most awe inspiring, elusive, and truly wild piece of nature ever touched by the hand of God.

    Hi... My name is Dan... and...I'm a Steelheader.
  2. jeff bandy

    jeff bandy Make my day

    Hi Dan. You are not alone. Just take it one day at a time.
    Nice fish.
  3. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

    shoulda picked the blue pill..
  4. You got a meeting schedule, coffee pot and big book?
  5. bub1

    bub1 New Member

    language of the heart.....
  6. poloboycb

    poloboycb Member

    Quit your day job and become a writer and Steelhead Bum. I will be able to live through you vicariously.

  7. Upton O

    Upton O Blind hog fisherman

    And the traditions would start with...
  8. Dave Evans

    Dave Evans Active Member

    Not going to let my spouse see this. She would take it seriously and send me off to steelhead rehab and start calling around for local chapters when I got back.
  9. Upton O

    Upton O Blind hog fisherman

    Well, there is a "SH-anon" for spouses, their enabling behavior is very damaging to their own lives.
  10. gbeeman

    gbeeman Active Member

    Hi. My name is Gordon and I'm a steelheader. If that's not bad enough I also converted my neighbor and my college roomate. It's hard to live with myself. . . .
  11. Steel Will

    Steel Will New Member

    I tried the 12 step program but it didn't allow me to cover the run adequately ;-)
  12. golfman65

    golfman65 Guest

    It's only the beginning...wait till you've been spooled a couple times by a hot fish and stand there in awe...I haven't broken the 40" mark..(38" is my best and that left my knees shaking) but this pic was sent by a guy I know from a river in nirvana...It is his buddy who is a relatively new guy as well...
    Every time I look at it I just crack up...think he's hooked?

    (Oh should add for the local self appointed's not local so you can lift for a pic. )
  13. Don Freeman

    Don Freeman Free Man

    My name is Don, and I'm a recovering steelheader. It started out innocently enough, a 6 weight Novus, a Martin click and pawl and a green butt skunk on the North Umpqua. 14 pounder picked it up on a dead drift, and I was too stunned to pull it away from him in time.

    Flash ahead thirty years, and I'm not only still doing it, I'm selling the paraphernalia to other addicts and innocents to pay for my own " needs". And it IS like heroin Dan, I've got a drawer full of lines, each of which cost more than my first rod and reel combo, most of my rigs total more than my first 3 cars combined, and one of those was a caddy.
  14. orangeradish

    orangeradish Bobo approved

    Sweet post, Dan, but I know a bunch of steelhead addicts. I wanna hear more about 10 years in a punk band in NYC. Just sayin...
  15. veilside180sx

    veilside180sx Member


    I've never tried to get help as an addict, but I hear they hold meetings on a gravel bar near you.=)
  16. "half-a-dozen motels that look more like opium dens wedged between gas stations selling over priced fuel"
    At least you can't die from an overdose.
  17. gbeeman

    gbeeman Active Member

    12 steps are not nearly enough for this malady. I've known people who have done well over 1000
    and still they come back to. Oh the humanity . . .
  18. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    I decided I didn't want to be a recovering steelheader once I figured out that reality is over-rated anyway.

  19. Upton O

    Upton O Blind hog fisherman

    Well, the worst people to be around are fishing addicts that can't go fishing and SH fishermen are the "crack addicts" of fishing and the worst of the bunch. No offense intended. Don't believe it? Ask their spouses/partners what a SH addict is like when (1) the river is blown out, (2) the FW closes their favorite river (3) there are chores and "honey-do" jobs that have to be attended on their days off (4) or the snow has blocked access to their favorite stretch of river...
  20. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    I used to fish for them fish, but gave up as they were to few and far between. I caught a few but not enough to stop the craving. So instead of crying over them I moved to Montana to fish for big Browns.