Steelheaders Anonynmous?

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.[email protected]/6793548436/


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.


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. . . .


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. )
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.