Open Water


above “Bobby Foster reclines on a washed-up beach chair found during a steelhead rendezvous in western Washington State. A good time was had, but the 1-800-BEATDOWN counselors would have come in handy on this trip.”
Photo: Copi Vojta

Swinging for steelhead can be a slow game. And when I say “can be,” I mean “almost always is.” Let’s be honest: You might never catch one. Ever.

Friends stacking up big numbers of bass and trout don’t get it. Their ability to catch fish every time they go out is embarrassing to everyone involved. The saltwater guys don’t relate. Permit are tough, too, but the weather is good and tropical drinks with tiny umbrellas aren’t the same as whiskey in the rain. Spouses can be sympathetic and supportive, but deep down they barely tolerate the outlay of time and shared resources. Fellow citizens are useless, bragging about serving wild steelhead at dinner parties and happily allowing the rivers to be dammed in order to power flat-screen TVs in every room of the house.

A steelheader needs two things: healthy rivers and friends who are equally committed to the pursuit. Those peers are there to ride out the beatdowns and celebrate the hard-earned—if sporadic—victories. But what happens when other die-hards aren’t available when you need them? Maybe they are out of cell range, maybe they have pressing conflicts keeping them from obsessing about steelhead, rivers, gear and future trips. These conflicts could be, but are not limited to: employment, family commitments, emergencies or having a real life.

Fear not! By harnessing the miracle of satellite communications and cellular technology, a steelheader never needs be alone during a time of need. Simply dial 1-800-BEATDOWN to immediately connect to a fellow obsessive. For the best experience, follow the prompts to establish appropriate region, season, line and rod length preferences. Upon entering your credit card information you’ll be given a menu to select the theme of your personalized session. Please wait for the next available steelheader to pick up the line. The call costs $5 the first minute and $1 for each subsequent minute. Pro deals don’t apply, so don’t bother asking.

To geek on gear, fly pattern selection or argue about what qualifies as a proper Intruder, press one.

To get stoked or obsess about weather forecasts and/or river levels ahead of a trip, press two.

To debate the pros and cons of a drift boat, rod or line system you may or may not be buying in the future, press three.

To be told you are a good caster, probably one of the best on the river, and that your preferred line system is the best choice, press four.

To complain about nymphers, gear fishermen or low holers, press five.

To hear the phrase, “the Tug is the Drug” repeated 100 times in a row, press six.

To be told it is OK to drift beads once in a while, press seven.

To be told that the bump you felt was definitely a fish and not a rock, press eight.

To discuss why you got skunked on your last trip, press nine.

This conversation option can include, but is not limited to: complaining about high or low water, high or low temperatures, fish counts, commercial fishing, gill netting, regrets about destination selection, lack of hatchery fish, too many hatchery fish, broken gear, undependable or lazy fishing partners, aggressive or greedy fishing partners, rain, drought, state and federal fisheries management, timing, fly selection, leaky waders, work schedules and/or crowds.

To just have phone sex, press the pound sign. Please stay on the line while your call is transferred. When the new associate picks up, feel free to ask if they think you look handsome in your waders.

This story originally appeared in The Flyfish Journal Volume 9 Issue 1.


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