Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It takes a die-hard to lie awake nights in January counting the days until the backcountry waters open at the end of May. But here I am. Wide-eyed. Alert. Maybe it was the quad-shot latte at 4 p.m., but, hell, that was eight hours ago.

The sky is gray and cold in Idaho this time of year, which lends itself to hibernating. But for some reason, it turns me into a night owl, and I can't close my eyes and turn my brain off. This year, I can hear the little angler in my head softly speak to me, we're exploring the water up by Stanley. Right. It's a four-hour drive. One way. And then I'm wide awake, as if these plans must be made now. Right Goddamned now.

Is it insomnia? Or just a fisherman's soul fighting the night?

It's cold in Stanley right now. It sits at the top of Idaho, and winter has an extra strong grip on the Sawtooths. Steelhead, 800 miles into their journey home to spawn and die rest, almost dormant, on the bottom of the Salmon River and, like me, await the sun and that final leg of the journey to the base of the mighty mountains. I hope to be there to meet them in a few months--that's a trip to Stanley I want to make tomorrow. Or at least that little angler in my head does. He's making plans as I type this.

Then summer and the mad rush to fit it all in. Maybe I'll sleep before then.

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