STEELHEADING IN THE NEW NORMAL Part I For a scary number of years now, when it’s April going in to the cusp of May I start obsessing over springers. Not the springs you Canadian guys think of when you hear that word. For me a springer is an April run steelhead I start thinking of a river that still hosts a very robust population of these stunning fish and it never ceases to amaze me how for all these years, the population has remained stable and comparatively large while the rest of the world seems to have come apart at the seams. All this from a diminutive lake-fed river system way up high in the boreal that minds its own business and just keeps on doing what it knows best But change is afoot---yet another winter with zero snow pack...... and endless rain. So no snow invited the river to start heating up months before it normally should be doing that and with the accompanying mosquitoes (never seen THOSE things up there in April) and hummingbirds flitting through the rainforest, I suppose it wasn’t a surprise to see the fish show up two months earlier than normal. I heard of a 67 fish day in March. “All springers” according to the guide who did all that tender lip ripping with his clients. Unheard of to see fish that early on this river So suspecting that zero snow pack would rearrange the furniture up there I booked early this year Here's a 'holiday snap of my first morning back on my most favorite river---God it felt good to have escaped the computer screen and make a successful run for the border--I’m always just flattened by the thought of standing in a river's moving water and here I was doing it one more time---at my age---freaking miracle! First night on that river I hooked a fish just at dark. It came out through the river skin, chrome flanks hanging at least two meters up in the air. It crashed back into the water, then duplicated that same crazy jump 7 times in a row. What a nice welcoming home committee--- and to think they took the time and all that effort to arrange this diversion just for me? But then the rains came. And came. And the winds with big shoulders came in off the Gulf behind the rain and drove it sideways---six days of sideways rain. And there was I, trying to make a new camp every night in a nonstop deluge, frantic trying to keep the inside of my tent and my sleeping bag from getting sodden----up in this part of the world hypothermia is just around the next bend, Global Warming be damned.... I cherished my rain forest spots---even the tiniest bit of bough cover overhead keeps you sane in your tent when the rain drops fall and keep falling and are the size of stainless ball bearings and just won’t quit all night long And so while I row row, rowed my boat gently down the stream, I mused on the fact that I was probably drifting through Ground Zero for climate change. No snow. Confused fish. Hummingbirds pretending they're eagles. American Exceptionalism has been now been superceded by permafrost as the new oxymoron... I am generally not the wagering type but I would in a heart beat, while putting up with brazen mosquitoes and seeing dying steelhead in April on the river bank, wager that I was catching a glimpse of The New Normal, and that climate change was driving that bus. Fish spawning in April. Already dead on the river bank. Are you kidding? For some reason I felt compelled to document the early passing of this buck —the otters and eagles had already gotten to him before I did and surely they recognized their good fortune---they are one of the few winners in this New Normal---- easy food and lots of it. Why even bother eating the whole thing? Lots more where that came from.