The water rushes softly about my waist. Angel, stands to my left, a 14' spey rod in hand. This is the third run of the day, and the first one after a lunch of beef tacos served with a nice tempranillo. The sun has decided to show itself, which is a welcome change from an hour ago when the rain was soaking through my favorite hat. Weather on the Olympic Peninsula is a very fickle mistress during winter steelhead season. Angel and I are standing a third of the way down the run and the water has just slowed enough so as to not really be felt against our waders. This is Angel's very first day fishing for steelhead, and her very first day casting a two-handed rod. She is a quick learner though and is now effectively fishing fifty feet of water on the swing. The line dangles bellow us and I ask her if she can see "that swirl out there about 40 feet?" She nods and begins her lift. The line lays out in front of both of us and she starts her sweep. I watch carefully as I see how comfortable she has become with the rhythm of casting a spey rod. I see her muscles tense as she feels the rod load, and without pushing it she launches her forward stroke. The line pulls on the water and makes it's 180 degree turn toward a spot some twenty feet upriver of "that swirl."
As the line lands on the water and the fly begins to sink out of sight, I can feel a sense of electricity in my ears and back of my neck. Over 200 casts now and this is the one. This is the cast that we have waited for. I watch as the line slides through the water. The slight bend in the line telling me that the fly neither Angel or I can see, is hunting. I look up at Angel and she is intensely looking at the swirl as her line starts to point in its direction. As I look down at her line, I see what only someone that has seen and felt this before would know. The line doesn't stop, it hesitates. It is in this moment which only lasts a fraction of a second that everything happens. An invisible force has stopped the fly's progress. Before Angel can react to what has happened, even before she notices what has happened, the line tightens and the first couple of checks click on the 4" perfect. Before I can say anything all hell breaks loose. The line goes from straightening to flying through the guides of the rod. The pawls on the hardy start alarming that the adrenaline is about to start flowing in Angel's body. Angel screams "I got a fish!" She jerks the rod skyward and the thumping begins. The rod bucks under the weight of a very pissed off, fresh from the ocean, wild, winter run steelhead. The first run peels all of the line and a good bit of backing from the old reel. I look up and Angel is in panic mode. She is frozen in place, rod held high, look of terror on her face. She is now fully realizing what it is like to have one of natures most amazing creatures directly connected to her heart.
It is that moment and the few minutes that follow, that I am my happiest. We all have this desire deep inside ourselves to have the other kids on the playground know our joy. The only moments in my personal life that I have felt this is when my children discover something for the first time in front of my eyes, and when a client of mine hooks a fish. It is a discovery of self, that can only be shared by those that have been in the same place. And from that moment on that person knows a little piece of me in a very personal way. This is why I choose to guide.