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Living in the "Now"

Updated: Apr 30


Bill Matthews Outdoors, Steelhead, Queens River, Bigfoot Mountain Outfitters


The past weekend I had the opportunity to fish for winter steelhead on the Queets river in Washington State.  The Queets River is nestled deep in the Olympic Peninsula, a picturesque setting unique to North America, and home to some of the best steelhead fishing in the world.



I left my home in Camas WA at 2:00am on Saturday morning, and on the drive up my mind kept wandering to things that happened this past week, concern about how much money I would be spending on this trip, and how tired I would be when I got home Sunday night.  I was thinking only of the future and the past, unable to see how lucky I was to be on this journey in the present.  I should have been thinking about the beautiful drive up, the nice weather and how lucky I was to be able to take this trip.  I was not living in the present, so I was not appreciating all the things about my current situation, little did I know that one fish was about to completely change my state of mind.


I met up with our guide, and starting fishing around 7:00 am.  The fishing was great, and we landed several beautiful steelhead in the first few hours of the day.  Around mid morning the guide pulled the boat over to the bank to take a break and fix some of our gear.  I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to fish my favorite steelhead lure, the Norman Sand Shrimp. I walked upstream a couple of hundred yards to fish a prime looking stretch of river. Those of you that know me, know that I love the Norman Sand Shrimp lure.  It has a special place in my heart as I had a hand in its development.  Back in 2002 I was the sales rep for Norman lures. I worked with Al Fisher and Jim Howe of Norman lures to revamp this lure and develop colors specifically for salmon and steelhead in the Pacific NW.


I started fishing at the top of the riffle, casting my lure as far as I could across the river, and letting it swing through the current.  Standing stationary in the river, I let the current catch the lure, and create the action as the lure would dig against the force of



the water, and begin to swing across the river.  I methodically worked my way downstream, moving a few feet down river after every cast.  The setting was as beautiful as you can imagine, and I was completely engrossed in the moment.   I had worked my way about half way through the riffle, and as my lure swept across the river I felt the heavy tug of a big steelhead.  I set the hook and a beautiful chrome bright steelhead came cartwheeling out of the river.   I had an involuntary response to yell “Wooo HOOO” as the fished dove back into the river, and I saw my buddies all pumping their fists in the boat 200 yards down steam. Things got serious after that, as  this incredible steelhead gave me everything I could have dreamed of. It jumped out of the water at least three more times, and fought me till the very end, refusing to come to the shore with every fiber of its existence. It was a battle for the ages, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally got her to the river bank.


To experience such a thing is rare on this earth, and it is impossible to express the gratitude I feel for it.  It was a moment in time that only the two of us will ever know - me and the steelhead in an epic setting, connected by a string, battling each other on a fresh spring morning at one of the most beautiful places in the entire world.  I was completely lost in the experience, everything else completely faded away and I was living 100% in the present.  For this brief time, my mind forgot about everything else in the world, and I focused only on the moment.  What a wonderful gift it was to be able to have this clarity of thought, this beautiful focus on the now. I felt so alive and I had no worries about anything other than my battle with this fish.


The fight only lasted a few minutes, but it felt like forever. I landed the fish, unhooked it, got some pictures and released it back into the river.  It kicked away with a splash of its big tail, spraying water all over my face as it continued it journey, annoyed at me for keeping her from her primal mission.  I stood up with a smile on my face  and tried to hold on to the moment for a bit longer, but the moment was gone, just like the mighty steelhead that disappeared back into the river.  I smiled and laughed out loud as she swam away.   


Bill Matthews Outdoors, Steelhead, Queens river, Norman Sand Shrimp, Bigfoot Mountain Outfitters

This fish and this experience made me realize how rarely I appreciate living in the now.  It made such an impression on me that I have committed  to live my life more in the present.  Just like the mighty steelhead, I do not need to worry about the past, or be anxious about the future, just be present in the moment, know my destination, and fight like to hell against anyone or anything that deters me from it.   It was an electric experience to truly live in the moment, and one that I now crave.  I hope that I am able to find this sweet spot more often in my everyday life.


Thanks for reading,


Bill

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