Summer is at an end.
I noticed it Sunday morning while in Walla Walla. The gusty, desert wind carried the unmistakable air that heralds autumn's advance, an apparent breaking point to the otherwise dry, hot summer the region had been enjoying until our arrival.
Two days before, I stood in a similarly stiff breeze, three hundred miles away, knee deep in uncharacteristically cold water, even for the last few days of August.
Under the thickly clouded sky, drizzle flicked at my cheeks, a minor annoyance compared to the antagonistic, on-shoulder wind I battled.
It didn't matter, I had a few precious hours to burn before surrendering my weekend to sun, mid-seventies, good food and, of course, multiple wine tastings. ;)
Tongue and cheek aside, I felt compelled to fish, if anything to maintain the little edge I had developed, even if it was only a perceived one.
They say confidence is a considerable factor--some say crucial, even--in becoming a successful steelheader. I extend that sort of confidence to my equipment, which is, consequent to my belief, an extension of me. Fishing approaches also follow this logic and in the case of this particular afternoon, both were in play.
So with, (new) rod in hand, I tinkered with a slightly different line set up, a modified fly design and some recently-studied techniques to a familiar testing ground.
Instead of looking for fish, I watched how the fly turned over, the speed of the swing and how the fly fished. Not to say that if I didn't stick a fish it would have bothered me. ;)
Based on my limited experience, I liked what I saw.
And that's a building block for confidence.
While the summer my be winding down, I know that summer steelheading on my home water should start to finally heat up.
The only question is whether the upcoming fall colors will include chrome or not.