The Last Days of Stealhead Joe
August 22, 2013 12:27 PM   Subscribe

The Deschutes River fly-fishing guide called Stealhead Joe was an angling master with a long list of devoted clients. But off the water, Joe’s life was a tangle of troubles that ultimately overwhelmed him.
posted by nevercalm (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Beautiful longform writing at its finest. Can't say I've been out precisely where Joe fished, but I know that river. The descriptions are spot-on, both of the river and of the feeling of fishing out that way. Felt like I was back on the water with my dad & grandpa.

Joe was right. There's no river quite like it.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:50 PM on August 22, 2013

Written by Ian Frazier!
posted by Drab_Parts at 12:56 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Casting for steelhead is like calling God on the telephone, and it rings and rings and rings, hundreds of rings, a thousand rings, and you listen to each ring as if an answer might come at any moment, but no answer comes, and no answer comes, and then on the 1,001st ring, or the 1,047th ring, God loses his patience and picks up the phone and yells, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU CALLING ME FOR?” in a voice the size of the canyon. You would fall to your knees if you weren’t chest-deep in water and afraid that the rocketing, leaping creature you have somehow tied into will get away.

This is damn near poetry right here.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:03 PM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Great article, great writing, thanks for posting. I am not an angler, but my family are.
posted by J0 at 2:16 PM on August 22, 2013

I am not an angler, but my family are.

I'm actually an animal-rights obsessed vegetarian and no one in my family or really anywhere in my life fishes, but I love a good fishing story. Some of my favorite novels are fishing novels, for some reason. Same thing with sports...can't play or watch them, could read about them all day.
posted by nevercalm at 2:32 PM on August 22, 2013

Is the spelling irregularity explained in TFA?
posted by hwestiii at 3:11 PM on August 22, 2013

"The misspelling of his self-bestowed moniker was intentional. If he didn’t actually steal fish, he came close, and he wanted people to hear echoes of the trickster and the outlaw in his name."
posted by kittensofthenight at 3:16 PM on August 22, 2013

Is the spelling irregularity explained in TFA?

In the second paragraph. No R for you, eh?
posted by dersins at 3:37 PM on August 22, 2013

Why did I know this was an Outside magazine link before even hovering my mouse over it?

Also, you had me at "Deschutes." ('84 Bend High School grad here)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:44 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another reminder that I need to be reading Outside magazine, despite the fact that I am never in the market for a new tent or hiking vacation. Their longform pieces are amazing.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:53 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

So much of the world is bullshit. This river is not.
posted by Flashman at 6:23 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not an angler here, but a whitewater rafting trip out of Maupin is a great experience. The Deschutes is truly a beautiful river.

RIP Joe.
posted by wallabear at 8:45 PM on August 22, 2013

This brought tears to my eyes. Such lovely, lovely writing, and sharply reminded me of the recent death-from lung cancer-of a beloved former boss of mine, fellow Oregonian and insanely avid fly fisherman.

And yes, I need to subscribe to Outside again.
posted by purenitrous at 10:09 PM on August 22, 2013

Sent this to my pops last night, he read it and loved it, so thanks again for the post. He said he caught one on New Year's morning 1981 where Whatcom Creek enters the bay in Bellingham (WA).
posted by J0 at 7:39 AM on August 23, 2013

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