The Emotional Fishing Hangover

Anyone who has ever enjoyed a great weekend fishing trip will know what I’m talking about with the title of this entry. You’ve returned home from a weekend that was months in the planning and thus filled with extreme anticipation. Expectations were handily exceeded, and everything about the trip was an adventure. But now it’s over and you’re emotionally spent, because it was that great of a trip.

In this instance, the trip was the second annual Clearwater River trip with a group of college buddies. The trip this year was expanded to include additional characters and the result was something that I never thought possible after last year, when the bar was set pretty high: it was even better this year.  Not only was the day of fishing exceptional, there was more to the trip that made it extra special. It was a trip that very well might not have happened.

In the days leading up to the departure date, Mother Nature dealt a blow that attempted to alter my plans. The Pacific Northwest became the recipient of a winter storm beat down that, while arriving later than usual, came with a near knockout punch. A few inches of snow fell, then more. Schools were closed for 4 days. The snow shovel became a familiar daily tool. The Honda Rancher with the plow blade saw active duty for several days in a row, ensuring that we and our neighbors could escape the grips of a fairly steep road that was entrenched in snow; snow that has a certain high-level of water content that resembles concrete when it accumulates on the ground. One neighbor was so appreciative after I cleared their driveway for the second time that they brought me $20 for gas and a bottle of wine.  I’d have preferred an 18 pack of PBR, but I appreciated the thoughtful gesture all the same.

The insurance policy I love to have and love to use.

Over the course of the week, tree branches and whole trees came down. Across power lines. Just not our power lines. Hundreds of thousands of homes in the region were without power, but somehow we dodged a bullet of sorts (knock on wood). With the fishing trip weighing heavily on my mind, I watched the weather forecast with great interest. Depending on the news source the worst was either behind us or it wasn’t. Being a man who is not one to shirk my responsibilities, I informed Mrs. UA that I would not go on the Clearwater trip if the power was out. No man worth his salt would  leave behind to those he loves just to venture off on a fishing trip. There are things more important than fishing. On the day before our scheduled departure, with the worst of the storm hopefully behind us, I was confident that we would not lose power. Then came the sucker punch: freezing rain which added to the weight of 8-10 inches of already heavy snow. And so at midnight on Thursday, the house went dark. When we awoke on Friday morning (the day of departure for the Clearwater) the house was chillier than normal. There were no telltale flashing digital clocks to indicate that the power was back on. I immediately went into survival mode: the first order of business was to get  the generator hooked up and running, followed by the coffee maker.

The insurance policy I love to have and hate to use.

In the next few hours, our emergency heat source slowly took the chill off the house, bringing the inside temperature up to a cozy 67 degrees (fahrenheit). There were two, 5 gallon containers of gas to keep the generator in business for at least a couple days, but later that day I would send my son, Schpanky, to the neighboring town to secure another several gallons of fuel for good measure. The refrigerator would run to insure that food was not spoiled. The well would continue to pump water so that nobody would fall victim to dehydration. The septic system would remain functional so that toilets could continue to be used. If the power were to remain out of service for a few more days we they would be all right.

And so I loaded my gear into the back of Lenrod’s Suburban and off we went on our long, adventurous drive to Idaho. We would encounter considerably more snow and freezing rain as we made the 370 mile trip across the state. We would arrive 2 hours later than intended, but we would arrive safely. There would be much rejoicing and celebration as old friends were reunited and glasses were raised in many toasts. There would be stories told, behavior unbecoming middle-aged men engaged in, and many fish caught. There would be serious fun had, and there would be a perilous return journey over a mountain pass still gripped in a winter storm. I would return to a home that was back on the power grid, with a cooler full of meat to feed my family during the remaining months of winter that lie ahead. After all, I am not one to take my responsibilities lightly.

All that remains of a once beautiful snowfall.

Upon waking to this particular Monday, I feel physically fine but emotionally I am drained. A week of invigorating weather, during which I felt very much alive, has given way to a bland feeling that accompanies the calm after the storm. School is back in session and Mrs. UA is back at work. The ATV is tucked away in the garage and the snow shovel has been traded for the poop scooper. A memorable fishing trip is now but a memory. It feels too calm, and as I reflect on the drama of the past week that peaked with a great fishing trip, it could be easy to be left feeling a bit gloomy, as if there’s nothing left to look forward to. But a quick glance in the mirror reminds me otherwise: I still have the continuing progress of the beard to keep me going.

Depending on who you are, it just keeps getting better.


  1. Will K

    Hangover…been there. No power…been there. Beard…crap, I’m not a real man.

    • Kirk Werner

      Not to worry, Will. I’m not a real man, either, and this can hardly be considered a beard. Yet. Maybe never. Thanks for stopping by with a comment..

  2. jon

    The huge steelhead that you caught and the wrestling rematch, the pose with the fish, the toast to skunky, fireball….you and the tuna, my friend, were in rare form!

    • Kirk Werner


      We who were present owe you for everything: Our gratitude, as well as our performances on and off the water!

  3. John

    Beard looks great Kirk, Mrs. UA must be loving it.

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks for stopping by. And just as you suggested, she’s loving it. In fact just today she asked me why I waited so long to make her so happy.

  4. cofisher

    Good story Kirk. Thanks for not scaring us with a full frontal and are those hot dogs someone left outside?

    • Kirk Werner

      Astute observation on the hot dogs, Howard, although they’re hardly hot.

  5. Mrs UA

    Please go shave. Glad you had a great time, but seriously, go shave.

  6. Sanders

    I know that Mrs UA probably has more sway than any of the ne’er-do-wells (myself included) that choose to comment on your beard…but there is a reason you chose to grow that thing now. it’s your time.

    set that beard free! and just like that well deserved bottle of wine you received, you gotta let that thing breath.

    • Kirk Werner

      Ah, Sanders- you speak with such profound wisdom. I just hope Mrs. UA heeds your words, otherwise I’ll be outside, in the kennel, drinking that wine out of a paper bag.

  7. The River Damsel

    Growing hair on the face (which I know nothing about) does not prove that you are a REAL man or that you are Jeremiah Johnson! Yes, it was fun, but now let the real macho inside of you, pick up a razor and adhere to his wife’s wishes in having a clean, smooooooth face for well…who matters the most! : ) I am done.

    • Kirk Werner

      You’re not the boss of me, and actually it has nothing to do with being a real man. The beard makes me look taller.

      • The River Damsel

        Ohhh…”taller”…well, why didn’t you say so…then, maybe it isn’t so bad after all.

        • Kirk Werner

          I knew you’d come around to my way of thinking.

  8. The River Damsel

    Oh, one more thing…it is is people like you as neighbors that help out in a pinch that are soooo appreciated. Glad you got your good deed in!! Good karma for you…And it also gave you more time to play on your little tractor. ; )

    • Kirk Werner

      Exactly! The good deeds done should buy me a little latitude with my decision to let the beard grow, right? And yes–any excuse to get out the “little tractor” 😉

  9. Steve Z

    We must be living parallel lives — Freak October snow storm comes through, power goes out, I fire up the generator, buy twenty gallons of gas and head to Pulaski with the guys for Steelheading. The family was fine and the power came back on within 24 hours of my departure. No harm, no foul.

    Big fan of the beard. It was the missing piece of the equation.

    • Kirk Werner

      Steve, that is frighteningly similar is it not? I bet, however, you were angling with a fly while I was getting dirty chucking yarnies with a spinning rod 😉 And thanks for the vote of confidence. I think the beard is the missing link as well.

  10. Lenny Monroe

    Kirk, as Jon said you were in rare form and the “embellished” stories I have regaled my family with the last few days have put you back upon your pedestal and Susy signing me up for a return trip next year. Great story……I went through the same thing Monday. We didn’t have much poo in the yard only huge piles of branches and mud.

    • Kirk Werner

      It was a memorable trip, Lenrod, or so I’ve been told 😉 Looking forward to many more with you and the gang! (I shoveled 36 piles today)

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