I have lots to be thankful for today–most of it having nothing to do with fly fishing–but there is one thing related to fly fishing that I am very very grateful for: When I began fishing for steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula, there were very few fly fishers on these waters in winter. Syd Glasso and Dick Wentworth and Pat Crane successfully fly fished the West End rivers for winter steelhead for decades before I got here, but Glasso once said that in all his years he only knew of six people who seriously tried to fish for Olympic Peninsula winter steelhead on the fly. It’s hard to believe, but as recently as the mid-1980s, I fished the upper Sol Duc on weekdays an entire winter once and only saw one other fly fisherman. And for several years I never, repeat never, saw anyone with any kind of rod on my favorite piece of water on the upper Hoh. Having that kind of space was perfect for learning how to read a river and set up a wet fly swing and handle a hot fish. It gave me the freedom to make mistakes, to make of fool of myself in private. Those quiet, peaceful days were the perfect time to absorb the contemplative rhythms of pursuing these magnificent fish on the swing, and to reflect on the stories of Glasso’s and Wentworth’s and Garrett’s flies. I am very thankful that I was here when it was still almost magical on these rivers in winter. It’s still a lot fun. But it will never be like that again.