They Do Exist.

17 12 2018

January 2nd, 2016.  That was the last time I caught a Steelhead in The Huron River.  For awhile I was beginning to think that I would never catch one there again.  Even the other die-hards that I know have been struggling these last few years.  Unstable weather, poor returns, early freeze-ups, all have combined to keep my success at an all time low.  I was doing so badly I resorted to driving to Ohio to improve my odds.  That was my original plan this past Sunday, drive to either Conneaut or The Grand but late night rains in Ohio changed my mind.  Instead I figured I would hit The Huron in multiple locations.  Hopefully I would find one cooperative fish.

I started off at Dodge Park but I wasn’t able to fish the spot I wanted.  When I rounded the corner there was already someone there.  I went a little further upstream and started working another hole.  While I was there a boat trolled over the hole, stopped to bring in their lines and then punched it and took off upstream.  Talk about a “Dick” move.  I got out and headed back downstream.  I worked a couple of other runs but no luck.

Next up was Labo Park.  Once again someone else was there and he was set up at the second bridge drifting spawn.  I started upstream and worked a hole just ahead of him for a bit.  I didn’t stay long though, as I was walking along I slipped in the mud and landed on my right arm.  I cleaned myself off as best I could and headed for the car.  While I was putting stuff away a fellow fisherman stopped to see how I had done.  his success had been pretty much like mine all season.  He told me another friend of his had only caught 10 fish so far and he claimed he catches over a hundred a year.  Every year I run into someone who makes that claim but I seriously doubt it.  Based on what I see and hear I have to wonder how someone can catch that many over a few months.

Anywho, after he left I drove back upstream to try one more spot.  As I approached the boat launch area there was a trio getting their boat ready to head out.  I grabbed my rod and waded downstream.  I had high hopes for this area today.  The water had been to high for me to reach the log jam on the opposite side but since it had dropped about a foot I knew I could today.  I waded out to the middle of the river and started casting right on the edge of the foam.  I was keeping an eye on the other boat and hoping they would go downstream behind me BAM….FISH ON.  Just that quick I ended an almost 3 year slump.  It was a smaller fish and it really didn’t have a chance against a 7116 Redington Chromer.  I landed her quickly, took a pic and sent her on her way.

While I was getting myself organized another boat had shown up and parked right on top of the run I was fishing.  “Dick” move #2.  After that I headed for home.  I had muddy gloves and a jacket to clean and I needed to organize the back of my car.  I had flies, leaders, clothes and garbage all over the back and I needed to clean things up.  I have a couple of 4 day weekends coming up and I plan on taking full advantage of them.

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The Alley 12/01/18

3 12 2018

Earlier this year I told myself that I was going to put more effort into Steelhead fishing.  Ever since my last successful Huron trip (1/2/2016) I have been half-assing it and not really trying.  I was putting more emphasis on what fly I was using instead of working on my mechanics or presentation.  With that in mind, I made the effort to get my Switch rod and line combos tuned in and practiced whenever I could.  The week in Alaska helped a lot but I should have devoted more time to using my two hand rods.  I’m to the point now where I just need some fine tuning on my casting and presentation.  As with walleye fishing, it doesn’t matter what fly I’m using if I’m not putting it in the strike zone.  Now that walleye fishing is pretty much over for me it’s time to concentrate on Steel.

A few weeks back I contacted Patrick Robinson of Steelhead Alley Outfitters (SAO) to set me up for a full day guided trip.  Pat put my trip together for Alaska and I have already fished with the owner, Greg Senyo, and one of their guides.  I thought about getting a trip booked with my previous guide, Nate Miller, but I wanted to learn more and I figure time spent with other guides would be beneficial.  So I just let Pat decide and he signed me up for a day with Josh Trammell for Saturday, 12/1/18.

Josh kept tabs on the flow rates throughout the week and told me the day before we would be fishing Elk Creek in the morning.  SAO fishes the Erie tributaries from The Vermillion in Ohio to Elk Creek in Pennsylvania.  Flow rates determine which rivers are fishable so the guides pay attention to them daily.  I was doing the same thing and I figured we would be fishing the creeks in the NE corner of Ohio.  Josh told me where to meet him Saturday morning at 6:45 am and from there we headed towards Elk Creek.  SAO has access to some private land on the creek which is nice.  This river can get very crowded but with it being deer season more people were hunting instead of fishing.  Once we got my 7 wt Chromer rigged up Josh pointed out where to start fishing and I did just that.  The first run didn’t produce anything so we moved down to the next run.  At the end of the drift on my 5th or 6th cast I started to go through the motion of giving the fly a couple of “pulses” to try and entice a follower.  I do this by just pulsing the rod back and forth while the fly is straight downstream from me just dangling in the current.  As I was about to strip line in I had a hit.   It caught me completely off guard and instead of keeping my rod parallel to the river with my hook set I did the Orvis straight up and out of his mouth hook set.  Just that quick the fish was gone.  I regrouped and about 5 minutes later I had another hit.  This time I did everything right and I drove that hook home.  A few minutes later my first fish of the day was in the net.

After a few pics and a successful release I made my back up to the start of the run and started over.  On my next cast I had another hit as I was mending my line.  Needless to say I didn’t get a good hook set with the slack line and my rod being point upstream.  I fished the rest of the run anyways with no further luck.  While all this was going on Josh was on the phone with another SAO guide who was out with a Father and his 9 year old son.  They weren’t getting into any fish and he was checking to see how we were doing.  Josh asked me if I wanted to fish another river and I agreed.  Josh told them they could have the hole and we moved. on.  I found out later that the boy (Augie) ended up catching his first steelhead from that hole.

While we fished the next run Josh asked me if it was okay for him to point out a few things on my cast.  I said “please do” and he told me to slow down some and quit forcing the cast.  Let the rod do the work and keep that line at a 45 degree angle to the river.  He went on to tell me that when I cast straight across I get a big bow in  my line and the current will point the fly head on to the fish instead of to the side.  A side view of the fly will produce more strikes then a head on shot.  This is what I wanted, to “tweak” my presentation.  That run didn’t produce anything so we decided to try Conneaut Creek next.  That was fine with me since it was west and closer to home.  We stopped along the way and picked up my car before we drove to our next stop.  There were more fishermen here than at Elk so we headed upstream and away form the crowds.  The first two stops didn’t produce any fish and we were running out of time.  We tried one more hole and I started casting.  I was about 20 minutes when Josh told me that after a few more casts we would be BAM. AIRBORNE, FISH ON!

 

Talk about a last second fish.  After a couple of pics we sent her on her way and headed in before the rain really started to fall.  After getting rained on all last weekend I wasn’t looking forward to it happening again.  I went 2/4 today, all on the swing so I wasn’t going to complain.  After today’s lessons (leaders, line management, presentation, reading water) I feel confident that I can be a little more consistent with my success.  Of course a lot of that will depend on the fish.  Steelhead are nothing like walleye.





Thanksgiving Weekend Steelhead

26 11 2018

If there was one thing that was consistent about this weekend it would be the rain.  It started sometime early Saturday morning and continued on into Sunday.  As a matter of fact, it changed over to snow when I convinced myself I should just go home.

I knew the weather was going to be miserable but even though it was going to rain I knew that the area wouldn’t be blown out.  With the gates controlling the flow it wasn’t going to matter how much rain we got.  Unfortunately, the October rains gave an estimated 2 trillion extra gallons to Lake Superior.  All that water has to go somewhere so the gates were wide open.  The concrete berm I normally stand on to fish certain runs was completely under water.  Not that it mattered, trying to wade to it was completely out of the question.  I got spun around more than once by the increased flow and not so sure footing.

Knowing all this I still went out.  I have yet to catch a Steelhead here and I definitely won’t catch one sitting in my hotel room watching the Wolverines get their ass handed to them.  I figure one of these days my timing will be perfect and I’ll catch one.  As it turns out it would not be this weekend.  I could see fish rolling around and I saw a few swim by me both they were all salmon.  I figured they were either Atlantics or small Chinook.  Around noon I managed to hook one as I was stripping line in for my next cast.  Based on the color I thought it was a small Atlantic.  I was wrong.

Wasn’t expecting a coho but there she was.  Nothing like the ones I caught in Alaska but it was still better than nothing.  After I released I waded back to shore to let my legs thaw out for a bit.  While I was there I talked to a local angler who was also taking a break and smoking a “Recreational Cigarette”.  He told me that the Steelhead have been slow but there were a lot of salmon in the area.  He had also caught a couple of Coho and an Atlantic.  He also told me that the gates will be turned down.  He told me that he expects the fishing to be good for a few days after that, even if gets any colder.  I doubt I’ll drive back up though.  I may stick to the Alley or some west side rivers.  I like fishing this area but those 6 hours drives get old after awhile.  After a 20 minute break I waded back in and resumed fishing.  I was joined by another fishermen who set up downstream from me.  He was chucking a pink spoon and I watched him catch one Steelhead and about half a dozen salmon.  The fish are in but they were in a pool that I couldn’t reach.  If the levels were down a couple of feet I could.  Then again the fish might not be in that spot as well.  After about 6 hours of 40 degree water and rain I packed it in.  A warm meal sounded better than subjecting myself to any more abuse.  Besides, I still had tomorrow morning to try again.

Well I tried again Sunday morning.  I should have known something was up when I arrived and I was the only vehicle in the parking lot.  I tired for a couple of hours but when it started snowing I decided to give up.  I was going to have a long drive home and I wanted to get ahead of the storm that was expected to arrive later that night.

I did manage to catch one fish, lost a couple of flies and I was able to stay dry for most of the weekend.  One of these years I’ll catch it just right.  I’m not going to hold my breath until then though.

 

 





Weekend Report 11/3-11/4

5 11 2018

Originally I planned on going walleye fishing Saturday and Steelhead fishing Sunday.  Recent rains though blew out The Huron so that left me with walleye on The Detroit River.  As it would turn out I would accomplish both.

I started out Saturday morning just after sunrise.  The river was filthy again and the current was a lot faster than I expected.  I checked the gauges later and it was reading 262,000 cfs.  Higher than normal and the NW wind wasn’t helping any.  Eventually I switched to a heavier weight just to help keep contact with the bottom.  Trying to maintain a decent speed was difficult as well.  There where a few times I found myself going downstream instead of up or across.  I fought through it though and managed to catch a couple more for the freezer.

The next morning I was back out after sunrise again, an hour earlier thanks to the daylight savings crap.  Water was a lot cleaner today.  Yesterday there was less than 6 inches of visibility and today it was about two feet.  Light winds out of the SE and a current that had dropped by over 20,000 cfs made for almost ideal conditions.  Didn’t catch anything in the first half hour but the next half hour proved to be a different story.  I caught one walleye and quickly followed it up with another one when I trolled over the same spot where I caught the first one.  I stayed in the area for a bit and then I had another hit.  It felt like a decent fish at first but it just gave up.  Figured it was a small walleye until it got to the side of the boat and I quickly realized it wasn’t.  I saw that white belly and green back and got very serious.  I started to go for the net but changed my mind and just flipped her in.  I said I was going to go steelehead fishing and I did.  Just not in the river I planned too.

Normally I would have let her go but she was bleeding out so I just put her in the cooler.  After that fishing was pretty uneventful.  I managed to catch a couple more and actually lost #5 right at the side of the boat.  I could have stuck it out a little longer but the winds were picking up and I was supposed to meet some friends for breakfast and to go see Bohemian Rhapsody later.  I was running out of time so I just packed it in.

While I was fishing I did get to watch a Bald Eagle swoop in and grab a fish of the surface.  I watched him fly off and land on a nearby telephone pole and eat his breakfast.  I saw a pair yesterday flying around.  I assume he was one of the pair.  Don’t know if their nest is on Humbug or Grosse Isle but I’m sure I’ll spot it eventually.  Unless they are just migrating through or waiting for the gizzard shad to show up.

Headed north next weekend to get my Mom’s house ready for winter.  While I’m there I plan on hitting the AuSable for some Steelhead and Atlantic action.  Hopefully the Steelhead I caught Sunday was a sign that I should switch gears and concentrate on them instead of the walleye.

Hope so.

 





10/28/18 Walleye

29 10 2018

This past Sunday morning (10/28/18) I decided to try and get a few more walleye.  It was supposed to start raining around 11:00 am so I had a few hours.  I could have started before sunrise but NE winds the last few days had me thinking the water would be dirty.  I was right, the water was dishwater grey and less than 6 inches of visibility.  I headed down to my usual starting point and got set up.  I was running a custom painted Pink Lemonade Rattlin’ Rogue on my long lead and a #9 Perch Rapala on my kicker.  I don’t really remember what I had on my medium lead, I never had a hit on it and I changed it several times during the morning.  While I was trolling along I took a surface temp reading and it was around 48 degrees.  Everything seemed just about perfect.  Overcast skies, dirty water, 48 degree temps, light west winds.  Now all I needed was some fish.  Around 8:30 I had my first one but I never got him off the bottom.  He was a bigger fish and he grabbed my kicker.  I could feel the hooks tearing from his mouth as I tried to pull him up.  I swung back around through the spot and hooked into another fish that I promptly lost as well.  This was getting frustrating and I was afraid this was an omen of how the day was going to go.  About 10 minutes later though, I finally put one on the cooler.  I was able to land a couple more before 9:15 am when the sun broke through the clouds.  Not what I wanted to see but I knew it wasn’t going to last long.  Dark clouds were in the west and coming my way.

Fishing was slow while the sun was out so I explored some more.  Eventually the clouds rolled back in I pulled lines and headed back to the area I first started.  It didn’t take long and numbers 4 and 5 were in the cooler.  Once that was done I pulled lines and headed for home.  Good thing too, just as I pulled into my driveway the rain started.  Once I got the boat put away I didn’t care, I was indoors and warm.  I’m finally getting some larger fish and the largest, a 23 incher, was a female.  Looks like the Fall run is on.  I only hope it doesn’t get to cold to fast.  If it drops another 10 degrees fishing could end before it really got started.  I’ll try again this weekend.  Still need to get some more fish to last me through the winter.

 





10/20/18 Walleye

23 10 2018

Oops, forgot I went fishing again.

Went out last Saturday morning to try and stock the freezer some more before winter sets in.  Since the temps bottomed out last week and we saw our first snow flakes, winter could come sooner than expected.  Surface water temps were around 52 degrees and there were no surface weeds to deal with.  There were plenty below the surface though and I had to check lines on a regular basis.  I started fishing around 7:00 am and packed it in around 10:00 am.  Not much to report other than it was cold out.  One other boat was out trolling along the Edison Discharge and I saw him catch a couple of fish.  No signs of any gizzard shad yet.  I’ll try again this weekend.

 





10/13/18 Walleye

15 10 2018

It had been well over a month since the last time I went walleye fishing so I was due.  Wind was out of the SW but it was in single digits so I figured it wouldn’t be much of an issue.  I was more concerned about water clarity with all the rain we received in  the last week.  Turns out it wasn’t that bad, around 2 to 3 feet of visibility.  Surface temps were around 59 degrees, still to high but at least it was heading down instead of up.  Weeds weren’t much of an issue, just the single strands that I am accustomed to this time of year.

I dropped lines sometime around 5:30 pm and by 6 I had my first fish, a nice 22 inch male, biggest walleye I’ve landed in months.  Over the next hour I was able to land a couple more along with a few smallmouth bass.  It was a pretty slow and uneventful night.  There was one other boat out trolling and I saw them catch a couple of fish.  I kept my sonar going for awhile and most of the fish I marked were 2 to 4 feet off the bottom.  I know a few of them were walleye but I’m betting some of the other marks were smallies and a few trash fish.  Around 8 it was getting colder so I headed in.  The Fall bite is just starting and I have a few months left to fill the freezer for winter.  Weather permitting.  If the weather goes to hell I’ll just start chasing Steelhead earlier than I was expecting.