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.  I left there and headed downstream and fished another run.  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 to my car.

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 pointed 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 in 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.