December 30, 2007

Fishy Readings



I’m looking forward to 2007 coming to an end. The past year was one of the darkest of my life. My divorce isn’t finalized; my ex isn’t helping me paying the bills and we’ll more than likely lose our house. The only thing that kept me sane was the fantastic fishing this year.

Rain on Friday night brought the streams up, but they didn’t blow out. I looked at the USGS flow data that evening, the Grand was still too high and the Chagrin starting to creep up to 600cfs. The only river that didn’t come up that much was the Vermilion. The V was the only river that I haven’t fished this season.

Saturday morning I arrived at the river to only see dirty water. I was stunned to see the river that high because the flow data that morning had it at 220cfs. With the water that dirty I was somewhat reluctant to fish it. The river had a vanilla latte color and I knew running sacs in tandems would give me a fighting chance.

I wasn’t the only person on the river that morning as three others were fishing a large pool. These guys couldn't have been more hillbilly – flannel jackets, camo waders and fishing equipment bought from the Dollar store. But, these guys were banging fish and I could see why. They were using sacs about the size of ping pong balls. I still struggled to get one hit and decided to head downstream. The water wasn’t as deep and concentrated on the tailout. I placed two sacs per hook and slowed the drift down. It finally paid off as I hooked into a male. I decided to end on a high note and stop by the local tackle store. I asked for the V’s flow data and the river was at 280cfs and rising. Sometimes the flow data isn’t updated in a timely fashion. It has been rumored that the USGS recalibrated the gauge and that can screw up past readings.

I got the pin some new line and headed to the Rocky. The Rock was up, but the water had a better color. During the past few weeks, the Rock has seen some very large fish move in as I heard reports of some anglers landing fish over 15lbs. I knew of some spots that would hold some bulls. But the fishing was just as slow as I managed a couple of fish. I figured tomorrow would be a better day.

That evening I checked the flow data and the Grand was going up slightly and leveling out. It was at 1600cfs and there was no way that it would fish for New Year’s Day. Since I hate fishing the Rock on weekends, I decided to fish the Chagrin and it turned out to the wrong choice. The water was perfect as was the flow. But the fish took the day off as I only caught three dark small fish that didn’t even bother to fight - pathetic.

I drove back home and stopped at the Rock. I noticed the water was murkier than the previous day. When I walked to the same spot I fished yesterday, I watched one angler standing right in the middle of the river. Fish are always holding in that spot and I bit my lip as I walked by him. Advice to newbies – don’t wade past your knees because fish will often hold right in front of you.

With the water being this murky, I was glad I tied larger sacs the night before. I knew the fish would be holding in shallow water. I set the float at 3’ and drifted right down the middle of the current and along the seams. Unlike the Chagrin, the Rock had a fresh run of fish. It was a mix bag of hens and males. The section I fished today has changed radically over the years as it often happens on Steelhead Alley’s streams. It was twice as wide and several deeper holes have filled in. But, it still holds a lot of over wintering fish.

Tomorrow it’s back to work and I doubt I can weasel my way out of work early. I was hoping to fish the Grand on Tuesday, but I think the Rock will have to do.

December 25, 2007

Fruitcake probably would of worked better

Being this was the first Christmas I didn't spend with my family, I decided to head down to the Rock for a couple of hours. The previous rain during the weekend blew the river out. However, due to the colder weather the river dropped really fast. The flow gauge was at 500cfs and that usually meant the water was dirty.

I had some leftover uncured spawn sacs in the fridge. They were about 5 days old and I noticed a putrid smell to them. Even if I didn't catch anything, I wanted to test the theory of steelhead eating rotten salmon eggs.

When I arrived there were some people fishing and I assumed they were taking a break from the in-laws. The river was still high and dirty. I fished one section that usually holds a lot of staging fish. When the water is dirty, I'll run tandem spawn sacs. The more scent the better, but in the couple hours of fishing, I didn't get one bite.

On the upside, the Grand should fish this weekend...........finally.

December 22, 2007

2007 Fall recap and more rain is on the way


Today was the first day of winter and it felt more like April. The melting snow caused the rivers to rise overnight. I woke early to see the flow gauge on the Chagrin starting to creep up. The river was stained, but fishable in my book. There was still enough snow left in the woods and several feeder creeks were pumping sediment into the river.

The fish were stubborn today and big pink sacs finally won them over. The tail end of the pools was the ticket and nearly all of the fish I caught were dark and post spawn. Through out the day, the river conditions got worse and I decided to head home. On the way home I stopped by the Rocky and it was running high.

Now for the recap, this past fall was no different from the past ones we had - dry and hot. Both September and October were busts due to non existent rainfall. It was so dry in Pennsylvania that some fish become trapped into last remaining pools. They were harassed within an inch of their lives by the hordes of anglers. Due to the dry conditions, a lot of PA fish headed west. I hit the Conneaut in late September only to miss the fish as they headed back into the lake after the creek got low. I spent most of the time casting spoons from the break walls patiently waiting for cooler weather and rain.

The colder weather and rain finally came in November and one river had a huge run. The Grand was the best in recent memory. It got a big run PA fish and during that month, I had 20+ fish days several times out. The reason for the great fishing conditions was the Grand was running low. It’s rare to have conditions like that and I took advantage of it. As for the others, the fishing was average to below average. The Chagrin also had a run of PA fish as I caught many spawned out fish in the upper sections. I got reports from the Vermilion that the fishing wasn’t something to write home about. The Rocky was average and finally got a good push of fish before the last week of month. As for the Conneaut, high fuel prices kept me closer to home.

Then the weather took a turn for the worse after Thanksgiving with rain. I booked off the last week of the month and the rivers got blown out Monday morning. Not wanting to waste an entire week, I made a rare trip to the Elk. It turned out to be one of the best days ever as I caught an obscene number of fish. For the month of December, rainfall and melting snow limited the number of fishing days. Due to rainfall ever week the Grand has been virtually unfishable for the month. For the past month, I’ve been fishing the Chagrin a lot and posting good number of fish. The Rocky has been fishing great of late, but I never fish it during the weekends.

This weekend we receive more rain and the rivers are blown out. On the good side, there is no more snow. I'm crossing my fingers that the Grand will fish this upcoming weekend. Without anymore rain, the rivers should fish after Christmas.

December 17, 2007

Christmas Island, girl in a nice bikini.......ummmm, I'm sorry what did you say?


Lousy day driving around town. With the first big storm of the year, people forgot that snow can be slippery. Old Rich at work played smash up derby with a Yukon today. Luckily, he was all right, can't be said about the truck.

Days like today and I often dream about fishing in the Keys or the Bahamas or somewhere in the South Pacific. Yeah, I also need a companion to fish with or maybe two..........

December 16, 2007

Let's go fish........Ahhh, screw it

The rotten weather all week has reeked havoc with the streams. Just when the streams were coming down to fishable levels, more rain falls. I opened the door to see a whiteout and howling winds. I can't believe my neighbours left for the Browns game in this shit. But it will be an great game, better me than him. I'm sure the 5lbs of deer chili I gave them last night will be the top item on the menu at the tailgate. There is suppose to be blizzard conditions tonight and what really sucks is I'll have to leave for work tomorrow at 5:30A.M.............yeah right.

Without anymore rain the rivers should be great late this week. All I want for Christmas is the Grand to be fishable this weekend.

December 9, 2007

Tis the season


Tis the season and after my vacation week, I see on the bulletin board that Doug is no longer with the company. Two weeks ago, Lennie retired. Mike is out from hernia surgery. Greg took a leave of absence and who the hell knows when he'll be back. I feel a pat on the back from the manager asking if I'm well rested.......Well, we all know where this is going. I have to take over Doug's accounts until they hire a new guy. The other thing I found out later was I have to work every other Saturday. During the winter months, I don't work weekends and I made it clear from the get go. You don't screw with my fishing time. I wasn't too happy as I hate working Saturdays and told them "start cranking out help wanted ads".

On the fishing front, chalk up another useless weather forecast. The weather channel was calling for a winter advisory for Sunday morning. It was suppose to be freezing rain and sleet. I woke up early in the morning and peeked out the window to see the street was dry. I drove to the Chagrin and it was running perfect. There wasn't supposed to be any rain until this evening. I kicked off the winter steelheading season looking for some fresh fish that came in with the last high water. It turned out to be a slow morning at the office. It was several fish here and there and I had to work over the pools. There must been a run of pygmy steelhead as I caught five of the smallest steelhead I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately the batteries in my camera died. I caught one buck that was 14” long in full winter colors and he had a kype jaw and humped back.

Then the day came to an end when the Gates Mill church clock started chiming in the distance and ten minutes later the skies opened and dumped a shitload of rain. I left the rain jacket at home thinking I didn’t need it. To make a long story short, I got soaked on the way back. It rained all the way back to North Olmsted. Once again, the Grand was coming down to fishable levels and the runoff shot it right back up. I was going to call off with the 24 hour flu. There is more rain for the upcoming week and this is the 3rd week in a row that the Grand won't be fishable.

December 1, 2007

Bling


The first push of Manistees have started to move up the rivers after the last blowout. Depending on what river you fished and how far up you went, it was bling or scrap metal. On the Rocky, it was bling-bling as every fish caught was in mint condition and full of fight. It felt nice seeing a fish jump and fight hard in water about 38F. But, the constant howling wind ran me off the river after a couple of hours in the morning. Two cups of java finally thawed me out.

I hit the Chagrin and it was a mix of bling and spawned out Pennsylvania fish. The thermometer barely got over 32F and I was tardy this morning as I arrived at 8:30A.M. It was a slow morning as I bounced from pool to pool. Once the sun got up the fish awoke from their slumber. Fishing tailouts, runs and slicks sandwiched between gravel beds was the ticket. Takes ranged from teasing taps to violent takedowns. I used the last of my uncured King eggs and once again I wasn't disappointed as I had my best day ever on the Chagrin. But, I got lucky yesterday and managed to score some uncured Coho eggs. I even got me some gold as a carp mistaken my white spawn sac for a boilie. The water so cold that the fat bastard didn't even put up fight. I hauled on the beach and he literally sunk in the muck.

The bonus of the day was the huge male that I landed on a frayed 6 lbs test fluorocarbon tippet. I'm terrible for not checking my line for nicks and frays. I previously caught 7 fish and drifted the last 20 yards of a pool before spilling into a gravel riffle. The takedown was hard and once I set the hook, I knew I had a bull on. I gingerly applied pressure and let him fight the current. He parked himself on the bottom and it was a battle of tug of war. I was afraid that the tippet would crap out and I wouldn't get a glimpse of the fish. I finally got him close enough and was the largest fish of the new season for me. I hauled his huge ass on the beach and the hefty ole man probably tipped the scales at 12lbs.

Taking tomorrow off for some much needed sleep and I'm glad as I'm getting tired of tying eggs every night. Sadly, my vacation week is coming to an end and it's back to the grind. Now that it December, we're starting off the winter steelheading season and this is where we separate the boys from men.