December 28, 2008

Grinched

Extended holidays and bad weather make me a miserable person. This extended Christmas vacation was no different as the weather reeked havoc. Any chances of a white Christmas were dashed as it rained throughout Christmas Eve. Before you could say "ho-ho-ho" it was "oh no no" as the streams blew out. Once again the Grand inched it way down to fishable levels, only to quickly rise. On the bright side it got rid of all of the side ice and opened up the lower sections. Mother Nature was a huge Grinch and she scrooged me out of 4 days of vacation.

The weather outlook for the rest of the week was like a kid eating all of the chocolate the night before Christmas. It was to be in the upper 20s on Christmas, then for Saturday it was a possible record breaking 70F and on Sunday another cold front was to move through. I was limited on where to fish and Friday turned out to be the only good day. Due to the high water conditions, I slept in and headed out after 8:30A.M and took my time. The water was high and slightly off colored, but I knew where to find fish. The night before I tied sacs as bright as those pieces of fruit found on fruitcake that your mother-in-law insists on bringing every year, I could write a whole story about fruitcake from Christmas pasts. The fishing was decent and I had a lot spots to choose from. However another wave of rain was suppose to hit overnight and crossed my fingers that it would blow through quickly.

The wind overnight was loud enough I didn't hear the rain falling. When I left I noticed the roads were wet, but I had no idea how much rain fell. The temperature was warm and I rolled the dice as I knew side ice was melting. I arrived to see the river was higher and on the verge of blowing out. It was a balmy morning and I figured I had a 4 hour window. Whenever conditions are murky I often run tandem quarter size sacs with a ton of shot as the current was stronger. Running off the main current and riding the slots paid off. Me and another pinner caught fish, but we didn't pound them. As the morning progressed the water started to rise and the color got worse. I finally packed it in and passed on the morning outing to a friend.

Everything is blown out and with the colder weather for the upcoming week everything should be fishable. Tomorrow I'll have to butter up Jill in dispatch and try to weasel my way out of working this Friday....

December 17, 2008

Gifts for the Steelheader


With Christmas around the corner every steelheader is hoping that Santa brings them something useful such as a new rod, reel, clothing or in my case some eggs.

Waterproof Electronics - We've done it, admit it - cameras and phones dropped in the water. So far to date I've destroyed 2 cameras and 2 phones and I lost a waterproof camera on a flight to Vegas. Cameras come in handy because of Murphy's law #6 - you land the fish of a lifetime and the camera is at home. Also make sure to carry extra batteries because of Murphy's law #7 - you have a 20lbs steelhead ready for the money shot and the batteries are dead. A great camera is the Olympus Stylus 770.

Cooler - Nothing better ends a hot day in October or April then reaching in for a ice cold beer or two or three.

Jerky - The breakfast of champions. I can't get enough of jerky in the morning with a scolding cup of coffee.

Grey Goose Vodka - I give the French credit, they make a kick ass vodka. A favorite Christmas drink - Hot Russian

1 oz Grey Goose
1 oz Kahlua
1 oz eggnog
2/3 cup of hot chocolate

Take 2 packets of hot chocolate mix and put them into the coffee mug. Add the shots of eggnog, vodka, and Kahlua. Fill the rest of the coffee mug with hot water. Stir. You may need to heat the drink up in the microwave for 30 seconds before serving. When nice and hot, serve.

Thermal Clothing - The majority of steelheading is done during the winter months and nothing ruins a day freezing your ass off after a couple of hours in the water. Under Armour is probably the most popular active wear used by steelheaders. They make undershirts, leggings and socks. It's not cheap, but it's well worth it.

To butter up the old lady for another season of steelheading, jewelry or a trip to Vegas will score big points. I did both and I got a divorce - maybe I should of taken her to Celine's show instead of Louie Anderson...........Merry Christmas.

December 16, 2008

Honey, Look What I Brought Home For Dinner


Here are some pictures of some fucked up fish I caught over the years, unfortunately a couple other pictures are buried in my old laptop. The one fish above looked like it swallowed a bowling ball and barely put up a fight. I suspect I either snagged it or the fish wanted to commit suicide and hooked itself. I put the poor bastard out of its misery and the gulls didn't even bother to eat it, but I'm sure a half starved hillbilly would of taken it in a heart beat.



The other fish was actually fat and fiesty even though the bottom of his mouth as deformed. During the spring run, I've caught some males that had eyes torn out, hunks of flesh and fins missing. It would of been a hoot to bring it home and slap it on the grille for the wife......

December 14, 2008

Dick Godard Sucks



I want to kick Dick Godard in the balls. Dick Godard is Fox's channel 8 weather dinosaur and basically made my weekend miserable in regards to the weather. With the crappy conditions I had to contend with last weekend, I was looking forward to making up for that debacle. Fortunately, the fishing gods took pity on me and blessed me with some fish. Earlier in the week the weather outlook for the upcoming weekend was calling for a chilly Saturday morning followed by temps in the upper 30s with bright skies. For Sunday, there was a 30% chance of rain. But, but and that's a big but, because every angler knows how accurate the weather reporting can be.


 Saturday morning, I drove east only to see the river clogged with slush. It wasn't those small annoying blobs, it was more like those blobs that could devour a steelheader. I rolled the dice as I knew the night time temps were to be in the 20s, but I figured the river would be slush free due to the blowout and warmer temps earlier in the week. With the sun, I thought the slush would burn off by noon......wrong. I made the best of a bad situation and tried fish through it. I re-rigged with my slush buster set-up. I stacked all of my shots low and I had to drop shot it between chunks. The shots would enable me to get everything down quick before a blob devoured my float. I managed to catch some nice size fish including one large male that ripped through several slush chunks with relative ease. The temperature barely made it out of the 20s and the wind made it felt even colder. I looked at the time and it was almost 12:00P.M. It was time for plan B and headed to another river even though I knew it was higher and off color. I arrived to see there was no slush, but the water was dirty. By now it was almost 1:00P.M and it still felt cold. I figured there was no way the slush would burn off. The fishing sucked and I decided to give it a try again tomorrow. On the way home, I listened to radio and the temperature was 29F and this was 2:00P.M. Later I found out the slush in fact did burn off around 2:00P.M and the fish turned on.........d'oh.


Sunday it was back for another kick at the can. Instead of cold it was much warmer albeit very windy. I arrived to see the river was very low and had a nice color, that meant sleath mode. I knew the river well enough that I could find fish easily when most people unfamiliar would walk by. Luck for me I tied very small sacs the night before. I plugged away at various spots working along the shale ledges, pocket water and any dark water. My efforts paid off with some beautiful fish in their winter colors. The crowds were small and it wasn't hard finding a spot. Then around 9:00A.M it started to rain, I figured it was a passing shower, because Dick said there was a 30% chance. As the morning progressed the rain never let up and the wind literally soaked me.


When ever a river is low and clear, I start on one my "death marches" I started to cover a lot of water, because fishable water was few and far between. The phone was on stand by and I got the scoop where the action was. As expected the morning bite shut off and I moved down river. With all of the walking sooner or later I would hit the motherload of fish. Well, I found them and some. It was a classic wintering spot - a moderately deep run that spilled into a large tailout. That with some brown trout eggs made for some excellent fishing including one large bull that came in a hefty 10 pounds. That 30% chance turned out to be 100% as it was still raining when I decided to go home at 3:30P.M. as my hands were pruned beyond belief.

With Christmas coming around I should give Dick a break, because I don't want coal in my stocking as I wanted some eggs. But that doesn't matter anymore as Christmas came early, I was able to score some eggs this weekend.............nice

December 7, 2008

Time To Hibernate

Cold weather sucks and slush is even worse, especially when it happens on the weekend. We got a Christmas greeting from Alberta in a form of another clipper. I knew that weekend was going to be tough as slush was going to be 100% certain. The rivers were hovering above 32F and anything in the 20s would turn them into slurpy machines. Once in a while, it's great sleeping in pass 9:00A.M, I awoke and looked down at the river from my apartment and I could see a steady stream of slush and a couple of hillbillies standing the in the water. If they were going to wait for the slush to burn off, I hoped they layered a ton of long underwear and wool socks. Because they would be waiting for a very long time.


I knew from experience that slush usually burns off by afternoon if the conditions are right. Both days the slush was heavy and in some spots you couldn't drop a bowling bowl through it. For some, this is the end of the season as they dream of spring time weather. For the diehards, it's an another day to go fishing. The cold often chases the majority of people off the rivers and those living too far away won't make the drive. The end result is I can pick and choose were to fish and in most cases I won't have to share with anybody. That was the case on both days as I was able to find spots. The conditions were challenging to say the least - temps in the 20s, biting wind, guides freezing up and ice forming on the float and line. I knew I wasn't going to hit double digits and I would be lucky to catch a couple of fish. Some of the best water was locked up in ice and I would be fishing marginal water. But I'm always up to the challenge and both days I had to really work hard to catch a couple.

I'm starting to run low on eggs and being the egg whore I am, I would really hope that Santa stuffs my stocking full of eggs..............

December 3, 2008

Gary Bettman Hates Sloppy Seconds


The biggest shit disturber, asshole, scumbag and punk Sean Avery got sent to the principal's office for saying bad things about his former puck bunny - Elisha Cuthbert. It all started when the Star's creep made the comment "I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight." Personally, I would love to have a huge helping of Avery's sloppy seconds as this weasel even banged one of the hottest MILF's on earth - Rachel Hunter.

I think the whole thing is blown out of proportion, it's not like he cross checked or sucker punched somebody. The NHL needs an asshole like Avery to keep people watching. I would of fined him a game's pay and shoved him out on the ice to see Cuthbert's latest boy toy Calgary's Dion Phaneuf beat the shit out of him and having Iginla and Bertuzzi fighting over the scraps left on the ice.

Back to the river........

November 30, 2008

Done In By Porn


My old laptop died Friday night, that big blue steaming piece of shit has been a huge pain in the ass lately. I was greeted with the dreaded blue screen basically telling me the computer committed suicide. The hard drive groaned and the computer couldn't boot up anymore. Beating the crap out it didn't help as I'm in need of computer anger management and I was more than happy to give it the boot. No more lines on the screen, no more crashing and no more having to stack 5 books on top of the power cord plug as the pin had a loose connection. For the past couple of days, I've been in the dark in regards to what's happening in Steelhead Alley. I was hoping I could hold out until Christmas or after it to snag a great deal on a computer. But, I had no choice as I couldn't bear the thought of going a couple of weeks without watching porn and stupid Youtube videos. Last night, I manage to score a great deal on a Dell laptop and it was Merry Christmas to me.

On the fishing front it was a nice weekend as I meet a frequent reader of my blog. I forgot his name (bad habit) but we had a great time chatting and catching fish. I guess that one of a kind purple Kingpin gets noticed. I was also happy to finally sell my Bob James to a young fella who turned to the dark side. I gave him a great deal and he was looking forward to using it tomorrow. The following day, I fished the V for the first time and I was quickly reminded what the V stands for - vacated (hardly any fish), vanquished (felt defeated) and vapid (dull). Those words pretty well summed up the day as I caught a couple of fish and was spared going home with a skunk around my neck.

I hate the V and I heard the river I fished yesterday was giving up insane numbers of fish.

November 27, 2008

Gobble, Gooble

 
Couldn't ask for a nicer day to go fishing than on Thanksgiving. It was especially nice that most of the steelheaders couldn't weasel their way into a day of fishing - I guess the mother-in-laws had a long to-do-list or wanted to spend time with their favorite son-in-law...snort. I knew today would be better than "Black Friday" the day that ushers in the Christmas shopping season after turkey day. The wives will be out blowing cash and the hubbies will race down to the river to squeeze into available water. I'll be in bed sleeping in, but I must call in at 10:00A.M to see if there any need for extra help at work- fat fucking chance.



Due the warmer temperatures most of the snow melted and the streams came up. I knew of several that would be borderline and I was the guinea pig for several others hoping to wet a line for tomorrow. I received the calls early in the morning and gave the thumbs up and resumed fishing. The morning crowd showed up and frantically fished before the dreaded calls came in. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. By noon, I had the river to myself and I enjoyed it as much as possible. It's rare to enjoy solitude on some of Steelhead Alley's streams at the high of the fall run.

Fishing was tough as the water was high, stained and colder than a witches tittie. But I found several players, including one hog that wouldn't budge from the tailout. But I managed to screw that up as I took my time and the fish got fed up and turned and burned into the chute - snap. It was mostly fresh fish hanging out at the tailouts that hit quarter sized sacs in pink or chartreuse. After exhausting my supply of bait, I went for a drive to see the longest covered bridge in the U.S . I heard all of the hub-bub when it first opened for the general public to see. It's pretty high up almost a 100' and I doubt the Amish will fish from it unlike another covered bridge in the same county. 

November 23, 2008

Back To The Grind


Another vacation week has come and gone and as with any vacation it went too quickly. I'm not looking forward to listening to roboJill from dispatch tomorrow morning and seeing Chuck's perpetual scowl. This year, I was able to squeeze in more fishing as the rivers blew out on the weekend. The only days I took off were Monday and Friday as the streams were still too high Monday and the gusting winds Friday were too cold. The fishing was outstanding on the days I fished out east and I fish the Rock on Thursday. I was quickly reminded why the Rock is at the bottom of my favorite Steelhead Alley streams. Even though I could practically fall out of my apartment window and land in the river, I've grown to hate it over the years. The only reason I fished it was I forgot to set my alarm clock and woke up at (gasp) 9:00A.M. I figured with the colder weather, the number of people would be low - wrong. I guess I'm still in denial as I forgot hillbillies don't seem to mind the cold. I managed to work around the mass of them decked out in camo waders, blaze orange bomber caps and hearing those buoys called floats hitting the water. However it was nice a 5 minute drive home, instead of the 80 mile drive after a day of hiking from hole to hole and guzzling gallons of coffee to stay awake.  

For the first time in November, steelheaders were greeted with slush on Sunday morning. The water was cold enough to shrink the hardest steelheader's balls. All of the rivers were loaded with it except for the Grand. The Grand took what was a eternity to drop, all week it leveled out and never got down to the magical "700" mark on the flow gauge. The water looked great as a week of cold weather locked up sediment along the banks and the silt gradually settled. But, the Grand is a tricky river to fish when flows are above 1100 with a water temperature at jaw locking 33F. 

On the bright side, the Manistees showed up as expected and nothing gets my blood pumping then watching a fish a rip off 30 yds of line in water that's 35F. Many of the fish are on the larger size this season, fat and filled with a lot of piss and vinegar. Thankfully it's a short work week and I'll be out on turkey day as the others who I won't mention will be forced to help out in the kitchen.........

November 18, 2008

Severe Snow Alert.........Whatever


Any hardcore angler knows that the weathermen is wrong most of the time. Last night they tossed the dart at the board and it came up as lake effect snows and they would be severe at times. Lake effect snow is often hit and miss and today it completely missed out where I was fishing. The roads were wet and I bombed down the interstate without breaking a sweat. It was chilly when I started fishing not to long I was fighting with ice build-up on the guides. This was the only annoyance with the cold, as last week I spent a ton of dough on winter clothing. Last season I got tired of getting cold after several hours of fishing. I wasn't a tightwad as I bought several Under Armour coldgear undershirts and longjohns, Polartec fleece pants, fleece jacket, and a toque. If this was last year, I would of been squealing about the cold and today I didn't even feel it. As for the weather you couldn't ask for nicer conditions - partly cloudy with periods of sun. A friend of mine was surprised that it didn't snow as he cancelled his trip today.



It was nice to see snow again and nicer to see my nemesis the fair weather fishermen absent from the water. As expected with colder temps, the fish parked themselves at the tail end of the pools or off the main current. Even with the colder water, all of the fish fought very hard and a couple leaped from the water. Most of the fish were in their full winter colors and the hens had full bellies of eggs. The fishing wasn't bad and the key was staying mobile as I bounced around from spot to spot and had most of them to myself.

Old man winter will be hanging around for most of the week. On the way back home, most of the other streams are still a day away from being fishable. The eastside as expected received more snow and during the day some of it was melting from the trees and cliffs. Another cold front to arrive later this week and drop the temps below 32F for Friday and Saturday - the diehards will be smiling and the fairweather fishermen will be marking off the days until April...........


November 15, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again


As expected the beginning of my vacation starts off with what else - rain. Yes we needed a lot of it to flush out the leaves, summer silt and trigger a big push of fish. But could it wait at least another week! This is the chance I took when booking off time in November, as the weather is so unpredictable. Last night the weather honks were calling for rain all day Saturday and on Sunday the bottom drops out as temps are to be in the 30s all of next week -lovely. Last November, I started my vacation week with rivers in Ohio blown out and I had to jump across the border to get my fishing fix. As it turned out I had the best day fishing wise in the 10 years of living in Steelhead Alley. But this year, I might be in for a tough time as a bunch of Alberta clippers (what's a clipper named that enters Alberta?). But this Canuck can deal with some harsh conditions.


Last night I checked the radar and noticed the rain wouldn't start until early Saturday morning. That was plenty of time to get in some fishing before the water got too high. That evening I tied up a ton of sacs and went to bed later then usual as I knew I wouldn't have to beat anybody to the river. When I left it was still relatively warm and lightly rained the entire way out. I arrived at 6:30A.M, there were no cars to be seen. I looked at the river it was in perfect condition, I figured I had at least 7 hours of fishing before the river started to blow out. I stuck to the lower end and fished the faster water as the river was still warm. It was a mixed bag of skippers and plump adults. Some of the fish were on the large size and with the warmer water temperature, a couple of them ripped off some nice runs. As the morning progressed the water levels came up, but the visibility held. Nearly all of the fish were hold in shallow water right in the middle of the bubble line or at the head of the riffles and runs.


The rain on the other hand didn't let up as a couple of anglers around me that didn't have waterproof jackets bailed after a couple of hours. I was lucky enough to get a spot under the bridge and enjoyed the period of fishing without having to wipe water off my glasses. The fishing was off and on as several would be caught and then the bite would shut off. I was going to fish as long as possible as I knew the river wouldn't be fishable for at least 3 to 4 days. I moved downstream not far from the lake and I meet up with a friend. We knew some fish were staging at the lower end waiting to come up. As the water levels started to rise we noticed waves of fish moving up as we would bang fish quickly and then it died off. Once I used up all of my sacs I called it a day as I looked like a soaked rat and it was a good call. On the way back home I hit the cold front and the wind really picked up. The lake turned nasty as the winds shifted from the south to the northwest.


Now we're offically into winter steelheading. The fair weather fishermen will be parked on the couch for the duration of the year and the true diehards will be on the prowl. Fishing in the Buckeye State will be out of the question for most of the week as nearly an inch of rain fell. We'll she if ole Red is up to the challenge driving through the heart of the snowbelt.

November 10, 2008

Hello My Friend This is John McCain........Click


On November 4th, Americans finally ended the most obnoxious election I've ever seen. I was ready to fire a brick through the TV because of the non stop commercials. I was bombarded with robo-calls for both Obama and McCain. I sick of Joe the Plumber ( in Canada he would be Pierre de Plumber ) bullshit. This is the price I pay for living in the battleground state of Ohio. Why can't Ohio be irrelevant like Vermont or Iowa? Then there were the college kids knocking on doors asking to register people and I having to tell me "Your the 5th person to ask me to register and I can't vote because I'm not a U.S citizen" All of them looked like your typical young liberal - unkempt looking, probably had a hacky sac on them and lived on a diet of hemp and rice crackers. I even had one guy say I spoke good English for a foreigner huh? 

The U.S election is crazy compared to Canada. I remember my ex-wife getting the absentee ballots for the last two elections and there was everything from president right down to the dog catcher. There was federal, state, local, county judges, county commissioners, school issues, fire and where should the mail box be placed and so on. She spent hours poking out those stupid chads. I remember voting in Canada for prime minister and there were 5 choices and checked off your party and that was it.

As soon as the economy went into the shitter, McCain was basically screwed. It was Obama's election to lose and as soon as the T.V hacks made their predictions that Obama won Ohio, it was over. No candidate running for president that didn't win Ohio - lost. McCain didn't do that badly, but was a shit kicking for the Republicans. Since I'm considered middle class that means most politicians couldn't give a shit about me once the election is over. Everbody at work has asked me what socialism is like and I reply "You'll find out soon enough".

Obama has a huge mess on his hands. The big 3 in Detroit are hanging by a thread, there is no money left to spread around, and everybody is broke. It's going to be a Merry Christmas this year...........

November 8, 2008

Get Out The Rake and the X-1 Pin

Newsflash! It rained for more then 2 hours on the west side of Cleveland. The 20 or so fish waiting in the Rocky headed upstream before the hoards of hillbillies started lining the banks and fords. That Friday evening, I was tying up some sacs and closely watching the radar on the computer. Most of the rain was falling on the west side, but it also was raining out to the east. That day, I got the green light go fishing as my 2nd and 4th Saturdays at work are put on the back burner until next spring - thank god. I got sick and tired on coming in to do one or two jobs and clocking out at 10:30A.M. 



I went to bed smelling of eggs and around 4:45A.M, I woke up and checked the flow gauges. The Rocky, Vermilion and Chagrin shot up like a rocket. The Grand however had a hiccup and went up to 350cfs. I called a source and the streams way out east missed out on the rain altogether. I loaded up the Jeep and hit the road early. I parked at one of the metro parks and started to walk upstream - big mistake. The grass so high I thought I was on safari somewhere in India and I was in need of an elephant. I hobbled, tripped and cursed like a sailor in the dark as I slipped in several ruts along the trail. I managed to hack my way out of the grasslands and had a relatively easy time walking through the woods. I finally reached my spot and it was first light, the river was up slightly and I noticed a shitload of leaves going downstream.



The spot was a run below a feeder creek and it had a nice slot that held a lot of fish during the fall and spring. I pulled several shots down to get the sac down fast as slot was about 20yd and tailed out quickly. I stood upstream and let the float go downstream running it along the mud line. It didn't take long to find fish and it was a mixed bag of skippers, fat males and chrome hens. The spot coughed up a lot of fish and I had a long list of spots to hit. I looked at the time and it was 10:00A.M, so I had plenty of time. Once I got away from that spot the fishing was tough as most of spots I fished were traditional winter holding areas. Even though the temperature was in the 40s today, the river was still warm thanks to almost a week of 70 degree weather and most of the fish were holding in faster water. So I skipped the slower holes and hit another spot similar to one I fished before. But just like upstream, I struggled to find the mother load of fish. Didn't help that the immense number of leaves floating downstream wreaked havoc with my drifts. I looked at the time and it was 2:00P.M, by now I was extremely bored, cranky from all of the leaves and sick and tired of listening the constant gun fire from the skeet club. Since this was a scouting trip, I knew these section was being crossed off for tomorrow.


Later that evening I was preparing for tomorrow's trip with another steelhead junkie - Dave. Dave is a west side steelheader and was looking to expand his options as fishing the Rocky will do that to a person. Dave arrived at my place and I was surprised to see how much weight he lost. During the summer he shaved off 70lbs and he was a big guy that played football for Ohio State as a defensive end. We headed out east back to the same spot I fished yesterday. For once it was nice to have somebody drive for a change. The weather today was typical of November - cold, dreary and windy. The wind today was a huge pain in the ass, leaves everywhere and line blowing off the water. As expected, whenever I take somebody fishing to spot I did well the day before, we struggled to hook up. It was one or two fish here and there. The conditions were perfect, but the fish were very finicky and even the faggy chubs took pity on us.


Dave showed me his latest toy - a HBE reel made by a Swiss company looking to get into the hot Great Lakes pinning market. It looked like something the Russians would of developed in a in top secret lab somewhere in Siberia. I remember seeing the reel at Erie Outfitters last winter and I wasn't keen about it as I found some glaring issues with it. One was the material it was made of - carbon fiber. One big pissed off steelhead with a heavy flow behind him would literally burn the tips of your fingers off in a heartbeat from the resin finish. The other was the reel didn't have a backplate and a misplaced pinkie could get chopped off. The reel was very light, weighing under 3ozs compared to my Kingpin that weighted over 9ozs. The start-up was insanely low and Dave really enjoyed his reel.


Unfortunately the fish weren't playing ball and I made the call to head down river. I took Dave to another spot that was great for pinning. With the windy conditions, I figured most of the fair weather fishermen would be parked on the couch. As we drove into Painesville, I could see the parking lots full near the river. Over one bridge, I could see several hearty souls fishing. We arrived at the park and I gave Dave the scoop on what to expect and where to fish. This spot got the full effect of the wind and it was blowing downstream. There were a couple of people fishing and there was plenty of room. I pointed out a spot and we started off fishing, right off the bat we started off with a double header - which was great or bad. As Dave was beaching his fish, some hillbilly asked for his fish and Dave gave to him. If it were me, I would pull off my boot and inform him it would taste better. The wind made trotting difficult as Siglon and brisk winds don't mix. We shuffled down the section and couldn't get any players. I noticed the water had a tannic stain and that could of been a factor as I people I talked to said it was slow all morning. After an hour, we decided to call it a day and went to lunch and nothing beats a hot meal on a cold day.


Currently most of the streams are starting to drop and will fish on Monday. The streams out east are low and clear and the conditions will favor the fly flingers. There is no rain for the upcoming week and I wouldn't be surprised to see the monsoons hit on Monday when I start vacation.

November 2, 2008

Another Road Trip


Today ushered in November and many of the diehard steelheaders welcomed Daylight Savings with an extra hour of sleep. Another bonus was the lower gas prices as I filled up the Jeep the night before with gas at $1.86 per gallon. That's a far cry from a couple months ago when gas was almost $4.00 per gallon. With the lower fuel costs, I was more willing to rack up the miles in search of steel. I took the Saturday off as I fished pretty hard the day before and my knees needed a break. It was refreshing to sleep in. I spent the afternoon at Gander Mountain buying some clothes for the upcoming winter. They had great deals on socks, sweaters and long underwear. After that I spent the rest of the day stinking up the kitchen as I tied a ton of sacs for Sunday.

The weather was to be warmer and that meant my old nemesis would be out - fairweather fishermen and hillbillies. I left in the pitch dark and I wasn't that groggy considering it was really 5:30A.M. This is the time of the year to be cautious during the early hours as the rut is on here in Northeastern Ohio. All over the local highways there is a fair share of carcasses littering the median and blood splats on the road. Wired with a week's worth of caffeine, I made it to the river around 6:00A.M and I could see about 6 cars parked. I pretty well knew where all of the folks were fishing and I walked upstream to one of my favorite spots.

It was still dark and with a click, I started fishing. I have to admit that those float lights are killer and a couple of friends asked me to get them some. It was a chilly morning as I noticed ice forming on the guides. I fished tailouts and it was a chore to get a bite. The water had a perfect color, some of the leaves were washed away and most of the fish probably had very little pressure. For two hours, I banged one section from top to bottom and had two fish for my efforts. By know it was 8:00A.M and I packed up and walked around the bend, in the distance I could see a lot of people fishing upstream. I knew how this morning was going to shape up - elbows and assholes. I walked downstream and I could see a ton of people, as I walked on the bridge I looked down and noticed one spot wasn't being fished. I've learned over the years that you never leave any stone unturned and I apply this to fishing. Most people would decline fishing it since it's so close to the bridge, thinking it was probably pounded earlier. I casted out and on the first drift the float tapped and it was a chrome hen that hit a peach sac. I quickly caught a couple more fish and several people downstream looked surprised considering I whacked them so quickly. But this was a small hole and probably a small number of fish. I looked the time and it was 10:00A.M and I had a hankering to move another river. I called a buddy up fishing farther upstream and he told me it was a zoo. I knew where he was fishing and I didn't want to take a number and wait in line.

I hopped in the Jeep and drove west. I had one section I wanted to fish and this early in the season can be a crap shot. Either there will be fish or none at all. I pulled into the parking lot and got out. I looked downstream and didn't see a soul. My curiosity got the better of me and I figured what the hell. I walked along the river and you couldn't ask for better conditions, the water was slightly stained and the flow was perfect. I fished a favorite spot and managed a couple of fish in two hours of fishing. I figured most of the fish were still downstream and still making their way upstream. I walked back and drove to the lower section, thinking that most of the people were at home watching the Browns. I headed to one of the metro parks and walked downstream. In the distance, I could see four anglers and there was plenty of room to get off some Olympic distance drifts. This was a nice flat with some depth that flowed into a bend and a pile of lumber. The flow was fast, so I pulled all of the shots down to the bottom about 14" from the hook. I set the float at 4' and cranked out a long cast. I feathered the pin to slow down the float, but I had no takers for a while. It was early afternoon and I wonder if there were a lot of sore jaws on the bottom. Undaunted, I start to shuffle my way down and it I hit the first fish - a large male. I managed some fish and looked at the time 3:30P.M and sun was starting to get low. I was satisfied with the day and gave some poor soul the rest of uncured eggs as he was posting a goose egg. I gave him some pointers and wished him luck. On the way home I listened the Browns cough up a 14 point lead and eventually lose to the Ratbirds.

Sounding like a broken record, the streams will be low and clear in a couple of days. We'll be getting a small dose of Indian summer this week as the temps are to be in the upper 60s and low 70s. I think the fish will push their way upstream regardless of the flow. Counting down the days for vacation week.

October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat


Took a well deserved day off from all of the bullshit at work and what better way to spend it fishing on the last day of October. Earlier in the week we had some cold weather and my procrastinating caught up to me as I waited until the last minute to get my gas hooked up at my apartment. Wednesday night the temps dipped into the low 30s and I froze my ass off. Out east in the snowbelt there were reports of snow and sleet. With the front going over the lake, it was either lake effect rain or snow. I heard through the grapevine that some of the eastern tribs got high as of result of precipitation. How much rain or runoff was anybody's guess. That was perfect for Friday as the weather was be sunny and in the 60s.

With it being Halloween, it would been a hoot dressing up as a giant pink spawn sac or piece of skein or maybe as Donnie Beaver with a giant streamer stuck in the eye. Joking aside, I was going to meet up with a good friend that I haven't fished with for a while. Earlier in the week, I made plans and kept an eye and ear out for info. I heard some rivers were too high and others too low and others had very little fish in them. But there's always a place to fish on Steelhead Alley.



I arrived at the river just before first light and noticed it was in perfect condition. The water was stained from the rotting leaves and the color was perfect for concealing steelhead. The night before I tied a bunch of assorted flavor sacs - peach, pink, red and chartruese and any leftovers would be used as treats for the neigbourhood brats. I was to meet up with the Dfishinfool - Don Mathews. Don was scouting the river for the upcoming weekend of guiding. But before he showed up, I killed some time by spanking fish out of a hole in one section. Eventually he arrived and I was armed with the pin and he had his fly rod and battle ensued. Due the tannic conditions and lower water levels, most if not all of the fish were in deeper runs and pools. We had some double headers and every spot gave up some fat spunky fish. We ended up equal in the pin vs fly battle, but I'm sure I'll kick ass as soon as the snow flies. Most of the fish were holding in the tail end or slack parts of the pools. We continued downstream and I ran into another old friend and we chatted for a bit.



By now the sun was coming up and I was going to head over to the Conneaut with Don as he was going to Erie to get some supplies. I called a source to find out that the Connie was still high and off color. I had second thoughts and Don told me he would stop by to take a look on his to Erie. I started back upstream and tried the same spots we fished earlier. I recieved a call and was told the Connie was out of the question today and tomorrow. It was 11:30A.M and the sun was high in the sky and the temperature was rising. The bite shut off and I was starting to get really hot, so I walked back to the lot and took off the two sweaters I was wearing. I hopped in the Jeep and drove into town to fish a couple of spots. As expected there were a lot people that called in with the 24 hour flu. I was able fish one spot and caught some more before calling it a day around 3:00P.M. I wasn't thrilled at the thought of driving into Cleveland around 4:00P.M as 2 lanes were closed on the I-90 bridge crossing the Cuyahoga River. Sure enough the traffic piled up about a mile from Deadman's curve and I was lucky enough that I knew my way around "da hood" and avoiding gridlock.

We're still waiting for that elusive blowout to happen. For the time being, every time the water levels go up some more fish push up. However, the majority of trees have yet to shed their leaves. Most of those leaves have ended up on the bottom of the streams and the water has that tannic color. Tannin is a weak acid that can affect steelhead's behaviour and movement. But with a good presentation, fish can be had. As it's with every year here on Steelhead Alley, we eventually get a rainfall that flushes out the leaves and silt. Hopefully, that doesn't happen the 3rd week of November - the week of my vacation.

October 18, 2008

The Night Owl


 

Once in a while I love to fish in the dark. There is something special about it. The eerie feeling of walking down a pitch black trail. Hearing the rustling of some unknown creature in the surrounding woods. I remember times stumbling through the woods on my way to a far off hole or pool. I would be hours ahead of the other anglers. Finally reaching the spot and panting and breathing heavily. You see your breath as the headlamp shines out towards the water. 

Whenever I fish in the dark, whether its' early in the morning or in the evening. I like to use the Blue Fox lighted float or a LED light stick. Unfortunately none of the local tackle shops carried the floats at the time. The latest trick in my fishing arsenal are these LED lights I bought for my floats. In the past I've used glo sticks for floats, but I was never satisfied with the results as they often made the floats tip over or easily pop off whenever a fish took the bait. These lights are about the size a fuse you use for a speaker. They're made in Japan and with 127 million people crammed onto a bunch of islands, I'm sure a lot of folks are into night fishing. The lights are waterproof and have about 20 hours of use. The plastic sleeve was too large to fit properly on a Raven or Hi-Viz float, but I found it fit perfectly on a Drennan bobber. But I wished I had one of those Blue Foxes.


I drove out east in the wee hours and arrived at the river around 4:30 in the morning. Obviously there wasn't any cars or people. But I was still vigilant as I've had some shady characters pull over and ask me for either a smoke or spare change. I wouldn't have any problems here in this sleepy little town. With my headlamp on I slowly strolled down to the river. The crickets chirped quietly and slowly. The moon had a light haze from the high clouds. Overhead I hear the faint sounds of a commercial airliners flying high above. It's a short walk to the first spot no more than 10 minutes. I scan the water with the headlamp and it's in perfect condition. I had everything set up and with a click, it was fishing time. The light was very visible and I could detect when I was starting to hit bottom. Once I made the adjustments, I watched the float go under hard as it was the first fish of the morning. For an hour it was steady fishing as I had my hands full battling fish in the pitch dark. Drifting along the slot and towards the tailout was the ticket.

Every once in a while I would look back and then I could see headlamps in the distance. Three anglers showed up in the dark and basically staked out their turf. Since they had no way to fish in the dark, they watched me catch more fish and I overhead one them saying 

"Shit, he's going to clean this hole out before first light" 

I smirked and continued to fish. They shuffled off farther upstream to stake another spot. Smart move on their part. 

A couple more guys showed up and I noticed they were taping on those goofy glo sticks. I ignored them and I watched them lose one after another as they found that troublesome snag I found earlier in the morning. Several more people showed up and they were milling about in the dark. One them asked 

"Are you hitting them?"

I looked back and nodded with a big grin. I thought they would of moved along, but they didn't. Probably thought I was pulling their chain in the hopes they would leave. Some anglers will never believe anything coming out of another angler's mouth. I hadn't had a hit in over a half hour. I had my fill and let them fight over the scraps - suckers.

Once the sun started coming up the fish pretty well shutdown for the rest of the morning. I banged nearly every holes and pool for about a mile and managed to catch a couple of fish. It was very tough and then I noticed a tea stained color as a result of the tannin from the leaves. Whenever leaves start rotting in the water, they release a weak acid and trout are very sensitive to changes in the PH level. This can result in fish not feeding and often ignoring presentations. A lot of the trees had yet to shed their leaves. As it was a couple of weeks ago, the river was elbows and assholes. I looked at the time it was 10:30A.M and was working on my 3rd container of eggs. I grew quickly bored and needed a change of scenery. I jumped in the Jeep and drove west in search of more fish. When I arrived at the river was much higher and stained, but it was fishable in my book. I tried for an hour and got nothing, not even a stinkin chub. I decided to head home and crashed on the couch.

Sunday the night owl slept in and woke around 6:00A.M, it was very cold this morning as I figured the temperature was in the 30s, I stopped at the gas station and got a large cup of java for the trip out east. Today, I decided to stick closer to home and fished the Grand. The river was covered in mist and the water level dropped considerable from the day before. I fished the lower section and I knew I would be fishing in company. It didn't take long to hear those words I hate hearing "Good morning, any luck?" - shit. I looked back to see three guys set up shop around me. I grunted "no fish" and I would be moving to another spot shortly. It didn't take long to hook up with the first fish of the morning. The take was light and I thought it was another chub so I didn't set the hook hard. The rod jolted and I knew this wasn't a chub, the guys around pulled their lines out and let me fight the fish. I was surprised considering this was downtown Painesville as this section of the Grand is fished by some the biggest dolts I've ever seen. It was a nice male in his full spawning colors. The two other anglers around me hooked into a couple of fish, but it was a slow morning. One of the guys chattered up a storm and I slowly started to develop a headache. To relieve that headache, I moved upstream. I managed one fish that immediately wrapped himself around a log and after an hour I got no takers.

I drove to another metro park and walked down to the river. In the distance, there was a gaggle of fly fishermen in one section. In the past, I found it too be one of the most productive spots on the lower Grand, but getting in line and waiting wasn't my cup of tea. I continued to walk down and fished a section full of lumber. By now the sky was bright and I knew the fish would be seeking cover. I fished along the slot and the float slightly tapped, once again I thought it was another pesky chub and lightly pulled the line. The float shot under and I felt the rod jolt and watched a bright silver hen explode from the water. The fish made so much noise from jumping the other anglers upstream all looked downstream. It was a chore keeping her from going under the logs, but I was able to apply side pressure and quickly beached her. I managed to catch a couple more from the section. The high sun, bright sky and the morning crowd all took their toll and decided to call it a day around 1:00P.M, only to go home and watch the Browns implode.

Most of the fish moving into Ohio's streams are PA steelhead and this is the reason for the small number of them. If you know the rivers well and are willing to cover a lot of distance, you'll catch fish. Areas of easy access are getting pounding and the fair weather fishermen are trying to squeeze as much fishing as possible before November. If we get no rain this week, all of the rivers will be back to low and no flow. Ohio's strain of steelhead - the Manistee is a winter/spring run fish and they usually don't show up until mid-November.

October 12, 2008

Sound Investing Advice


The economy here has really gone down the shitter. How bad it is?

If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Airlines stock one year ago,  you would have $49 left. With Fannie Mae, you would have $2.50 left  of the original $1,000. With AIG, you would have less than $15 left. But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drunk all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have $214 cash.

Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.

As for fishing, I worked like a mother all week and had a heavy load for Saturday as I'm trying to stuff more cash into the mattress for winter. The rivers are low, no flow and it's too hot. I took Sunday off and watched another soap opera on Steelheadsite, that site is like a house full of roaches - impossible to get rid of. There's a chance of rain Wednesday and the weather is suppose to get cooler.

October 5, 2008

No Browns Game = Everybody on the River

Finally after weeks without any sufficient rainfall, Steelhead Alley received some much needed rain and during the mid-part of the week, the weather got colder. With the combination of the two, many steelheaders hoped for a big push of fish into the streams.

As with every year, I plan my trips farther east as the fishing tends to be better, due to the close proximity to Pennsylvania. I got a report through the grapevine the streams didn't get blown out, but got high and stained. Stained conditions never bothered me as I knew where to find fish, plus I had goober sized sacs to get the fishes attention. I arrived at first light to see that the water was high, but manageable. I stuck to the lower end and knew of some killer holes. I fished one spot and drifted along the slot and paid off with some large fresh chromers. The majority of fish caught were hens loaded with eggs and they were on the large size. Due to the high water the number of anglers were low and I had the spot to myself for several hours. The fishing was good for an hour and died off, so I decided to head to another trib. This trib was not as high, but the water was stained. The fishing here was a little tougher as I hopped from hole to hole in search of players. The only players I found were those annoying little bastard creek chubs. In one section, I hooked one after another and flung them across the stream. Too bad it wasn't Northern Ontario as I would love to use those fat pricks for pike bait. But I managed to weed out the chubs and caught a couple of steelies. Overall it was a slow afternoon but it was nice to be out and enjoy the fall weather.


The following day was another story. I arrived to see about 10 cars parked along the road. You would of thought the internet got plastered with reports. There were no reports on the local fishing sites and it was the good ole word of mouth that got around. The spot I fished yesterday had 8 people standing in the water waiting for first light. I hit the trail walked upstream and it would be a morning of "gun and run". Even though the water conditions were better, the fishing was tough. There were more people than fish caught and I lost count of the people I passed and people that passed me while I fished. This was due to the nice weather and the Browns had a bye week. I usually tolerate the fair weather fishermen and none of them bother me this morning. I managed to catch some fish that were holding in narrow runs with a depth of 3' off the main current. As I walked back nearly ever spot was occupied and I noticed a lot of people were fishing in sections that never hold fish. For shits and giggles I decided to check another spot and there were 20 cars parked along the road. It was late in the morning and I decided that it's still early in the season and I could wait for colder weather.

I still think it's early in the season and this past high water episode didn't bring in a ton of fish. I heard across the border the fishing was better, but I would rather have my balls stuck with ice picks then fishing the Elk in October. The good news the fishing will get better as the weather gets colder (no more fair weather fishermen) and the shorter days.

September 28, 2008

Rain Dammit!


Shaping up to be another dry fall here in Steelhead Alley. It's been a couple of weeks since we last had any sufficient rainfall to get the rivers high and push in the first run of the new season. The rivers are extremely low and in most spots the flow is virtually non-existent. There are some fish that have trickled in, but in small numbers. The anglers tossing hardware have had the most success as the majority of fish have retreated into frog water. 

During this time of year, I often use these outings for scouting. Most of Ohio's streams often change due to it's flash flood nature and erosion of shale cliffs and clay banks. Nearly every year, I find one of my favorite holes or pools filled in or its course altered. I usually have to make mental notes on depth and structures. Gravel in one section gets washed away and ends up in another spot, bridge construction alters the flow and creates a deeper run or several large trees fall into the river and create a break in the current. Keeping up with all of the changes can be a daunting task.

Today was more or less a scouting trip and if I got some fish, lucky me. The water was extremely low and much more clearer than last week. I managed to catch a couple of fresh fish on King salmon eggs I recently got late last week. The fish came from a run that runs much deeper during the winter. The eggs were so good I caught several smallmouth bass on them.

The weather forecast for the upcoming week is calling for a chance of rain, but it's a small chance. A couple hours of light rain isn't going to effect the rivers much. We need a major soaker or a week's worth of it to replenish the water table and keep the levels high for several days to get some fish in. Temperature wise, it's going to get colder and will bring in more fish near the mouths. If your traveling a far distance, forgot about it........

September 20, 2008

Another Season Begins


The days are getting shorter and the nights cooler and right around the corner is steelhead season here on the north coast of Lake Erie. Last week we received enough rain to get the streams up, but due the dry conditions the ground soaked up the water and the streams quickly went back to low and clear. But that wasn't going to stop the diehards from dusting off the rods and reels and seek out some early season action. 

It was great to get back on the water after a long and uneventful summer. This is the time of the year that I've been waiting from ever since May. With all of the new gear I bought over the summer I was eager to break in the Kingpin and my G Loomis rod. I was lucky enough to get some King eggs and decided to head out east. I heard through the grapevine that some fish have been sneaking up river. 

I arrived at the lower section and as expected the river was low but somewhat stained. Many of the riffles were barely flowing and the deep pools looked stagnant. I placed my hand in the water and it felt cool probably in the range of the high 50s to low 60s. I knew of couple spots that held fish during the early fall. It was early morning and the forecast for the day was calling for sunny skies and temps in the high 70s. I figure early morning was the only time to catch fish before the sun shutdown them down. I walked along the stream and noticed a couple fish rolling in one section below a riffle. It didn't take long to hook into the first fish of the new season - a feisty skipper. Fish were in an aggressive mood and nailed any offering. The fights were fast and furious and I quickly brought them so not to exhaust them. 

I wouldn't start calling in with the 24 hour flu or blowing a personal day. The fish are few and far between and if you don't know the rivers very well you'll more than likely be disappointed. The weather for next week is sunny with temps in the 70s. Without rain, most of the fish will probably hang out close to shore and wait. 


September 5, 2008

My Insurance Settlement Gets Me This...


What I feared the worst happened - Ole Red, my 1991 Jeep Cherokee got hit with a total loss from the douchebag that hit me from behind. The frame horn on the right side had more damage and that pushed it into the "your fucked" category. I wasn't surprised considering my Jeep was pushing 18 years old and the odometer was 190,000 miles - but Red still had a lot of miles left and looked great for his age. The adjuster broke the bad news and told me he would be submitting the paperwork to the loss department. That meant I was going to be slapped with a salvage title. Once you get that, the vehicle cannot be driven until the repairs have been made. Giving up the Jeep wasn't an option as it was my only source of transportation, plus Jeep owners can't part with them. So I hoped the settlement would be enough to make the repairs.
I tried to stay upbeat and drove over to the body shop. Bill the manager showed me the damage to the right side of the frame where the trailer hitch got twisted. He told me it was a shame that my Jeep got hit with the loss, because it was in great shape. He informed me the damage to the frame wasn't that severe and it was fixable. I told him the trailer hitch didn't have a hook-up for to run lights and I never used it. As for the hatch, the crack in the fiberglass was at the bottom and so insufficient that most people wouldn't even notice it. The smudge marks could be easily buffed out and I wasn't going to make a big deal over that. We crunch some numbers and got it down to $830.00 to pull the frame back to factory specs and replace the bumper. 

The next morning I recieved a call from Safeco's loss department. They gave me the information on what I was entitled to. They claimed the Jeep was worth $1313.00 in the Cleveland and surrounding area and that's what I would get for all my troubles. These days $1300 doesn't buy you a decent beater. The other option was if I kept it, the payment would be $853.00 because they deducted the salvage loss. I told the guy that $853.00 wasn't enough to cover the repairs. I've heard all of the horror stories of insurance companies stonewalling and playing hardball. As expected he started to make excuses and I knew most of the insurance people you talk to don't have permission to wipe their asses. So I started working up the ladder and I was ready to use my trump card - call a lawyer. I explained to the manager that I wasn't responsible for the accident and I wasn't going to fork over the money to make the repairs. I wasn't asking for a lot of money, just to be fairly compensated. The guy tells me if I can prove that I took care of the vehicle, that might boost the value of it. I faxed over several repair statements of the work I got done over the year. A couple of hours later, I got a call and what he said next left me speechless - they were going to give me $970.00 and who said insurance companies are a bunch of heartless pricks.

Maybe the guy was a Jeep owner........

August 30, 2008

Pack Smart by the Anal Retentive Steelheader

With another steelhead season just around the corner, I've been getting all of my gear set. Digging through the closets, boxes and making up the check list and dumping a ton of dough on stuff. This is life for the hardcore steelheader. Over the summer, I started replacing equipment and on the list was a wading jacket.


I did some research, got input from several fellow steelheaders and tried on several different jackets. The one that won me over the Wright & McGill Big Horn jacket. The jacket is made of Aqua-tex which I guess is something similiar to Gore-tex. The jacket has a huge hood perfect for the days out in the snow belt. The jacket has two large front pockets, one small pocket on the left sleeve, and large pouch in the back. There was enough room in the two front pockets that I thought to myself that I might not need a vest anymore.


Over the years, I've seen too many people packing enough stuff that would tire out the hardiest of mules. Vests with endless zippers and pockets that hold a lot of useless stuff and half of the time they forgot what's in what pocket. I know several guys that have the high end Fishpond backpack/vest and I think its too much crap to haul around. I hate carrying a lot of stuff, the less the better and that's the result of me being an overly organized neat freak (you should see the inside of my work truck).


As Tim Gunn from Project Runway would say "make it work" I started to condense all of my terminal tackle. I bought a couple of small tackle containers and organized the trays. In one box was able to fit all of my floats, hooks, swivels, jigs and soft baits. In the other container were all of my sinkers. The tackle box fitted perfectly in the right pocket and in the left were the sinkers and containers I use for spawn and maggots. I have tippet spool tool that hold both leader material and tippets both in mono and fluorocarbon. I have a couple of retractors that hold a nipper and hemostat. When it comes to food I just snack on Snicker bars - they give the energy boost when needed and it keeps my stomach full.

Packing light makes sense and after a long day pounding the trails and slogging through water your body will thank you for it. Once the season I'll have a report on both the waders and jacket.