December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Crapahoga

Another year is finally coming to an end and I couldn't be any happier. This without a doubt so far has been the worst season since I've been here on the Alley. To add more salt to the wound, we were hit with an early cold snap that locked the rivers up several weeks before Christmas. That happens when the streams are barely moving. The down time was spent walking the various malls like a zombie looking for gifts. I buy a coffee and sit down, I couldn't get the thought of no fishing for weeks to come. What would I do? I thought of going into statis, but I had to smack myself. I guess I would have to man up and tough it out.

Then a light bulb went off in my head - the Cuyahoga River! The Hoga as the locals call it rarely freezes over and it isn't the result of periodic fires. I been in the national park numerous times and it's a green island surrounded by a urban sea. The river is slightly larger than the Grand and not to many fellow steelheaders I know fish it or they've kept it a secret. Over the years, I often talked about going there, but I never did and I always had an excuse. Since the power plant has been fishing terribly over the past few weeks, I fished it out of desperation.

The placed I decided to go was the first dam and when I reached it, the first thing I noticed was the sign posted by the state EPA about the how many fish a person should consume because of contaminates - just what every growing boy needs. The Hoga is a lot cleaner than it was 40 years ago, but there is still a lot of waste in the river due the cities of Akron and Kent. As I walked down, I noticed some of the rocks were littered with footprints and old spawn sac netting. I fished the dam and didn't get any hits. I started to walk downstream and fished and fished and fished.

I made several notes and I was impressed with the river. Some of the spots I fished were chock full of gravel and below that some nice cuts and runs to hold pods of steelies. The only bad note is the river isn't wading friendly, as the banks are high, deep in some spots and the vegetation nasty. This is the result of the river's meandering nature. It's a shame that the state won't stock it as it mainly runs through public land and has a lot of access.

To make a long story short, the fish (if there were any) played the role of Heat Miser, Scrooge and the Grinch. I didn't even sniff a take, but it was nice to fish water that I've never been on.

December 9, 2010

Who Are You - Part 3

Here are some the idiots, scumbags and losers that we all run into every time out

The Low Holer- They seek out pools and holes. They silently sneak up and before you know it, you hear a float hit the water. They often try to act clueless thinking that you only need 20' of water to work with. The best way to get back at a low holer, is low hole him. You should see the look on their faces. 

The Bum - Found around some the most popular spots often looking for handouts such as hens for eggs, sacs, hooks, smokes or a fish to feed their family of eight. Prefer easy access points so they can quickly toss a fish into the trunk of their beater. They'll often use one of their kids to get fish because nobody can be an asshole to a five year old.

The Know-It-All - Loves to point how much they know about steelheading, but most of the time they catch one or two fish or nothing at all. Beside fishing, they also think they're experts at politics, sports and world events. They'll criticize others and point out the mistakes they're making. On fishing forums, they're the self appointed experts.

The Pool Hog - Loves to pull off drifts that can cover an entire zip code. Most the time they can't see the float and only when an angler screaming at them will get their attention. Some will work in teams to cover more water. They expect others to wait for them to finish their drifts. There have been times instead of cutting their line, I would rather cut their balls off.

The Motor Mouth - If the planet had a energy crisis, their mouth would save the world. You name it, they'll yack about it for hours. Some people believe they do it, so they can get rid of people from certain spots. Topics to force people away include - Dennis Kucinich, any of Cleveland's sports teams, their nagging wife, or their latest bout with hemorrhoids.

The Slob - Easy to spot on the rivers as they leave a trail of garbage - twinkie wrappers, cans of beer, the entrails of a fish, and 50 yds of line. So lazy they'll take a dump on somebody's lawn (no lie, it happened) or piss on somebody's car. So fat and out of shape they can't wander more than 50' from the parking lot.

The Tough Guy - Usually have poor social skills and are socially inept. Most of the time, they are little mouthy runts. They freak out if anybody comes 50' near them and threaten bodily harm. But when push comes to shove, they quickly back pedal and try to make amends. After fishing they go home and cry on the fishing forums about some asshole that tried to take his spot.

The Vulture - Like the scavenger they scan the rivers for action and if they see somebody hammering fish, they swoop in for scraps. Most time, they'll linger waiting for the opportunity to quickly get into the hot spot. But when they see the person coming back for their spot, they quickly take flight or wait until the last second before being chased away. 

The Cheapskate - So cheap, they walk into a run full of fish to retrieve a fly or hook, even though they have 4 dozen on them. The same goes for retrieving floats and shiners, as they'll chase it downstream and even risk drowning, because they dropped $2.50 for a float or spend $2.00 for a couple dozen shiners. They prefer to drive with others to save money on gas and deliberately forget to bring their wallets. If they buy lunch, you'll be lucky to get a Slim Jim or something from the McDonald's dollar menu.

The Grouch - A miserable, crotchy anti-social asshole that can't stand people. Their usually easy to spot as they often scowl and mutter curse words when you greet them. They hope that their awful demeanor will discourage you from fishing next them, but in most cases it backfires. They hate giving out information and usually ignore your requests. They often wished that they could pack heat.

November 28, 2010

Pellet Head

I seemed so long ago when I actually fished when a river had a decent flow and color. Prior to Thanksgiving, we got dumped on with over an 1" of rain. We need it to flush all of the crap out and hopefully bring in some fish.

It was another outing of having to cover a lot of water to catch fish. I'm concerned that this might be the bulk of fish as the rivers are so cold. I have a feeling that the majority of fish in the lake are going to stay there and wait for spring. So far this season, its been one of the worst since I've been here in Steelhead Alley. To add more salt to the wound, the long term forecast for December is calling for below average temperatures. Usually we get iced over in January, but it might happen earlier, especially when the rivers get low.

The fishing was good as I caught fish at every spot. Every season, I'll catch a steelhead that will make it into my bizarre looking folder. Over the years, I've caught fish with an eye missing, broken jaws, deformed spines and so on. Today, I hooked into a small male that looked like one of those pellet heads stocked by some slimy I hate Joe Lunchbox corporate trout club cough Donnie Beaver cough. It's entire body was stunted whether it was a result of swimming into a concrete pier at full speed or it been dealt a shitty hand of genetics. It looked and swam like a football...........poor bastard.






November 22, 2010

Tale of Two Streams

Finally! We have fishable water and many here in Steelhead Alley were hoping for a large push of fish. Hit the road early for a day out east and hoped today was better than last week. I was stoked at the thought of hooking into some feisty chromers. I arrived at first light and made my way upstream.

The river had a perfect flow and color. But I was once again left scratching my head - no takers. With the water being colder, I fished the tailouts and runs with moderate flow. After a couple of hours, I had two fish. I considered myself lucky as many others were posting a shutout. I started fishing the faster pocket water and still no takers. I moved downstream and I hooked into two more fish and that was it. The two other anglers above only caught one each earlier in the morning and that was it for them. It was almost 11:00 when I walked back and several popular holes were vacant - not a good sign and the parking lot was half empty. I guess a lot of people bailed and headed to another river. With a steelheader club tourney going on, the number of people fishing on that particular would be high. I finally realized that it wasn't going to pan out here and it was on to plan B.

Arrived around noon to see only 3 cars in the lot and that usually not a great sign as most of the morning crowd called it a day because the fishing stinked. Undeterred, I figured why not? The flow and color was great and I fished a long pool below a large gravel bed. Several guys were fishing the head of the pool and slid into the midsection and on the first drift I hooked into a fresh male. It turned out to be great afternoon as I caught enough fish that I didn't even care about the multiple leaks in my waders. Even the fishing was great today, however the season so far has been a major disappointment.

A message to newbies, just because one river doesn't produce doesn't mean the others are the same. So the next time instead of going home Sunday and inflicting punishment on yourself by watching Browns drive to the next river.





November 20, 2010

Farewell Pat

























Yesterday Pat Burns, the former head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs lost his battle with cancer. There was great excitement back in 1992, when the Leafs hired him and prior to his hiring, the Leafs were a terrible team. They were the Bad News Bears on ice and during the 80s and they were absolutely pathetic. Before coaching in Toronto, Burns took the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1989 and they eventually lost to Calgary. With his hard nosed style of coaching and GM Cliff Fletcher's crafty trades, they built a powerful team and made hockey exciting in Toronto again.

I was in my mid twenties when the Leafs started to become a contender. I was probably the only Leafs fan as most of my friends rooted for the Habs. I would never consider jumping on the bandwagon. The Leafs were a stacked team and Saturday nights we cheered on Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, Felix Potvin, Gary Anderson, and Dave Andreychuk. I didn't hear the Habs fans talk shit, they were yesterday's news. The Leafs were the talk of the town now.

In 1993, a Montreal and Toronto cup final was becoming a possibility. The Leafs dispatched the Red Wings and Blues in seven games. Then it was the Kings and Wayne Gretzky. Both teams fought it out and several games were decided in overtime. The Leafs took the Kings to game seven. In overtime, Gretzky high sticks Gilmour and he draws blood, but referee Kerry Fraser misses it. Leafs fans are livid and then the rest is history. Gretzky scores and with that dashes the dreams of a cup final. I was 25 years old at the time. The last time the Leafs won the cup, I was born a year later in 1968. 

I loved Burns gruff and no bullshit attitude. When McSorley elbowed Gilmour during the final period in game 1 of the Campbell Conference finals. We watched Clark cave in McSorley's face and then Burns wanted to go over and beat the shit out of King's coach Barry Melrose. When he left, the Leafs were never the same again. Burns did win his Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003.

Thanks for the memories Pat.

November 14, 2010

At Least I Got Some Exercise

Now I know what a steelheader in B.C feels like. Walking endless miles, pounding every hole, pool, run and pocket water in the hopes of getting a bite. That what it was like this weekend as the fish basically took it off and I would of had better luck finding the location of Jim Hoffa's body.

The rivers were very low and even the Grand was barely flowing. With no where else to fish, most anglers piled into the last remaining holes and pools on the lower section. Not wanted to rub elbows and possibly cracking somebody's skull, I opted to go up river. It was a gamble, but worth taking. Most of the spots I fished were so low I could see bottom without the aid of polarized sunglasses. That's pretty rare for the Grand as it usually run that shit stain color. Speaking of shit, that was a word I commonly used as I scoured nearly every spot imaginable. I caught some fish but boy did I have to cover a lot of water

There has been a lot of bitching on the river this season as many are complaining about the lack of fish. You can chalk that up to virtually no rainfall and a lot of fish have park themselves in the lake. Last year, we didn't get a lot of rain but several times the rivers rose enough to spread fish out. Even though numbers were low, most of the fish I caught were on the large size. So far this season, it's been a skipper fest.

Guides had their truck's odometer working overtime as they raced from river to river looking for fish. Newbies to old salts had a hard time landing fish and I felt fortunate that I got some tugs and even happy that I caught a chub. How pathetic is that!

Once again, Mother Nature is going to tease us with some rain early next week. Sooner or later, we'll get the blowout that many are hoping for.

November 3, 2010

Low To No Flow


Flows are often hard to come by here on the Alley. With little to no groundwater sources, some of the rivers here can go from muddy to gin clear within a matter of days after rain or snowmelt. The window for prime conditions can close quickly for the inattentive steelheader. In Ohio the window can stay open a tad longer because our rivers are larger in both size and drainage area. However, most of time, we have to contend with low and clear conditions. It can be a headache for the steelheader that is lucky to get out a few times in the season. I know many who will wait on the sidelines until the conditions are perfect. This year, many of them have resorted to sitting on the bench. 

I'm in the same situation this week as I'm stuck fishing in early November. A trip to Europe was cancelled for a variety of reasons. I tried to switched my week at work for the end of the month when conditions are more favorable. Being the low man on the totem pole, my chances for switching were dim. The policy at work is that three techs can't be off the same week. I knew one of the guys wasn't going to change because of deer season. That left me with Dave and I worked him like a politician trying to secure a last minute vote on a bill. Unfortunately, he couldn't because of family coming to town for the holidays. I was screwed. I had no choice but to accept what I was given. I was bummed. 

The Alley has been parched for most of the fall. I couldn't remember the last time to rained. I looked at the flow gauges and my heart sunk. A few registered flows in the single digits. The weather report for the entire week read - partly cloudy and temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. I wasn't going to sit at home and pout. I knew one river that would give me a fighting chance. 

During the fall, the fishing on the Alley tends to be better farther east. The closer to Pennsylvania, the better. From my place it's about a 90 mile drive. Monday morning I started out at Conneaut Creek and I'm greeted to a river loaded with leaves. The water was tea colored and holes black as deep space. It reminded me of the rivers of Lake Superior that I fished during my youth. That stain was enough to cloak fish in the shallow pools and holes. The river flowed lazily and meandered along the banks and lumber. There was a slight nip in the air as I hit the first spot. About half of the trees had shed themselves of leaves. In some spots, the leaves were neatly bunched up in piles in the water. The night before I tied up dime sized sacs. They contained no more than four salmon eggs. I always used the motto - when it's low, think small. If they sacs didn't work, I had beads, streamers and small nymph patterns.
I cast out and watch the float chug along. I'm using a small thin profile float. The bright red tip stands out against the white bubbles on the surface. I continue to watch move along the seam and I move it slightly as it nears the downed tree in the water. The float taps and goes under. 

"Oh no, not chubs"

I set the hook anyway and I felt a jolt. It's no chub. A loud tail slap and the water boils. The fish fights it out in the hole. I swing it over and it's a large chunky male. The river I'm fishing is stocked both by Ohio and Pennsylvania. Ohio stocks the Little Manistee strain and Pennsylvania's is hodgepodge of different strains. The fish is dark in coloration, that's a dead giveaway it's a Pennsylvania steelhead. I release it and watch it dart back to its lair. Since there is nobody on the river this morning, I leisurely fish the pools and holes. There are fish, but not in big numbers. It's one or two from each spot. By the end of the day, I've caught 15 steelhead. It wasn't easy and my deep knowledge of the river certainly helped me. Tomorrow I would be fishing closer to home. 
Even the mighty Grand was reduced to a feeble flow. The Grand is the crown jewel of Ohio's steelhead streams. It has a special place in heart because the upper stretches have some the prettiest scenery. The high shale cliffs, large stands of hemlock and sycamores and miles of remote waters. Today, I'm trading in the tranquility for a former brownfield. I meet up with a couple of friends and fished the "Uniroyal" hole. The hole is located next to the former Uniroyal plant. The plant is long gone, unfortunately the surrounding property was classified as a brownfield. The soil was heavily contaminated and in 2007 the property was finally cleaned up. It was a prime piece of property right near the lake. Both Lake County Metroparks and IMG the massive sports and media conglomerate wanted it. The village decided that IMG had more to offer as they wanted to build condos (property taxes), resort (sales taxes) and hire staff to run it (income taxes). A lot of people were concerned that IMG would post the entire section. On the other side of the river, is the Paineville landfill site. Flash forward four years and the project is behind. There is construction on the lake, but the old brownfield is still undeveloped. So far nobody has said anything in regards to posting it and I hope IMG will allow anglers to fish it.

The long sweeping pool struggles to flow. During prime conditions the water comes up to my waist when I cross over. Today the water is at my knees and I cross with relative ease. We work the head of the pool and the floats immediately start to drag. We make the adjustments and I'm running 2' from the float to the sac. From the start, it's evident that the pool is far too shallow. Even at 2' the float hangs up bottom. We bail and head to the hole. Tagging along is Herb, who brought along his video camera. We arrive the hole and it's the only deep for about a mile in both directions. We're pretty sure that some fish trickled in over the weeks. By the number of footprints in the muck, the hole has been pounded hard - really hard. Undeterred we all cast out towards the opposite bank. There's enough flow that the floats can cover a lot of water. Even though the river is low, the floats are set at 7' deep. 

The skies are partly cloudy and it's a warm fall day. Herb sit on the shore and waits for the action. At first nothing is happening. We make adjustments, hoping for the right depth and presentation. Ron casts out and I follow suit farther up. I hear Ron call out

"Fish on!"

Herb jumps into action and starts recording. I can hear the commentary and then I watch my float go under. I set the hook and bellow

"Fish on! Double header"

Ron has his fish under control and I got my hands full. We get our fish towards the shore and they are the both size. Both are the typical Lake Erie steelhead. about 24" and four pounds. The hole once in a while coughs up a fish, but it's very slow and tedious. I've come to accept that my vacation week, will involve driving long distances and walking many miles to catch fish. Vacations are planned months in advance and I have no idea what the weather will be like. Suck it up and make due with what you have. 

October 5, 2010

Wee Hours and The Melt

Misery and fall steelheading often go hand in hand here on the Alley. Dealing with warm weather, low water, crowds and not enough fish to go around. After work I often stop at the lower Rocky and watch the bucket fishermen sit on their buckets and stare for hours at their floats sitting in stagnant water. I see others fishing the faster water eagerly waiting for the first fish of the season. But, I'm not there to fish. Instead I getting ready for a run. Over the past year, I dedicated myself to staying in shape. Just a couple days ago, I turned 42 years old. I made through my midlife crisis and a difficult divorce. I went from 225lbs down to 190lbs. Everytime out I run a little further. It was 2 miles, than 3, and now I'm up to 6 miles. In my 20s, the fastest I ran was from the car to the beer store when it minutes from closing. That was the dirty decade for me. I smoked, drank and fruits and vegetables were things that my body rejected. 

It's the first week of October as I wake. I squint through the blinds and and it's still dark. The temperature over the past week has dropped into the 50s. As I walk outside, I'm greeted by a nip in the air. The high for today will be in the low 50s so I wear a fleece jacket. The interstate is a lonely place and for one of the rare times, I don't have the stereo playing. I just listen to the hum of the tires. I exit the interstate and head into town. I drive down what is left of the main street. It's your typical small rust belt town - a lot of closed stores. Once upon a time, it would of been a bustling place. Today, it nothing more than a shell of its former shelf. I pull off the road and began to dress. I start to see the first glimpse of first light. I walk along the trail towards to the lower part of the river. It's hard to tell what the river looks like. I get to the spot and I can hear the faint sounds of moving water. I wait for more light and I start to feel antsy. The feeling becomes worse when I see a couple of head lamps walking down river. I know actually where they want to fish and I fear I'll get low holed. I shuffled down to make sure I had the prime spot. I start to fish in the hopes that I hook into something quick. I work the lumber along the bank and the lights get closer and I can hear the splashing as they walk. I've had several bad experiences with anglers during the early season. They get close enough that I can hear one them call out "any luck?" I squint to see how they are and reply "Nothing yet". They turned out to be a couple of decent anglers who asked if they fish near me and they do it above me. I feel a sense of relief and there are some people left would respect another angler's space. We began to chat and I found out later that they knew a couple of my friends.

The sun has broken the horizon and I can see the water is off color. Being so close to the lake, we watch the water level go up and down. I watch the float gradually come to a halt when it hits the slack water. Eventually the water starts to recede and the current starts to move faster. In a jar are my precious eggs. These are eggs from last season and I'm down to three packs at home. I'm waiting for my supply of fresh salmon eggs from Michigan. I use a hot pink sac and cast out towards the lumber. I pull back the float and ride the bubble line. About 15 yards down, I watch it tap and go under. I set the hook and feel the hard run of a fresh fish. The fish erupts from the water and cartwheels through the air. The charges downstream and I quickly apply the pressure. The fight is intense but brief. The fish near the gravel bank and the two others nod with agreement - a fine fish. It's a large hen, that is completely silver with the steel blue back. She more than likely came in a few days as the river cooled enough. She and the others wait in the lower stretches for the next rainfall to make the migration far upstream. I release her and feel her bolt for the deeper water. The other anglers and me hook into several more fish. After several hours it became evident that the fish were not in the mood. I left and thanked the anglers for an enjoyable morning and wished them luck. I scouted upstream and in many spots I didn't see any fish and several anglers walked back to their cars disgusted. The river was far too low and any fish to be this far upstream. On the way back home, I stop by a couple of other rivers and it was the same - low, low and lower. The weather forecast for the upcoming week shows no signs of rain. Tomorrow, I spending a rare Sunday at home and looking forward to going to a restaurant in Lakewood with my girlfriend.

My other favorite thing beside steelheading is I'm a foodie. I hate eating at chains and I prefer to seek out the small and quaint diners and restaurants scattered through out Northeastern Ohio. One place I've wanted to dine at is the Melt Bar and Grilled in Lakewood. It's considered one of Cleveland's most hip joints to eat at. The restaurant has been featured on the Food Network's - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Man vs Food. The place has received rave reviews for the creative grill cheese sandwiches. People often wait more than 2 hours to get a table at the place. I've been trying for months to go, but the long wait has discouraged me.

We debated whether to go because I thought it would be packed as the Browns were playing. It turned out that the place was busy but not packed. I guess Browns fans can't go 30 minutes without eating or they would rather consume cheap beer at Harry Buffalos. The hostess told me the chairs at the bar are fair game, so I decided to wait. After 25 minutes, I watched an older couple getting ready to leave. I strategically got myself in position to grab the two chairs. As soon as they got their fat asses off, both me and my girlfriend swept in. We were handed the menus and they were glued to the back of a old Kinks album and it was full of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and I couldn't decide on what to get.

After debating I picked the Hot Italian. It was loaded with chicken, grilled salami, honey ham, pepperoni, sun-dried tomato pesto, roasted garlic and provolone. The sandwich was gut busting at best as it came with fries and slaw. It turned out to be one of the best grilled sandwiches I've had. It was 4 loud belches in my book and I would definitely recommend to everybody.

September 26, 2010

Goose Egg

Early fall can get to the hardcore steelheader. After a long summer laid off, the shorter days and cooler nights get them stirring. The leaves start turning color and there is slight nip in the morning. But being at southernmost range of these magnificent fish, we are often forced to wait until late October and November before we start seeing any major number of fish. This year, summer still persist much to the chagrin of many. Somewhere out in the depths of Lake Erie, some steelhead patiently wait for the cool rains that will beckon them to come in. But for the time being, we must also wait patiently. The heat still persists and there is no rain in sight. 

 The Alley is still parched from a hot and dry summer. The streams are low and filthy looking. The brownish hue is a far cry from the brilliant emerald green colors of winter. The streams are stagnant not the place for trout. The streams out in Pennsylvania are so low, that fish wouldn't be able to make it in. Reports of fish are few and far between. I start to look at other options and one of them is fishing off the breakwall. 

There are numerous breakwalls near the mouths of several rivers. The Grand, Conneaut, and Ashtabula are ones that have public access. It was cool and grey day. Just a month ago the beach was packed with people swimming and tanning. Today, the beach is largely quiet except for a few walking along the beach looking for beach glass. The surrounding woods are full of birds, resting from their journey across the lake. The small park is an important resting and feeding place for migrants. The wind has kept the midges down. During the fall, the number of midges hatching from the lake can be staggering. Entire trees and rocks are covered in them. As I walk along, clouds of them swirl about. I swat them away and hold my breath as I don't want to inhale them. I can see many birds jumping from branch to branch, feeding as they expended a lot of energy crossing Lake Erie. Some of these migrants probably came from the boreal forests of Ontario and are slowly making their way to either Central or South America. 

The wind was blowing out of the northwest and from the top of the breakwall, I can see the water is very murky on the lake. The inner bay leading to the mouth of the Grand River is slightly off color, but fishable. Fishing the harbor in early fall can be a gamble as fish are few and far between. I stand on a large rock and rummage through the tackle box. The box mostly contains spoons that are either Cleos or K.O wobblers. I use a scuffed up silver and green cleo and start the long grueling process of casting out. There will be the chance that a fish is in the vicinity of your lure. The dingy water makes it that more tougher. I chucked and chucked until I couldn't chuck anymore. I didn't such much get a sniff of steelhead and that was expected. Walking back, I could see dark clouds over the lake. Many of the cottonwoods in the park were starting to shed their leaves. It will be a matter of time. 


September 19, 2010

Low Water

I hate low water. I hate it when I can see straight to the bottom and see no fish. If there is fish, most likely they have their eyes trained on me. There can be a pod of 10 fish and some of them are pigs. They hang off the bottom, lazily riding the current. Some of them even engage in a game of tag. But once you appear, they're on edge. They start to move about getting closer to any cover available. Your tempted to toss a single egg or a small fly at them. You think you can outsmart them. You give it the old college try and you FAIL. The fish ignore your offering. Some will taunt you by making a half hearted swipe and at the last second swim away. This is low water fishing at its finest. 

The streams along the Alley are notorious for low water. Most of the streams here have little to no sources of groundwater. The Alley's streams rely on rain and snow melt for their sources of water. Streams in Pennsylvania can go from a raging torrent to low and clear in matter of days. Some of the smallest streams have short drainages and drop like if somebody flushed the toilet. I've fished the Elk many times just a couple of days after a rainfall. The creek is off color and I'll shove a stick into the water. Within an hour the water has dropped an inch. By the end of the day it can drop several inches. The window for prime conditions depends on where you fish. It can last a couple of days on the Elk or Walnut or over a week on the Grand or Catt. But overall, we mostly have to contend fishing low and clear, especially in the fall. 

I read an article in the Cleveland paper about this summer being one of the hottest on record. With the heat also came very little rain and if it did rain, it came down in micro monsoons. The Alley is parched and begging for rain. September comes and I'm getting anxious for the upcoming season. We receive rain, only to see the parched earth suck up like a sponge. The rivers barely go up and become a mud slow flow that you see in the deep South. Within days, the rivers go back to low and clear. Any fish that make it into the low stretches often retreat back to the lake. 

Several of mine friends are more than happy to see the low rivers, because it gives them more time on the big pond to load the freezer more with perch and walleye. For the lowly landlubber like me, steel is the only fish I really chase after. Instead of pouting or sitting on the couch, I'l make the drive out. I would rather get skunked than do house-chores. I decide to take a road trip out east to see what's shaking. I bring along the spinning rod in case I want to chuck spoons off the breakwall or at the mouths of one of the creeks. It's just too nice to be holed up in the house. 

I arrive at one river and it's extremely low. From the bridge, I see can make out the shale bottom. I can see the ledges and small cuts in the bottom. During prime conditions, fish often hug or hide themselves in these places. From my vantage point, I see no fish. Rocks are exposed and I can see the high water mark, the river is 3 feet lower. The wind whips across the stream, it looks so lifeless. 

This makes it a perfect opportunity to scout out some holes. It's warm enough that I don't even bother to put on waders. I have an old pair of sneakers and shorts. I walk along the stream and come to one popular hole. Where I'm standing during the winter months, I would be in knee deep water. Instead the rocks are dry and the stream is about 5 feet away from me. I look into the riffle for any signs of fish, there is none. I walk above the bank and look into the water, no signs of life. It's another favorite spot of mine, a large sweeping pool. The bottom is littered with rocks. The current hugs along the bank and there are several trees that have fallen into the water. I scan around the trees and see no activity. There are fish but I suspect they are way downstream in the slower deep water. I spend most of the morning stopping at several spots making mental notes and taking pictures with my camera.  I've noticed several spots have changed in depth due to high water and the movement of gravel. 

No fish for me today. The lake is too rough to fish. I stop at a farmer's market on the way back to the highway. I buy several bags of corn, peppers, zucchini, squash, and apples. It's warm enough that I drive home with the window down. Doesn't feel like mid September as the trees are still green and there isn't any hint that fall is around the corner. I drive over another river and I glance over. I can see plenty rocks out the water. The rain will come, it's only a matter of time.

September 12, 2010

Carp and Bread Crumbs



I love road trips during the summer. Nearly every weekend, I hit the road. Before going, I'll look at the map and point my finger. My finger is pointed on Pymatuning Lake. I've never been to there, but I heard about its famous residents - the carp show at the spillway. It had a Barnum and Bailey jingle to it. I've heard stories about these carp that hang out looking for handouts. People dumping loaves of bread, dog food and small pets into the lake. My curiosity got the better of me and I had to see it.

Pymatuning is a man-made lake. Most of the lake is in Pennsylvania and it's considered one of the best places for musky in Northeast Ohio. The place to see the carp is at the spillway that runs across the lake. I arrived to see some people hanging over the railing and throwing in bread. The ducks and fish fought over the food and they made a racket. The fish are so dependent on people giving them freebies and they'll look up at you with their mouths open. I look down and there is a swarming mass of fish. Hundreds of fish swimming about and some of them are massive. I leaned over and spit into the water more or less taunting them.


video

I watched parents and kids heave over bread and crumbs. As soon as the bread hit the water, the ducks and fish would pounce on it. Some of the larger carp would bowl the ducks over in attempt get at the goodies. The kids squeal and scream when the fish go crazy. They beg their parents for more bread. I wished I had a bowling ball sized bollie. It would been great to heave that into the lake. As more and more people threw food over, more carp started to show up. I walked over to spillway that spills into the lower section of the lake. The spillway was an orgy of carp. They were so tightly packed, I could of tossed in a grenade they would of suffocated the explosion. It reminded me of a dried out puddle packed with tadpoles. A black mass trying to survive the impending doom.

I took plenty of pictures and videos, but the novelty wears off. I leave the kids and morbidly obese carp. I drive through rural Ashtabula county and take pictures of the numerous covered bridges and old Amish farms. Later in the evening, I meet with some friends at Pickle's Bill on the Grand River for some perch, fries and cold beer. It's a great way to end a long grueling trip. 

The Season Is Almost Upon Us


All of the things on my "honey to do" list have not been complete. After a long day of work, I have no energy. I flop myself on the couch and watch the ballgame. Excuse after excuse comes out of my mouth. 

"I have all summer, stop ragging on me"

Then days start getting shorter and the nights cooler. I start to stir and fidget in my home. I could do those things on the list. But I need to make sure I have everything for the upcoming season. I write a list - hooks, sinkers, floats, new boots, and waders. There might even be a chance of going to Michigan for salmon. I walk by all of the junk that should of been organized weeks ago. My how time flies. 

I wander into the basement and look for my equipment. The equipment is in the corner, covered in dust and cobwebs. I dusted off the rods, reels, waders and jackets. Everything is in order and I wander to the kitchen. I look into the fridge searching for my eggs. I open the bag and they are in good condition. But the freezer is packed, I must make room for my eggs. What can I toss or eat? I still feel restless and anxious. I look on the computer and check the weather reports for rain and stream conditions. I call friends that I haven't seen in months - we are all restless. I start to go to bed early, the weather channel is always on, buddies call during supper.

The season is almost upon us.

July 10, 2010

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Add the Decision with the Drive, the Fumble, the Shot, Red Right 88, the Move and the Sweep to Cleveland's string of sports misery. The inevitable happened last night as King James vacated his throne and left the serfs of Cleveland for the magic kingdom of Miami. For the past couple of days the talking heads at ESPN had leaked that King James was leaning towards the Heat.

I knew he was going to leave as soon as the Cavs were eliminated by the Celtics and the last shot of him walking down the tunnel was him taking off his jersey. He had enough and I'm sure a lot of Cavs fans realized he wasn't going to bring home that elusive championship the city was starving for. There was plenty of speculation after that as some in the community felt he quit during that series. For the entire off season he kept his mouth shut and didn't tip his hand. Then the red flags started popping up when he decided to have this stupid charity event in Connecticut.

The King or as many are calling him a jester, make a fool of himself last night with that sorry excuse of a special. It was a PR disaster cooked up by his crew. Who's he kidding? Pretending that it hadn't been decided weeks ago and then ramming a pitchfork in Cleveland's back. It was the worst example of how to make yourself look like a narcissistic asshole. James will have no legacy because he felt he couldn't get done by himself. He took the easy way out and decided to ride the coattails of Wade and Bosh. He gave away his shot at being the greatest ever or even entering the discussion. What competitor does that? Jordan would of never left Chicago and joined Bird or Magic. He'll never be talked in the same breath as them.

He has every right to be a free agent and shop his services around. Had he been straight up and told the Cavs thanks for the seven years, but he wanted to move on. Instead he's the second coming of Art Modell and his actions will forever tarnish his reputation in Northeast Ohio.

I've also figured out the moral of the story: Stay in school.

Wade: 3 years at Marquette
Bosh: 1 year at Georgia Tech
The kid from Akron: no college


The most educated guy convinced his dumber friends to come play on his team for less money.

July 7, 2010

Seriously Dude

Tomorrow the citizens of Cleveland will be glued to the T.V see whether King James stays or goes. To further agonize Cavs fans it will take an hour for him to make his decision. I'm not a huge basketball fan, but he is the one of the greatest of his generation and will probably be one of the greatest of all time. The only thing missing from his resume is a championship and Cleveland is starving for one and LeBron is the best chance for that. Unfortunately, he's failed to deliver and this past season many felt he quit during the playoffs. 

But this whole special reeks of narcissism and no good. What a self absorbed asshole, just spit out - say your staying or going. LeBron's handlers aren't the smartest either by planting a huge red flag. The special is being televised in Connecticut. That's pretty far away and the prefect place to tell the fans of the Cleveland your moving on to greener pastures. 

I think he's gone and it's to Miami. The Heat are the best chance for him to win a ring. Can wait to hear a resounding "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" coming from Cavs fans tomorrow night.

July 1, 2010

New Ohio Record

Jason Brooks of Tallmadge, Ohio caught the fish of a lifetime on June 25 when he hooked into a monster steelhead. They were 17 miles offshore and when they landed it. They knew it could be a potential state record and quickly raced back to the marina. The closest tackle shop was Erie Outfitters and the shop had a certified scale. The fish was placed on it and registered at 21.3lbs besting the old record of 20.97lbs caught off the Conneaut harbor back in 1996. An hour later, Fisheries Supervisor Phil Hillman of the Division of Wildlife checked the fish and declared it a steelhead, not a salmon. The fish measured 38" and some wonder if this hog ever made upstream this past season.

Looks like the dude got his unicorn........


June 13, 2010

Another Drought is Over

Another hockey season has come and gone. Ever since moving to the states, I rarely watch hockey because of the horrible coverage here in Cleveland. There is ESPN and MSNBC, but have no interest in showing the Canadian teams. Once in while, they'll have a good game on, but it pales in comparison to Hockey Night in Canada or TSN. Since I live in Ohio, the SportsOhio network televises the Bluejackets games. The turdjackets are so bad, I would rather watch the Scripps Spelling Bee competition. 

It was a great playoffs and the Cup finals was thrilling as the Chicago Blackhawks finally brought home the hardware to their championship starved fans who haven't seen the cup since 1961. I'm sure many of them weren't born during the glory of years of Hull and Mikita. 

That of course put the Leafs next in line as the current longest cup drought at 43 years. That's all I need to hear from the old man as he'll bring that up over and over. The Leafs are far from bringing home the cup unless they stop trading away high draft picks and signing washed up bums who want to fulfill their childhood dream of playing for the Leafs.

I miss the glory years of the early 90s and I'll probably be 6' under when the Leafs win it all........


June 1, 2010

Take Off To The Great White North


The Memorial weekend was fast approaching and that meant a well deserved trip back to the Great White North. Sadly, the fishing gear was going to be left at home. It has been almost 3 years since I've seen my mum, brother, grandmother and other relatives. Trying to cram that all into the long weekend, would of made it impossible to wet a line. But, it would been nice to pin for some walleye at Stobie Dam or going to Pumphouse Creek for some brook trout. Only if I had more time.

Before heading up to Sudbury, I spent Thursday night and Friday in Toronto. It was a continuation of the last trip as I ran out of time. The night before I went out with some old friends from college. Today, the weather was beautiful and a couple friends took the Friday off and we bar hopped soaking up the sun and drinking on the patio at different pubs in the heart of downtown. It was great day of reminiscing about the good ole days. It brought back a lot of memories as I was a former resident of the city some twenty odd years ago. It was a fun place for a single man in his twenties. 

One my favorite things is exploring restaurants, bistros and diners whenever I'm another city or town. I called two friends from high school who happened to live right off the waterfront for dinner. For the evening, we decided to go to a fancy steakhouse for a nice dinner. The place was called Harbour Sixty located near the Air Canada Center. The building was once the Harbour Commission and was built back in the early 20th century. Walking in it was beautifully decorated, the type of place to impress a lady and get her in the sack later on. We were seated at our table and before I opened the menu, I listened to our Euro-trash waiter babble about the specials. Forget the specials! Bring me a cold one and juicy steak stacked with mushrooms and smothered in onions!! Once I opened the menu, my jaw almost hit the floor. A 20 ounce porterhouse for a $100.00 - holy shit! Kobe beef at market price - $200.00! and $9.00 for a Molson Canadian! What the fuck I was getting myself into and thank god I wasn't picking up the tab. The real kicker was the wine list and it was as a thick as the Toronto phone book. One of the items on the list was a bottle of wine from France listed for over $1700.00, for that amount I expected it came with a nice women and room for the evening. 

I asked if they knew this place was that expensive. They said it was best steak house in the city. Fuck the wallet, call in the Brinks truck. We all looked at one another, debating whether we should bail sneaking one by one out the door. We all made good money and I knew this would never happen again - never. My $52.00 ribeye came out and that was it, it wasn't really seasoned nor was it grilled, it was pan seared. Seriously? who the hell pan sears a steak? I guess I didn't pay attention to the menu as sides were extras and I wasn't going to pay $9.00 for a baked potato. The fucking place was a rip off and I looked over at the other table. Three couples who practically ordered the left side of the menu. I didn't even want to know how much the bill would, probably more than I made in month. 

To make a long story short, I was pissed and I washed down the bitter taste in my mouth with my $9.00 warm bottle of beer. The desserts came and it was really heavy as to was the bill at $152.00, because I bought the drinks and desserts. Then add in almost $20.00 in taxes. I didn't blame Francois or Pierre or whatever the fuck his name was. He was pleasant and prompt so I tipped accordingly. The final bill with tip was $174.00 and with the lousy exchange rate I saved $3.00.........should of went to the Keg. We ended bar hopping and roared with laughter about the time when we messed with hookers on Yonge Street, chasing skirt at Kool Haus, and how miserable life is after 40. I didn't hit the sack until almost three in the morning. 


I woke early Saturday morning and hit the road for Sudbury. Most of Toronto was still sleeping or nursing hangovers. I was dead tired and groggy. I wasn't looking forward to the four hour drive north. Timmy Horton's coffee hit the spot as I got my second wind. As I headed north on highway 400, the landscape changed from surburbia and rolling farmlands to the rocks and forests of the Canadian Shield. Highway 69 was no more as the 400 was four lanes all the way to Parry Sound. As kid it was a two lane road and during the weekends the traffic was horrible. The winding road and rock cuts made it one of the most dangerous roads in Canada. 

I was making good time and decided to stop at the French River for some pictures. I strolled on the bridge and stood there for a while taking in the scenery and the fresh air. It was so quiet as the only sounds was the wind blowing through the pines and odd bird song. It was back on the road and I knew I was close to Sudbury as the trees started to get smaller and the rocks bigger. As I got closer to the city, I called Mum to tell her that I was about 30 minutes away. I arrived at my aunt and uncle's house and it was nice to see everybody. 

Both my parents who lived in the area for over 40 years. Three years ago, they decided to move to British Columbia to be closer to their grandchildren. Mom looked good and my brother on the hand has become more and more bizarre in regards to his tattoos. His latest one is located on his neck. I've heard my sister bitched over the years about them and last Christmas she ragged on him some more. My brother of course loves to push her buttons. Personally, I would never get a tattoo and his body is plastered with them. But I love him and he's harmless as most of his friends understand that he marches to a different beat and doesn't give a shit what anybody else says.

We spent the morning driving around Sudbury and still hasn't changed much - the roads are still terrible, downtown is still seedy, the Coulson and Ledo hotels are still around catering to the scum and none of my friends I grew up with don't live there anymore. All of that was the constant reminder that when I finished high school, I wanted to get as far away as possible.


The house I grew up in - a stunning piece of architecture

Saturday afternoon we drove to my home town of Chelmsford or as the French pronounced it "Chemsfurd" is your typical small Northern Ontario shithole - a whole lot of nothing. For the record, I hated living there and I couldn't wait to escape. The fishing was the only thing that kept me from going insane. It was a 2 stop light town nestled in the middle of the Sudbury basin. It was as boring as it could be - no mall, a couple of lousy bars, an outdated arena and a bowling alley, but we did have an KFC! As a teenager, I remember is walking the streets aimlessly bored to death. Once I got my driver's licence, it made life more bearable as I was able to go to the bright lights of Sudbury on weekends. But once I finished high school, I went to college in Southern Ontario and never looked back. 

The last time I was back there was in 1998 when my parents sold the house I grew up in. I didn't shed a tear for the dump. It was built by the mining companies and they obviously had no clue on how to construct a house for a family. It was too small as I had to share my room with my younger brother. The kitchen was a joke and we had no central air. We stopped to take pictures and my mother noticed Mr. Daigleman working on his truck. They are the only family left on the street as everybody else packed up once the kids were gone. We chatted with Jack and Eleanor for a while. 

We drove down main street and some of the businesses I remember as a kid were still there. Chew's restaurant was still open as they were the only Chinese family in town and to come to think of it were the only non white family in town. We came to intersection of Errington and Main Streets and there was the largest building in the town, Saint Joseph's church. It was one of the first building built back in 1896 when Chelmsford was a rail outpost. Further down near the tracks was that dive, the Algoma Hotel. How on earth that place survived was beyond me. We crossed over Whitson Creek and as a kid, we use to snag white suckers from above the bridge. That's were we lived when my dad started teaching. We were on the outskirts, but the surrounding bush and creek was my playground. I remember bringing home a bucket full of garter snakes and my mother freaking out. Despite being "across" the creek, most of the people living there were young families. Today, the neighborhood looked so run down. We pointed out the houses that former friends use to live in. We continued the tour up Edward Street and one house caught my attention, the White's. They were family friends ever since my parents moved there in the late 60s. We lived close by when I was in elementary school. I was stunned to see that old car still parked in the same place, right under the pine tree. That car never moved for 43 years. My mother laughed and said "Your right, her husband never moved it" Damn thing probably would of fell apart if moved. Then there was Chelmsford High School, another place I loathed. Nothing like going to the same school that your father teaches at and having to listen to all of the crap of how much of a big asshole he was. Most of those complaints came from the slackers and stoners. I only kept in contact with a few people from school, but in most part a lot of people I knew, left for big cities and bigger dreams. 


We drove to Onaping Falls or as the Americans called it O-naping Falls. Highway 144 still felt like a logging road. We stopped at the A.J Jackson lookout at the High Falls on the Onaping River. Jackson was a member of the Group of Seven artists and painted the falls. High Falls was one of my favorite places to see as a child and I have fond memories of us stopping there on the way to Windy Lake Provincial Park or to pick blueberries. 

Later in the day it was back to my Aunt's for dinner. We always use to have Christmas dinner there. The highlight of Christmas was how shit faced Uncle Bob was going to be. He was a French Canadian version of Archie Bunker. He was a miner and my father couldn't stand him. He would always bust my mother's chops for being British and my old man for being too uptight. But could he drink and it was often. Once he retired, my aunt use to drop him off at the Mine Hall and he'd drink all day - nearly everyday. Surprisingly, he was sober today. But that didn't stop him from his rant about the strike at the mine. Bob was a staunch union guy and called the Brazilian owned company Vale - a bunch of wetbacks and vowed they'll never bust the union. He went on and on and my Aunt told him to give it a rest. Then he asked if I became a Yankee yet. I told him I was still thinking about it. He peppered me with questions about life in the states and he told me about how strange people in Florida were. Then he started on brother with his tattoos. He examined him and asked if he had one on his dick. Once again my aunt glared at him and that was it. It was a great dinner and the evening was spent having a coffee. I retired early as it was going to be a long 9 hour drive home.

I left Monday morning after a big breakfast with everybody. Gave hugs and wishes to all and I started my long journey home. I drove along Regent Street to get to highway 69 and I looked at the city. The only people left in Sudbury were my grandmother, aunt and uncle. All of them were getting up there in years. I wondered if this would be the last time I would see Sudbury. I was born and raised there, but I knew I could never live there. It was still a mining town that went through the cycles of bust and boom. I moved back briefly after my second tour of college, but I had bigger plans for me and headed west. I turned onto highway 69 and drove south. In the rear view mirror, the Superstack - the icon of Sudbury started to get smaller and smaller, then it disappeared. The trees and lakes eventually gave way to farmland and then vast metropolis of Toronto. The traffic at the border was packed as many were returning home from the long weekend. I was asked the standard questions and the officer gave back my green card. It was almost dark as I could see the lights of Cleveland in the distance, I was glad to be finally home.

May 13, 2010

AMBER ALERT - For the Greater Cleveland Area


*AMBER ALERT*

LeBron Raymone James

Cleveland, OH
DOB 12/30/84

Reported missing 5/10/10. 

Last seen being taken to school by Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics. Not heard of since Nike stopped running puppet commercials. Last seen wearing false crown. James may be in need of medical attention for SAS (sudden apathy syndrome). Any info helping authorities find James or his game contact 1-800-brick-23

April 25, 2010

The Fish Are Done and So Am I

Last week wrapped up one of the worst seasons and I mean the worst season in the 12 years since I've been here in the Alley. It was a perfect storm of dismal numbers, rotten weather and epic bitching. The beginning of the season was punctuated by little to no rain for weeks on end. Babbling riffles were reduced to silence and the several pools I fished, I would of needed a motor for my float because there was no flow. For several months, I practically wore out my boots to catch decent numbers of fish, but I catch them I did. "Frustrating" and "fuck this" and "this fucking blows" were words used over and over. To add insult to injury, all of the streams froze over for an extended period of time. The power plant saved me from going insane. Spring was on the horizon and I was hoping for renewal and redemption. It was a monumental disappointment. Just like autumn, we barely got any rain. 

The numbers most of us hoped for never materialized and many of my brothers were bummed. Some of them tossed the gear into the basement and hauled out the boat for walleye. I can't blame them, I would of done the same. Many of the upper sections were devoid of fish and it was mid-April. The last trip out was was no different as some of my favorite holes coughed up some fish but no where the numbers of past seasons. Even the best gravel beds on the lower sections didn't have a lot of fish. Rewind to last season and there were plenty of fish to be had in May. What a difference one season can make. Last entry in my journal was littered with curse words and the number two. That's how many fish I caught. 

Conspiracy theories ran wild. There had to be somebody or something to blame. I just figured that we were due for a bad year. It happens all the time when it comes to fishing. It doesn't matter whether it's steelhead, walleye, perch or pike. But, this season was exceptional terrible. I stowed the gear away and patiently waited for autumn. I would still see some fishing, refusing to throw in the towel. Suckers for punishment? I guess but why bother telling them. Let them figure it out. 

April 6, 2010

Steelhead Alley Swing



The Alley has experienced weather that many expect in July than early April. That's the perfect time for swinging. Once upon a time, I fly fished for steelhead when I lived in Canada. Pinning at the time was a craft done by a handful of people. The rivers and streams of Northern Ontario were deep and swift. They were tailored made for sink tips and swinging. But I found the Alley's slower moving streams better suited to float fishing. But I still love to pull out the fly rod for time to time. This past season we've seen lower than usual numbers of fish and I was curious to see how of them had spawned prior. I knew where all of the prime spawning areas were and how many fish would be dropping back? Who knows.

The water temperature was probably in the low 60s and that's pushing into the upper limits for steelhead. Every year, I see the bottom of streams littered with fish that died because some angler decided to hot dog or failed to properly revive the fish. When these fish are on gravel they're vulnerable because of being caught over and over. Spawning itself is a stressful event and I can't imagine being flossed or snagged over and over. The fish that make it unmolested seek the deeper holes and pool to rest and prepare for the trip back to Lake Erie. Dropbacks are often aggressive and swinging large streamers often entice this fish to hit with a vengeance. 

It was still dark when I arrived at the upper section of the river. The surrounding woods were full of bird songs. I could make out the familiar songs of robins, sparrows, cardinals, wrens and the gobbling of turkeys. It was a easy walk along the trail and after 30 minutes I arrived at my destination. There was enough light when I arrived so I walked up to the riffle to see if any fish were on gravel. I really didn't see anything moving. But this spot is very popular with guides. Guiding on the Alley is a chess game especially in the spring. Many of them look for the best gravel beds to put clients on easy fish. This spot is very popular but there are better spots farther up. I knew I would have this spot for a while. 

Last season, me and a friend drifted the upper section and there was a lot of boat traffic. Luckily we were fishing for droppies so we didn't have to compete for space. At this spot, we ended up catching over 20 fish - all spawned out hens. The gravel upstream resembled a mine field. This morning I only seen a couple dug out beds. The Alley can be bust or boom depending what river your on. One year the riffles are choked with fish and others your lucky to see a handful of them. The rivers are always changing so constant scouting is a must. 

I tied on a large white zonker onto a 10 pound tippet. With water this warmer, I wanted a furious but brief battle. I position myself at the head of the run. The river splits around a small island and most of the fish dropback into there. I did a roll cast and let the sink tip drop. I could feel it bounce along the bottom and then I felt several taps then a take. I set the hook and felt a surge. The fish erupted from the water and danced about. It was an intense battle but with a heavy tippet I ended the fight quickly. It was a spawned out hen as her body had several wounds on her tail, probably from digging out beds. I quickly released her and she bolted for the hole. I moved back to the top of the run and started swing further out. The tip settled and rolled along the bottom. This time the take was more violent. The rod slammed and the fished bolted downstream. My trusty Teton reel screamed as I loosen the drag. I steered the fish into the slack water. It was a large male, probably over 10 pounds. He was a beautiful specimen - rosy red cheeks, heavily kyped and of course sporting several flies stuck on his back, tail and belly. I pulled a total of 6 flies from him. 

It was early morning when I decided to see if fish were on gravel. The water was still slightly off color and all I seen were suckers - a lot of them. I strained to see the large hulking shadows of the males or a plume of mud done be a hen digging out gravel. I only seen two males jockeying for position. That meant most of the fish here were done spawning. I resumed to swinging the entire pool and I only managed three more fish. The sun starting creeping higher and then I could see a drift boat in the distance. It was only 10:30 in the morning. Either the fishing higher up was terrible or the spot was packed. I was leaning more to the latter. I could see the guide's expression and it was of worry because he figured I must of worked the fish over. He never got a chance to ask me because I was already hitting the trail for other water downstream.

It turned out to an exercise of futility as I never got so much as a bump all the way back the bridge. By then I was burnt and parched from the heat. I was drained of what little energy I had left. With it being this late in the year, I'm usually burned out from the fishing and it doesn't take much for me to walk away from the river. That's what I did as I rolled into the gas station and bought the biggest bottle of water. It was enough to last the hour ride back home. The morning was fun even though it was brief.