April 24, 2011

Floss Fest

April showers bring May flowers, unfortunately they also keep the streams high and muddy. So far this month its been rain, rain, rain and more rain. I thought we lived in Ohio, not Mawsynram, India   ( for you jeopardy geeks it's the wettest place on earth ) not to mention, it has been a very cool month. For many, we hoped that the cooler weather will keep the fish around longer. This time last year, many of the fish were long gone back to the big pond as we had a hot, dry month. So far this year, the fish have decided to bypass Ohio all together so nobody had an idea what to expect.

Considering it was Easter Sunday, that meant most of the anglers were stuck at home with their favorite mother-in-law or snacking on the labors of Junior's egg hunt. Not wanting to waste time with spring cleaning, I hit the road as I was curious to see if any fish moved in. With the rivers blown, it was back to the same ditch I fished several week ago. I arrived to see some cars with out of state plates. It seems for some reason this ditch attracts out of staters. I walked down and the creek was running dirty - nice. There was one guy below and he fit the description of a spring time steelheader - neoprene waders, trucker cap, fly rod, smoke hanging out his mouth, enormous vest and can't read water.

I fished below him as I watched this idiot doing the typical technique that spring steelheaders are known for - flip and rip. The spot he was fishing was about the size of my dining table. There must of been a pod of fish, because he was flipping over and over and over and once in a while I could hear him curse that he missed one. I seriously despise assholes like him, because they are the worst form of anglers, at least snaggers don't hide the fact that their snagging fish.

I quickly hooked into several drop backs hanging along the banks under the trees. All of them had the signs of being in there for some time - scars, ragged fins and dirty looking. The bozo above was still trying to get them to "ahem" bite. I was releasing a fish and then it happened, I bent over to pop the hook out and my camera fell out into the drink. I quickly grabbed it and cursed "not again" I have a terrible track record for dunking cameras and phones into the water. I popped the battery cover open and I didn't see any trace of water - whew. I thought maybe I got it out fast enough that water didn't have a chance to get in. I took no chances and kept in my jacket pocket to dry for several hours.

I walked downstream and the creek was lower than the last time I fished. I could see a couple fish here and there, but I had bigger water in mind. Then I could see about 8 guys fishing a riffle and it was an orgy of flossing. I know a lot of fly fishermen and most are ethical when it comes to spawning fish. I guess these were the out of staters and they wanted fish bad to justify the loads of money they spent on gas. All of them were in their twenties as they whooped and hollared as their hooks popped out the the fishes ass and backs.

Since I was bait fishing, I wasn't terribly concerned on finding a spot and I pretty well had the entire pool above to myself. I worked the head and the float shot under and it was a large fish as it caught the attention of the crew downstream. I fought pretty hard and it was a large fresh male. I was able to get to the rocks and it was a fine Manistee - broad shoulders and sporting a mean kype. I managed a couple more fish and they were spawned out hens. There wasn't much else to fish downstream as it was littered with trees and branches.

I walked back to the falls and was treated to a great sight. A steelhead leaped from the water and tried to make its way up the falls. I could see it was a fresh fish as it furiously splashed through the water. It got about 10' up and finally realized that better waters ahead weren't in the picture and quickly slid back into the depths. I fished the run below and picked up some fish before I decided to call it a day. When I got back to popped the battery into the camera and turned it on - It worked!! Thank god because I wasn't looking forward to buying another one.

As for the number of fish coming in? Who knows, if their smart, fornicate quickly and race back to the lake before the fair weather fishermen have a crack at them because we all know they get about 2 weeks in and call it a season.

April 18, 2011

Late Again

This season I've been dubbed the "late man" because I'm always late getting to the river. This is due to several reasons which are mostly intentional - heh heh. Saturday, I wasn't in much of a hurry to get the river, because the night before the weather honks were calling for rain. That warning would be enough to keep a lot of people at home and with gas prices hovering below $4.00, most wouldn't make the long drive. I hoped the honks were wrong and sure enough they were. I had a window of opportunity to get out and I took advantage of it. A couple of friends were already out east and I declined to go since it was so late, plus the price of gas has been killing me too.

I fished the Grand as a little birdie told me they were crushing them on the lower section for that past couple of days. I arrived to see only three cars and the wind was gusting mightily. I was raining lightly and the wind made it feel harder. I arrived to see one other pinner working the head of the run and couple of fly fishermen stumbling about looking for fish in the murky depths. I fished the long run and the wind roaring like a mother making drifts very difficult. By then the rain machine started to crank it up. I managed one fish and thought to myself that these fish have been pounded hard over the past week. To add insult to injury, some loser in a pontoon boat with an outboard comes around the bend chugging upriver. The loud whining of the laboring motor was another reason to bail. I watched him go by as the other angler looked in disgust and flipped him off. I watched him still chugging upstream waiting to see when the motor bottomed out and hopefully damaging the prop, but I guess he knew the river well because he stopped short of the gravel bar.

Well I got the phone call and my heart sank - "we're killing them over here" The first thing to pop in my head was homos and I should of drove there. But since his brother made the long drive up and doesn't get to fish that often, I was happy for them. Well after that call, I found the fish hiding out in the fast water. Many anglers usually past this spot up because A - they can't see them, B - they can't see them and C - they still can't see them. They were all fresh skippies and I'll take a little fat skipper over some beaten up male fully decorated with flies.

The fishing was starting to wind down when the sky turned black and I mean it was black, like one those massive thunderstorms we see during the summer. The wind gusted as I was crossing over and then the monsoon started. It felt like somebody dumped a truckload of water on me. It poured so hard that when I arrived at the lot, my Jeep was in the middle of a small lake. What ever waterproofing was left on my wading jacket was completely annihilated as it was water logged.

Good thing I got out because several hours later all of the streams blew out big time. I still believe we'll have a late run this season or the fish will stay in the rivers for a while, depends on the weather.

April 6, 2011

Mother Nature is a douchebag

I would have say that Mother Nature has been one nasty bitch - the mother-in-law from hell. No rain last fall, freezing cold winter and now rain storm after rain storm. But I had some back up plans in the work just in case she (no pun intended) rained on my parade during my vacation week. All of the major rivers were still high and muddy and that meant ditch fishing. I'll fish ditches if there is no other option and today wasn't be spent at home doing chores.

I left home and guess what? It was raining and it rained all the way to my destination. It wasn't heavy rain, just that annoying light rain. I arrived at one feeder creek this morning and it had been some time since I've fished it upstream. When I walk downstream to fish the Grand, it's ridiculously low and clear. This particular creek is always changing to due flooding and ice. As expected with feeder creeks, holes are few and far between. The creek was running stained and that meant I had a fighting chance at catching something. I started off at one hole and tossed the float under a tree as the current hugged along the bank. The float popped and I set the hook. In this section, the fish had plenty of room to fight and turned out to be a little fucked up skipper - cuts on his body and one of his eyes was FUBARed. The next two were a couple of drop back males and that was it, as that hole probably couldn't hold anymore fish.

As expected when all of the streams are blown out, fishing alone is out of the question as I could see anglers up and down stream. All of them were fly fishermen and they were trying in vain to see fish in the murky water. Others were fishing near some nasty log jams and some were cursing that their lines got snagged in the trees. There was a crew of guys from Michigan fishing it because they had no where else to go. It sucked that they had to drive all the way from there and I was surprised that they didn't fish any of their home rivers. I broke them the bad news that this was one the worst seasons I've seen ever since I moved here. I tossed a couple of bones their way and wished them the best of luck.

I fished another run and thought to myself that there had some fish in there. I started to work the bubble line and the float went under, it had the telltale signs of hillbilly bonefish at the end of the line - pulling in a water logged shoe. Suckers are often found mingling with steelhead during the spring and they can be an annoyance. I continued to fish and float started to bottom out. I yanked and it felt the rod throb. This wasn't a sucker and I watch a huge hen come to the surface. Other than the lamprey scar on her side, she was beautiful and plump, right out of the big pond and loaded with eggs. She was definitely over 10 and put up a great fight.

This crick saved the day as I more than satisfied with the results. Unfortunately, there is more rain on the way for Friday and the weekend warriors will be bumming at the thought of a wasted opportunity. There isn't a lot of time left in the season and I'm figuring that some fish will spawn and sneak back to the lake without ever seeing a hook.

River X$&*#@?+% will be fishing tomorrow.........;^)

April 5, 2011

Should of done a sacrifice

We got dumped on Monday and it pretty well rained most of the day. With the exception of a tiny window in the morning, which I took full advantage of, this was going to put a damper on the week. Lucky for me, the Rock is a slip and down the ravine to the metro park. It was raining when I geared up and hit one spot that I usually do well. The river was clear, but in a matter of hours it would turn into coffee latte. I fished the run and the float shot under, it felt like a big fish and it charged all over the place as I put the brakes on it from going under some logs. It turned out to be large male that had been spawning for some time. That was evident from the numerous flies stuck under its jaw, back, stomach and tail. In total, I removed 6 flies ranging from a tarpon sized streamer to a #14 copper john. Lucky for him, it's a short ride back to the big pond.


After a couple of hours, I was soaked like a rat and that was enough for me. The fishing was slow as I didn't catch anything downstream or upstream. The feeder creeks were roaring the Rock got muddy in a hurry. I hoped the front would blow by quick but it didn't stop raining until early evening the flow gauges shot up.


On the upside, this well bring in some fish. On the downside, I'll probably lose a couple of days, but with gas at $3.79 a gallon I would of spent a fortune driving way out east.

April 3, 2011

Pray to the Fishing Gods

Vacation week and there's the threat of rain - imagine that. Over the years, it's been either blown out streams or streams barely flowing. Once in a while, I'll have a week of prime conditions. But tonight I  might have to sacrifice a goldfish to appease the fishing gods. Let's hope I don't have to resort to that.

Hoping that the weather for the rest of the week is wrong, I'm scouting the mid section of the Grand. The Grand will be a bustling place today as the spring run is at its peak. I've already had a plan of action in case the rain ruins the week, but I want to get on the Grand first thing Monday morning,
Usually when I'm scouting water, I'll speed fish. Speed fishing is fishing a hole or pool for about 15 minutes, if I don't get a bite in that time, I'm off to the next spot. Some people might think it's silly to not to work the spot, but I insist that speed fishing is highly effective as I can cover a lot of water and at the end of the day, I have a pretty good idea where the fish will be holding the next day.

I'm speed fishing furiously as I bounced around several spots and I picked up one measly spawned out hen. Something isn't quite right as there should be a lot of fish. I hit another section of the river farther downstream and I had to walk along one of the feeder creeks. This creek is often massacred during the spring as lowlifes and dirtbags plunder it for easy pickings. When it's low, you can practically piss across it in some spots. It's loaded with snags and any smart fish would hid under them or better yet disguise themselves as suckers. Unfortunately many of them are screwed as they have no where to really hide. As I walked down I could some of the lowlifes working the micro holes for fish - dolts. When I reached the mouth of the creek, I noticed the hole in front of the creek was gone. The river was flowing much faster and that meant during the flood, it bulldozed it flat - no more tailout. I fished the flat farther down and it too was flowing different. In past years, there were cuts and seams that fish would hold in, but now it was a straight flow - damn. My heart sinks as this was one of my favorite spots. But that's life on the Alley as rivers change constantly and that's where scouting will pay off.

I pick off some fish but I'm puzzled at the lack of them. I scratch this section of my list and I make some phone calls, only to hear I'm not the only struggle on the streams. On the way home, I check the weather forecast and the chance of rain has dropped.

From what I gathered, it was a tough day for a lot of people as the fish are very scattered. Must pray to the fish gods tonight.