Yesterday ushered in the first day of autumn, but summer didn't want to relinquish its time here in Steelhead Alley. For many that was perfectly fine as the temperature was to be in the mid 70s. With the beautiful weather on Sunday that meant most anglers in the area were out on the lake fishing for perch. For the steelheaders, the diehards were scattered across the alley. During the week we received more rain. Unfortunately the far east got nothing but a tinkle. As expected there the fish were parked in the lower reaches waiting impatiently as they've endured a barrage of spoons, flies and goober sized sacs over the past couple of weeks. Early season steelheading in Pennsylvania can be described in one word - clusterfuck. I've seen pictures of people surrounding one hole about the size of a kiddie pool with a dozen fish in it. The water is as clear as a fish bowl and all of the anglers are determined to get one of them to bite. I've often said that for punishment such as poaching or fishing without a license, that person should be forced to fish the Project Waters on the Walnut for the entire season.
For once it was nice not having to drive. I sat back and enjoyed a coffee as I was offered a breakfast burrito. Just what I need to go with a stomach full eggs and bacon. We arrived at first light and there were a couple of cars in the lot. In the coming weeks, the number of people will increase, but by then the all of the rivers will have fish and their will be plenty of room to fish.
During the past week I've cured several jars of fresh coho eggs. Generally during the early part of the season, I'm reluctant to use them. Instead, I use eggs from last season and sometimes it's a flip of a coin whether there good or not. The night before I thawed a pack out dated 12/4/10, the eggs looked firm and bright. The skein I used last week worked great as it was juicy and left a nice slick on the water. I ended up with one jar of skein and loose eggs.
We went back to the same river and fished the same section. It started off like last week - uneventful. For the first couple of hours two skippers were caught at the head of the run in faster broken water. Boredom started to settle in and I felt the urge to move. We walked upstream to the faster pocket water where I caught my first fish of the season. Once again, I couldn't find any takers, not even a chub. Dave and Bubba were fishing the tailout when I heard Dave yell out. I turned to see he had a large fish that was running wild. Bubba tried to get line out of the way. I watched a large bright fish explode from the water and it quickly broke the line. That's why early fall is so fun as the fish are fresh and the warmer water gives them energy to wreak havoc.
As the morning progress I my left foot starting to get wet and I sighed. Earlier in the week, I saturated the insides of my waders trying to see any dark spots that would reveal the source of my leaks. Unfortunately, isopropyl alcohol can only reveal so much. I hoped the patch job would slow the deluge to a trickle. Instead my foot got wetter and wetter and it started to make that annoying sloshing sound. Luckily the water was still in the 60s and it was nothing more than a slight annoyance. If it was December more than likely I would probably suffer extreme discomfort and depending on the fishing, I would either toughed it out or bale and head to the nearest store for new waders.
With the super soaker, I struggled to walk in my boots as they spit out some of the cleats I screwed in last night. I really regret buying those Chotas Rock Loc as they have an insatiable appetite for cleats. On Chotas website they state that the boots have great traction. I call bullshit as it feels like I'm wearing skates. As I walked, I slipped and slided on the bottom as everybody here knows how slick shale rocks can be.
Last time out both me and Dave caught our first fish of the season. Bubba on the other hand posted a shutout. It was mid morning when Bubba finally shook the skunk off and I was left holding it. It was a nice fish unfortunately due to Bubba's massive girth the fish looked like a wee minnow as I took the money shot. For me it was a fruitless morning as I worked and reworked the spots trying to get a hit. It was one of those days we all experience - nothing goes right. The leaking waders, line issues and not getting any action. We got back to the truck, I pulled my waders off and you could hear the water splash out. My socks were completely soaked as were the bottoms of my fleece pants. Both of my feet were pasty white and terribly pruned.
It was in most part a slow day as one fish was caught here and there. With latest high water, we thought more would push in but as I said before you have to be in the right place at the right time. Tomorrow will another day painstakingly looking for those troublesome leaks. Hopefully next week I'll be tossing the skunk around somebody else's neck