All of Steelhead Alley's streams are generally the same. All of them run over shale bedrock, have little to no groundwater sources, and most of them with the exception of the Grand become fishable within 3 to 4 days after rain. But, that where the similarities stop. One river might get a monster run and others might get a wee one. As a rule of thumb, I generally fish farther east and as the season progresses, I start to make my way back west. Even though, I live in the western Cleveland suburb of Rocky River, I prefer the eastern rivers because they're scenic, more rural and tend to get more PA steelhead.
Friday, I fished solo as I decided to take a well deserved day off. Work has been slowing down and this is the time of the year when I start cashing in personal days. The plan was to fish far out east as I was scouting for others for the upcoming weekend. Arriving at first light, there were two cars and every time I've been there, I know where the people are going. Then another car with Ontario plates pulled in across the road and it was packed with guys. Lately, I've seen a lot of Canadians on the Alley and I hoped they were as green as I was 12 years ago. But, I noticed a person jumping out of the car, fully dressed in gear walking briskly to the river. When I got down to the river, as expected he locked up the spot for them. Maybe he was a guide or something, but who cares, because I knew of spot that probably would fish better.
The river was slightly stained and had a nice flow. It was cold with the temperature in the 30s and that meant - tailouts. I could see everybody at the spot downstream. From past recon trips during the summer months, I knew there was a shale ledge towards the tailout. The recon paid off as I started yanking fish out of that spot. During my time fishing, I would look downstream and see the group of anglers not doing a lot. Sooner or later they start getting antsy and start heading up or down. I was hoping to they would head down. Then one by one they started to come up. I tried to be coy as we exchanged greetings and watched them walk up and around the corner. It was back to fishing and I did very well catching a lot of fresh fish. The bottom of the pool was littered with a lot of sore jaws, so it was off to another spot. This section was a long sweeping pool. Farther down it was nothing but what I dubbed shit water as it holds nothing but shit. There were plenty of fish from top to bottom and like the last spot, it was polluted with skippers. Satisfied with the results, I gave two thumbs to the working stiffs that were anxiously waiting for Saturday morning.
The plan for Saturday was the same place. One person that tagged along was Michael from Germany who comes to Ohio on business twice a year. Micheal is an avid angler in his home country and when he was in the Cleveland area several years ago, he stumbled onto Erie Outfitters. He was interested about fishing the alley and the owner of the shop - Craig helped him out. Saturday morning we drove east and the game plan was to lock up one pool near a popular spot. Locking up a pool involved getting up fairly early. On the drive out, I called a local bait shop that leaves a recording of lake and stream conditions. I got a chuckled when I heard that the fishing was tough on Friday and they were puzzled at the lack of fish caught. When we arrived there were several anglers gearing up and once again, I knew where they were going. I got dressed quicker when other cars started rolling in and told them I would grab the spot. Sure enough, everybody was clustered in that one spot - ha! The water had cleared considerably from yesterday. The fishing was slower then yesterday, but we all caught fish. I suggested that we head to the other spot I fished yesterday. As we walked out, there was about 20 cars scattered along the road. We pulled into the next spot and it wasn't hard to figure out what type of angler was fishing. When we arrived at the next spot, there was a Prius, Subaru, and a Toyota Highlander. All of them were plastered with Patagonia and Trout Unlimited stickers. Foreign cars and uber high priced outfitting manufacturers logos = yuppie, green weenie, fair weather fly fishermen. I figured when they walked back and looked at my piece of shit Jeep, they thought meat hunting, pool hogging, smelly spawn sacing dirtbag. We did well in that spot and I had another one another farther up. As we walked across to the other spot, all of the other cars were gone except for one truck.
We hit some fish out of one hole and I could see two people fishing upstream. This was a spot I didn't have to fish the day before. The one angler greeted us and we started fishing, only hear the other angler start complaining about us fishing between them. We looked at each other like is he kidding? Ask anglers their definition of low holing and you'll get answers ranging from 10' to the entire length of a football field. This curmudgeonly loser was 50 yards upstream and he thought we were too close, I say Mr. Magoo needs to get his eyes checked. Of course, we could of been assholes and walked up started fishing in his hip pocket. His pissing and moaning session, thankfully was short lived. The morning crowd probably worked the hole over and we the left the miserable crank alone.
Sunday we fished a river that often ranks at the bottom of my list - the Vermilion. I wasn't thrilled, but two days in a row driving out east was putting a hurting on my sleep and wallet. The Vermilion has one major problem - it constantly runs dirty. Years ago it never had that problem and nobody knows why. The only thing that the V has going for it is a lot of gravel and the majority of people I know have giving it up for dead. The fishing was terrible as I was the only one to hook into fish - 3 in total and the others were ready to throw in the towel. When we returned to the cars, I was waffling on whether to go home or continue fishing. Mike on the other hand wanted to cram in as much fishing as possible since we was to return to Germany on Wednesday. I don't blame him and I told him we could fish the Chagrin. On the way back I had second thoughts about fishing the Chag, it was almost noon and I didn't want to make the long drive out there or take Mike on one of my death marches. I elected to fish the Rock and I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of driving to see every lot full of cars. But I still had some cards in my hand and knew where to find fish. It was well past noon and I figured the early birds were long gone and the second shift were at the fords. I took Mike to several spots and we caught some fish. The only excitement was when we watched 4 does running across the rivers and then a large buck following briskly. Another buck wanting to cashing in tried to head off the other by crossing further down. I gave Mike some pointers for tomorrow and wished him luck and safe trip back home.
Three more days until vacation time...........