March 18, 2012

A Mouth Full



Today was another sign that our season will eventually come to an end - warm weather. Today it felt like May with sunny skies and temps in the upper 60s. The willows starting to bud, insects emerging, birds singing in the woods and of course the fair weather fishermen. On the Alley there are two types of steelheaders - the diehard and the fair weather. Diehards are easy to spot, they'll fish in some of the worst conditions and their gear often looks like crap. The fair weather steelheader looks like he or she is on a photo shot for either LL Bean or Orvis. There isn't a speck of dirt on their waders or jackets and they all of them excel in personal hygiene. Whenever they look at me, they think I must live under a bridge and have a drinking problem.

The plan was I would fish high and the others would be low. They were only fishing half the day and I wanted to make it an all day affair. The Grand was still running high just under 900cfs but it can still be fished at those flows. I pulled in to see nobody as that was to be expected and the others called that anglers were few and far between. The same could be said about the fish. My trusty old rock that I use for a gauge was barely poking out of the water. That meant wading across was out of the question. I banged several spots and the only fish of the morning was a bright silver hen that felt like a 15 pounder when she bolted into the faster water. But it was the only fish and it had been two hours. The others doing slightly better and that was enough for me to head downstream. I arrived to see them fishing off the bank and both of them caught 6 fish in the faster water. Unfortunately both would be leaving soon so I only fished briefly with them. I crossed over at one section that is relatively shallow. The crossing was challenging as my boots spit out the latest number of sheet metal screws I bought yesterday. I was hoping that #12 by 1/2" screws would be the trick. After all they were the largest ones you can get, but nearly all of them were gone. It felt like walking on roller skates as I slipped often on the rocks. I can't wait to toss these boots after the season. As I walked along the river, I could see hundreds of emerald shiners moving along the shallows. Too bad the water was so stain as any minnow pattern would be the hot ticket. But I didn't sniff one fish and it was almost noon. The only option was the Chagrin as it was the closest and was more clearer. However it was a huge gamble as the nice weather meant that every Tom, Dick and Harry was fishing.


Unlike the past two trips to the Chagrin, where I was the only person on this section of the river, only because it was a hell a lot of colder. I would be rubbing elbows with a lot of others. That was evident when I pulled in around noon and there were about 20 cars. I was pretty well expecting that. I looked at the cars - BMW, Cadillac, Subaru and an Audi but not all were high priced and luxurious. There were some beaters including yours truely's dirty Jeep Cherokee. Once I reached the river there were about 8 guys fishing the small run. I careful negotiated and timed the back casts of the people working the run. I thought and later regretted bailing on the Grand as I looked up river - more people. I started the long and laborious process of working water that hopefully most of these people over looked. The fair weather anglers couldn't ask for nicer day - sun and nearly 70F for early March. I was greeted with friendly smiles and waves. I tried to grin and bear it the best I could as I had to leap frog over angler after angler. Whenever the rivers are that crowded, I leave no stone unturned. I picked away at some of the smallest pocket water possible. That's were many anglers often pass up for the typical spots. Several times I watched some anglers scanning the skinny water looking for spawners. I didn't even see one fish on gravel or a redd, which was surprising considering the water was over 40F and that usually is the green light.

An old nemesis also showed up too, the creek chubs. I caught one that tried to inhaled one goober sized sac. Too bad he didn't and I should of cut the line and watched him choke on it. At least I only caught a couple but it was incredibly tough considering the sun was high and the fishing pressure intense. At the end of the day I managed 4 shitty looking males. I was more than happy with that and the party of eight was still banging away at the same run. I dodged the back casts and made it back, soaked in sweat and parched. Only later I found out it was an Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders tourney and I guess most of the members decided to pick the Chagrin.

Later I found out that I wasn't the only one to have a tough day. The only river that seemed to do well was the Rock and that was shocking considering I heard nearly every part of the river was occupied. I've seen the Rock on spring weekends and I want no part of the circus. This current weather pattern could wreak havoc on the spring run. For next week it suppose to feel more like June with temperatures in the 70s. Instead of seeing fish running in April, we'll be seeing fish dropping back before the end of the month. I wish for cold and snow.........

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