November 19, 2012

Persistence



The old saying of 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish. I truly believe that and the it's dedicated and most persistent steelheader that can still catch fish despite low numbers. Dealing with one of the worst fall runs in recent memory, has tested the patience of most anglers. That's been evident over the past couple of weeks as the number of anglers has dropped. Newbies have thrown in the towel and old timers are sick and tired of catching nothing out of their favorite holes. People can bitch all they want, there's nothing we can do about it. If your willing to put in the time and effort, you'll be rewarded but don't expect huge numbers. It was like that for me over the past few days on three rivers. 


At times, I'm not the most patient angler. But when times are tougher, I'll start working a little harder. Instead of walking by marginal spots, I'll give it a shot. That's the problem with a lot of anglers, especially ones new to the game - they give up too easily. Parking yourself at one hole is a recipe for a skunk around your neck. You have to walk and fish hard. I fished the Conneaut hard and it was seven fish. The Grand was even tougher as it was four fish. The Chagrin was better as I almost hit double digits. The distance covered was measured in miles, sore knees and back, and my cleats were worn down to nubs. But it was it well worth it and I credit my success to the years of constant scouting and knowing the secrets of the Alley's streams. 

There are many theories why the number of fish have been off. I have my usual suspects, but I don't have the answers. It's always been a cycle ever since I've lived here. One possible theory was the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The storm nearly dumped 8" of rain in some areas. The Grand went 8' over flood stage and she bulldozed runs and pools and filled in holes. I noticed the effects once the river came down. Trees were moved and gravel bars appeared out of nowhere. Under one bridge it was a wall of trees and logs stacked along the supports. With flows that strong, I seriously doubt that even the hardiest steelhead would have made the journey upstream. 


It was first light when I arrived at the lower end of the Grand and the sky was filled with stars. The sun started creeping over the horizon filtering out the darkness. The temperature was 30F and the surrounding vegetation was covered in a layer of frost. The river was probably hovering around the 40F mark, that meant tailouts and bends. Earlier in the week we received more rain, just enough to bump it up. Many hoped that more fish would of moved in, but I had reservations. All of my hard work managed three fish from a tailout. All of them had been in the river for some time as they were in full winter colors. After those three, there wasn't a lot going on and several anglers I ran into were grousing about the lack of fish. I fished around the bridge and I was dismay at the sight of one my favorite spots turned into a babbling riffle. The pool below the bridge got washed out, as it was turned into one large riffle. I decided to give another spot downstream another chance, I hoped third time was a charm because the previous other times were dismal. A half mile later, it was one fish. That closed the books on the Grand and it was off to home to watch the Ohio State and Wisconsin game.


The Chagrin was a river that I yet to fish this season. From reports, I heard it too was greatly effected from the flooding. The chatter I got about the Chagrin were less than favorable, but than again it was like that every where else. Another chilly morning greeted me when I arrived and I didn't bother getting up early. I was the first to roll in and slowly took my time walking to the river. From the trail I could see the river was on the verge of low and clear. This part of the Chagrin is my favorite. It's far from the lower stretches that on the weekends are a zoo. It's more rural and it has a mixture of pools filled with lumber and long sweeping runs with gravel and sandy bottoms. It's very reminiscent of the streams found in Michigan. It was cold enough that ice started to build up on the guides. I was mindful not to start whacking the rod tip in the water as I broke it this past winter. The first fish of the morning was a hen that came from the tail end of small run. It was a small enough that it was probably the only fish in it. I had a lot of water to explore and next spot I found that the gravel got washed out. The flood deposited a gravel bar and it was funneling water through it. It was light enough that the tail end of the pool above had been filled in with gravel. 


It was a theme as I found pool after pool was filled in with gravel and sand. Hopefully over time the current would start creating holes and deeper pools. The second fish came from a pool in the past that fish would stack themselves like cord wood. The depth was reduced by half and I could see the bottom. Not a lot of rocks or structure to give fish relief from the current. As I fished, I began to hear the chorus of coyotes starting to yelp and bark far off in the woods. Hard to believe, because a mile and half to the west, there's the hospital, large malls and one of the busiest streets in the Greater Cleveland area. My persistence was paying off as I picked away at fish and one spot held a decent number of them. It was several large trees stuck in the middle and their roots allowed the current to start gouging out a hole. It had the perfect depth and size and gradually tailed out. One fish turned out to be six fish including one hefty male. That male turned out to be the last fish of the day as I started working some of the same spots on the way back. I didn't see one person on the river, which is unheard of for a Sunday in November. I drove to two other sections and there so much as a nibble, but it was a valuable scouting trip.

I don't expect much to change in the upcoming weeks as we make the transition from fall to winter. The number of fish will still be low, but on the bright side the number of anglers will be a lot less. Time to swap out the cleats...........

November 17, 2012

Banging Holes


Every anglers biggest annoyance - prime conditions and little to no fish. The stars and moon are aligned. The weather is beautiful, the water is spot on, a prior blowout, and wind coming out of the south, but there's hardly any fish. That what it was like this weekend - nothing but frustration on the Alley. We waited with anticipation as we were into the month of November, generally when Ohio's steelhead start migrating into the streams. I relished the thought of getting into fresh spunky steelhead. 

Hurricane Sandy did a favor as the streams got the thorough roto rooter cleansing we needed. A couple of them - the Grand and Chagrin went well over flood stage. All of them were coming down just in time for the weekend. Wanting to give my wallet a break, I decided to fish closer to home. One river I wanted to hit was the Grand. It's been a while since I've wetted a line and the times I've fished it, it was barely flowing, clogged with leaves and very little fish. It was primed for action and you couldn't ask for better conditions. The plan of action was to fish high Saturday and low on Sunday. 


The first stop was below one of the Grand's feeder creeks. As I got dressed, I watched three women jogging up the trail at first light. I was caught off guard to say the least. I started the long trek down the feeder creek and to the river. The Grand ole girl's flow was inviting and I crossed over to fish the monster pool below the mouth of the creek. I started at the head and wondered how many fish moved up. A half hour turned into an hour and I was still waiting for my first bite. By now, I was working the tailout and I was puzzled. Plan A turned into plan B and headed farther up river. I started a quarter mile below the dam and began to fish. It was the same result - nothing. I banged every hole, pocket water and pool for nearly a mile. The result was no fish, not even a nibble from a lowly chub. I muttered and cursed under my breath "Where the hell are the fish?". I combed the same spots on the way back and the same result - nothing. Of course the conspiracy theories started to pop in my head. If they weren't up high, they had to be down low. I hopped in the Jeep, grabbed some grub and drove downstream. 

I traded rural for urban and fished one of my favorite places. To my dismay, the long run I loved to fish was reduced to a riffle. The high water filled in the run with rocks - bummer. As I walked up to the pool, there were three anglers fishing. All of them were posting a shut out. One of them told me he seen eight fish caught in the morning. That gave me a glimmer of hope but it was almost noon when I started. Magic eggs come on! It was time to think outside the box and I fished the bend because I figured nobody bothered. It turned out to the right call because it was fish on. A nice bright chunky male, the skunk was thrown off my neck. One turned into another fish, a dime chrome male. A absolutely beautiful specimen with a gun metal hue and bright white belly. I guess the fishing was terrible as I heard upstream some angler yelling out "It's about fucking time" Yes, it was fucking time to bail from this spot. On the drive to the next spot, I got on the horn and a pattern was revealed. The fishing on Conneaut blew, the V sucked ass, the Chagrin was shitty and so on. When I arrived the last spot had one car, oh boy. I gave it a shot and didn't bother to cross over. I fished off the bank and it was same pattern - casting over and over and over. It turned out to be a bust. What the hell was going on? Two fish? Oh well, there always tomorrow and I watched Alabama self destruct against Texas A&M - such much for your shot at another national title.


I gave the grim news to the boys yesterday and I figured I was going solo. I was already halfway out when the phone rang. It was them and I told them I was heading back to the same spot where I caught my two measly fish. I arrived at first light and walked down the trail with my coffee in hand. The trail the river was reduced to the width of a narrow mountain goat trial. One slip and its a mud bath. Well, I slipped went I jumped down and it was face first and spilled coffee. I slowly got up and brushed the mud off and cursed that all of my coffee was gone. Nothing changed water wise, but I hoped the fish changed their minds from being assholes to willing players. On the second drift I hooked into a fish - a small hen. From experience whenever I hook into fish that quickly, it's either the only one from spot or I'll start picking them off. It turned out be something in the middle as I picked one off - every hour. When the boys showed up I had two landed. With five of us, I wondered what the odds would be? I caught another and that was it. None of us could coax a fish into biting. We drove another spot and we all posted a shut out. Five experienced anglers in the month of November win one of the hottest spots and nothing! That's unheard on the Alley and a first for all of us. 

It seemed either Hurricane Sandy flushed mostly all of the fish back into Lake Erie or the fish still dig the warm water of the lake, because numbers so far have been off this season - way off. In Pennsylvania, the locals are bitching that 20 fish in a pool is an unacceptable number and I'm sure letters are being written to the head of the fish and boat commission demanding that another million steelhead need to be dumped into the ditches immediately. I still think the lake is too warm and small number of fish moved in. The end result is fish are scattered through so much so, I've heard of guides floating 8 miles of the Grand and they landed one fish only. A lot of head scratching and questions why this weekend was so bad despite the great conditions. More rain is on the way and colder temps for the rest of the week. So we'll get another kick at the can. 

November 10, 2012

Sandy Blows


Hurricane Sandy was heading for the Alley and I was lucky to get my fishing in before she unleashed her wrath. It was a night of rolling the dice as the Elk blew out the day before during the afternoon. The chance of rain for Sunday was 90% with most of it starting in the early afternoon. I tied some sacs early on and sat back to watched the Buckeyes beat down Penn State as they continued their quest for a perfect season. During the game, I would check the weather report, because we know how unpredictable hurricanes can be. 

I woke up early, I checked the weather. There was a large green band of rain creeping northwest into Pennsylvania. I quickly checked the flow data for the Elk and it dropped down to 14 on the gauge. I knew a lot of people wouldn't make the drive out because of the threat of rain. Like I said before, I'll roll the dice when it comes to weather. Most of the time I win big, but there has been a couple of times where I see the stream is a little too high and dirty. I quickly loaded the Jeep and hit the road. It was still dark when I left but the roads were dry as I drove through Lake County. When I passed Ashtabula, it started to rain and it progressively got harder as I made my way east. It poured and the wipers struggled to wipe the water away. The window was going to shut quickly if the rain didn't stop. I got off the exit and headed south as I was fishing higher up as the creek generally runs cleaner here. It was first light when I pulled in and there wasn't a car. The creek was running a little higher and stained, but this is typical Ohio water that I'm used to fishing.

By now the rain has lessened and I would keep an eye on the flow gauge all morning. With the stronger current, I fished along the seams. The fish were not in a playful mood as I poked and probed the pools and holes. So far for the morning, I had 2 creek chubs which I never caught from the Elk before. I walked farther upstream to another spot and fished along the ledge. Even with stained conditions, finding ledges is easy because the shale bottom creates waves. Off the waves is where I fish and the first fish of the morning was a bright silver hen. I struggled to get into fish but the creek held steady so I knew I had all morning to fish. It continued to be a tough morning and I figured the approaching storm was throwing off the fish. I banged away and for the morning I had 6 fish. By now the rain had picked up and I was getting drenched. I looked at the gauge and the flow was starting to creep up. I checked the weather app and the radar showed a large dark green blob over western Pennsylvania. Being wet, cold, the bite was off and hunger were good enough reasons for me to bail. On the way, I ran into a couple of hardy souls braving the conditions. I got back to the Jeep there was a truck behind me. Usually on a Sunday there are cars and trucks parked all the way up the hill. I didn't linger and after getting lunch and a coffee, I headed home. On the way home the wind pushed the Jeep around and I knew we were in for one hell of a storm. When I arrived home, I checked the gauge and the Elk was blown out.

When I left for work on Monday, the wind was howling and I got pelted with rain. The rain never once let up and as the day progressed the wind got stronger and angrier. Sandy was at the doorstep and she was ready to huff and puff and blow the house down. I finished work around 4:00 and decided to drive to the lake. By then the Rock was blown out and I could see massive waves crashing over the breakwall down by the yacht club. I knew of a little park on the edge of the bluffs near the mouth of the river. I drove around the corner, I could see several cars parked. I was the only person to get out and the gusting wind pushed me around. It was probably gusting over 60mph and Lake Erie was rolling and raging as massive waves crashed into the shore. The wind was straight out of the north and there was nothing to stop it. I've never seen the lake so rough as many people stopped by to sate their curiosity. I started the video recorder on my phone and started filming. I had a difficult time holding the phone steady and several other people joined me to take pictures or film the action.

The weather honks said that the worse would happen around midnight. I sat back and watched the Monday night game as the wind roared outside and the trees swayed back and forth. Once in a while the lights would dim and flicker. While watching the game, I would change stations to see what the storm was doing. On the local station, they had a video of the waves crashing over I-90 near the E.55th power station. The waves and spray from the winds were too much for officials and they shut down westbound lanes. Many people drove down to the lake, to witness the wrath of the storm. Several times, I would see flashes of lighting through the curtains. I opened them and it wasn't lighting, but transformers arcing. The wind's intensity got stronger and stronger as I was waiting to hear one of the trees to snap and fall into the ravine. The ground was so saturated from all of the rain during the weekend that a night of gusting winds was enough to tear the roots out of the ground. The game turned out to be a blowout ( how ironic? ) and I looked out of the window to see the large oak by the carport being whipped into a frenzy by a tempest. I mutter to myself that it would be a matter of time before the lights went out. Once again, the lights started to flicker and I could hear the fridge's motor began to struggle. I was still looking outside when I watched a transformer in the distance explode. Orange sparks littered the sky and the lights went out. I was standing in total darkness. I was prepared as I had my headlamp close by and began to light candles in all of the rooms. It was 11:20 and I took a shower because I knew by morning, there would be no hot water. As for the power coming back on, who knew?  I got into bed and listened to wind gust with ferocity, I set the alarm on the phone and drifted off to sleep.

The next morning I looked out of the window. It was first light and it raining and windy. The intensity of the wind had died down, but there was still gusts. I drove to work and there was hardly any cars on the road. All of the schools were canceled and I'm sure some businesses in the affected areas were closed as well. With the winds blowing over 40mph, there was no way for power crews to do any work. They had to wait it out. I was concerned because I was running on empty as I forgot to fill up the yesterday. On the way in, the radio reports confirmed that the west side and along the lakeshore got hammered. In total, over 140,000 homes and businesses were in the dark. I was lucky to see to the gas station off the exit to work was open and I promptly pulled in to fill up. I arrived at work and noticed the ladies up front calling customers to see if they had any power. About half of them had to canceled appointments. It was a light day as I toured along the east side. Many streets were littered with branches and the occasional downed tree with a police officer blocking the street. I drove by the Chagrin and it was above its banks and with the rain still coming down, it was more than likely it would go beyond flood stage. 

After a short day on the job, I stopped by to pick up some dinner. Finding food was a difficult task as both grocery stores were closed and I eventually settled for fast food. I returned to my apartment and walked into a darkened building. It was eerie as everybody else left to stay friends or family who had power. My footsteps echoed along the hallway. I lighted several candles and sat at the table. I watched the candles flicker and I listen to rain pelting the window. This would the first night with no power. All day I didn't see one crew on the road. There was no heat and the apartment was at 55F. The only thing link I had with the outside world was my iPhone. I emailed my parents back in Western Canada and told them everything was all right and I lost power. That evening was spent reading a book in bed. I checked the flow gauge and both the Grand and Chagrin were above flood stage and the Rock wasn't too far behind. The pelting rain eventually put me to sleep as I slept comfortably under layers of blankets.

It was Wednesday and the 2nd day without power and I started to wonder how long I would be. Inside my freezer were my season supply of salmon eggs and when the power went out, I had about 48 hours before I had to do something like get dry ice or move to them to a working freezer. It was another slow day and the news reported that power companies from surrounding states were heading to Cleveland to help assist restoring power. I finished work early and as I drove down my street I noticed some lights were on. In the distance, I could see Joe's Deli was open and it brought a smile to my face. I walk in the apartment building and the hallway light. I opened the door and the furnace was roaring, the TV was on and I checked the freezer. All of the food and eggs were fine, but I had to toss the eggs, bacon, milk and lunch meat out. I headed down to Joe's to get dinner and the lobby was full. From what I heard the power was restored in the morning and fortunately I was one of the lucky ones. Many people in the lobby were there because they still had no power and they had no idea when it would come back. Communities such as Bay Village, Rocky River, Lakewood, Fairview Park and Westlake were hit the hardest. According to reports most of the power would be back by the end of the weekend.

As for the streams, they got blown out big time. In a way, it was a much needed as all of the leaves and summer silt were flushed out. Many on the Alley were chomping at the bit because many felt that was the blowout to bring in the motherload of fish. I was one of those curious to see but I knew I wouldn't be the only one. With all of Ohio's streams high and muddy, the only option was Pennsylvania. Saturday was still slightly high but I heard the Elk was a bustling place. Sunday would probably worse as the water levels would be lower and the Steelers were playing a late afternoon game. If the Elk was too crowded, I had the option to skip over to the Ashtabula. When I arrived around 6:45 there were cars parked halfway up the hill. I shrugged it off, dressed and made my way down the hill. The creek was primed as I could make out shale ledges and holes. Upstream the most popular spots were occupied and I kept walking.

The previous week I noticed a tree had fallen over and across a nice hole. The high water had pushed the tree over and opened the hole. As I walked up I watched 3 anglers pass it up because they probably felt the tree was a barrier. I crossed over and it was a typical Elk creek hole - no more than 20' long and a couple feet deep. But that was even to hide a lot of fish and it was off to the races. The first drift and I hooked into a chrome hen. Then it was fish after fish after. But it caught a lot of attention from anglers wandering upstream. I often dub these anglers as vultures. They slowly scan the creek looking for action. They can be either an experienced or a novice. They often across as friendly but I know what they're looking for - fish and to squeeze me out. Three guys watched me hooked into seven fish quickly I knew their intentions. They fished the opposite side and it was futile as the tree on my side as the top branches blocked their casts. It was a difficult spot to fly fish because of that and the trees above. I continue to hook into fish after fish considering I was fishing a spot no larger than 20'. They looked frustrated because they weren't hooking into fish. Eventually, I cleaned out the spot and moved upstream. As I walked upstream the flock of vultures quickly occupied the spot I was fishing.

The next spot I could see several anglers packing up and leaving. This section is considered one of the largest pools on the Elk. It runs 100' along with a large shale cliff and fish hold along the ledge. I didn't have my glasses with me and I really didn't need them. It's a difficult spot to fly fish because anglers would be waist deep and try to fire line 40' across with the current running amok makes mending the line a chore. I started at the head of the pool and noticed a large piece of shale sticking out the water. Picked off 2 fish from that spot. Despite the crowded conditions I never once seen a person fishing where I was. Several anglers walked by without even considering fishing it. I gradually shuffled down and the bite turned off. The weather for the day was cold, overcast and at times snow flakes appeared. The water was chilly and I had this feeling the fish might be down at the tailout. A fish rolled downstream and that was enough to get me there. I walked above the riffle and farther out from the rocks, the water gradually became murkier. From memory, this was a go to spot in the winter as fish will cram into that hole. In total, I caught eight fish all bright silver.

After cleaning that hole out it was only 11:00 A.M and I wanted to fish farther downstream. Around the corner, I could see a line of anglers and all of them were properly spaced out. Not a lot of action and another crew was fishing the hole I did well in the morning. I picked off a couple of fish in the skinny water as I gunned and runned downstream. As I continued to walk I could see 10 anglers all clustered in one spot. All of them had sour looks on their faces. That's typical on the Elk as a few do very well and a lot go home skunked. I reached the fly shop and the number of cars on the hill didn't change and some anglers at the campsite were preparing lunch. In the five hours of fishing, the creek dropped and it became clearer. By tomorrow it would go back to low and clear. The number of anglers dropped considerably as I didn't see a lot of people. The number was low enough that I passed up a couple of spots to get down to the bigger holes. There were a father and son fishing and way downstream three other anglers were fishing a pool. I slide down below and patiently waited for them to leave. Luckily they gave up and I watched them walk up and around the bend. Fish can be had on the Elk, even in the afternoon when many believe the fish were hammered all morning. I picked off 6 fish from that hole and I looked at the time, it was almost 1:00 and I were down to a dozen sacs. On the way down there was a small run that I knew held fish and it was a spot I passed over. The father and son were fishing the small shale cliff. Once again I slipped below and on the first drift it was fish on. It turned out to be a decent spot as I caught four more fish. The father yelled out what colors I was using and I told him pink and chartreuse. By then I was down to two sacs, my back was sore and stomach grumbling. The father and son were using trout beads and told me they didn't get so much a nibble. I felt bad for them as they made the drive from Pittsburgh. But, I've had those days too when nothing goes my way. I was fortunate to have a banner day I was over 20 fish for the day. The eggs and my knowledge of the creek made it possible. 

As for Ohio, were still a long time before anything becomes fishable. I'm sure both the Grand and Chagrin will look different due to the extremely high water. It looks like they fish for the upcoming weekend and all of us will be ready to get our fish on.

November 1, 2012

Deja Vu


I've been blogging my fishing adventures since 2007 and I often find myself going back to see what happened over the years. Last week, I was reading about the first trip to Elk Creek that took place on the first weekend of October of last year. The year before was one of the worst seasons I've experienced since moving to the Alley. Lousy weather and even more lousy returns. We put that horrible season behind us and hoped it was nothing more than an aberration. With fingers crossed and looking to the sky, the gods took pity of us mortals. Last season early on we were blessed with enough rain that kept the rivers at prime levels and fish moving in all of that autumn. We received our first cold weather and the Elk blew out the day before. The conditions were primed and it was a go. Armed with jars of fresh Michigan king salmon eggs, we planned our assault. It turned out to be a banner day and the Alley was rejuvenated. We had one of the warmest winters on record and that meant fishing all season - uninterrupted. 

Fast forward and so far the season was been an difficult one due to the lack of rain. Small numbers of fish have pushed in but we've have been patiently waiting. I've gone out several times had decent numbers of fish, but I knew the best was yet to come. Saturday the Elk blew out and I knew the window was opening for some prime action. I spent tying up sacs and getting the gear prepared for tomorrow's trip. Ohio State was playing a night game and I meet some friends at the local watering hole. The place was packed but we were able to secure a table in front of a big screen. The beer quickly came and I was famished. The first thing that popped out on the menu was the porky mac-n-cheese. The waitress brought out a huge bowl of penne, onions, pork, crispy pork bellies and all of it was smothered in three cheese sauce. It was that comfort food that sticks to your ribs. It was delicious and it hit the spot, Nothing better then comfort food, beer and a great football game. The Buckeyes smack the Cornhuskers around and I was slightly buzzed. We hung around after the game and it was a little after midnight. This hardcore steelheader wanted to stay longer but he needed to squeeze in some sleep before waking in a few hours. 

I was jolted out of a deep sleep when the alarm blared. I rolled over and squinted at the clock, it was 5:00A.M, I was lucky if I got four hours of sleep. I crawled out of bed and my feet touched the hardwood floors. It sent a chill up my spine and I shuffled towards the closest. I fumbled through it looking for my fishing clothes and dressed in the dark. I was still half asleep when I got the coffee maker brewing and frying pan was popping and sizzling some eggs and bacon. As breakfast was cooking, I peeked out the window and noticed the pavement was wet. The day before the weather honks said the rain was out of the area and there was a 20% chance of it for Sunday. I hit the road with a hot mug of coffee and I listened to Rory Gallagher's fine playing in the background. As I made my way through Cleveland and the eastern suburbs, it started to rain. I checked the weather app on my phone and there was nothing on the radar, so I figured it wasn't enough precipitation for the radar to pick up. As I continued east, the rain became more steady and once again I checked the weather app and nothing on the radar. I was puzzled that nothing was showing and I hoped they were isolated, because I didn't bring my fishing jacket. All I was wearing was an Under Armour long sleeve shirt, sweat shirt and a fleece jacket - not the best clothing for an all day soaker. It rained off and on and when I hit Pennsylvania the rain became more steady. I checked the flow gauge and the Elk was flowing at 3.5 which as prime as you want it. The day before Uncle John's webcam showed the Elk running the same consistence as my coffee - heavy with cream.

I pulled in and it was raining harder, by then it was first light and the clouds were very low and not in hurry to move through. By then I didn't bother checking the phone because it didn't matter, it was going to either rain or not. But it didn't matter because the spot I was fishing was the tubes and if the weather got worse, I could seek refuge deep within the tunnel and stay dry. I walked down the hill as I could hear the rain hitting the trees above. I looked down the trail and I could see 4 people fishing mostly in the faster water. If my memory serves me correct, we struggled to get into fish early on the previous year. I fished along the wall and beat it like a dead horse - nothing. My fleece jacket was hold up against the light rain and I hoped it stayed that way all day. My gut told me to venture into the tubes. I finally made my way in and the cracking of my cleats against the concrete echoed loudly up and through the tunnel. Last year we yanked fish left and right and it was a conga line as we walked our catches down and around to the shallow water to release them. In told, we probably caught about 50 fish. At first I hit nothing and started making some adjustments. Periodically, I would look downstream and see nobody was really hooking up. Farther up I heard a fish roll in the dark. I finally hit pay dirt and as I walked around the corner Dave showed up. Talk about perfect timing and I asked him is he brought some of his mojo. The fish were inside the tunnel and the both us had a great time. But good times must come to an end as we cleaned out the spot and I had to venture out into the rain.

We walked downstream it was fish after fish out of every hole. It continued to rain but it didn't seem to effect the creek at all. It was a typical Elk Creek day when the water is dirty as we hit into double digits. A lot feisty fresh chrome that kept me on my toes and by then my hat was completely soaked as was my jacket. There was no way I was coming off the creek - never. I could be dripping wet and shivering and I would of tough it out. That's the sign of a hardcore steelheader. After a while both me and Dave went seperate ways as he was getting ready to head home. I drove farther upstream to another spot that had several deep holes along the shale ledges. It was early afternoon and I noticed nobody was fishing. When a hot spot is vacant on the Elk, the morning crews have usually worked the holes over. But, sometimes the bite might be off in the morning or fish moved in later in the day. It turned out that nothing was biting and it was good timing. It was like the floodgates were opened from above and the deluge commenced. That was enough for me as I started the long walk back. Walking along the trail I got pelted and sloughed through the mud. When I finally made it back, I felt a sense of relief as I started remove my jacket and shirt. Luckily, I always bring along fresh shirts, pants and socks. My lucky Leafs hat was placed on the floor mat to dry as I started to make my way back to Ohio. On the way home, I stopped by for some hot chili and coffee and that hit the spot. 

I found it ironic that I had the same results from almost a year ago. Fished the same spots, the creek was running dirty and the only thing different was the rain. It will be interesting to see what next year has in store for me.