November 17, 2012
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.