January 25, 2013

Another Botched Weather Report


I've come to the conclusion that reporting the weather is either done by throwing darts at a board or spinning the wheel. With all of the latest technology such as Doppler radar, anonometers, barometers, and computer modeling programs, you would think the accuracy would be much better. But reporting the weather today, is still an educated guess. 

Over the years, I've watched storms slowly make their way to the Alley, only to see it veer at the last minute. Instead of a half an inch, a couple of drops fall. It was like that for the weekend as the Alley got a brief taste of spring. Just as fast as the first significant snowfall of the new year came, it was gone within a week. The streams were a boiling mess of brown and debris. None of Ohio's streams were going to fish for the weekend. The only option was Pennsylvania, but there was the threat of more rain and supposedly a lot of it. It was a massive wave of rain stretching all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes. It didn't look great - 90% of rain and predicting a half inch of it. So what does the hardcore steelheader do - he'll roll the dice.

On the computer, I played the future storm tracking feature. It showed the rain going over and east of Cleveland. If the streams got blown out, all I had to do was cure the sacs I tied the night before and wait for the water to drop. Before I went to bed I looked outside and the parking lot was dry. I didn't bother to set the alarm for the standard 5:30 in the morning, instead I set for an unheard of 8:00 because I wanted to get some extra sleep.

The alarm buzzed and I peeked out the window - no rain. I checked the flow gauge and the Elk dropped to 15. That meant it was probably dirty water and I was fine with that. I bombed along I-90 with the stereo cranking out ironically Stevie Ray Vaughan's Couldn't Stand the Weather. I arrived to see eight cars ahead of me and for me it was no big deal. Half of them were vehicles from Ohio. As I mentioned before I can tell who a bait and fly fishermen by the vehicles they drive. There were several pickups, a Cadillac SUV, a couple of European sedans, Honda Civic and my piece of shit Cherokee. It wasn't hard to figure out who was who. The Elk was on the high side and dirty. As expected the first spot is where the anglers piled into. I never understood why people insist fishing together at the first spot.  They were the LL Bean hole beaters and I smirked as I walked by. It was a bee line for the monster pool upstream.



I finely made it to see one angler vacating. He shrugged with a look of bewilderment and defeat. He slowly shuffled upstream in the hopes of better luck. The current cut along the shale ledges and rocks. I watched the speed of the bubbles and there was a spot where the current slowed down. I put a big juicy pink sac on a number 8 Kamasan hook. I love Kamasan hooks because they extremely sharp and tough enough I could pull a V8 block off the bottom. I positioned the float along the seam and it got sucked under. No tap-tappy-tap-tap bullshit take down. I watched the fish launch itself out of the water. It charged clear across the pool and down towards the tailout. It was a beautiful fresh hen that probably came in several days ago. I banged away and picked off nothing but fresh hens. If it was November, I would be smashing them. But January the fishing is usually tougher as most of Pennsylvania's steelhead have wrapped up spawning. The only threat of rain was when the wind whipped up and a series of dark black clouds moved in quickly. It was all for not as just as quick it came it left without even spitting a drop. 

The bite at the pool eventually shut off and I started to head back downstream and in the faster water, I could make the shape and silhouette of fish on the gravel. The water was warm enough to trigger them to hit it. I stood there and watched the hen flash and a couple of males moved in. Below was a tree in the water and the faster water cut along the main trunk. There was a nice pod of fish holding in the faster water. Unlike the fish above, these fish caught were spawned out. Due to my late start, I wanted to head downstream. As expected when I headed upstream, I could see 6 guys all crammed into another spot. The one guy I passed 4 hours ago managed to move an incredible 20' from his previous spot. He mumbled that the fishing sucked. I wanted to say no shit sherlock and I gave him that "oh well" expression. Another guy asked if the fishing was better where I came from and I replied "it sucked" the reason I said that was because he was of Eastern European descent. There are three types of anglers that annoy me - hillbillies, speytards, and Eastern Europeans. I merrily moved along and picked off some fish downstream. 

I got back on the highway and it was a quick 15 minute drive to the next spot. I drove down a series of rural roads and I could see one car at a popular spot. I was somewhat surprised. I continued to drive and when I pulled in to see not one car. That's either a good or bad sign. The last time I fished this spot, it was early October and I was forced to park in the second lot. Then it was excuse me, pardon me, excuse me, pardon me as I squeezed me way into my spot. For a couple of hours, I was forced to work a section not bigger than my bathroom. This afternoon, the playground was all mine. As I fished along the wall it was obvious why nobody was here - the fishing was terrible. This section was altered by the hurricane. It was much more shallow and wider. I managed to catch a couple of skippers. There was a family visiting from out of state and they wanted to see the lake. As we talked, one of the kids told me my bobber was gone. I looked to see it gone and I pulled back. The rod bend and I felt the fish go upstream. They oh'ed and ah'ed when the fish jumped. They were surprised to hear that I thought steelhead tasted awful considering it was a trout. They left and wished me luck. I finished up with a drop back hen and I was satisfied with the results of the day. 

It was getting dark when I hit the highway and it was dark when the shining skyline of Cleveland appeared in the distance. I'm sure a lot of my fellow steelheaders were kicking themselves in the ass for not going out. Next week, the Alberta clipper will be making its arrival in town - oh joy!

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