October 2, 2013

Tug Is The Drug


Last week, I got my first taste of steel fishing off the breakwall, unfortunately it lasted all but five seconds. Due to the lack of rain, conditions were less than ideal on the streams. But, scouting paid off as I found fish in one stream. All we needed was rain and that happened just in time for the weekend. I looked out of the window Saturday morning and it brought a smile to my face - it was pouring. Throughout the day, I watched the flow gauge creep higher and higher and eventually everything blew out. I knew a couple of streams that would more than likely fish tomorrow. That morning, I dug deep into the bowels of the freezer and found my box of salmon eggs that I froze from last October. Despite being frozen for nearly a year, there wasn't any signs of freezer burn. I left them the fridge for thaw for the day. Today, was park my ass on the couch and watch football.

Today, I tuned into one of the biggest mismatches in sports. Ohio State was playing Florida A&M Rattlers. It would be the equivalent of a NFL team playing a Pop Warner team. Before the season started both Vanderbilt and Cincinnati had second thoughts of playing of the Buckeyes and quickly dropped out. Ohio State had to scramble looking for an opponent. Florida boldly accepted the challenge and many thought it would be a slaughter. The Buckeyes were 50 plus point favorites and right from the start the Buckeyes put the petal to the metal and immediately scored. They ran and passed at will, ran plays on 4th down with ease and deflated the entire Florida team by the beginning of the 2nd quarter. Starting quarterback Braxton Miller was injured and back up quarterback Kenny Guiton put on a clinic and he sliced and diced the Rattlers. By halftime it was 55-0 and second and third stringers came in. I just sat on the couch and laughed. The Buckeyes never threw a pass in the 2nd half and ran the ball. They blew through holes and racked up the yardage. Urban Meyer wasn't going to let the foot off the gas and they were going to run up the score. They could of had the cheerleaders come in and still won. When it was all said and done, the final score was 76-0, an Ohio State record. It was an epic ass kicking, a rout, and complete annihilation. For their troubles, Florida A&M were handed a $900,000 check for being jolly good sports - thanks for coming out and getting spanked. Lucky for Florida the game wasn't televised nationally. The critics love to point out that scheduling these inferior opponents aka cupcakes does nothing for the game. But for the elite programs, cupcakes are just to addictive and delicious to pass up. Most of the time it's nothing more than a scrimmage or practice. Thankfully after this season, the Big Ten will not schedule FCS schools anymore.

Sunday morning I woke very early, unfortunately I also went to bed very late. I was lucky to get three hours of sleep. I wolfed down breakfast, called a friend and headed down to the metro park to meet him. I sat in the dark, slurped coffee and wanted to go back to sleep. I knew I would be a wreck driving back home later. Dave showed up and we head out east. We arrived at the lower section of the stream at first light and to our surprise there was only one car. We walked down to the stream and it was running slightly dirty. How many fish came in would be evident once we dropped our bait in the water. It turned out to be slow as Dave hooked into a measly skipper. I started working the pool and pocket water. I started to wonder if my eggs were in fact green eggs and stinky ham as I was posting a shut out. I worked the bubble line and watched the float go under. I set the hook and felt a surge and then it was gone. I guess you can chalk it up to rust. Rusty on hook sets and I was more rusty when it came to walking in the river. I tripped, slipped and did the splits. Eventually, I'll get back my river legs.

Finally I hooked into the first fish of the season. The float popped and I felt that sharp tug. The fish surged and the rod bent. I gingerly applied pressure as I didn't want to force the issue. I'll never get tired of the tug whether it's a skipper or a 15 pounder. The fish turned out to be your typical PA cookie cutter mutt - 24" and four pounds. It fought like a mother and I was reminded why I love steelhead so much. It turned out to be quiet morning as we seen 7 other fish caught. Not your typical PA outing but it's still September. We drove to the access and there wasn't that many people out. There was plenty of room of fish without worrying tangling lines or getting a face full of rod. The water was dirty and on the opposite side where we fished it was sesspool of mud and leaves. The stream needs a serious flushing. It was a snorefest as I only seen one fish caught. We became restless and decided to head to another stream. We arrived to see it boiling in mud and that was a good enough reason to start heading back. The both of us knew better days were ahead.