October 18, 2008

The Night Owl


Once in a while I love to fish in the dark. There is something special about it. The eerie feeling of walking down a pitch black trail. Hearing the rustling of some unknown creature in the surrounding woods. I remember times stumbling through the woods on my way to a far off hole or pool. I would be hours ahead of the other anglers. Finally reaching the spot and panting and breathing heavily. You see your breath as the headlamp shines out towards the water. 

Whenever I fish in the dark, whether its' early in the morning or in the evening. I like to use the Blue Fox lighted float or a LED light stick. Unfortunately none of the local tackle shops carried the floats at the time. The latest trick in my fishing arsenal are these LED lights I bought for my floats. In the past I've used glo sticks for floats, but I was never satisfied with the results as they often made the floats tip over or easily pop off whenever a fish took the bait. These lights are about the size a fuse you use for a speaker. They're made in Japan and with 127 million people crammed onto a bunch of islands, I'm sure a lot of folks are into night fishing. The lights are waterproof and have about 20 hours of use. The plastic sleeve was too large to fit properly on a Raven or Hi-Viz float, but I found it fit perfectly on a Drennan bobber. But I wished I had one of those Blue Foxes.

I drove out east in the wee hours and arrived at the river around 4:30 in the morning. Obviously there wasn't any cars or people. But I was still vigilant as I've had some shady characters pull over and ask me for either a smoke or spare change. I wouldn't have any problems here in this sleepy little town. With my headlamp on I slowly strolled down to the river. The crickets chirped quietly and slowly. The moon had a light haze from the high clouds. Overhead I hear the faint sounds of a commercial airliners flying high above. It's a short walk to the first spot no more than 10 minutes. I scan the water with the headlamp and it's in perfect condition. I had everything set up and with a click, it was fishing time. The light was very visible and I could detect when I was starting to hit bottom. Once I made the adjustments, I watched the float go under hard as it was the first fish of the morning. For an hour it was steady fishing as I had my hands full battling fish in the pitch dark. Drifting along the slot and towards the tailout was the ticket.

Every once in a while I would look back and then I could see headlamps in the distance. Three anglers showed up in the dark and basically staked out their turf. Since they had no way to fish in the dark, they watched me catch more fish and I overhead one them saying 

"Shit, he's going to clean this hole out before first light" 

I smirked and continued to fish. They shuffled off farther upstream to stake another spot. Smart move on their part. 

A couple more guys showed up and I noticed they were taping on those goofy glo sticks. I ignored them and I watched them lose one after another as they found that troublesome snag I found earlier in the morning. Several more people showed up and they were milling about in the dark. One them asked 

"Are you hitting them?"

I looked back and nodded with a big grin. I thought they would of moved along, but they didn't. Probably thought I was pulling their chain in the hopes they would leave. Some anglers will never believe anything coming out of another angler's mouth. I hadn't had a hit in over a half hour. I had my fill and let them fight over the scraps - suckers.

Once the sun started coming up the fish pretty well shutdown for the rest of the morning. I banged nearly every holes and pool for about a mile and managed to catch a couple of fish. It was very tough and then I noticed a tea stained color as a result of the tannin from the leaves. Whenever leaves start rotting in the water, they release a weak acid and trout are very sensitive to changes in the PH level. This can result in fish not feeding and often ignoring presentations. A lot of the trees had yet to shed their leaves. As it was a couple of weeks ago, the river was elbows and assholes. I looked at the time it was 10:30A.M and was working on my 3rd container of eggs. I grew quickly bored and needed a change of scenery. I jumped in the Jeep and drove west in search of more fish. When I arrived at the river was much higher and stained, but it was fishable in my book. I tried for an hour and got nothing, not even a stinkin chub. I decided to head home and crashed on the couch.

Sunday the night owl slept in and woke around 6:00A.M, it was very cold this morning as I figured the temperature was in the 30s, I stopped at the gas station and got a large cup of java for the trip out east. Today, I decided to stick closer to home and fished the Grand. The river was covered in mist and the water level dropped considerable from the day before. I fished the lower section and I knew I would be fishing in company. It didn't take long to hear those words I hate hearing "Good morning, any luck?" - shit. I looked back to see three guys set up shop around me. I grunted "no fish" and I would be moving to another spot shortly. It didn't take long to hook up with the first fish of the morning. The take was light and I thought it was another chub so I didn't set the hook hard. The rod jolted and I knew this wasn't a chub, the guys around pulled their lines out and let me fight the fish. I was surprised considering this was downtown Painesville as this section of the Grand is fished by some the biggest dolts I've ever seen. It was a nice male in his full spawning colors. The two other anglers around me hooked into a couple of fish, but it was a slow morning. One of the guys chattered up a storm and I slowly started to develop a headache. To relieve that headache, I moved upstream. I managed one fish that immediately wrapped himself around a log and after an hour I got no takers.

I drove to another metro park and walked down to the river. In the distance, there was a gaggle of fly fishermen in one section. In the past, I found it too be one of the most productive spots on the lower Grand, but getting in line and waiting wasn't my cup of tea. I continued to walk down and fished a section full of lumber. By now the sky was bright and I knew the fish would be seeking cover. I fished along the slot and the float slightly tapped, once again I thought it was another pesky chub and lightly pulled the line. The float shot under and I felt the rod jolt and watched a bright silver hen explode from the water. The fish made so much noise from jumping the other anglers upstream all looked downstream. It was a chore keeping her from going under the logs, but I was able to apply side pressure and quickly beached her. I managed to catch a couple more from the section. The high sun, bright sky and the morning crowd all took their toll and decided to call it a day around 1:00P.M, only to go home and watch the Browns implode.

Most of the fish moving into Ohio's streams are PA steelhead and this is the reason for the small number of them. If you know the rivers well and are willing to cover a lot of distance, you'll catch fish. Areas of easy access are getting pounding and the fair weather fishermen are trying to squeeze as much fishing as possible before November. If we get no rain this week, all of the rivers will be back to low and no flow. Ohio's strain of steelhead - the Manistee is a winter/spring run fish and they usually don't show up until mid-November.


lambton said...

Nice report and photos Greg.
Glad you are managing in this mediocre start to the season. This false promise of precipitation is getting old isn't it? Bring on the good old fashioned downpour and let's get this season a rollin.
I hope to spend a few days over your way when the cold cold weather brings in the Manistee's. Until then It will be Lake Huron and Michigan for me.
You wouldn't be fishing the dark now to hide that pink King Pin would ya? ;0) joking...

Greg Lum said...

Pink reel, purple reel, everybody calls me the homo pinner.

We're suppose to get rain this weekend and the temps are to be in the low 40s next week. Rivers need a good flushing.

Trotsky said...

Night Sticks on the floats...
I admire your tenacity I suppose.LOL
Desperate times call for drastic measures..
Even the confirmed sightings of Bear and Puma don't the turdballs off the river in our neck of the woods.
..And BTW...what is wrong with the Browns...sheesh