I loathe crowds. This is is the result of me being spoiled growing up and fishing in Northern Ontario where I had a plethora of lakes, rivers and creeks to fish from. There were hardly any crowds, nobody talking politics, nobody trying to lowhole me or trying to bum a caught fish. But I knew sooner or later, I would be exposed to the urban life. I got a taste of an urban fishery, when I went to college not far from Toronto. I was blown away at the number of people and was exposed to the worst types of anglers I've ever seen. It took every ounce of strength in me not to deck somebody. I can't stand stupid people and unfortunately a lot of urban areas have a lot of them. Cleveland is no where as bad as Toronto. But I do have ways to deal with crowds.
Generally on weekends during the spring, I prefer to fish way up river. These sections are more rural and you have to a lot of water. Fairweather anglers detest walking far because it might damage their waders or boots. Most of them are out of shape so walking farther then the nearest hole is out of the question. But, today we decided to hit the lower section very early. I wasn't really keen on the idea but we enough people that we could tie the best section. There were a couple of cars already there and it didn't bother me. During the spring you start to see more fly fishermen and we know where most of them go. As we walked down I could see three guys on the first gravel bar - perfect. The pool below was ours and we started picking off mostly skippers. The action was fast and furious for the first hour but it dropped it after that. We struggled to get into fish as we shuffled down. It was mid morning when I made the call - road trip.
We drove to one of the Lake County metro parks located on the middle section of the river. We pulled into the lot and it was packed. From the type of vehicles we could see, I knew they weren't bird watchers or hikers. They were the weekend warriors pillaging the feeder creek and I felt confident that we wouldn't have a problem finding a spot on the river. On the way down to the river, we had to walk along the creek. It was low and clear and fish were trapped in the small pools and holes. Most of the anglers were farther up where the creek is wider and deeper. We arrived at the river to see only person fishing and nobody was down stream at the long pool. Once again it was a slow as we caught a few here and there. Time was limited and I made the call to go even farther up. To punctuate the dreary morning, on the way back to the lot Bubba decided to fish a hole about the size of my bath tub. He wanted to do for shits and giggles and I would never thought the fish would take the bait, but it did. I suspected the fish want to end its life and be spared the constant harassment from the hordes of hillbillies over the next couple of weeks. To add insult to injury Bubba released it and the fish was resigned to its fate of being snagged and clubbed over the head by some dirtbag in the not to distant future.
The upper section was where all of the action because that's where all the gravel is and the dam prevents any fish from going over. We were lucky to find a parking spot. There was a lot of fish and the majority of them were still on the gravel. People who fish redds are pieces of shit in my book. I don't consider them anglers, but inept slobs who can't fish. We were in dropback mode and found plenty of them in the numerous runs and pocket water. Drop backs are jizzed out males and spent females. Bubba joked that they were off the gravel having a cigarette after an intense week of fornication. Droppies can be nasty looking, males have numerous scars and bite marks from scraps with other males. The hens are in no better shape, they look emaciated from digging out gravel. Then there is being snagged and flossed off the gravel every day. You would think they would fight like a water logged boot, instead they do fight like a mother. We ended up with a decent day and walking paid off as we managed to score fish in nearly every spot we fished.
The next day I would be fishing solo for most of the day. Bubba only got a half day pass from the warden and he limited to where he could fish. I fished with him for several hours and wandered farther downstream to scout out some water for the upcoming float. I pounded a lot of water and managed a few here and there. I walked until I hit the 2 mile marker and started the long laborious walk back to the lot. The closer I go to the access point I could see rows of anglers working the water where the fish were spawning. I found some open water and knew it held a lot of droppies. The first fish took off like a rocket and I'm amazed how well it fought considering it expended more energy I could ever muster in a weekend with vodka and Viagra. But the number of people was too much and I drove to another spot for the afternoon.
The highlight of the day was when I pulled into same metro park the day before. I could see two hillbillies walking with 8 steelhead hanging from a long branch. I fumbled about looking for my camera and cursed myself for not having it next to me as it would been my crowning achievement in fishing photography. It was a sight indeed as those hillbillies were happier than a baby in a barrel full of titties. There were two fly fishermen looking in disbelief as they dropped all of the fish on the pavement and dumped them in a bucket. You were either appalled or laughing your ass off at the sight of it. They were fishing the feeder creek and I'll bet my left nut that none of them were caught legit. In tow were a litter of young ones and I'm sure they were excited for the fish fry at Uncle Goober's cabin.
I walked along the feeder creek and noticed a old man tormenting the poor fish that Bubba released yesterday. As I turned back I could of swore I saw a white flag emerge from the water. What made it more pathetic was the river was in prime condition and there was nobody fishing at the mouth. It turned out be a slow couple of hours as I found fish on the gravel and caught one spawned out hen. There is a small chance of rain on Wednesday and if it doesn't rain most if not all of the rivers will be running low and clear. The majority of fish will have wrapped up spawning and start to drop back into the deeper pools and holes. The best is yet to happen and be patient............