November 24, 2011

Calm Before The Storm

Steelhead Alley has its own version of Black Friday. Just like shoppers that cringe at the thought of hundreds of people beating one another just to get the 3 laptop computers listed at $299.00 even though the smart shopper on Cyber Monday can buy online without freezing their ass off waiting in line for hours. The same can be said about the streams the day after when everybody needs to escape from the mother-in-law. The streams are often packed and this is the reason why I often skip Black Friday and sleep well into the morning.

Lucky for me, I have no family commitments, so I can stay out as long as I desire on Thanksgiving. During past turkey day outings, I've often thought about my fellow steelheaders trapped at home with their mother-in-law, going to different grocery stores looking for cranberry sauce or entertaining 10 kids. I'm sure all of them were wishing they were on the river. It was refreshing to have an entire river to myself and after a long day I was the only car left in the lot.

A couple days ago we received rain that bumped the streams up. I was more than happy because I'm off all of next week and the other bonus is both Ohio and Pennsylvania's deer hunting season start Monday. Wednesday night I watched the flow gauge on the Elk start to slip into the "kiss your wife's ass to get out" zone. All of Ohio's streams were still too high to fish, so it was across the border we go. Since the others could only fish the morning, we drove separately as I wanted to stay longer. We pulled in at first light and nobody was there. We walked down and the creek was dirty and somewhere in that murkiness were a lot of fish. The guys fished near the first access and I wandered a bit downstream. The spot I fished cut hard into the shale wall that ran about 50 yards. Off of the main current is where the fish usually hold. Sure enough, that's where they were. It wasn't deep, maybe 3' but deep enough to hide them. It was a mixed bag of fresh and older fish. Once in a while I would look upstream to get the others attention to see if they wanted to move to new water. We gradually moved downstream and started hitting fish in every spot.

As I've said in the past, nothing beats a uncured egg. There is something about an all natural egg. Cured eggs will work but I liken them to somebody seasoning a steak with BBQ sauce or lacing it with secret spices - some people will like it and others not. I tend to use uncured eggs, but I'll carry cured ones just in case the fishes palette changes. Today, I called out my fish when I using uncured eggs. This can be done on the Elk when it's dirty and unpressured. It was a hoot when I placed a fresh sac on the hook, cast out and watch the float go under. Bubba demanded that I stop hoarding my eggs as it was the day of giving. I begrudgingly gave in and tossed him one egg. Sure enough he hooked into a fish and I just chuckled as I handed him another. 

Eventually the others had to leave and I wished them a Happy Thanksgiving and wonder how many dishes they would have to wash after dinner. At least they would have some decent football games to watch especially the Packers and Loins. I wondered upstream and it had been some time since I fished it. I passed a couple of people that lucky for them lived in the Erie area so they were in no rush to get home. I picked up some fish in deeper pools and tailouts along the cliffs and walls. These were definitely places to come back to next week. 

As for Friday, I'll bet the farm that the Elk will be packed as out streams will still be too high. Every person I talked to said the same thing and they too were taking a pass tomorrow. I was happy that I got first dibs on fish and tomorrow I'll be snoring as others will be racing to the best spots.

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