Vacations are never long enough. It's Monday morning and I'm heading to work. Inching along in traffic, its back to the grind. I'm not thrilled at the prospect walking into the office and looking in my box to see nothing. Winter is usually a quiet time for me. It's either feast or famine when it comes to work. I enter the building and I see some of my co-workers who ask how the vacation was. I said the fishing was great and I wished I had another week. They nod in agreement. I look at the calender and sigh, next November seems so far away.
The vacation was needed as the grind of a busy season wore me out. The last time I took vacation was in early April and you guessed it, I was out fishing. I couldn't bare the thought of taking time off during the summer. That's the time to make as much money as possible. Those huge bonuses and overtime, fueled me to go all out. I had all winter to kick back and relax.
I look at the schedule and there's odd jobs for the week, enough to get me out of the office. But for the time being I sit a chair back in the break room and drink my coffee. I have a couple hours to kill before I head out to my first job. I start to reminisce about the week I had off. The entire week hitting different streams along the Alley. Even though it was my vacation week, I still got up early. I drove in the dark on my way out east. I wanted to be on the trail at first light. I wasn't going to dick around. I had a plan on where to fish. Since I was single, I was going to fish until I either ran out of bait or light. It was like that nearly every day.
Unfortunately when you're on the streams all day, time flies. Before you know it, it's Friday and there's two more days before the fun times are over. There are times I wished I could retire early like my father or win the lottery. I spend nearly every waking moment on the streams. One of the guys we fished with just retired from GM and that was last we saw of him. I don't blame him, why would I want to fish on the weekend with the hoards? He had the rest of life to get out and fish. As I'm sitting finishing off my coffee, I wouldn't be surprised if he's down at the Rock fishing alone. I feel a ting of envy thinking about it. I cherish the one week I had. If I make it to ten years at the company, I'll get another week of vacation and that's eight years away.
Hopefully I can make it to ten years, because another week off would help make the grind that more easy.
Any hardcore angler knows that the weathermen is wrong most of the time. Last night they tossed the dart at the board and it came up as lake effect snows and they would be severe at times. Lake effect snow is often hit and miss and today it completely missed out where I was fishing. The roads were wet and I bombed down the interstate without breaking a sweat. It was chilly when I started fishing not to long I was fighting with ice build-up on the guides. This was the only annoyance with the cold, as last week I spent a ton of dough on winter clothing. Last season I got tired of getting cold after several hours of fishing. I wasn't a tightwad as I bought several Under Armour coldgear undershirts and longjohns, Polartec fleece pants, fleece jacket, and a toque. If this was last year, I would of been squealing about the cold and today I didn't even feel it. As for the weather you couldn't ask for nicer conditions - partly cloudy with periods of sun. A friend of mine was surprised that it didn't snow as he cancelled his trip today.
It was nice to see snow again and nicer to see my nemesis the fair weather fishermen absent from the water. As expected with colder temps, the fish parked themselves at the tail end of the pools or off the main current. Even with the colder water, all of the fish fought very hard and a couple leaped from the water. Most of the fish were in their full winter colors and the hens had full bellies of eggs. The fishing wasn't bad and the key was staying mobile as I bounced around from spot to spot and had most of them to myself.
Old man winter will be hanging around for most of the week. On the way back home, most of the other streams are still a day away from being fishable. The eastside as expected received more snow and during the day some of it was melting from the trees and cliffs. Another cold front to arrive later this week and drop the temps below 32F for Friday and Saturday - the diehards will be smiling and the fairweather fishermen will be marking off the days until April...........
As expected the beginning of my vacation starts off with what else - rain. Yes we needed a lot of it to flush out the leaves, summer silt and trigger a big push of fish. But could it wait at least another week! This is the chance I took when booking off time in November, as the weather is so unpredictable. Last night the weather honks were calling for rain all day Saturday and on Sunday the bottom drops out as temps are to be in the 30s all of next week -lovely. Last November, I started my vacation week with rivers in Ohio blown out and I had to jump across the border to get my fishing fix. As it turned out I had the best day fishing wise in the 10 years of living in Steelhead Alley. But this year, I might be in for a tough time as a bunch of Alberta clippers (what's a clipper named that enters Alberta?). But this Canuck can deal with some harsh conditions.
Last night I checked the radar and noticed the rain wouldn't start until early Saturday morning. That was plenty of time to get in some fishing before the water got too high. That evening I tied up a ton of sacs and went to bed later then usual as I knew I wouldn't have to beat anybody to the river. When I left it was still relatively warm and lightly rained the entire way out. I arrived at 6:30A.M, there were no cars to be seen. I looked at the river it was in perfect condition, I figured I had at least 7 hours of fishing before the river started to blow out. I stuck to the lower end and fished the faster water as the river was still warm. It was a mixed bag of skippers and plump adults. Some of the fish were on the large size and with the warmer water temperature, a couple of them ripped off some nice runs. As the morning progressed the water levels came up, but the visibility held. Nearly all of the fish were hold in shallow water right in the middle of the bubble line or at the head of the riffles and runs.
The rain on the other hand didn't let up as a couple of anglers around me that didn't have waterproof jackets bailed after a couple of hours. I was lucky enough to get a spot under the bridge and enjoyed the period of fishing without having to wipe water off my glasses. The fishing was off and on as several would be caught and then the bite would shut off. I was going to fish as long as possible as I knew the river wouldn't be fishable for at least 3 to 4 days. I moved downstream not far from the lake and I meet up with a friend. We knew some fish were staging at the lower end waiting to come up. As the water levels started to rise we noticed waves of fish moving up as we would bang fish quickly and then it died off. Once I used up all of my sacs I called it a day as I looked like a soaked rat and it was a good call. On the way back home I hit the cold front and the wind really picked up. The lake turned nasty as the winds shifted from the south to the northwest.
Now we're offically into winter steelheading. The fair weather fishermen will be parked on the couch for the duration of the year and the true diehards will be on the prowl. Fishing in the Buckeye State will be out of the question for most of the week as nearly an inch of rain fell. We'll she if ole Red is up to the challenge driving through the heart of the snowbelt.
Today ushered in November and many of the diehard steelheaders welcomed Daylight Savings with an extra hour of sleep. Another bonus was the lower gas prices as I filled up the Jeep the night before with gas at $1.86 per gallon. That's a far cry from a couple months ago when gas was almost $4.00 per gallon. With the lower fuel costs, I was more willing to rack up the miles in search of steel. I took the Saturday off as I fished pretty hard the day before and my knees needed a break. It was refreshing to sleep in. I spent the afternoon at Gander Mountain buying some clothes for the upcoming winter. They had great deals on socks, sweaters and long underwear. After that I spent the rest of the day stinking up the kitchen as I tied a ton of sacs for Sunday.
The weather was to be warmer and that meant my old nemesis would be out - fairweather fishermen and hillbillies. I left in the pitch dark and I wasn't that groggy considering it was really 5:30A.M. This is the time of the year to be cautious during the early hours as the rut is on here in Northeastern Ohio. All over the local highways there is a fair share of carcasses littering the median and blood splats on the road. Wired with a week's worth of caffeine, I made it to the river around 6:00A.M and I could see about 6 cars parked. I pretty well knew where all of the folks were fishing and I walked upstream to one of my favorite spots.
It was still dark and with a click, I started fishing. I have to admit that those float lights are killer and a couple of friends asked me to get them some. It was a chilly morning as I noticed ice forming on the guides. I fished tailouts and it was a chore to get a bite. The water had a perfect color, some of the leaves were washed away and most of the fish probably had very little pressure. For two hours, I banged one section from top to bottom and had two fish for my efforts. By know it was 8:00A.M and I packed up and walked around the bend, in the distance I could see a lot of people fishing upstream. I knew how this morning was going to shape up - elbows and assholes. I walked downstream and I could see a ton of people, as I walked on the bridge I looked down and noticed one spot wasn't being fished. I've learned over the years that you never leave any stone unturned and I apply this to fishing. Most people would decline fishing it since it's so close to the bridge, thinking it was probably pounded earlier. I casted out and on the first drift the float tapped and it was a chrome hen that hit a peach sac. I quickly caught a couple more fish and several people downstream looked surprised considering I whacked them so quickly. But this was a small hole and probably a small number of fish. I looked the time and it was 10:00A.M and I had a hankering to move another river. I called a buddy up fishing farther upstream and he told me it was a zoo. I knew where he was fishing and I didn't want to take a number and wait in line.
I hopped in the Jeep and drove west. I had one section I wanted to fish and this early in the season can be a crap shot. Either there will be fish or none at all. I pulled into the parking lot and got out. I looked downstream and didn't see a soul. My curiosity got the better of me and I figured what the hell. I walked along the river and you couldn't ask for better conditions, the water was slightly stained and the flow was perfect. I fished a favorite spot and managed a couple of fish in two hours of fishing. I figured most of the fish were still downstream and still making their way upstream. I walked back and drove to the lower section, thinking that most of the people were at home watching the Browns. I headed to one of the metro parks and walked downstream. In the distance, I could see four anglers and there was plenty of room to get off some Olympic distance drifts. This was a nice flat with some depth that flowed into a bend and a pile of lumber. The flow was fast, so I pulled all of the shots down to the bottom about 14" from the hook. I set the float at 4' and cranked out a long cast. I feathered the pin to slow down the float, but I had no takers for a while. It was early afternoon and I wonder if there were a lot of sore jaws on the bottom. Undaunted, I start to shuffle my way down and it I hit the first fish - a large male. I managed some fish and looked at the time 3:30P.M and sun was starting to get low. I was satisfied with the day and gave some poor soul the rest of uncured eggs as he was posting a goose egg. I gave him some pointers and wished him luck. On the way home I listened the Browns cough up a 14 point lead and eventually lose to the Ratbirds.
Sounding like a broken record, the streams will be low and clear in a couple of days. We'll be getting a small dose of Indian summer this week as the temps are to be in the upper 60s and low 70s. I think the fish will push their way upstream regardless of the flow. Counting down the days for vacation week.