Gobble, Gobble

Couldn't ask for a nicer day to go fishing than on Thanksgiving. It was especially nice that most of the steelheaders couldn't weasel their way into a day of fishing. The in laws, the honey to do list or peeling an endless pile of potatoes. Because I knew tomorrow, the rivers would their version of Black Friday. Even though I have the day off, I'll be more than happy to sleep in and instead of parking on a spot in the dark waiting for first light, only to hear the voices and splashing in the water as more anglers take up their places at the pools. 

Due the warmer temperatures most of the snow melted and the streams came up. I knew of several that would be borderline and I was the guinea pig for several others hoping to wet a line for tomorrow. I received the calls early in the morning and gave the thumbs up and resumed fishing. Some of them pissed and moaned, that they couldn't get out. The morning crowd showed up and frantically fished before the dreaded calls came in. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. By noon, I had the river to myself and I enjoyed it as much as possible. It's rare to enjoy solitude on some of Steelhead Alley's streams at the high of the fall run.

Fishing was tough as the water was high, stained and colder than a witches tittie. But I found several players, including one hog that wouldn't budge from the tailout. But I managed to screw that up as I took my time and the fish got fed up and turned and burned into the chute - snap. It was mostly fresh fish hanging out at the tailouts that hit quarter sized sacs in pink or chartreuse. After exhausting my supply of bait, I went for a drive to see the longest covered bridge in the U.S . I heard all of the hub-bub when it first opened for the general public to see. It's pretty high up almost a 100' and I doubt the Amish will fish from it unlike another covered bridge in the same county. 

Back To The Grind

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.

Just Another Outing

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...........

Deja Vu All Over Again

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.

Another Lame Election

On November 4th, Americans finally ended the most obnoxious election I've ever seen. I was ready to fire a brick through the TV because of the non stop commercials. I was bombarded with robo-calls for both Obama and McCain. I sick of Joe the Plumber ( in Canada he would be Pierre de Plumber ) bullshit. This is the price I pay for living in the battleground state of Ohio. Why can't Ohio be irrelevant like Vermont or Iowa? Then there were the college kids knocking on doors asking to register people and I having to tell me "Your the 5th person to ask me to register and I can't vote because I'm not a U.S citizen" All of them looked like your typical young liberal - unkempt looking, probably had a hacky sac on them and lived on a diet of hemp and rice crackers. I even had one guy say I spoke good English for a foreigner huh? 

The U.S election is crazy compared to Canada. I remember my ex-wife getting the absentee ballots for the last two elections and there was everything from president right down to the dog catcher. There was federal, state, local, county judges, county commissioners, school issues, fire and where should the mail box be placed and so on. She spent hours poking out those stupid chads. I remember voting in Canada for prime minister and there were 5 choices and checked off your party and that was it.

As soon as the economy went into the shitter, McCain was basically screwed. It was Obama's election to lose and as soon as the T.V hacks made their predictions that Obama won Ohio, it was over. No candidate running for president that didn't win Ohio - lost. McCain didn't do that badly, but was a shit kicking for the Republicans. Since I'm considered middle class that means most politicians couldn't give a shit about me once the election is over. Everbody at work has asked me what socialism is like and I reply "You'll find out soon enough".

Obama has a huge mess on his hands. The big 3 in Detroit are hanging by a thread, there is no money left to spread around, and everybody is broke. It's going to be a Merry Christmas this year...........

The X-1 reel

Newsflash! It rained for more then 2 hours on the west side of Cleveland. The 20 or so fish waiting in the Rocky headed upstream before the hoards of hillbillies started lining the banks and fords. That Friday evening, I was tying up some sacs and closely watching the radar on the computer. Most of the rain was falling on the west side, but it also was raining out to the east. That day, I got the green light go fishing as my 2nd and 4th Saturdays at work are put on the back burner until next spring - thank god. I got sick and tired on coming in to do one or two jobs and clocking out at 10:30A.M. 

I went to bed smelling of eggs and around 4:45A.M, I woke up and checked the flow gauges. The Rocky, Vermilion and Chagrin shot up like a rocket. The Grand however had a hiccup and went up to 350cfs. I called a source and the streams way out east missed out on the rain altogether. I loaded up the Jeep and hit the road early. I parked at one of the metro parks and started to walk upstream - big mistake. The grass so high I thought I was on safari somewhere in India and I was in need of an elephant. I hobbled, tripped and cursed like a sailor in the dark as I slipped in several ruts along the trail. I managed to hack my way out of the grasslands and had a relatively easy time walking through the woods. I finally reached my spot and it was first light, the river was up slightly and I noticed a shitload of leaves going downstream.

The spot was a run below a feeder creek and it had a nice slot that held a lot of fish during the fall and spring. I pulled several shots down to get the sac down fast as slot was about 20yd and tailed out quickly. I stood upstream and let the float go downstream running it along the mud line. It didn't take long to find fish and it was a mixed bag of skippers, fat males and chrome hens. The spot coughed up a lot of fish and I had a long list of spots to hit. I looked at the time and it was 10:00A.M, so I had plenty of time. Once I got away from that spot the fishing was tough as most of spots I fished were traditional winter holding areas. Even though the temperature was in the 40s today, the river was still warm thanks to almost a week of 70 degree weather and most of the fish were holding in faster water. So I skipped the slower holes and hit another spot similar to one I fished before. But just like upstream, I struggled to find the mother load of fish. Didn't help that the immense number of leaves floating downstream wreaked havoc with my drifts. I looked at the time and it was 2:00P.M, by now I was extremely bored, cranky from all of the leaves and sick and tired of listening the constant gun fire from the skeet club. Since this was a scouting trip, I knew these section was being crossed off for tomorrow.

Later that evening I was preparing for tomorrow's trip with another steelhead junkie - Dave. Dave is a west side steelheader and was looking to expand his options as fishing the Rocky will do that to a person. Dave arrived at my place and I was surprised to see how much weight he lost. During the summer he shaved off 70lbs and he was a big guy that played football for Ohio State as a defensive end. We headed out east back to the same spot I fished yesterday. For once it was nice to have somebody drive for a change. The weather today was typical of November - cold, dreary and windy. The wind today was a huge pain in the ass, leaves everywhere and line blowing off the water. As expected, whenever I take somebody fishing to spot I did well the day before, we struggled to hook up. It was one or two fish here and there. The conditions were perfect, but the fish were very finicky and even the faggy chubs took pity on us.

Dave showed me his latest toy - a HBE reel made by a Swiss company looking to get into the hot Great Lakes pinning market. It looked like something the Russians would of developed in a in top secret lab somewhere in Siberia. I remember seeing the reel at Erie Outfitters last winter and I wasn't keen about it as I found some glaring issues with it. One was the material it was made of - carbon fiber. One big pissed off steelhead with a heavy flow behind him would literally burn the tips of your fingers off in a heartbeat from the resin finish. The other was the reel didn't have a backplate and a misplaced pinkie could get chopped off. The reel was very light, weighing under 3ozs compared to my Kingpin that weighted over 9ozs. The start-up was insanely low and Dave really enjoyed his reel.

Unfortunately the fish weren't playing ball and I made the call to head down river. I took Dave to another spot that was great for pinning. With the windy conditions, I figured most of the fair weather fishermen would be parked on the couch. As we drove into Painesville, I could see the parking lots full near the river. Over one bridge, I could see several hearty souls fishing. We arrived at the park and I gave Dave the scoop on what to expect and where to fish. This spot got the full effect of the wind and it was blowing downstream. There were a couple of people fishing and there was plenty of room. I pointed out a spot and we started off fishing, right off the bat we started off with a double header - which was great or bad. As Dave was beaching his fish, some hillbilly asked for his fish and Dave gave to him. If it were me, I would pull off my boot and inform him it would taste better. The wind made trotting difficult as Siglon and brisk winds don't mix. We shuffled down the section and couldn't get any players. I noticed the water had a tannic stain and that could of been a factor as I people I talked to said it was slow all morning. After an hour, we decided to call it a day and went to lunch and nothing beats a hot meal on a cold day.

Currently most of the streams are starting to drop and will fish on Monday. The streams out east are low and clear and the conditions will favor the fly flingers. There is no rain for the upcoming week and I wouldn't be surprised to see the monsoons hit on Monday when I start vacation.

Another Road Trip

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.