Extended holidays and bad weather make me a miserable person. This extended Christmas vacation was no different as the weather reeked havoc. Any chances of a white Christmas were dashed as it rained throughout Christmas Eve. Before you could say "ho-ho-ho" it was "oh no no" as the streams blew out. Once again the Grand inched it way down to fishable levels, only to quickly rise. On the bright side it got rid of all of the side ice and opened up the lower sections. Mother Nature was a huge Grinch and she scrooged me out of 4 days of vacation.

The weather outlook for the rest of the week was like a kid eating all of the chocolate the night before Christmas. It was to be in the upper 20s on Christmas, then for Saturday it was a possible record breaking 70F and on Sunday another cold front was to move through. I was limited on where to fish and Friday turned out to be the only good day. Due to the high water conditions, I slept in and headed out after 8:30A.M and took my time. The water was high and slightly off colored, but I knew where to find fish. The night before I tied sacs as bright as those pieces of fruit found on fruitcake that your mother-in-law insists on bringing every year, I could write a whole story about fruitcake from Christmas pasts. The fishing was decent and I had a lot spots to choose from. However another wave of rain was suppose to hit overnight and crossed my fingers that it would blow through quickly.

The wind overnight was loud enough I didn't hear the rain falling. When I left I noticed the roads were wet, but I had no idea how much rain fell. The temperature was warm and I rolled the dice as I knew side ice was melting. I arrived to see the river was higher and on the verge of blowing out. It was a balmy morning and I figured I had a 4 hour window. Whenever conditions are murky I often run tandem quarter size sacs with a ton of shot as the current was stronger. Running off the main current and riding the slots paid off. Me and another pinner caught fish, but we didn't pound them. As the morning progressed the water started to rise and the color got worse. I finally packed it in and passed on the morning outing to a friend.

Everything is blown out and with the colder weather for the upcoming week everything should be fishable. Tomorrow I'll have to butter up Jill in dispatch and try to weasel my way out of working this Friday....

Gifts for the Steelheader

With Christmas around the corner every steelheader is hoping that Santa brings them something useful such as a new rod, reel, clothing or in my case some eggs. But with my taste for high end stuff, I'll be lucky to get a pair of socks. 

Waterproof Electronics - We've done it, cameras and phones dropped in the water. So far to date I've destroyed 2 cameras and 2 phones and I lost a waterproof camera on a flight to Vegas. Cameras come in handy because of Murphy's law #6 - you land the fish of a lifetime and the camera is at home. Also make sure to carry extra batteries because of Murphy's law #7 - you have a 20lbs steelhead ready for the money shot and the batteries are dead. A great camera is the Olympus Stylus 770.

Cooler - Nothing better ends a hot day in October or April then reaching in for a ice cold beer or two or three.

Jerky - The breakfast of champions. I can't get enough of jerky in the morning with a scolding cup of coffee.

Grey Goose Vodka - I give the French credit, they make a kick ass vodka. A favorite Christmas drink - Hot Russian

1 oz Grey Goose
1 oz Kahlua
1 oz eggnog
2/3 cup of hot chocolate

Take 2 packets of hot chocolate mix and put them into the coffee mug. Add the shots of eggnog, vodka, and Kahlua. Fill the rest of the coffee mug with hot water. Stir. You may need to heat the drink up in the microwave for 30 seconds before serving. When nice and hot, serve.

Thermal Clothing - The majority of steelheading is done during the winter months and nothing ruins a day freezing your ass off after a couple of hours in the water. Under Armour is probably the most popular active wear used by steelheaders. They make undershirts, leggings and socks. It's not cheap, but it's well worth it.

To butter up the old lady for another season of steelheading, jewelry or a trip to Vegas will score big points. I did both and I got a divorce - maybe I should of taken her to Celine's show instead of Louie Anderson. Merry Christmas.

Honey, Look What I Brought Home For Dinner

Here are some pictures of some fucked up fish I caught over the years, unfortunately a couple other pictures are buried in my old laptop. The one fish above looked like it swallowed a bowling ball and barely put up a fight. I suspect I either snagged it or the fish wanted to commit suicide and hooked itself. I put the poor bastard out of its misery and the gulls didn't even bother to eat it, but I'm sure a half starved hillbilly would of taken it in a heart beat.

The other fish was actually fat and fiesty even though the bottom of his mouth as deformed. During the spring run, I've caught some males that had eyes torn out, hunks of flesh and fins missing. It would of been a hoot to bring it home and slap it on the grille for the wife......

Dick Godard Sucks

I want to kick Dick Godard in the balls. Dick is Fox channel 8 weather dinosaur and basically made my weekend miserable in regards to the weather. With the crappy conditions I had to contend with last weekend, I was looking forward to making up for that debacle. Fortunately, the fishing gods took pity on me and blessed me with some fish. Earlier in the week the weather outlook for the upcoming weekend was calling for a chilly Saturday morning followed by temps in the upper 30s with bright skies. For Sunday, there was a 30% chance of rain. But, but and that's a big but, because every angler knows how accurate the weather reporting can be.

 Saturday morning, I drove east only to see the river clogged with slush. It wasn't those small annoying blobs, it was more like those blobs that could devour a steelheader. I rolled the dice as I knew the night time temps were to be in the 20s, but I figured the river would be slush free due to the blowout and warmer temps earlier in the week. With the sun, I thought the slush would burn off by noon, wrong. I made the best of a bad situation and tried fish through it. I re-rigged with my slush buster set-up. I stacked all of my shots low and I had to drop shot it between chunks. The shots would enable me to get everything down quick before a blob devoured my float. I managed to catch some nice size fish including one large male that ripped through several slush chunks with relative ease. The temperature barely made it out of the 20s and the wind made it felt even colder. I looked at the time and it was almost 12:00P.M. It was time for plan B and headed to another river even though I knew it was higher and off color. I arrived to see there was no slush, but the water was dirty. By now it was almost 1:00P.M and it still felt cold. I figured there was no way the slush would burn off. The fishing sucked and I decided to give it a try again tomorrow. On the way home, I listened to radio and the temperature was 29F and this was 2:00P.M. Later I found out the slush in fact did burn off around 2:00P.M and the fish turned on.........d'oh.

Sunday it was back for another kick at the can. Instead of cold it was much warmer albeit very windy. I arrived to see the river was very low and had a nice color, that meant sleath mode. I knew the river well enough that I could find fish easily when most people unfamiliar would walk by. Luck for me I tied very small sacs the night before. I plugged away at various spots working along the shale ledges, pocket water and any dark water. My efforts paid off with some beautiful fish in their winter colors. The crowds were small and it wasn't hard finding a spot. Then around 9:00A.M it started to rain, I figured it was a passing shower, because Dick said there was a 30% chance. As the morning progressed the rain never let up and the wind literally soaked me.

When ever a river is low and clear, I start on one my "death marches" I started to cover a lot of water, because fishable water was few and far between. The phone was on stand by and I got the scoop where the action was. As expected the morning bite shut off and I moved down river. With all of the walking sooner or later I would hit the motherload of fish. Well, I found them and some. It was a classic wintering spot - a moderately deep run that spilled into a large tailout. That with some brown trout eggs made for some excellent fishing including one large bull that came in a hefty 10 pounds. That 30% chance turned out to be 100% as it was still raining when I decided to go home at 3:30P.M. as my hands were pruned beyond belief.

With Christmas coming around I should give Dick a break, because I don't want coal in my stocking as I wanted some eggs. But that doesn't matter anymore as Christmas came early, I was able to score some eggs this weekend.............nice

Cold Weather Steelheading

winter steelhead on the rocky river

I get mixed feelings when it comes to cold weather. The conditions will chase the fair-weather fishermen deep into their man caves as only the hardiest angler will venture out. That means there's plenty of room to fish. But, with the cold comes ice and slush. I can deal with ice, but slush, I have no patience. Slush can linger for what feels like an eternity. There's no point going down to the river at first light and standing in the cold, hoping that in a couple hours it will disappear. It will never happen. Whenever the nighttime temperatures dip into the 20s or the teens, I'll be in bed sleeping in.  

Fishing slush is pointless. You would need a bowling ball to just penetrate throught it. There's times when I driven down after getting my morning coffee and watching some anglers try in vain to fish. They scan the slush looking for any opening and trying to dunk their float into it. Nearly every time the slush will consume it making a drag free drift virtually impossible. When side ice forms the slush is even worse as the slush is forced through the narrow passages. The best thing to do is wait out, especially on days when the sun is out. As the day progresses, the sun's rays warm the water. Gradually the chunks of slush get smaller and smaller. By mid afternoon, it's usually all gone. That's great for someone like me that lives 10 minutes away from the Rocky. But it's not so great for someone that has to drive 2 hours away. By the time the slush is gone, most of the guys fishing in the morning are long gone as they succumb to the elements. 

winter centerpinning for steelhead

When I fish in extreme conditions, I'll fish tail outs. There's one section on the Rock that produces fish whenever its cold. The section is flat and wide. The river makes a wide turn at the bank. At the bend is where the fish park themselves. The section is shallow only a couple feet deep. Because of the shallow nature of the spot, the water can bump up a couple degrees. The flow is slow enough that I can control the presentation better. Takes will be really light as most of the time, you'll think you bottomed out. But slow open water can be tough to find as you'll be dealing with side ice. There's been times when I had to bust out huge sections of it. Starting at the edge I would stomp on it loosen it. Eventually the ice would be free and I would push it out. However the window for fishing can close quickly when frigrid temperatures go from days to over a week. When that happens the rivers will freeze over and then we wait can last weeks or even months. When that happens, there's two options here in Cleveland. One is the power plants or drilling holes in the ice. There's several power plants in the area that have warm water discharge. When it's really cold, the plants will be in overdrive. The water temperature can be in the 60s and that attracts a ton of bait fish. Not far behind are steelhead and they feast on the bounty. There's been times when I've hooked into a ton of fish. The best way to fish the power plant is using a plastic minnow under a float. The water depth is really deep as I've set my float at 12 feet. Because the water is so warm, the takes are fast and violent. While the water maybe a welcome relief, the walk back isn't that great as your wader and boots will turn into ice. There's been plenty of times when I had to seat in the Jeep and crank the heater to thaw everything out before taking it off. If you want to slower pace and don't mind freezing your ass off then ice fishing is the way to go. Some guys I know will drill holes at the lower sections of the river or by the marinas. Either using a jig or a minnow can produce some great outings. If there isn't a shanty, I'm not going to sit out on the ice all day. Even this hardy Canadian has his limits.

Fishing in the cold isn't everybody. There's some guys I know that disappear during the winter and I don't hear from them until March. The conditions can be tough, but the rewards can also be great. 

Gary Bettman Hates Sloppy Seconds

Sean Avery
The biggest shit disturber, asshole, scumbag and punk Sean Avery got sent to the principal's office for saying bad things about his former puck bunny Elisha Cuthbert. It all started when the Star's pest made the comment 

"I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight." 

Avery was punished indefinitely by commissioner Gary Bettman for the crude comments and kept him from playing against the Flames and for good reason as Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf is currently dating Cuthbert. Instead of suspending him, Bettman should have thrown him out on the ice and let him and Phaneuf settle it with a good ole fashion NHL scrap. 

I think the whole thing is blown out of proportion. Trash talking is a part of sports and there's some guys that are masters at it. Avery will always be an asshole because that's what keeps him employed. There's always been a place for players like Avery in the NHL, the guy that gets under your skin, throws you off your game and relishes that role. But you have to wonder if the Stars regret signing him, because he a history of questionable behavoir on and off the ice. 

Back to the river.