Before The Crack Of Dawn........Ha

Low and clear, low and clear, fuck I'm tried of fishing in an aquarium full of chubs and the odd steelhead thrown in as another batch of rain came and teased us. The ground basically sucked up the water and none of the rivers went up and we were once again forced to fish in low conditions. Sunday was no different as I headed out east in search of fish. I'll be glad when Daylight Savings goes into effect this upcoming weekend as fishing in the dark at 7:00A.M is too much for this early riser.

Today, I wanted to get away from the crowds so I fished farther upstream. It was a gamble as I had no idea if any fish had made it that far up. Even if they did, the numbers would be very low and I could be posting a shut out just like the Browns would be probably doing this afternoon. I was reminded why I prefer to fish in the winter as walking through the woods with major undergrowth was a tough going. I finally reached a couple of favorite spots and my catch for the morning was 3 chubs.

Even though the water had that tannic color, the visibility was great. The other added bonus was nobody was fishing as I knew most if not all of the people were fishing the lower sections. I banged away at several spots and finally hit a nice hen on pink sac. It was one fish in three hours of fishing, I knew I had to head downstream in order to get into better numbers. The only downside would be crowds, but I figured by the time I got there it would be almost noon. With the Clowns playing so bad, a lot of people weren't racing home to watch the game. The Browns are so bad that our company had a draw for tickets for the Packers game and only three people signed up. I basically said I would rather get skunked then having to watch 4 quarters of a team that could be beaten by the Pop Warner All-Stars.

I drove along the river and I could see about 10 cars here and there. I rolled the dice and headed to one spot that I knew I might get into some fish. Driving over the bridge, I could see a couple of people fishing one spot that I usually do well. Usually this spot is pounded to death during the season and I rarely fish as it's a magnet for hillbillies and boneheads. But since it was Sunday most if not all scrambled home to watch the NASCAR race - gomers. A short walk down, I knew where to drift and it didn't long for the first fish to hit. It was a nice bag of fresh skippers, fat hens and feisty males. In reality I could copped some more zzzzzz's instead of fumbling about in the dark, but that would cut into my fishing time.......

I'm Free

The day I've been waiting for, October 15th finally arrived - my divorce hearing. It was suppose to been done last month, but my ex had to work out of state and filed a motion of continuance, so the agony continued. Since it was an uncontested divorce, I wasn't going to expect any fireworks or fisticuffs. Since we didn't have any kids, property and debt, it would be cut and dry. We agreed to couple of things and I had my attorney draft it up prior to the hearing. It took no more than 10 minutes of questions and bada boom bada bing, congratulations you're divorced. As we walked out, an army of lawyers walked in and I'm sure the next case would be full of fireworks and fisticuffs. There was no high fives or racing to the bar for a round of drinks. For me it was closure on a 10 year marriage and the last 3 years were utter hell. I felt a sense of relief and sadness, but now I could finally move on.

Like life, death and taxes, every fall the streams along Steelhead Alley are low and clear. Saturday morning it was raining lightly and I check the radar to see that the end of the rain was going through Cleveland. I figured by the time we got there the rain would have stopped. We arrived at first light and it was still raining, but not hard. The river was in prefect condition as the deeper pools and holes had a nice tea color. I knew of several spots, that in past seasons we spanked them pretty good. It turned out to be a frustrating morning as I couldn't get whiff of fish, even the chubs wouldn't come out and play. We fished one popular section and by 9:00AM, we left and there was nobody.

The culprit was lake effect rain made the morning miserable. I decided to hit one more spot and if we got nothing I would call it a day. It was another of my honey holes and I had a jar of uncured King eggs. It was the same result as we banged away and nothing was biting. Every fall, there are times when you're left puzzled on why the fish won't bite even though the conditions are perfect. Persistence finally paid off as the float shot under and it was fish on. I grabbed the glove and held it for the money shot. One of his eyes was damaged probably from a hook in the eye and the fish had that cartoonish belted over the head expression. I released it and figured the day should end on a good note. By now I was soaked so I headed into Willoughby for lunch - a great joint by the Chagrin River.

Sunday was a case of same shit, different day. The river barely came up and the clarity was the same. If the Grand was clear, the other rivers probably had the clarity of a fish tank. I started off at the same spot and started working the run. In the dark I was using my lite stick on the float and near the log jam the float shot under. It was a small skipper that took a pink sac. The morning started off bad when I turned on my camera for some early morning shots of the shale cliffs. The LCD screen on my Nikon camera was cracked and half of the screen was only visible. Earlier it fell out of the back of Jeep, but it was inside the case. The fall wasn't that hard, but it's another in a long line of cameras I wrecked either from a bad case of butterfingers or days when I waded with two left feet.

The fish were incredibly fussy today as I managed four fish in total and I considered myself lucky as many others posted goose eggs.

Chubs Are Gay

If there is a bigger pain in the ass other than inept low holing hillbillies, it's those loathsome creek chubs. Every fall you can count on them to feast on your sacs with reckless abandon. Today was another constant battle with these little pricks as I would watch my float pop up and down and I would flick the float as if I was smacking them away like flies. "Bastards", I muttered as I worked one hole. I reeled in and the sac was nibbled to almost nothing. With great annoyance I tossed the sac away and put on another. Once again, I drifted along the downed trees. It was a battle of attrition as I routinely hooked into them. They were relentless and my patience was wearing thin. I was getting pissed as I tossed one sac after another. "Assholes", I muttered as I placed another sac on. I wasn't giving up on this spot yet, but it was getting close. Sure enough it was tap-tap-tappy-tap-tap bullshit and I ripped the line.The float popped and I set the hook. The rod vibrated and I sighed as I knew it was chub. I yanked him out of the water and with a sinister glare, I looked into the eye of my tormentor, he had sealed his fate. I removed the hook and flung him clear across the stream into the woods for some critter to snack on. The message for the others - don't fuck with me. 

Chubs are an annoyance that most steelheaders have to deal with the early part of the season. They are found in nearly every stream along the Alley. For some unknown reason, they are absent from the Rocky. There is no way getting around them unless you tie sacs the size of ping pongs or flies the size of chickens. They can make a day long and miserable when steelhead are few and far between. There is no escaping them as they inhabit all forms of water. The only reprieve is winter and they completely disappear until the warm days of spring. 

The next spot was a small hole along the cliffs. From past experience, I knew there was a 4' hole along the ledge maybe 20' long. It was one of "money" holes because it always paid off. I used a white sac and placed the float along the bubble line. I moved it over it get it right along the ledge. The float was halfway along when it went under hard. This wasn't a chub take and I set the hook. The line immediately went tight and I felt the hard charge downstream. A great but brief fight as I gently maneuver the fish towards the bank. An average size PA steelhead all ready in full spawning color despite the fact it was early October. With a single push, I watched the fish bolt for the hole where I caught it. 

Redemption, I thought. I could of thrown in the towel and allowed those chubs to get the better of me. I caught a couple more steelhead further at the first riffle close to the lake. Further downstream I watched another angler throw back a chub and he had a look of disgust. I thought not much longer, once the cold weather hit they'll swim back under those rocks where they belong. 

Slow Day At The Office

I drove out east and it was a slow day at the office, conditions were decent, however the fish took the day off. The word going around is not too many fish are making their way into the rivers. I have to remind myself even though it has been cool over the past few weeks, it's only October 4th and better days are yet to come. I probably wouldn't come down with the 24 hour flu or book off personal days.

I covered a lot of ground and both fish were caught at the extreme low end of the river. I banged away in the other spots and nada. A lot of people ended up posting goose eggs so I felt fortunate that I manage a couple of fish.