The streams along the Alley are notorious for low water. Most of the streams here have little to no sources of groundwater. The Alley's streams rely on rain and snow melt for their sources of water. Streams in Pennsylvania can go from a raging torrent to low and clear in matter of days. Some of the smallest streams have short drainages and drop like if somebody flushed the toilet. I've fished the Elk many times just a couple of days after a rainfall. The creek is off color and I'll shove a stick into the water. Within an hour the water has dropped an inch. By the end of the day it can drop several inches. The window for prime conditions depends on where you fish. It can last a couple of days on the Elk or Walnut or over a week on the Grand or Catt. But overall, we mostly have to contend fishing low and clear, especially in the fall.
I read an article in the Cleveland paper about this summer being one of the hottest on record. With the heat also came very little rain and if it did rain, it came down in
Several of mine friends are more than happy to see the low rivers, because it gives them more time on the big pond to load the freezer more with perch and walleye. For the lowly landlubber like me, steel is the only fish I really chase after. Instead of pouting or sitting on the couch, I'l make the drive out. I would rather get skunked than do house-chores. I decide to take a road trip out east to see what's shaking. I bring along the spinning rod in case I want to chuck spoons off the breakwall or at the mouths of one of the creeks. It's just too nice to be holed up in the house.
I arrive at one river and it's extremely low. From the bridge, I see can make out the shale bottom. I can see the ledges and small cuts in the bottom. During prime conditions, fish often hug or hide themselves in these places. From my vantage point, I see no fish. Rocks are exposed and I can see the high water mark, the river is 3 feet lower. The wind whips across the stream, it looks so lifeless.
This makes it a perfect opportunity to scout out some holes. It's warm enough that I don't even bother to put on waders. I have an old pair of sneakers and shorts. I walk along the stream and come to one popular hole. Where I'm standing during the winter months, I would be in knee deep water. Instead the rocks are dry and the stream is about 5 feet away from me. I look into the riffle for any signs of fish, there is none. I walk above the bank and look into the water, no signs of life. It's another favorite spot of mine, a large sweeping pool. The bottom is littered with rocks. The current hugs along the bank and there are several trees that have fallen into the water. I scan around the trees and see no activity. There are fish but I suspect they are way downstream in the slower deep water. I spend most of the morning stopping at several spots making mental notes and taking pictures with my camera. I've noticed several spots have changed in depth due to high water and the movement of gravel.
No fish for me today. The lake is too rough to fish. I stop at a farmer's market on the way back to the highway. I buy several bags of corn, peppers, zucchini, squash, and apples. It's warm enough that I drive home with the window down. Doesn't feel like mid September as the trees are still green and there isn't any hint that fall is around the corner. I drive over another river and I glance over. I can see plenty rocks out the water. The rain will come, it's only a matter of time.