I can sum up this past steelhead season to the song - Gone by Montgomery Gentry
Gone like a freight-train, gone like yesterday
Gone like a soldier in the civil war, bang bang
Gone like a '59 Cadillac
Like all the good things that ain't never coming back
She's gone (gone) gone (gone) gone (gone) gone, she's gone
Last year, I thought it was nothing more than an aberration. I figured we were due for an off year and that would be it. The number of fish were low, but I managed great outings due to my knowledge of the rivers. When September rolled around and it was the same thing as past years - no rain and hot. Fish started showing up out east, but the numbers were low as that's expected in Ohio. October was the same - no rain, still hot and fishing was spotty. The lack of rain kept the rivers low in November and fish were mainly found in the lower sections. Then Mother Nature threw us a curve ball and we where hit with a cold snap. I never seen the rivers ice up so early as it was early December. Nearly all them were locked up tighter than a nun's asshole. The power plant was shitty and if you didn't get to the bubble early, more than likely you posted a shut out. The only game left in town was the Cuyahoga and I pretty well spent the months of December, January and February fishing it and the results were average and I didn't have to worry about people bothering me.
The ice finally blew out in March and the numbers were still low. The lower section of the Grand had it moments and one Sunday we crushed them. Many hoped that the fish were still out in the lake waiting for warmer temperatures. Once again Mother Nature used steelheaders as her favorite chew toy and threw in a shitload of rain. The Rock had the second worst flood in recorded history and we nearly had 5" of rain for the month. The constant blowout probably meant that some fish spawned and returned to the lake without even seeing a hook. My annual vacation in April was a disaster I started the week off with blown out rivers. I had to resort to fishing several ditches and the fishing was decent. Once the water levels dropped, it was a bitchfest about the lack of fish. A lot of guides were sweating at the thought of clients wearing a skunk around their necks. The fairweather fishermen were freaking out as they only had a couple of weeks to cram in fishing. There were fish to be found but you had to log a lot of miles. For me the month of April was probably one the worst for me. Several fishing pals of mine, had already tossed the gear in the garage. There were some fish still spawning in early May and they picked the worst place to do it - the east branch of the Rock. It was a floss fest and I even heard the Russians haul out nearly 20 fish. For me I stopped fishing as work started to pile in and in a couple of weeks I'll be chasing carp and perch.
As for the season, I still had great outings but I had to work for them. There was no easy pickings this year. I found a lot of great water on the Hoga and next season when everything freezes over, I'll know where to go. But I would rank this as the worst season in the 12 years I've been here.
There's plenty of theories to go around - walleye and lamprey predation, disruptive weather patterns, the dead zone in the central basin of the lake, ODNR secretly stocking less fish and yes I even heard that the evil Canucks were netting too many fish on their side. It just wasn't Ohio that had a bad season, it was also Pennsylvania and New York.
Let's hope that this is blip or a hiccup. I know five months will fly by quickly........