Spring Steelhead and The Heatwave

April showers bring the dog days of August huh? This happens from time to time here on the Alley during the spring, the extreme swings in temperature. Just when we're ready to pack away the winter gear, Mother Nature throw us a curveball. A perfect example of that was on April Fool's Day. We recieved snow and temperatures in the 20s and the following week we're experiencing weather that commonly happens in August. This wreaks havoc on steelhead as the stream temperatures soar into the 60s and the fish hit the gravel in huge numbers. The fair-weather anglers stormed out of their houses and headed for the nearest section of gravel. I on the other hand often go to the sidelines and wait for cooler weather to come back. 

But Mother Nature took another look at the calender and corrected herself. The weather came to normal and I resumed fishing. Due to the snow, we finally had some runoff to elevate the streams as it's been a bone dry spring. Time to get off the sidelines and enter the game. 

While the majority of anglers in the spring take adavantage of spawning fish, I target fish that finished spawning. Post spawn fish are messed up. They look like they went 10 rounds and it shows. Their bodies sport some nasty wounds. I've caught males with torn out eyes and broken jaws. The females have it just as worse, with festering wounds and practically worn out caudal fins. You would think they couldn't muster the energy to pick off a dead minnow, but instead they still possess that vigor and athleticism that they're know for. It would be like Carl Lewis running 100 yards in a little over 10 seconds with two banged up knees and missing eyeball. That's why I think steelhead are freaks of nature. 

After expending all of that energy on spawning, steelhead's appetites are voracious. To rest and recuperate, they tend to drop back and seek the slower moving pools and holes. These are places that spring time anglers often pass up. There's been plenty of times when I've fished these areas and I'm lucky to see one or two anglers. I leave the combat fishing to the novices and the clueless. 

Saturday was spent bouncing along the Grand River fishing a variety of water. The fishing was decent but I suspected that the majority of fish where still spawning. It was early afternoon and the morning crowd had thinned out. Some did well and a lot went home with a skunk around their collar. I drove up stream and checked out one spot that I haven't fished in a while. It was a section below a feeder creek that entered the main river. Here the river flows faster and it's a series of riffles and runs. I scan the river and I see anglers spread out and all of them are fishing the skinny water. I continue to scan and I see one place that's ripe for the picking. There's two fishermen working the gravel above and right below is a run that is narrow and littered with lumber. I crossed over and exchanged greetings with the other anglers.  

Due to the lumber, there's no way to effectively fish it with a fly rod. The run is probably 5' wide and there's trees piled up along the bank. It's not very long, probably 20' and eventually tails out. It may or may not hold a lot of fish. The feeder creek above is low and gin clear and most of those fish have probably retreated to the river. When fishing for drop backs, I go heavy duty. That means I use a 10 tippet and a large hook. These fish often go berserk and with lumber close by, they go into to it. I toss the float out and feather it. Halfway down it gets sucked under and the water surface explodes. I briefly see a large fish and the hook gets tossed. There's life in there. I put on another sac and repeat the process. A little farther down right at the tailout the float goes and I set the hook. A smaller fish leaps from the water and I quickly haul it in. It's a small gnarly male that was probably resigned to the fact that he wasn't going to get any action with the hen and most likley would have been murdered by the dominant male. I continued to fish the run and I quickly realized that there was a shit load of fish in that tiny run. I continued to yank out fish and the two guys above were astonished. When it was all said and done I caught over 10 fish and probably lost just as many. I shuffled down worked some other sections that vacated and continue to pick off fish. I called it a day because I exhausted my three jars of sacs. I'll probably venture out tomorrow because it's Easter Sunday and make it a full day event, because the window is starting to close. 

It turns out be the right call, because the following week the hotter temperatures came back and by now the rivers were all low and clear. There's probably a couple more weeks and that's usually it. The next rain might bring in some late to the party stragglers, but by then I'm permanently on the sidelines until fall

Chasing Waterfalls

Photography is my latest hobby and it's quickly become a passion of mine. For years, my girlfriend and close friends have told me that I have an eye for photography. I started off with a beginner camera and bought a lens for landscape photography. However, I realized that the camera I had limited me going further with my photography. This year, I upgraded to a fairly expensive model and bought two landscape lens. One genre that I like is landscape and nature. One my favorite landscape subject are waterfalls. There's plenty around my area and from my steelheading trips, I know quite a few feeder creeks that run into the main rivers. Deep in those ravines and gorges are some waterfalls, while not high or massive in flow, they are unique and beautiful in their own way.

Hell's Hollow

Berea Falls

Sulphur Springs Creek

Bridal Veil Falls

Brandywine Falls

Griswold Creek

Twin Sister Falls

Griswold Creek

Hell's Hollow

Buttermilk Falls

Griswold Creek

Paper Tiger

“I just don’t think it’s right that three teams have to play 13 games to be the champion, and one team has to play eight.”

That's just a little snippet of Dabo Swinney's comment about why he ranked Ohio State 11th in the college football polls. But, that didn't stop him from doubling down when the Buckeyes made into the college football playoffs despite playing 6 games because the Big Ten started later and couldn't make up cancelled games. But, when you're 4-0 against the Buckeyes and one of the 800lbs gorillas in college football, you can troll your opponents with little impunity. Yet Swinney kept supplying more bullentin board material for the Buckeyes. I think he felt he was in Ohio State's head rent free and probably thought he was going to beat them again. 

I guess the lack of respect from him and media or how last year's game ended was enough fuel and motivation for Ohio State. Going into the game, I had no idea what Ohio State team was going to show up - win big or lay an egg. They played 6 games since October and three games were cancelled. It's hard for a team to find any rhythm and grow when they have to sit and deal with their own issues of players and coaches getting the virus. Plus their defense was suspect. 

All I know was Ohio State had to bring their A game and for quarterback Justin Fields, he would have to be flawless, because he had two subpar games against two quality opponents in Indiana and Northwestern. Fields answered the call by setting a Sugar Bowl record by throwing 6 touchdowns. He took a vicious shot to the midsection and gutted out the rest of the game as the Buckeyes throttled the Tigers by the score of 49-28. Not bad for a 11th ranked team and I can't imagine what the score would have been if Clemson played Coastal Carolina, who were actually ranked 10th according to Swinney's poll. But in the end it's Dabo just being Dabo and as of this morning, he's being roasted and trolled on social media.

As for Buckeye fans there's the "what if" as before the season started Harbaugh ran his mouth about Ohio State and Day privately told his team that there should be a mercy rule because they were going to hang a 100 on them. As it turned out Michigan had to cancel the game because Covid. The Wolverines were a dumpster fire on both sides of the ball and a lot of fans on both sides knew it was going to be a blood bath. 

Next is the Crimson Tide and it should be a hell of a game.