The alarm goes off at 5:30A.M jarring me out of a deep sleep. I hit the alarm and squint in the dark looking for the lamp switch and the light blinds me. I groggily stumble out of bed and make my way to the kitchen. I fill the coffee maker with water and coffee and turn on the stove for eggs and bacon. As the eggs and bacon are cooking, I look at the calender and today is September 9th. Over the past couple of days, we received much needed rain. This summer has been one of the driest on record as nearly all of the Alley’s streams have barely flowed. But some fish have been reported making their way into the lower reaches albeit in very small numbers.
Today’s first trip will take me to Pennsylvania. I wolf down the eggs, bacon and English muffins. I double check all of the gear and start loading it into the Jeep. I fill the mug with steaming hot coffee and I'm on the road. The highway is wet as I pass through Cleveland into Lake County. On the way out, a dense layer of fog is rising over the Chagrin River. It’s still too dark to see how high or dirty the water is. I check my Iphone to see the conditions of the streams. The Elk has gone up to 13cfs on the guage. With the exceptions of the Rocky and Chagrin, the other streams never blew out.
After an hour of driving, I cross over the state line into Pennsylvania. The skies to the east are dark and omious. The roads are very wet as it must of just recently rained. I'm curious to see how many fish have pushed in. Reports have been sparse and none of the people I know have seriously started to fish. I pull off the exit to the lower Elk and make my way down a series of rural roads. The fields are covered corn and soybeans and the forest is still lush with green vegetation. Autumn seems so far away.
I pull into the access lot and there are 2 cars. The creek is extremely turbid as visibility was virtually non existent. I didn’t drive over 100 miles to turn back so I made the best of it. I tied on another tippet and ran double large sacs into a riffle that ran along a downed tree. I worked that section for 45 minutes and nothing. I decided to make my way to the mouth of the creek. The lower section of the creek gradually flatten out into a large flat slow moving section of water. Then it gradually turned and quickly spilled into the lake. The muddy water mixed with the bluish green hue of the lake. The lake itself was remarkably calm and I wished I brought my spinning reel as I could cast spoons far out into the lake. I fished the mud line and some waves crashed into the flowing water and the float drifted aimlessly. I sat on a large log and watched a group of large black clouds drop rain far out into the lake. I finally realized that the Elk wasn’t going to get any better so I drove over to the Walnut.
The Nut was slightly better but the water was turbid. There were more people here mostly fly fishermen working the skinny water. Further downstream, there were some people fishing off the wall. Nobody was hooking up and I started to move upstream fishing the faster water. For an hour, I fished nearly every spot that I could remember that held fish. I accepted the fact that fishing for steel in early September on the Alley can be boom or bust, with the latter happening more often.
I drove into Conneaut for lunch and I stopped by the first bridge to see. The river was just as dirty as the Elk and nobody was fishing. The rivers more than likely have very heavy load of summer silt. It will take more than one rainfall to clear it all out. For the time being, many of us will patiently wait for cooler weather and rain. Others will be enjoying the bounty of lake full of perch and walleye. Some will make the trips regardless because they have nothing else better to do.