11-1-03 - MP & ASM suffer from PSO (Pennsylvania
Waters Fished: Elk Creek, Trout Run (not fished,
just viewed), Rocky River (a quick walking tour only)
Fish Caught: 3/10 personally
Outing Date: 11-01-03
Air Temp: 50's
Water Temp: didn't take it
Water Level: "average"
Water Color: very very clear
Fish Species: Steelhead, Coho
Pattern Fished: Various Speys in Hot Orange, including MP's
Black Laced, Sol Duc, Orange Heron & Polar Shrimp. Also
fished various egg patterns and the TUCKER
Pattern Color: Orange & light peach/pink were the hottest colors
Fishing Quality: Words cannot describe "Pennsylvania Steelhead
Alright, this trip was another one probably over
one month in planning...the ultimate road trip...time to take ASM
up on his offer to head to Ohio and fish the Lake Erie Tribs. Let
me extend one HUGE debt of gratitude to ASM for this invitation
and his generous hospitality!
After 7.5 hours of driving what should have taken
only 5.75 at the most (you can thank Chicago Traffic for that) I
showed up at ASM's doorstep around 1:00 am CHICAGO time, that's
2:00 AM Ohio Time. A bit of quick "Hey How Ya Doin's"
and I was crashed out in ASM's breathtaking outdoor loft. Ask him
about the "Wall of Shame"....I along with oodles of other
steelheaders I met this weekend are featured in the HUNDREDS of
photos. And you guys think I fish alot!
In the last 48 hours our plan had changed slightly;
Tim S. was going to be VERY busy this weekend and well, getting
him up to fish when he had family obligations really just didn't
seem fair to his family. So ASM and I hatched a great scheme. He
asked what type of fishing I preferred, sight or blind. I told him
that I preferred sight fishing, but only because a) that's what
I'm used to around here and b) there's never a doubt as to whether
the fish are there or not. Since our Sunday plans would be likely
blind fishing, ASM figured he had just the ticket...Elk Creek, Pennsylvania.
Sometime about an hour and a half later ASM wakes
me up. I don't know how he did it, granted I was so excited I don't
even know how I slept. We piled into his truck and I tried to sleep...I
think I might have for a little bit of the hour and a half drive,
but basically I was wired. THANK YOU MOUNTAIN DEW!
We arrived well before sunrise; first things first
get a license. ASM took me to this gas station / bait shop / fly
shop / outdoor shop / motel to pick up my license...man the parking
lot was full already and the shop was full of cheery mornin' folk.
I HATE cheery morning folk!!! It's 5:00 AM, we're all SUPPOSED to
be sleeping!!! Well, $21.00 later I had my 3-day pass, trout stamp
and a holder for my vest (in Pennsylvania your license must be displayed).
Next stop ASM drives down these back roads...man
I'd never find this place without good maps and directions. We start
going down a hill and find the street LINED WITH CARS for a good
quarter mile. Wow...rapidly starting to remind me of the Root. He
pulls all the way in and I realize were are by the beach on Lake
Erie. In the dim light of lanterns and the moon ASM points to a
stream and says, "Can You See That?"
I honestly don't remember what came out of my mouth
and it really doesn't matter...my reaction simply failed to do the
sight justice. The mouth of the stream was simply BOILING with Steelhead.
THOUSANDS of them. The only thing that I can even closely equate
to this situation is walking by the raceways at the hatchery in
Decora, Iowa. You've no doubt heard people describe runs of fish
as being so thick that you could walk across the river on their
backs. Ordinarily, that would be an exaggeration. This time, it
ASM said we were going upstream to fish some of
his favorite spots, which I totally understood...this would simply
be a zoo of folks (it already was). Our plan was to get on the water
early, beat the crowds and find some fish.
Well, even at our drop in point there were probably
30 cars. We hiked the river as the sun came up, all the while fish
were running up the stream. Eventually we stopped and I took 10
minutes to get rigged up. In that time probably 25 steelhead ran
up the riffles to my right.
For probably the first 2 hours of daybreak we saw
no action, no hookups, and probably 100 fish passed by our noses.
The Steelies were on the move. ASM assured me not to worry, once
the light hit the water the fish would pool up, stop running, settle
into holding areas and the bite would turn on. Eventually we moved
down, having pounded the same waters for almost 2 hours now.
Surprisingly we ran into few other anglers, maybe
a dozen at most. ASM felt this was crowded...I was rather relieved.
Afterall, I'm used to fishing places like the Root or the Milwaukee,
where you can find 30+ anglers on ONE HOLE. It seemed that in this
stretch of river there were plenty of holes for everyone. Which,
by the way, is part of what made this stream different...lots of
classic fly water, lots of holes. Many many many more than our SE
WI tribs. The other noticeable difference was the shale bottom...slippery
at times but overall a welcome wade.
My next stop as we fished down was a deep long
pool against a shale cliff. I noticed a couple male steelhead chasing
each other around the pool. By this point I had already been through
several offerings and was a bit frustrated; seeing active &
aggressive males I felt they might make worthy targets. Some careful
consideration told me I should try something red...afterall it's
that red stripe on the males that just tick them off. I opened up
my box and found that I had brought nothing RED and big with me!
DRAT! However, I did have a huge Sol Duc Spey; all bright orange
After several casts I consistently got follows
on the swing but no takers. I started to notice many more steelhead
piled up against the wall. On one particular drift I opted to let
the fly sink deeper first, and then swing. WHAM! After a short fight
I brought in a nice, fresh COHO! COHO are a rarity in PA. The downside
was that even over 50 feet away, I had still managed to FOUL this
fish in the middle of the flank. Strangest place I've ever fouled
a fish. That's just my luck I guess.
ASM meanwhile had been working just downstream
and already had two. He and I debated...I really wanted to keep
working the pool while he was rather insistent that I try downstream
where he had just landed two fish (we're talking a timespan of only
10 minutes). Reluctantly I decided to give it a shot. I will NEVER
question ASM's advice again.
For the next two hours we simply banged away at
them. I took 2 steelhead almost immediately on the Sol Duc Spey,
which rapidly became deteriorated from all the abuse. Eventually
I broke it off in a tree, no biggie. In the course of this two hours
I went through every orange SPEY I had, SWINGING IN THE RIFFLES.
It was simply unbelievable; you'd swing, and maybe 50% of the time
a fish would turn to check it out. For a while I tried the Tucker
Nymph too..afterall this was ASM's original suggestion that I bring
my Tucker and try it on an Erie Trib. Man, third or fourth cast
with a bit of #10 clamshot and I landed a great buck! Throughout
these two hours I hooked in excess of 10 fair fish, landing three.
Some head shakers got off right away. Others took me around tree
stumps and broke off with spectacular leaps. I'm sure I intentionally
broke off a couple fouls as well.
Meanwhile the monkey is just doin' his thing with
the centrepin. And let me tell you, the monkey know how to fish.
A #16-18 peach sucker spawn below a Drennan Float was all it took
for him to hook into a fish on literally EVERY OTHER CAST. I cannot
even tell you how many fair fish he landed...let alone how many
he broke off (we were on 4lb fluorocarbon all morning...the water
was CRYSTAL CLEAR).
Around 10:30 AM the action in our run finally tapered
off...and well I can't blame it as we'd probably hooked every fish
in the run at least once; heck my second steelhead had one of ASM's
flies as well as my spey! I moved back up to my pool and again tried
this time with a Polar Shrimp...no takers but man it was soooo cool.
I'd swing along a line of steelhead and one after another they'd
all move out of the lies to inspect my offering. If I stripped in
they'd even give further chase. For some reason though, they simply
refused to strike.
At 11:00 AM we were off the river and headed back
down to where we started our morning, not to fish but so I could
get some pictures. Well, the pictures at the right are all I need
to say about that. After some discussion I finally got my tribs
straight; this lakefront location was not the mouth of Elk Creek
as I had originally thought, it was the mouth of Trout Run, the
broodstock hatchery collecting station. AHA!
I also must say I now understood why ASM was rather
ardent in strongly suggesting that I should drive myself to PA as
well (he had to leave by noon). Unfortunately there was no way I
was making the drive with 1.5 hours of sleep, and what's worse,
on the drive in my check engine light had come on. We headed back
to Cleveland and I will say now, I was totally satisfied and didn't
feel any more need to fish for the remainder of the day.
So I hung out at the local Meineke, had them check
out the car (they couldn't figure out the problem, I will tell you
that it came back on Tuesday, got it checked out and just as I had
suspected, another coil had gone bad on the "Bitchin' Camaro").
Oh well, I made it home in one piece.
Towards evening I met up with Tim S., a current
IL resident and fishin' buddy but an OH native. He was spending
time with his family, and he & his grandfather were kind enough
to take me on a walking tour of Cleveland's Rocky River. With only
an hour of daylight I didn't feel the need to go out and buy another
license, so we just took the walking tour. Tim's Grandfather has
fished the Rocky for 75 years and told me many stories about how
the river has changed in his lifetime. The Rocky is a gorgeous "urban
fishery" in my opinion; I look forward to getting back on it
to fish, soon!
That pretty much wraps up day one of this weekend
trip. We dined on Tim's huge salmon from the Milwaukee (see back
to 10-4-03); while I'm not a big salmon
fan Tim grilled it up just right. We ended our evening with a driving
tour of downtown Cleveland; I know every "tourist" says
this but the Blue Bridge is really cool. The other notable thing
was Cleveland's shoreline museums...the architecture was unlike
anything we have in Chicago or Milwaukee. Tim, thank your family
again for their wonderful hospitality.