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11-01-03 - Alright, the jig is up as they say; here is ASM with one of his two steelies landed in 10 minutes on Elk Creek! That's right, you finally get to see the monkey's HUMAN face (however, at night he transforms into a white-haired his wife puts up with that is beyond me!)
I lent ASM my new St. Croix Avid 9' 7wt. to give a few casts and on like the 2nd cast he hooked up. Gotta put the side pressure on those fish as the run for the stumps!
Immediately after this shot I had fly line screaming through the air towards my face...the traditional "fish off" maneuver!
WOW! Nice Chrome hen that nailed a Sol Duc Spey.
Just me and the hen again! (Photo by Arctic Snow Monkey, Copyright 2003)
Check that out! Another hen on the Sol Duc Spey!
Time to try what ASM had been suggesting for the last 1.5 months...within just a few casts the Tucker Nymph BANGED this buck.
Look at the size, chunk, and color of this fresh Male Steelhead!
ASM snapped this shot and I turned around and released the fish. D'Oh! The Tucker Nymph was STILL in it's mouth! (Photo by Arctic Snow Monkey, Copyright 2003)
ASM was really pleasant about sharing the hole with me (there was plenty of room) he kept bangin' those steelies; probably 10 fairs for every 1 I hooked into!
Steelhead trying to make it over the first falls at Trout Run (Ohio, not IOWA!)
No comment... comment...
The picture speaks for itself. FYI it is illegal to fish Trout Run...but Lake Erie is fair game.
One of three Browns sighted at the mouth of Trout Run.
Just a couple of many THOUSAND steelhead packed into Trout Run.
Ohio's Rocky River. Tim S. and his Grandfather took me on an afternoon tour of the lower 9 miles. Big fishable water here!

11-1-03 - MP & ASM suffer from PSO (Pennsylvania Steelhead Overload)

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
Weather: Overcast
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 NYMPH!
Pattern Color: Orange & light peach/pink were the hottest colors
Fishing Quality: Words cannot describe "Pennsylvania Steelhead Overload".

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 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 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 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 wasn't.

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 and grey.

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 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.


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