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11-07-04 - the first parking lot was about a massive turnout!

11-07-04 - 2nd Annual West Side Steelhead Clowns (WSSC) Outing

Waters Fished: Vermilion River
Fish Caught: 0 personally
Outing Date: 11-07-04
Weather: Clouds, sun breaking through later on.
Air Temp: Pleasant (60's)
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: up after recent rains
Water Color: Muddy, visibility about 6"
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Dragon's Tooth Spey mostly
Pattern Color: Purple
Fishing Quality: Slow, but that was expected

After dinner at what was formerly known as BW3 (I highly recommend) and a night spent at Tim "The Enchanter"'s new home in Avon Lake, we all got up to head to the Vermilion River in Ohio. After attending the first WSSC outing in 2003, I was determined to return - this time with an entire posse from the true "ultra west". With the new "Big Chub" competition, I'd have to say that this is, to some extent, Ohio's Pet Fly Smackdown in the east....a gathering of the diehards for a challenging day on the water and lots of camaraderie.

Ed and Brennon wait for me to get suited up; we're all gonna fish the runs behind Ed's home!

It's a treacherous walk down to the river behind Ed's house, but we all make it.

Now the way it goes, it's one of those outings where you're not quite sure what you're doing or where you're going if you're not from around there; just like last year we all hooked up with Vermilion native Ed Clary (Reel Easy). Last year Ed had done well the day prior in the water behind his home; this year guess what? He had 3 steelies just a couple days back in the same spot again. Last year finding fish was tough, so this year Ed decided he'd share more new (to us) water...the waters behind his home!

After convening at Mill Hollow - the designated "home base" for the WSSC outing - we all piled back into the cars and headed over to Ed's place. Ed was extremely generous in lending me a pair of Neoprenes to use for the talk about SKIN TIGHT and they were supposed to be my size! It took 20 minutes to get those things on, but admittedly once they were on they were quite comfortable.

We all then huffed off into the first not a difficult hike but then we got to "the spot"; the point at which we'd truly descend into the river valley below. Everyone made it safely; I'm amazed that Ed routinely completes this trek, all in the name of Smallmouth (in the Spring) and Steelies.

Once in the gorge, we hiked upstream to a bend where Ed had done well the day prior. I spent much of my time rigging up the Centerpin before getting on the water to join my buddies. Clarity was nil..maybe 6" I opted to drift something BIG and DARK. I may perhaps be the only pinner to ever drift and swing a spey underneath a float!

I stop to watch my buddies fish.

Matt J, hereafter referred to as "Jenkins", puts in a nice long drift.

T-Bone works water that just yesterday gave up 3 steelies.

Ed knows the water here like...well let's just say he was aware of every dropoff, every rock, every holding spot, every ledge and cut. Despite this intimate knowledge we spent much of the morning casting blindly. Admittedly, the Vermilion is a tough stream. I don't look forward to fishing the Vermilion for the fish...I come here for the unadulterated setting.

Ed is no slacker...after the "newbies" hammer his home water, he gives it a shot.

Ed is IN the Big Chub competition, a new feature of the WSSC Outing.

Randy and Brennon converse in front of some scenery....should give you some idea of scale.

Most of the morning we just ended up walking downstream. Jenkin's saw some movement, but otherwise it was very uneventful. The butt had come loose on my new 7wt., So I was FORCED to use the centerpin. Forcing myself to use it helped me get USED to it!

While some of the guys were further downstream, I held back and took a lot of photos. When I finally got down to them, I learned that Ed had landed a steelie out of a deep run, using a nymph tipped with spawn. In water this dirty, I myself was getting ready to start begging around for needed something "more" to get a fish to find your fly, something that had scent to it.

The first of TWO panaromas from the Vermilion River. Check out the enlargement above or feel like you were there via the 3-D Viewer.

Panorama #2 from the Vermilion River. Check out the enlargement above or experience it in the 3-D Viewer.

Ed Clary and his Vermillion River Steelhead (thanks Jason!).
(Copyright © 2004 Jason Blocker)

Brennon's working the outside bend, a classic steelhead lie.    

Jenkins wanted to take some pictures of me fishing the 'pin.
(Copyright 2004 Matt Jennings)

Let me tell ya, you get MASSIVE long drifts with the Centerpin setup.
(Copyright 2004 Matt Jennings)

Ed pulled a steelie from this deep cut; Randy goes in search of more...

Jenkins got to fish some impressive water.

Randy high-sticks to keep only his leader in the water.

Jenkins and "his grotto".

Around noon we hiked back was time for lunch!

Yeah, Tim was there of the last to leave the river for lunch.

If you hike down, you must hike back up.

One more look at the Vermilion River from the ridge above.

Much of the afternoon simply consisted of hanging out, meeting folks, talking about whatever. The food was great - an excellent pot luck! I can pretty much leave you with the's hard to try and remember (and report) all that was said between 38 anglers. I will say this, 38 guys went out in the AM, only 4 or so steelies were landed, and all came on spawn. The "V" is hardly an EASY river.

BTW, one other thing worth mentioning - on our drive home we noticed something strange in the northern sky around South Bend, Indiana. A huge green glow hung in the air, seeming to move randomly without pattern. Our intial hunch was that it was the Northern Lights...after returning home we found out that yes, indeed, we had seen the Northern Lights as far south as Indiana!


I got to meet Custom Rod Builder Jim (James) Martin. STUNNING WORK on this custom wood grip; fiddleback maple, cocobolo and ebony.

Irish took over grillmiester duties for the afternoon!

I count 38 folks in attendance...+ ASM's wife
(Copyright 2004 R. Durkalec).

Ed is ready with his chub...

Four folks entered the "Big Chub" competition; Reel Easy, ASM, Big Dawg and JBlocker.

It's a head to head between Jblocker's and Big Dawg's chubs...

...and the winner is JBlocker with a 8"+ chub!

ASM's pup, Steelhead Kodiak, is perhaps the true winner of the "Big Chub" competition.

Perhaps as a runner up, or maybe just because, Bid Dawg is the recipient of "the flies".

Mike Durkalec, aka. ASM, autographing a copy of his DVD video "Centerpin 101".

Brennon, AKA "T-bone/B/Mountain Goat Boy" was this year's winner of the "who drove the furthest" prize; Mike's freshly autographed DVD.

Eric Zadorecky of (and CO-host of "Centerpin 101") heads back to the river for an afternoon of fishin...with a PLANER BOARD?


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