11-24-04 - Day 2 - 20 mile Creek, 20 steelies?
Waters Fished: 20 (Twenty) Mile Creek
Fish Caught: 18 (a few escaped without photographs ;)
Outing Date: 11-24-04
Air Temp: 40's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: low but rising
Water Color: gin clear until around 1:00 PM, then instantly milky
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: glo bugs
Pattern Color: orange and red were again top producers
Fishing Quality: Excellent
Day 2, and Randy and I woke up when we felt like
it! We ended up staying at the Super 8 in North East, just off exit
41. Rather than drive all the way west, we figured it would be a
good day to start checking out the eastern PA tributaries. I suggested
perhaps we go to Cascade Creek in Erie and work our way east; Randy
countered that we should start at the eastern edge and work west.
Since neither seemed to be a better choice than the other, we headed
to the easternmost tributary in PA - 20 Mile Creek.
It was a fair hike down to get to the stream; when
we got there we found 3 guys fishing right at the spot where most
folks would get in the river. Not wanting to disturb their spot
(or the fish) we bushwhacked a bit until we found another low spot
on the bank where we could get in.
It had been raining much of the morning, more of
a slow drizzle. Despite the rain, the water was still crystal clear.
Remembering that the PA steelies aren't always holding in pods in
a deep pool, we both scanned the riffles as we worked our way downstream.
In short order I had sighted, hooked and landed
my first fair steelie of the morning. Being in the fast water, these
fish (even the little ones) just go ballistic. My first fish, a
small chrome hen, was no exception. Even after landing her, she
still had plenty of fight, and got away long before I could dig
up my camera to get her picture. Not long after I lost a few more
feisty males before landing #2 - a fish that came screaming across
the stream to hammer a white glo bug.
Continuing downstream, little steelies were mostly
what I found - a LOT of skipjacks. In one particularly fast chute
I found an entire POD, holding in the fast water. I went to down,
took about 4 shots to get down, but it was definitely worth camping
out. Steelies 3-8, including a huge chrome hen (easily over 10lb.)
that avoided her picture, all came from the same narrow fast chute.
Every fish had hit orange or white eggs...yes white again!
While I had been camped out, I noticed there were
even thicker concentrations of steelhead in the pools and runs below
the chute. A couple guys had been working their way upstream; I
figured I'd bypass them and look further down. They had been having
so-so luck, most of their fish coming on beadhead nymphs.
Past the runs the river became shallow - a few
fish were sitting on the gravel here but all were very shy. I figured
I'd press on downstream. I ended up going WAY downstream; the fish
seemed to thin out...instead of 20 there'd be 5. I didn't have ANY
luck in the slower sections - fish holding here were spooked by
even my glowbugs hitting the water. Frustrated, and knowing there
was better fishing upstream, I turned around.
Turning around proved to be the best decision I
made; on my way back up I got another hen out of a deep fast pocket.
A bit further up I managed to annoy a male steelie enough that he
came off his bed to hammer my fly.
And then I got back up to the "glide"
- shallow, slower moving water going over the gravel. I paid more
attention this time; either I hadn't noticed them prior or many
more fish had moved up.
Regardless of why they were now here, they were
also much more willing to bite. At times it seems like I could almost
WILL the fish onto my hook. Sparring males were all too happy to
kill my tiny bright spot of color as it floated by, and the hens
were only mildly reserved in their strikes.
I simply had a ball despite being cold and wet.
Fish after fish were landed, sometimes back-to-back hookups. Meanwhile
Randy was now working the deep run upstream and hooking up with
fair frequency as well. It was STEELIE HEAVEN!
Personally, I had a goal - my first 20 steelhead
day. Things had started to slow down...heck I started catching the
same fish twice! When I landed my "last fish" of the day,
I thought I was well above 20, having lost count much earlier. My
only saving grace was I knew I had missed a couple photos.
As I walked back up to Randy I noticed a sudden
change in the water. Within literally seconds, it had gone from
crystal clear to milky. Another couple minutes passed and we couldn't
see ANYTHING anymore. Completely satisfied with our MORNING on the
river, we called it a day around 1:30 in the afternoon!
The remainder of our day was spent heading over
Erie Ultimate Angler, the area "fly shop" (vs. fully
line tackle/bait shop). Randy and I were both in need of some tying
materials. On the drive over I got in a count of my fish - I had
in fact NOT made my 20, having only landed 18! DRAT! I EASILY could've
caught a couple more before leaving the water! NUTS!
At least we had plenty of time in the evening to
tie, relax, and get in PLENTY of sleep! The rain didn't let up;
tomorrow we'd have to hit all the smaller tribs.
Did I mention that you simply MUST hit the New
Harvest Restaurant and Bar? Randy and I pigged out on 36 wings this
night - Medium (more like mild), Terry's Gold (best wings on the
PLANET, sweet and HOT), and Garlic Butter (crunchy garlic, not wimpy
weak garlic either, almost a tie with the Gold wings). Battered,
Deep Fried and coated, some of the best wings I've had in years.