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11-24-04 - Randy and I get out on Twenty Mile Creek.

The scenery in the gorge is stunning!

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
Weather: Rainy
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.

Actually Steelhead #2 for the day (#1 got away)...small Jacks so far..

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!

More Skipjacks...smaller 2 year runners. Steelie #3 for MP.

What's up with al the jacks? On the upside, these 2 year fish pack the most bang for the buck, tailwalking, jumping, cartwheeling, you name it! Steelie #4!

This bruiser is Steelie #6; #5 was a chrome hen, over 10 lb, that got free before I could shoot her!

A closeup of Steelie #6.

Steelie #7

Nice color on this buck - Steelie #8

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.

I didn't even realize it when I shot this pic, but this shallow gravel run held many more fish than I initially spotted.

Can you see the skipjacks in this shot?

Downstream there were some gorgeous runs.

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.

Fish numbers downstream were sparse; I landed this hen (#9) almost on shear luck out of a 3'+ deep pocket run.

More steelies redding...this pair simply sat on the redd as if they were waiting for something to happen.

That something to happen ended up being me picking off my 10th steelhead, the buck from the pair who foolishly came off the red to kill my egg.

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.

Back upstream, many more fish were holding tight along the shale cliff. Steelie #11

Steelie #12 - a lot of smaller fish were landed today!

Steelie #13 (and #17) - believe it or not this hen came to shore twice, including being the 2nd to last fish I landed.

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!

Steelie #14

Steelie #15

Steelie #16

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.

Steelie #18 - I though this guy put me over the 20 mark so I stopped fishing...turns out I only landed 18! Darnit I could've sat for 10 more minutes and gotten 2 more steelies to break the 20 mark!

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 to Lake 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.

  MP 

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