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11-28-04 - The only steelhead I landed today!
(Copyright © 2004 Rich Brown)

This steelie also happened to be my first Centerpin caught Steelhead!
(Copyright © 2004 Rich Brown)

Chief with one of his 3 or 4 first steelhead ever!
(Copyright © 2004 Rich Brown)

11-28-04 - Last day in PA and I break out the Centerpin!

Waters Fished: 12 Mile Creek
Fish Caught: 1 for 3 or so...
Outing Date: 11-18-04
Weather: Rainy in the AM
Air Temp: high 30's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: rose over 1' in just a couple hours
Water Color: went from clear to almost 0' visibility
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Dragon's Tooth, Red Eggs, Spawn Sacks (in dull orange)
Pattern Color: as per above
Fishing Quality: improving

So it's our last day in PA; Rich (FAT) arrived in Erie late last night on their way back from Boston and had managed to negotiate an morning on the PA tribs for him and his eldest son Chief! Our plan, do it right, have FAT come wake us up and head down to one of the prime locations we had selected the night before.

12 Mile ended up being our destination; we got there well before sunrise, already legal fishin' time in PA. Despite our early arrival, there were already 3 guys out with headlamps camping the choicest of the spots in the river. Despite this, we hopped in and starting fishing, and seemingly right off the bat folks started hitting fish.

12 Mile was running clear, but quickly as the morning grew, it started clouding up from the night's rains. More and more leaves starting coming downriver, and in a matter of only 30 minutes the river was up significantly and fish were no longer so "sightable".

Despite this folks continued to hammer fish. Meanwhile I started getting somewhat discouraged and by the time the river had turned to chocolate, I made a change in my battle plan. Chocolate water - I'm gonna fish the PIN!

After a drive to Poor Richard's and back, I rigged up the centerpin and opted to drive spawn in white mesh for the rest of the day. My hip waders had developed a strong leak over the last couple days, so after drying out I opted to fish 12 Mile from a concrete wall that looks over a long run. Honestly, really, I hadn't thought about ever actually getting a fish.

While running my spawn through the run time and again, Randy showed up and started losing fish with his secret big black flies. A fellow PA angler also came up and introduced himself; I want to say his name was Andy but honestly, my apologies if I didn't remember your name correctly!!!!! Andy was kind enough to break out HIS centerpin - a 12' Loomis rod. WHOA was that thing LIGHT....it balanced a heck of a lot better than mine because the BLANK is so light! Mental note - next centerpin build a Loomis ;)

Despite my lack of confidence, Andy assured me that I'd hook up with some patience. After an HOUR or so of drifting spawn, it finally happened. My bright orange indicator went through the same drift as always and yet instantly it disappeared into the murk. Without hesitation I came up HARD with the rod and the fight was on! "FISH ON" I shouted...and although I don't remember it, Rich claims he heard me doing a "WHOOO HOOO YEE HAW" so loud it was if I was standing next to him shouting into his right ear!

At first I thought it was a smaller trout, but the reality is that a 13' rod is quite the shock absorber, both protecting my 8lb. leader and providing me with excellent fish controlling ability. The Centerpin Reel itself? Actually not too hard to put the brakes on a steelie, yet at the same time it's easy enough to let him take line without getting you into a wicked backlash. After a few minutes, I finally felt I might be winning this battle. About the same time, guys starting asking me just how exactly I planned to land the fish standing 6' above the stream, without waders...?

It took some maneuvering, at one point having to hand the rod to Rich so I could get around a bankside tree to get to a good landing spot. Rich, always prepared, went at my fish and ended the battle with a superb netjob. Rich quotes me as exuberantly shouting, "YES! FIRST CENTERPIN STEELIE BABY! YES!". More or less, from Rich's point of view, I was a raving mad centerpin freak/convert that day.

When it was all said and done, Rich broke out his digital camera and snapped some photos of me with the fish. It was then rested bankside and I again took in the vista of this beautiful steelie, the first ever to succumb to my centerpin. Rich Benedict was looking for Steelies and Big Browns to mold, and this 8lb PA fish was definitely a fish I would personally consider for replica work.

Not too long after that Rich figured they were running late. He pulled the "10 casts. If you Hookup you get another 10 casts. If you don't, we leave". Let's just say that he and Chief fished for another HOUR before finally going 10 casts without a hookup. Well actually that's not true, it finally got so late that they simply HAD to leave that INSTANT as they were in BIG trouble for having stayed out fishing so much longer than the time allotted.

After Rich headed out, I closed my day as well. 1 centerpin steelie was enough for me. The trip was an entire success. I told Randy to just keep fishin' as long as he liked, even if that was all day. There was definitely no hurry to get home on my part. A couple hours later he finally showed up at the car, ready to concede that we probably should get on the road.

I'll leave you with this - we probably should have just stayed out there all day. On the drive home there was an accident outside of Toledo that closed down the Ohio Turnpike for FOUR HOURS. Randy and I literally sat in the car that long moving a total of only 1 mile before the accident was cleared and traffic finally started moving ;)

So the local boys tell me that Ohio has some superb WINTER steelheading....

  MP 

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