Tuesday, February 28, 2012

...Early to Rise...

…Early to Rise…
Feb. 26, 2012

 After a few warm sunny days throughout the week I was getting the itch to catch a trout on the dry fly. The problem was they were calling for a snow advisory on Saturday with freezing temps. Sunday’s outlook was to only get to the 40’s so it didn’t look too promising. I made plans to meet Rick for a teaching and fishing expedition in one of Pennsylvania’s north central trout streams on Sunday. There was still hope for some dry fly action, but I was very doubtful.

 I woke up at 6:05am and was on the interstate traveling East a little after 7. The sky was pure gray without a bit of sun showing in the direction I was traveling. The temperature was below freezing and the snowy forest outside didn’t look too inviting. I know if I wasn’t meeting Rick I would have been still under the warm blankets snoozing away. When someone asks to fish with me, it’s just hard to say ‘no thank you’ especially if it’s one of my favorite creeks and I haven’t fished it for awhile.

 I sat in the warm van in the snow gravel parking lot looking over the lake and the snowy forest. It looked and felt so peaceful I put down the drivers’ window some and listened to the quietness.

When Rick arrived we introduced ourselves and he followed me where I felt was a good open area to practice some casting. He had fly fished some before but wanted to know a little bit more.

 On the creek I explained and demonstrated casting such as overhand, roll casts and sidearm. I explained how and why to mend line, the reason for no drag and dry fly fishing. After that it was time to begin fishing. I set him up where he had room to back-cast and I thought would have the best chance to hook a trout. I took a stand upstream and we began casting nymphs.
 Large pine boughs extended a forth of the way across the large section of water where the narrower channeled water entered the pool. Another pine tree extended its boughs over the back far bank corner just before the water flowed, riffling over a line of branches, rocks and twigs. Between these pines, laurel hugged the bank. The pool was deeper into the center with a red amber lager tint to it.
 My second roll cast landed just shy of the overhanging bough. I mended line upstream just enough so my stonefly would drift in front of my leader. As it slowed its drift in the deeper center my fly line tip curved down. I quickly yanked the rod upward and the 3 weight Demon rod bowed downward just before it started flexing with the scrambling of the fish on the other end.
“Got one” I called out to Rick
 After a good melee I got him to the shallows at the shoreline and was surprised at the length of the good sized brown trout. Within the next 10 minutes another fish likened my stonefly. He fought a little stronger and I had to let tensioned line slip through my fingers occasionally with his quick turning tugs. He sub surfaced, under the rod pressure, and took deep, reluctantly swimming towards me. Another fine brown trout came to hand.

 After those two I changed positions with Rick and handed him one of my stoneflies. During the course of fishing the pool a fish rose with a surface splash. I turned to look and out from Rick’s floating fly line I seen the disturbance on the surface. A tingle went down my spine and I got a devilish grin on my face. Though there were no signs of bug activity, we could see, upon the surface, under the cloudy conditions, I didn’t hesitate to tie on a new black stonefly dry pattern. I cast in the area and about but couldn’t get any to rise. I went back to nymph fishing but had it on my mind to return later.

We drove upstream and I set up Rick in a good stretch of water lined with bank-side laurel and more pines. The far side was dark beneath the laurel and I can usually coax one to bite. I stood back on the bank and lit up a cigar while he fished. I helped him refine his roll casts and in time I’m sure it will come natural. While he was nymphing there was one solid take I was sure of but he was late on the hook set. There might have been a few more near-enough looking takes but really hard to tell. After a bit we ventured down creek with me lagging far behind fishing where he had passed through.
 I was standing, drifting the stonefly, in an easy current stretch when I heard him call out “Got one!” I looked down creek and the short fly rod was arced nicely as he stood before a tall leaning tree. It wasn’t too long after he called back “lost him.”

 I turned and noticed my fly line was arcing and dipping deep as if I had a snag on the bottom. I didn’t want to disturb the nice stretch of water so I lifted the rod easily in hopes it was only a sunken twig or branch I could raise from the bottom. The snag rose with my lift and I seen the white mouth and shining head turn releasing my stonefly. “Darn it!”
 I took a few puffs of my cigar to let things settle down a bit. On the second drift through my line pulled away as if the trout was going to keep it this time whether I was ready or not. I was ready! This trout fought with more aggressiveness than the last two. A few more headshakes and a longer melee ensued before I got him tame enough to bring in.

 After noon we had just been fishing another section of the creek for only about 15 minutes when the sun peered between the thinning layers of cloud cover. Rays of sunlight found its way through the pine boughs and reflected off the riffling current. Snow glistened, from the light, that lay upon the far bank and the drab colored pines seamed to brighten to a shimmering satin. I walked up creek to Rick and strongly suggested going back to were we started fishing in the morning. (Those risers were on my mind)

 When we got to the wide pool area the sun was shining a lot brighter and there was a sense of warmth, though I didn’t see any snow melt. The water appeared clearer and the depth, nearer to us, was much more visible. Though the sun was out this way there still weren’t any signs of flying bug life. It didn’t matter to me; I tied on the black stone and started casting about at random. Rick was drifting a nymph in the same area I caught the first two earlier. As we continued to fish one finally rose just out from Rick. I got a location on it and went up creek from the rise so I could drift a dry fly into his sight. I decided a #20 midge, gray body, just might entice a strike. It took a while and tots of patience as I cast out onto the riffles that entered the slower moving pool. Even though the dry was a parachute it was still hard to pick out from the foaming bubbles.
I would slowly move my rod tip, with the current, where I figured the dry might be drifting. I would play vicinity, if there was any kind of surface disturbance visible I would be ready. Among the cluster of foam bubbles drifting along the surface water my lone midge floated within. It times like these I wonder if the trout could see let alone distinguish my fly from the surface elements. Is it the gray body? Is it the tail that extends from the dubbed abdomen that silhouette my pattern to look like a real fly? Whatever it is I notice the water disturbance as the fish breaks surface at my midge. I quickly wrist the tip back and just as quick holler out “gotcha” when I feel the tension between my finger and thumb. The little rascal darts about not strong enough to put much bend in the top section of rod. I swing the rod level with the water and reel him in. The nice little wild brook trout relieves my dry fly fishing fever instantly. I take notice of his beauty and the fly just barely hanging on into the thin layer of lip skin. An easy turning uplift and the hook sets free. We watch as the colorful brookie scurries away, away from the shallows of the bank.

 I cast the little #20 midge a little longer but my eyes are tired from the strain to pick it out upon the surface. I decide to continue to dry fly fish. Getting the feel of the relaxed stroke of casting a dry out upon the water just feels right. I look through my midge fly box and decide on a #18 BWO quill body parachute. I tie my BWO duns with a stripped stem of a barred olive hackle feather. It gives a two shade effect that just might stand out as something different to a curious trout. Just like going to the ice cream shop and seeing an eye catching mixture of color and wonder what the flavor would taste like. Aimlessly I cast out and watch the fly fall delicately and than lazily drift with the slow current. I look down creek and watch Rick’s casts and see how he’s doing. I turn back to look for the white parachute and in that split second I actually feel the slight pull of the take in my sensitive fingers and quickly lift the rod. The fly line is pulled under and I know this isn’t a playful wild brookie. He jerks about beneath the surface until I finally get him close. I see it’s another brown trout. Not as big as the previous ones but one I figure should have known not to try his luck with me on the other end. I find, upon picking him up, he had no idea the imitation was a fake by the gulp he must have taken for the hook to pierce the inside of his gum.

 Not long after that Rick decided it was time to get back to camp and check in with the family. I drove him back up to his vehicle and he treated me to a couple of awesome brews while we talked a bit.
 Before driving off he told me if they weren’t ready to leave he’d be back and fish some more. After he pulled away I grabbed the fly rod and casually walked back down to the creek and finish off the evening without much concern.

 As time ticked on I had one more trout on briefly before I heard someone calling me from up creek. I turned and saw Rick standing on the bank telling me he had some food for me he’d leave at the van. I hollered back that I would be right up. He had zipped locked some heluski and a couple of slices of ham his family had as left-overs. I thanked him of course and watched as him and his wife drive off. I lifted the back of the mini van hatch and sat on the bumper. Opening the plastic back all I remember was smelling food. I gobbled it down right out of the bag, being I couldn’t find any plastic ware. After washing off my food fingers I lit up a sweet Pequeno and went back to fishing.
 I didn’t wade too far down creek as, with my belly full, I was getting weary. The sun was pleasantly aglow as it was setting low behind the tree limbs. It was time for me to leave this peaceful water and head home.

I believe this was the earliest I ever caught a trout on a dry fly of a new year.


I walked out this morning on my way to work. The sun was already rising between the openly spaced clouds. I could feel the warmth on my face on this chilly February morning. I thought of the lonely trout stream and how I was sure there would be bug activity upon the surface, more than when I was there. Just then I felt a tingle down my spine and a satisfying devilish grin upon my face!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Trout Bumming

Trout Bumming
Feb 2012

 I was still puffing away on my La Aurora stogie when I finally reached my destination. With the break in the winter weather, the temps actually got above 40 degrees, I couldn’t pass up hunting trout in the somewhat nice looking cloudy day.
 After pulling into the small parking area, near the forest stream, I got out and went over to check out the water conditions. The small creek waters flowed and tumbled peacefully under the bridge, around half submerged rocks and branches, and under laurel while winding its way down below. Banks were patched with snow and the brown crispy oak leaves crackled beneath my hiking boots as I walked. The wind howled through the tall white pines and hemlocks swaying the tree tops too and fro. At times I heard bare branches of the hard woods about butting against one another caused by the heavy gusts. For this reason I decided on using my stiffer tipped 7’ Hardy Demon. 

 When I hear someone refer to a ‘trout bum’ I think of myself. Since I was nine I fished for trout as often as possible with a spinning rod. In my late twenties I bought my first fly rod and haven’t used anything else for trout fishing since. Sure, I’ve caught pike, bass, steelhead and caught a walleye on the fly rod but it is trout fishing that really satisfies my yearnings to fish. I taught myself how to fly fish from casting, nymphing, dry fly and streamer fishing as well as tying my own fly patterns. There are times, if I haven’t trout fished for days; I end up going, no matter the weather, to satisfy this urge. Sometimes it’s just out of the blue. I’ll see something that has to do with fishing or trout and I make a split second decision. Though I’ve fished in pretty bad conditions a day like today, at 11:30am, I got the urge to just do it! I don’t need to summons someone to go with me to share my experience all the time. Just a fly rod, some flies and a trout stream is all I need, oh and a few cigars.

 When I was gearing up I found a DT olive-back streamer in the side door ashtray. I must have clipped it off my tippet the last time I took the big van for a fishing outing. I decided to use the streamer even in these cold conditions. Any holdover stockies might be too lazy to chase the minnow imitation in the chilled water but just maybe a few of the wild trout might.

 I step into the creek from the bank trying to not stir up the silt. I’m using a long length of knotted leader with 6x tippet. It’s not easy roll casting long leader and a cone head streamer with a short 7’ rod but I manage.

Fishing small narrow brushy creeks isn’t for the inexperienced. Tight quarters demand unorthodox casting sometimes and even that still causes misplaced flies in tree branches, bank side ferns and in other unfortunate hazards. It’s challenging no doubt and when it starts to get frustrating I step back onto the path, puff on my cigar, look at the surroundings and relax a bit. When everything goes right though, as my delicate cast falls shy of a downed tree limb and swings into a riffle. When I’m able to see the darker back of a trout dart out unaware of my presence and follow my offering into that riffle. When he grabs it it’s all worth while…. like this time!
 The tip arcs quickly on the hook set and the three weight flexes with the fight of the wild trout in the shallow riffling run. I take in line until the fish comes nearer. I reach down and caress the small brown trout and notice its deep orange spots and light blue halos along its shimmering wet sides. After unhooking the trout I release it back into the cold creek water and watch him dart to safety.

 After that catch I pull out a Pirata Pequeno. I’m not much for a flavored cigar but I ordered these short smokes before finding that out. The sweet outer wrap is not too strong yet the soft tobacco within still smokes like a cigar.

  The going is slow and tricky with each new bend of the meandering creek. Fancy casting and long drifts are needed. Even with these there are places that in no way I am able to reach beneath the overhanging laurel. The trick is to cast near enough to their hiding places and hopefully they follow the streamer out into the middle of the creek where they can grab it.
 At times I notice small native trout chasing and mouthing the streamer which is too big for these smaller fellows. I keep at it though. It’s a good challenge to execute these pin point casts between hazards when the catching gets slow. It sharpens my ability and keeps me in practice. Than again there’s that one dark pool at the end of a narrow riffle that a ‘take’ tightens my line and flexes the tip. A quick awareness sets the hook. After a delicate playful fight on the 3 weight another small trout comes to hand.

As evening approaches the wind dies down to a gentle breeze. Small birds come out to play. Snow flakes lazily fall like ash from a paper fire. There’s more hope that fish will come out from hiding and get into a feeding frenzy but it isn’t so. After 3 hours I only bring 2 fish to hand and felt there were no other strong enough hits to say I missed anything bigger than 4 inches.

 Back at the van I quench my thirst with a dark lager while changing clothes. Out on the road I light up a La Aurora Cetro. Most $2.00 cigars, whether they are American made or imported, are quick burners. These however burn slow and smooth, not bad for the price.
Oh well, another satisfying day of a trout bum.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Invaluable Timing

Invaluable Timing

 T’s daughter graduated from college the Saturday of Mothers Day weekend. T’s parents were up from Virginia along with her sister and brother-in-law. Saturday was spent entertaining the guests and going to the commencement ceremony. Sunday came early and T’s sister and brother-in-law were still sleeping when I took off to go fishing.

 Not fishing for 1 day worked on my mind all day Saturday that I was going to take advantage of Sunday morning to fulfill the trout fishing emptiness I felt in my soul. I had about 3 1/2 hours, which included driving time, to get some fly fishing exercise to loosen up the stiff joints and get my fishing blood flowing again before another day of entertaining.

 In about 25 minutes I was pulling into the gravel parking area of Mill Creek. A couple of cars were in the lot but I seen more vehicles parked across the road at the gaited lane. The fish and game commission spend money to make a parking area and yet people still park in the grass along the gaited area. Something I never could understand.
 I hurriedly put on my hip boots and put together the two piece Wonderod. I fitted the Battenkill reel with dt5f line and 7 ½’ tapered leader. I Put on my vest, hat and grabbed the net. Put a chew in my mouth and headed to the stream.
 The bright orange sun was already rising in the cloud streaked blue sky. Its rays were bleeding through the dense pines and leafless tree branches casting a reflection off the wavy rippling moving water. It was chilly enough to feel the early spring air in my lungs but not cold enough to see my breath as I exhaled. From the bank I looked upstream and already a few fishermen were standing fishing the deep hole upstream from the bridge. Downstream a husky fly-fisherman was working a small blow-down against the bank. Knowing the stream well, I was sure every deep hole within 100 yards from the bridge, up and downstream, had fisher-people around them. I figured on starting right where I was just off the parking area. A lot of guys don’t fish the shallow wide stretches and therefore, in brook trout waters, I knew there is usually a few undisturbed fish hiding.

 I stepped into the water and ‘then’ remembered I wanted to put on another pair of wool sox as I felt the coldness of the water penetrating through my booted feet. Wading out a couple of feet from shore I knotted on a white woolly bugger. I roll cast the bugger into mid-stream and watched it swing above the drab stony bottom. Palm stripping in line slowly I then roll cast a little further out and again watched the swing thru the broken clear water. At the end of the swing I lifted the rod, back-cast and after feeling the fiberglass rod load I forward cast and the bugger plopped near the far bank. I watched the swing of the bugger drift in front and out from an exposed broken branch. A gray mass of three trout scattered from a deep hold as a larger fish entered just after my bugger passed by.
 The disturbance or flash of the bugger must have drawn attention to the bigger trout. Standing in full view, like a sore thumb, in the clear riffled water, I brought the rod tip above me slowly in hopes that the big fish didn’t catch my movement. Maybe with the riffling surface water and reflecting sun in it’s face helped distract him from my presence. As my bugger surfaced there was enough surface tension I was able to upturn my wrist to roll cast the bugger up and across stream without too much of a quick motion. The bugger fell and I watched it swing towards the fish. The big fish swam up and mouthed the bugger and I set the hook feeling the line tension. With a quick ‘swirl’ the fish turned and darted downstream. My fiberglass rod tip section bent shortly than straightened. With the forces of the fish pulling, my rod flexed when against the current the hook popped loose.
 Dummy me, instead of letting the fish take the bugger and feeling the line pull I set the hook too soon and must have only caught his lip. I had him fooled but counted on sight setting instead of waiting for the fish to suck it in. I knew another try would only spook the trout so I reeled the line in. Looking upstream and around me no one seen my quick reactions. ‘No one knew I had a fish on!’ I’ll get him later I thought and backed out of the stream.

 The guy below me had moved downstream so I took his place. By the way he was holding his rod I was sure he was nymph fishing so I decided to drift a bugger along the blow-down. As the bugger drifted, not a quarter of a way through, an aggressive brookie flashed out from under the limbs and attacked the bugger. I set the hook and he fought across the rippling water. I netted him and let the 9” brookie swim back with his buddies. After two more quick hook ups and then no more takers for some time I cautiously fished my way downstream. At the next deep hole, as I expected, 5 guys were lined along the bank fishing minnows and bait in the deep pool. As I passed behind them I noticed a few trout on stringers. At the end of the pool, in the shallower water, 3 trout were scattered out but didn’t want anything to do with what I had to offer.

 Time passed by as I slowly fished my way down further. I’d check my Dakota Angler watch now and then and hoped no one caught or spooked the big trout I fooled earlier.
 I finally came across a limb held up in the middle of the stream. After drifting a bugger near it I waded up to it and peered out on the other side in the slow broad pool. 3 trout lay together beside a submerged rock with 3 others scattered behind them. I tied on a piece of 6x tippet to my leader and drifted a #14 latex caddis towards the first three. There was no problem hooking into the first fish but with the disturbance caused the others to be aware. After seeing none wanted the white caddis I tied on a R.A.M. caddis wet and cast it upstream and let it drift within view of the fish. 2 more came to my net in the short time I spent coaxing them. Looking at my watch again at least an hour more had passed so it was time to return for a last try at the big guy.

 On the opposite side of the stream, from the parking lot, I leaned against a young sapling on the steep bank overlooking the water. Peering down I tried to locate the big trout in the wide stretch of water around the limb. I caught a glimpse of the three trout held up in the deep hold when the surface water calmed a bit but other than that I couldn’t place the big guy. With the sun glare, rippling water and shadows of tree branches along with the stony rocky bottom made it a real detriment even with polarized glasses on.
 I crossed the creek downstream and made a wide arc to reenter the stream above where the fish laid. I stepped into the stream again pretty much where I entered it in the early morn. I tied on the slimmest white woolly bugger I had and twisted a lead matchstick about 12” up from the bugger on the leader. I roll cast the bugger towards the far bank and brought in some line so the bugger would swing right in front of the exposed limb and into the deep hold. I watched my floating line this time instead of watching the bugger swing. As the fly line drifted in front of the limb the line all of a sudden submerged and my fish catching instincts took over.
 My vision instinctively let my brain know the line sank, this in turn sent an impulsive reaction to my upper extremities. Instantaneously my right hand lifted the rod up as my left hand held the line tight enough to set the hook and than let line out between my fingers as tension was felt. A swirl beneath the limb and the line swinging down and to the left connected my vision with the darting fish’s location. The brookie was as mad as a stuck bull in a bullfight.
 The big brookie worked the stream from one bank to the other with quick jerking turns, fighting and twisting. I let him tire himself from side to side but didn’t let him take any line when he wanted to go down stream into the shallower riffles. The feel of the responsive reflex of the Wonderod was incomparable to any graphite rod while fighting the active brookie. Finally the fish succumbed from the pressure and I brought him to my left. Picking up the rod, his head raised some as I slid the net underneath him and scooped him up. I carried him, in the net, to the van to get some pictures before heading home.
 I laid the fish on a wet towel on a mat in my van. Without changing my hip boots for shoes, I got in the drivers seat and hurriedly headed out of the parking area. I was anxious to show off the big brook trout to the visitors at the house. Driving up the dirt road I remember lighting up my last La Carona Whiff cigar. The small thin cigar lasted just long enough for the short drive home.

 Later that evening I remembered that my boss was putting finishing touches in his log cabin camp. The next day at work I showed him the trout, I had put in a cooler, to see if he was interested in getting the fish mounted.

The 17+” brook trout is now displayed on the balcony wall in his log cabin.


My Fiberglass Fly Rods

Since I love to fish with Fiberglass fly rods occasionally, I took the time to check out The Fiberglass Manifesto Blog.
 This blog is dedicated to those who use Fiberglass Rods as well as custom Glass Rod builders and articles, etc. I had the opportunity to chat with Cameron and told him my interests and led him to my story of my last outing fishing Steelhead with my 8wt Wonderod. He enjoyed the story and highlighted it on his blog with a link to my StreamSide Tales blog. I thought that was pretty cool of him to do that.
 Some of the comments listed on his blog asked for close up pictures of my 8wt Wonderod. So I took some pictures to hopefully satisfy these requests. I also added some reels and a few links to stories that I have used these older ‘Glass’ rods.
Hope you all enjoy the pics and stories.

Wonderod 8wt. 8'6" Standard Taper
I had won this rod, a few years back, placing second in a 'One Fly C&R Competition' we have in Erie for Steelhead each year. I've tried using it for bass on local ponds but it takes a lot more efforet to cast those heavier weighted streamers or light cork poppers.
Here's a few stories of me using this rod.

(clicking on the pic enlarges it)

This is the reel that came with the rod. I never attempted to spool it and use it. It is pretty noisy and looks too new to get it dirty. I feel safer using a more modern reel for steelhead and bass.
A Noris Shakespeare #2110

This next rod is my favorite 'Glass' rod for trout. Some guy I fish with gave it to me. I occasionally use a Martin Classic MC78 with Cortland Sylk line. There are no markings on the rod to say what weight line to use but I found a 5wt. works very well.
Just a few fun times with this rod.

From tip to butt it's about 6' 8".

Martin Classic Reel #MC78

A guy I know from Kentucky, who lived here in PA. in his younger days, knew I liked Fiberglass rods and I ride a motorcycle. I had told him I pack the cycle up and go camping and fishing on occasions. He said he found this rod at a yard sale, i believe, took it home and refurbished it. He was kind enough to give it to me.
It is a Trail-Pack rod by Longfellow. It's a 6 piece rod and comes with it's own cloth lined zippered pouch.
It's about 7' 3" long.
It doesn't say what weight line to use but again a 5 weight works well with it. I couldn't find any more info on this rod but it is fun to use though piecing it together takes a little more time.



Monday, February 6, 2012

'Glass' versus 'Steel'

‘Glass’ versus ‘Steel’
Super Bowl Sunday 2012

 The steel finally surfaced showing his colors. The ‘glass‘, was flexed deep into the butt section arcing like a rainbow towards the fish. With a big push of his wide tail and a twist, he turned and dove deep. The Alpha II reel quickly but quietly let out line. Tightly gripping the cork handle I was able to feel the force of the fish pulling and the resistance of the reel drag as the spool spun.

 It looked to be a good weekend for steelhead fishing. The mild winter thus far made for unfrozen water in February. I got some inside info that the water conditions should be good for a Sunday outing. I made a call to a friend up in North East about meeting for some steelhead fishing.

 I met Deetz at the fast food parking lot about 9:00am and we discussed where we wanted to fish. Being from North East PA. and a big time steelhead fisherman, he suggested venturing up creek away from any crowds should there happen to be some later on.

 After parking along the grape field we over dressed for the coldness of the morning. I decided on fishing with my Shakespeare 8 wt. Wonderod for this steelhead fishing expedition. I attached my new 7/8 Allen Alpha II fly reel, loaded with DT7F line, to give it a work out and see how it handles the big fish in the cold temperature.
 Crossing the road, into the vineyards, without the creek in sight, we headed through the woods for the up creek journey. With Deetz wearing a chest pack and a small day pack on his back and I with a loaded sling pack, I’m sure we looked as if we were making this an all day fishing excursion. He carried his disassembled noodle rod and I carried the assembled 8' 6" Fiberglass rod which tip-wiggled with each step. After making our way across the field we entered the woods and headed towards the creek. I felt like I was back in the Alleghany National Forest. We were away from any interstate noise or local roadways. No trains, no barking dogs and no automobiles.
 The creek water cascaded over shale shelves in shallow sections and emptied into plunge pools of deeper water. The sediment, from the moving water over loose shale, made for a grayish cast of the top section of water where as the creek bed was dark in the deeper pools. Steep cliffs alternated on each side of the creek as we continued to walk upstream. To avoid these impassable cliffs we crossed the creek in various safer shallower areas. Long icicles hung from shelves on the shaded sides of the cliffs. Now and again water appeared between layers of shale and fell like streamers into the water below. Occasionally loose shale and pebbles fell skimming the cliff sides, as they dropped, and noisily splashed into the water. The scenery was magnificent through my eyes and any trout, nature loving, fishermen’s dreams.

 Deetz led us right to a nice pod of steelhead right off the bat to begin our steelhead fishing. With my first roll cast of my streamer I forgot about my natural surroundings and concentrated on my fishing ability. I started off with a light colored streamer under an indicator being so late in the season and cold conditions. The fish would be, no doubt, in a lethargic state and not want to use much energy chasing a stripped in streamer. During these colder conditions the fish will hold tight usually and wait for food to come to them. Deetz on the other hand would drift home made egg sacks under his indicator. I never fished with a noodle rod but it looked interesting watching him flip the bait and indicator out into the stream with ease and accuracy.

 Deetz gave me the first dibs on the pod of fish. It took a little more finesse to get the fiberglass rod to roll cast the weighted leader, indicator and streamer but after a short while I got used to it and managed without too many problems. After a few minutes without success I let Deetz give it a try. It took a little longer than what we expected but he did hook up and landed the first fish of the day. Unexpectedly the fish fight was a good one and not the log tugging, slow fight one would expect late in the season.
 My first hook-up came within a few submerged branches. The steelhead were stationed beneath and a little out from a fallen tree. Foolish me, after the hook up, I tried bringing the fish over the submerged limbs and continuing to fight with him near the hazards. After a good scrap mid current he forced his way back towards the underwater branches. I tried to keep him from tangling up and ended up breaking off in the process. The next hook up, and after a little advice by Deetz, I turned the fish downstream away from the tangles. The steelhead fought satisfactory and I landed him successfully.

 Deetz put us on good pods of steelhead throughout the day. It wasn’t easy hooking up though. It took patients watching the indicator drift with a good flow of current from upstream and than slowly watch it drift in the slower deep pools across and downstream. We could see the steelhead at times as our offering entered such pods. How anxious we were in hoping to hook up within the first few drifts through. More often than not the fish wouldn’t take and we’d lose interest and move on looking for more responsive fish.
 We did have some good fighting action throughout the day of course. Deetz had a young fresh looking steelhead give him a good runaround fight that was fun to witness. One healthy hen gave me a long lasting battle which gave both the Wonderod and Alpha II reel a good work out. She was the only fish that took the white Zonker I had tied on for the time being. She fought well using her weight and energy in the slow current pool. It took a couple of close shoreline sprawls before she gave up and let me handle her so I could unhook the streamer and release her.

 Before we knew it, it was after 2:00pm. We decided to fish our way down creek to finish up the day. I found no steelhead holding in the shallow runs. Near the cliff walls and some semi-deep sections I’d adjust my streamer depth, below my indicator, and cast out into these sections hoping to connect with an unseen steelhead. It wasn’t until I got down the creek some that I got my last real good fight. Drifting my indicator, through a slow riffle that entered the mouth of a deep pool, the indicator slowly dipped down beneath the surface water. It was almost as if my streamer had caught on the creek bed. The water was dark so I couldn’t see beneath nor know its depth. I lifted the rod as if setting the hook and the resistance moved, arcing the rod shaft with a weighty pull. If you ever dislodged a weighty snag and the undercurrent started to take it downstream, this is what it felt like. The pulling turned direction and pulled across the current and I knew then this wasn’t any snag I’ve come to know about. “Fish on!”

 He stayed deep and I thought maybe it was a brown trout. I seen his dark body rise occasionally within sight below but not clear enough to distinguish. It was a tug fest at first with long pulls that I had to let him take line as the ‘glass’ rod arced strenuously from the force. The Alpha II reel unspooled line on these long runs but also brought in line quickly, when the steelhead swam back up creek, on its large arbor spool. I probably kept the rod tip up, at least tried too, more than I should have as I was anxious to get him to the surface for a better look see. Just out from me he did just that before taking to the quicker current that entered the deeper pool.
 I got a look at his long dark body and concluded I was battling with a wise old male. I wanted to land this fish badly and decided not to force the issue unless I was sure of no undue pressure. It wasn’t long before Deetz showed up, from up stream, and we both watched the big ‘steel’ fight the ‘glass’ rod in the riffling current. I’d get him pulled out of the faster current occasionally but nearer to shore he’d find enough energy to turn and force his way back into the current. After a fun fought battle I got him to the shallow water near the bank. While splashing around he was able to break the streamer away from the tippet. I was close enough by than to grab him and lift him to shore.

 After that exciting battle we moved right along down creek. At the last fishing hole of the day, before calling it quits, I hooked and landed two nice sized steelhead. Deetz had a few missed opportunities as his #18 hook failed to connect solidly in the fish’s mouth. I lost my final fish with a hook set that raised the fish from the depth but somehow he came undone on his head turning retreat.

 After the long walk back to the vehicles I was pretty much tuckered out. After changing out of fishing gear we bid our farewells and Deetz headed for home. I, on the other hand, had one more excursion to pursue before heading back to my home.

 Being on the East side of Erie I couldn’t pass up visiting one of the wineries. After a few samples of wine, and buying a couple bottles for myself, I was back on the road again heading south. By now I was in the mood to relax and mellow out. With the sight of the orange glow, of the setting sun, below the western horizon, I lit up a Don Tomas Maduro Clasico and tuned the radio to listen to some smooth Jazz.

Another good day on the water!


One of Deetz steelhead caught on an egg sack