I think it's safe to say that those of us along the southern shore of ol' Erie have gotten settled in to the steelhead scene. After all, it's already November, and most of us start to come down with the bug by late August.
I realize that I'm in the minority when it comes to time spent on the stream - most guys can't get much, but I'm fortunate enough to be on the far other side of the spectrum. More time on the water - be it working, or playing - equals more steelhead. So far steelhead alley has had it's share of crummy conditions and tough fishing, but I've been lucky enough to have had a lot of steelhead in my net already this fall.
Every tug when swinging, and every drop of an indicator screams out silver. Enough that at times, dare I say, I take it for granted and even come to expect it.
For those of you who spend a great deal of time fishing our area, you've no doubt experienced the same thing. You've been high off of the adrenaline rush from the sound of a screaming drag on the first run, the cartwheeling chromer shooting towards the sky simply for "the love of elevation", or the thrash and headshake of a big fish that just realized it's meal wasn't exactly what it had anticipated after the hook point slammed home in to it's jaw.
But as exciting and fun as our steelhead are, when we hook something in our rivers from October to April we've got a pretty damn good idea of what it's going to be. Only rarely are we left wondering what we have on the end of our line.
After guiding the other afternoon I went out and did a bit of fishing on my own. The creek was low - so low that I considered not even bringing a rod at all. But of course, I did.
I rigged up with a long leader - around 12 ft. and tied on clouser style streamer that I'd had a lot of success with under those conditions. Olive and white - make that fly dance and it gets 'em every time. I jumped off the bank and walked down the creek a couple hundred yards, and found the ball of steelhead that was bound to be in one of the deeper pools under these sorts of conditions.
First cast. Nothing. Second cast - chaser, but wouldn't commit. Third cast, and a shape moved out from the ball, and engulfed the fly. Strip set. Hard. Lift. Now I'm tight. Head shake. Head shake.
It's running now but something doesn't feel right. Didn't take off like a rainbow. Slower. More methodical. Bulldoggish. Roll. Looks weird. Tanish? Yellow? Messed up looking steelhead for sure.
Take it to him now. Gain line. Gain more line. Head shake. Turn him and get him headed this way. Fish is getting closer now. Short run. Turn him again. Still doesn't feel right. Roll. Was that yellow? Brownie? Holy *&#@!!! Brown, and a big one!
Alright. Focus now. Lose a steelhead and it's not the end of the world. Lose this thing and you're gonna be livid. He's close, and you almost have him. Get around that boulder and don't let him rub you off on that ledge.
Downstream side pressure. Roll. Short run - he felt the bank on his belly. Short burst and headshake. Turn him again. Back eddy. Shallow water. Lift. Pull. Beached. Got him!!!
Here's to more of these bonus brownies in the future...