After a number of days off due to less than desirable river conditions, yesterday we hit full stride again. The day was exciting in many ways starting with the snow. With ten clients, four guides, and hundreds of miles to be covered to get them all in the same place at the same time, snow was not our friend.
Knowing the forecast, we planned the best we could for the lake effect snow event that was forecasted to dump snow from Sandusky, OH clear to Buffalo, NY and at times in large quantities. When I got up at 4 a.m. we had about 16 inches on the ground and it was still snowing. Nevertheless, we loaded up, locked it in 4 high and hit the road.
At a slower than normal pace, we all converged on the rivers we planned to fish. Below is a shot taken at the parking lot as we grabbed gear to start the day. With high winds and driving snow, there were actually moments where all you could do was look at the ground or go get a good set of goggles :) It was a snow event that the region is known for, but for the "Anglers of Snowy Mountain," we would not be turned away :)
THE GUYS PREPARE FOR THE DAY IN THE DRIVING SNOW
Greg had a couple of guys who were newer to the sport of fly fishing, so we got them started first and left Greg to do what he does best.....teach newbies.
He obviously did a fine job as within just a few minutes, the first fish struck and was on its way to the net. Ed, pictured below, was inducted into the steelhead ranks with this fish. Ed was a fun guy and provided us some good humor for the day.
ED WITH HIS FIRST STEELHEAD
Shortly after Ed got his first fish, it was Mike's turn. An eager fresh fish struck and Mike struck back. The skunk was already out of the bag and only a few minutes of daylight had elapsed. That is why we entrust Greg with all of our first timers :) Job well done sensei!
MIKE WITH HIS FIRST STEELHEAD
ED STRIKES AGAIN
About this time, I called Greg to find out how they were doing and found them to be doing very well. I unfortunately hadn't seen a single solitary fish on the day. I knew we were on fish and we contemplated moving. However, with one of my clients being a former Alaskan guide we quickly concluded that it isn't wise to leave fish to find fish. Unless of course you have already caught a number.
I knew that conditions were less than desirable at the moment, but within a moment it could and most likely would change. The conditions we were dealing with were large slush flows and ice in the guides, on the lines, indicators, waders, oh and did I mention the nets?
HERE WILL TUREK DEMONSTRATES THE AVERAGE
NETTING EXPERIENCE FOR THE GUIDES ON THIS
BONE CHILLING DAY
It was that point of the day in between daybreak and the actual sunrise and our location became choked with slush. I knew that as soon as the sun could hit the water, the slush would dissipate, and the fish would turn on. At least that is what I was telling my clients....I was banking on the fish not making me out to be a liar.
Both of my clients were very good guys with decent experience on the fly, yet neither had ever caught a Steelhead. So, that was my goal for the day. I managed to keep the pressure of Greg's already profitable day at bay while I waited in anticipation of our moment. I had to trust my instinct and experience which as fisherman we must do from time to time. I continued fishing the guys as if every cast would be the cast and then that magical moment came.
The sun rose within minutes and I told the guys to pay attention to the slush. I said, "Just watch and see....that slush is gonna disappear within about five minutes, and then it will be on!"
Just as I had confidently stated (whether in complete hope or stupidity), it began to happen.
Minute by minute the slush dissipated and then all at once it was gone. Within seconds I heard the cry "FISH ON!" I moved to an upstream position with a skip in my step and with my net in hand. Soon, we had Brad's first Steelhead in hand.
BRAD WITH HIS FIRST LAKE ERIE STEELHEAD
After a couple of fish and some photos, Brad got back in position and laid out a cast....another...and another....and BAMM, fish on! The fish were making me look very good as they were turning on just as I had hoped they would.
Below Brad poses with a very nice red cheeked buck. His stripe and cheek coloration was vibrant and beautiful. Needless to say, Brad was feeling pretty good about the day at that moment. But what about Matt?
BRAD WITH HIS SECOND FISH...A VERY BEAUTIFULLY COLORED BUCK!
Yes for a time, Matt was the recipient of "watch every one else catch the fish." However, that time came to an end for Matt with a very nice thick shouldered fish that took his nymph on the dangle. Matt was excited as was I to see such a nice fish as his first Steelhead.
MATT LANDS A VERY NICE 9.5 LB STEELHEAD
AND JOINS THE STEELHEADERS CLUB.
After a few more fish, Matt struck again. This time he landed a fish that had come from a long way off. In the photo below, you will see a missing right pectoral fin. That is what is called a clipped fin and the right pectoral clip is the mark of a Huron River fish from Michigan waters. A couple of Huron fish were caught during the day.
A HURON RIVER, MICHIGAN FISH (NOTE THE
CLIPPED RIGHT PECTORAL FIN)
After a very productive morning, it was time for lunch. The frozen gear was stacked along a streamside dinner table and out came the food.
THE GROUP STOPS FOR LUNCH INCLUDING A NICE HOT CUP OF SOUP
After lunch, the catching continued and so did the making of memories.
In addition to Greg and I, Will Turek and John Miller were also on the water for the day.
Below, are a few photos from Will's day with clients.
RICK WITH A NICE PIECE OF STEEL
RICK FIGHTS A FISH WHILE CHUCK LENDS A HAND
CHUCK BAGS A FISH OF HIS OWN
CATHY GETS HER CHANCE AT STEEL WITH GUIDE WILL TUREK
And so, after a long cold day on the water, the anglers of snowy mountain walked the snow covered banks with a certain sense of satisfaction. Not only had it been a beautiful day out in the great outdoors, but it had been a top notch day on Steelhead Alley.
PICTURES BELOW FROM GUIDE JOHN MILLER'S DAY
FIGHTING THROUGH THE MORNING SLUSH.
JIM WITH A COLORED UP BUCK ON A SNOWY DAY.
ANDREW WITH A FINE BUCK STEELHEAD.
Thanks very much to all the clients who did their part to make the day a success...we had a great day with you.
Until next time, tight lines....
Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Steelhead Alley Outfitters