SAO Pages

Monday, June 30, 2008

Taking Advantage of The Situation

It all started last Wednesday morning when I received an email from a gentleman named Dom from the Pitt area. Dom was looking for a guide to accommodate his last minute trip to Spring Creek. After a few exchanged emails and a couple phone calls he had me convinced to take him fishing.

I knew he was in for a treat as I had been fishing the cicada hatch just two days prior and the fish were extremely agressive for the prize. When I mentioned that most of our action was coming on this hatch, he smiled from ear to ear. I took him to some holes to see what he had for personal experience. The first couple hours of the morning were consumed with teaching him some finer points of the art such as rigging, how to read the water, refining his casting stroke and how to look for what the fish may be eating.

About 10am I suggested we hit my favorite stretch. I whipped out the big, huge, 4" foam fly not knowing if it was too early in the day. Within seconds of the first cast he was into a fish. The bugs hadn't really even become active yet, but I guess they were just used to seeing the big meal floating overhead. I know one thing, I gotta get some night game in within the next two to three weeks before they vanish for another 17 yrs. Later, we came up to one of my favorite holes. It has one of the best lies I have seen, and I have cherished it since my start to fishing on the fly. This hole always has fish. I directed him where to cast and the fly landed on the spot. Dom had a great drift and for a beginner, quite frankly, I've never seen such drag free drifts! Sure enough a big fish rolled, he set the hook, we saw the belly and it was gone in seconds. I'm sure if anyone was in the canyon they heard a very audible ....."AWWWWWWWWWW MAN".

We had a stream side lunch outside of my mothers house which is right on the stream where I cooked chicken and corn with chips and iced tea. Dom was talking to someone on the phone and I heard him say "I'm having the time of my life". We fished a little while longer and he had to pack it up to go on a family trip. We had a great time together and after speaking with him, it sounds like I will see him again come fall to fish at the chrome dome. I must say, the guy really listened well, took my advice, and caught fish. He progressed from a slow start to someone I think could fish alone on hard water and do well. Dom landed a few and hooked and lost too many to count. Surely the bug life is confusing, but you can bet if he ever sees another cicada hatch he will be going fishing. Till we meet again Dom... rip their lips!

To view more pictures from Dom's trip please check out my personal blog at Outdoor Integration click here.

See you on the water,

Jeremy Hoffman
Pennslyvania Trout Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Adventures in Fly Fishing Part One- The pursuit of Trout at Lee's Ferry

When you think about Arizona, the images that usually come to mind are classic Sonoran desert scenes. Hot , parched sand-scapes dotted with endless Saguaro cactuses, creosote bushes and Palo Verde trees in valleys beneath mountains of twisted volcanic rock.

If you have ever been in that area of the world , perhaps you can quickly conjure the memory of summer heat so penetrating as to scald the flesh and threaten mortality. About the last thing you may envision is a leaping wild trout on the end of a crisp, tight line.

Well welcome to Lee's Ferry and the mother of all tailwaters - the Colorado River! Downstream from here is one wild and woolly river and one Grand hole in the ground. Those who choose to run the Colorado through the biggest canyon in the world depart regularly from this spot on the river. And on this day while we waited for our guide in the early dawn hours, we watched the river runners prepare for their coming adventure as all around them trout rose , dimpling the surface.

We knew that our own adventure of a different sort was just ahead.Today I am fishing with with my father in law and brother in law ,Tom and Matt . Our direction will be upstream and opposite of most, traveling by jet-boat the fifteen miles as far as Glen Canyon Dam. Sheer cliff walls rise hundreds of feet on either side of us and amazing rock formations in an array of colors command our attention as the beauty alone is worth the trip. This is truly a unique and wonderful place!

As we rolled upriver our guide Luke Blaser ( ) explained the tactics of fishing this powerful and fast flowing river. The daily release from the dam is on and the river is rising quickly. We will work out of the main flow in the side eddies and seams, looking for trout that in this water are primarily "insectivores".

In this crystal clear green water it is not hard to see fish holding , cruising and rising to the surface to ply the "scum-line" for their meals. In short order we were on a pod of feeding rainbows, and dries and dry-droppers were the ticket. We fished primarily zebra midges below a larger indicator flies , casting to the pod of feeding fish and allowing the flies to drift with the swirling water, mending where appropriate to keep the confused drift as natural as possible.

The first take for me was "epic" as I watched a rainbow turn 180 degrees , spot the fly and race 5 feet over to inhale the midge. The indicator dry was instantly sucked under , a hook set and game on! These wild fish fight hard! Jumps , runs and dives are the norm today , and on our light rods and barbless hooks we are all entertained by the vigor of our quarry.

The down side of the great action was that it didn't take long for the fish to be spooked by the fight of their brethren and soon it would be time to move on. No problem though as there seem to be endless hotspots and an amazing population of wild fish in this "rainbow nirvana".

Luke explains that though the fish here grew to tremendous sizes 20 years ago, even reaching double-digit weights. These days due to the constantly and hugelyfluctuating water levels and its affect on the hatches , it is no longer so. An average fish now is in the 12- 15 inch range with the occasional 20+ incher to be had.

Good enough for us!As the day progressed some of the faster runs required an extended drift . This was achieved with a double nymph rig below an indicator, short casted and stack-mended as fast and furiously as possible to keep up with the flow.

Often I was well into my backing before calling it a drift and stripping in to water-haul it back upstream for another go. As the day heated up so did the action, and soon it seemed that between the three of us there was always someone into a fish.
The lunch break had an extra dimension to it that only underlined the uniqueness of this awesome place. As we pulled up on shore we spent some time to hike the short distance to a site of petroglyph rock-art left over a thousand years ago by the Anasazi people.

While we studied the beautiful art forms we soon noticed we were being studied ourselves by a curious Chuckwalla lizard who seemed eager to make friends ... evidently people are not all that uncommon as it is obvious he is used to being bribed with snacks.

As the afternoon began to wear on, the temperature started to soar. Matt solved the problem by joining the fish in the 47 degree river! The rest of us weren't quite that hot. Still, it wasn't long until it reached 105 degrees and we were thinking about a cool restaurant and a cold beer.

Just before we pulled up anchor I had one of those oh so familiar .. " just one more cast "... moments. The fly landed a nose ahead of a feeding rainbow and I was rewarded with a gulp and a tight line. As the fish leaped and splashed I couldn't help thinking what a rare and perfect ending to the day it was to have scored on my "last" attempt.

It was time to go, but I'll definitely be back again.I hope you are all enjoying the summer and .....

Tight Lines!
John Clouser
SAO steelhead guide

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Blast to the Past

Fishing For Trophy Trout at Big Springs
October 2007

I was just flipping through some of my past pieces of video and found a short flick that I edited from a days fishing. Big Springs is a trout hatchery operation that specializes in rearing techniques that help fish to retain as much of their wild characteristics both in physical traits as well as their feeding and fighting abilities. This is where I spent the day with fellow Steelhead Alley staffer Graham Stokes.

Most of the fish you see on video have been in a man made spring creek fed by aquifers for nearly 7 years. They grow large due to the natural reproduction that takes place in the streams thus supplying smolts and other smaller fish as their main food source.

I have caught hatchery tout...plenty of hatchery trout, and I assure you that these fish appear nothing of that sort. The strikes are vicious, the fights hard, and their coloration is beautiful......I'd say personally that they are doing a fine job in their pursuit, and these guys are doing all they can for trout habitat in our great state of Ohio as well.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy the flick.....

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Driftless Region - Part Deuce

Road Trip to Wisconsin
June 21, 2008

After our first trip out to Wisconsin trout water, we came back completely exhausted from having driven all night and then fishing all day.  No time for sleep though, afterall, we had presentations to take care of at the Orvis store in Madison.  This was our chance to share our knowledge with others who don't get to frequent the areas we do.

After a good evening with great people we spent the last remaining minutes of the day with Tony, Nick, and Todd....all employees at the store.  We downed some food and dismissed ourselves at the first opportunity not because of bad company, but because of a severe lack of sleep bearing down on us and a day of fishing that would wake us early.

Day two was to be spent on Black Earth Creek....what a name.  I felt like we should have been headed to the center of the earth :)

Rumor was that this spring creek held monstrous fish and after seeing the water, there's no doubt it's true.  Unfortunately for us, the water was a little high and off color which meant the fishing was tough.

So, on days like that, you do what you can and when you can't, you capture the beauty of the this.....

Here we prepare to fish as Nick our guide looks upstream.....

Nick was forced to fish by us as we wouldn't allow him to stand around....there was fishing to be done!

Greg finally surrendered to the fatigue that was pursuing us all weekend.  Nothing better to do on a day the fish aren't biting.

Nick surveys the's almost as if he's contemplating where that monster fish is laying....

Well folks, that is all for this trip.  Wisconsin is a beautiful place and a great place to fish.  Get there if you can.

Tight Lines.......

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Driftless Region of Wisconsin

Road Trip to Wisconsin
June 19-20, 2008

A month or so back, I got a call from Greg saying we had been asked to do some presenting at the Orvis Retail Store in Madison Wisconsin.

Greg and I always enjoy getting out and speaking about our fly fishing passions and the Orvis store was the place to do it.  So, after working all day, I loaded my truck and headed to Greg's place 3 hours away.  

I pulled in around 10 o'clock and took a few minutes to relax.  After a short time at Greg's, we were ready to hit the road for an all nighter.  Oh yeah, we were gonna drive all night for one reason......FISH.  The following morning, we would be hitting the water with a local guide for some wild browns, brooks, and bows.   We drove and drove to ensure that we would get there by 8:30 a.m. to meet the guide.  Since Greg is used to working nights, we made good time....real good time.  In fact around 4:30 in the morning, the sun started to come up and I looked at Greg and said, "Did you know the sun came up this early around here?"  At that point we were only an hour away and we knew that there was precious fishing time slipping away.  Do we call our guide and tell him we are ahead of schedule?  This was our wrestling match.  Greg wasn't aware that it got light so early, so upon arriving we grabbed our fishing licenses and then jumped back in the car.  By now it was 5:30 and we said, what the heck, call him.  A few minutes later our faithful guide was sitting in front of the Orvis store and we were loading up to hit the Big Green River.

Nick Volk was our guide ( and he has experience that ranges from large salmon in Alaska (where he guided with Alaska West) to wild brookies in the lower 48.  We immediately hit it off with Nick and found that his love for the water and the fish he pursued was second to none.

Nick directed our turns and a short hour and a half later we were in the "driftless region" of Wisconsin.  This is an area that is marked by spring creeks flowing through farmland, pastures, and rolling meadows.  It is a fresh look for guys used to fishing flows lined with forests and cliffs!

After our arrival on the Big Green, we got rigged up and in a few short minutes were in the water.  What an awesome flow the Big Green is.  The character of the stream is unlike most streams I have fished for trout.  At times it would flow narrow and deep with undercut banks while at other times is was wide and shallow with riffles and chutes.

On our way to the stream we had asked Nick about what size fish we would be catching and it wasn't much different than home.  He said we could expect a 10-12" fish to be the norm, but beware that there were some slobs to be had (20+" fish).

We got on stream and found it to be a bit high with stained water.  It left us with the stream all to ourselves because locals didn't fish water with color.  Well, being the steelheaders that we are and how accustomed we are to fishing stained, even muddy flows, we jumped right in joking about the color of the water.  It really was a nice tea color....a day or two from awesome conditions in our minds.

Well, immediately Greg started drifting his infamous pattern called the Senyo Wiggle-Stone... and once again, it scored fish after fish.  This time it was chartreuse that kept bringing the fish to hand.

Greg nailed his fair share of fish as did I, but there were many more that we missed as we were trying to get our light rod finesse back after a long steelhead season.

It wasn't long after we arrived that I too was on the board.  I have a couple of favored dirty water nymphs that have brought some big fish to hand, in the past, so I started out with those.  I got started well, and started out the way I like to......big!  In short order, our guide Nick was over my shoulder looking on and all he could say was, "That fish is huge!"  He was right, it was a nice fish for this water.   He just kept shaking his head and saying I was spoiled.  I think I told him I didn't mind being the spoiled one ;)  Here are a couple of shots of the fish.  One with my guide Nick and the other of me.

This fish was the largest fish of the trip at 15 1/4 inches in length.  It wasn't a huge fish, but it was a beautiful fish and definitely the way to start out any trip.   Thanks Nick for showing me the hole.

The day turned very warm, very fast, and soon had us heading off the water in search of some food and something cold to drink.  Here are some other shots I grabbed while on the water with Greg and Nick.

The Big Green is definitely a water I would like to hit again in the future.  It was spectacular under less than ideal conditions, so I wonder what it will look like under better conditions? Only the future will tell.....

Stay tuned for another installment from our trip....

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bass Gone Wild at the Wilds

This weekend I had an opportunity to guide in an area I have wanted to for some time!  The area we guided in is called the Wilds.  
The Wilds is one of the largest and most innovative wildlife conservation centers in the world.  Located on nearly 10,000 acres in southeast Ohio, it is home to rare and endangered species from around the world living in natural, open-range habitat, as well as home to hundreds of indigenous species.

Graham Stokes, our warm water specialist,  and myself both fished multiple days with great success on this water packed piece of property.

A party of nine fished numerous lakes in kayaks and jonboats bringing in hundreds of Largemouth bass and panfish that were world class.  Although no monster bass were landed, several 8-10lb class largemouth were fought and lost.....much to our dismay :(

The Wilds is a unique place, not just because of what they do, but because of the landscape.  For those who have been out in the plains states, the Wilds looks more like Wyoming than it does Ohio.  It is a beautifully wild place with great fishing opportunities.....and I am glad I had the opportunity to experience it.

Here are a few photos of the weekend.  I wish I had taken more, but the paddles occupied to much of my time.

On day one, we were on our way to rendezvous with the clients when BOOM!!!! a blowout.  Here Brian shows his NASCAR pit crew style.  With great team work, I helped Brian with the change while Graham made the rendezvous with the clients just on time.

A shot of Graham in his truck, positioning the boats so we can off load the raft that I fished out of daily. 

One of my clients with an average size bass at the Wilds.

The panfish (mostly Bluegill) were world class on these lakes and ponds.  Some fish in the 10" range were common place!  Ever had your boat pulled by a Bluegill?  I have :)

And here is what an average view was like from the boat.  You would see this mixed with lots of fish, hawks, Osprey, wading birds, deer, etc.  It was a beautiful place with lots of great times.

Well, that is it for this installment.  Don't forget that just because the water has warmed, it doesn't mean that Steelhead Alley guides have gone into hibernation.  We are out fishing and you should be too!!!

Tight Lines,

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Name That Tune

We've been anticipating it like Christmas and its finally here. The 17yr cicda has ERUPTED over central Pennsylvania. The hatch was predicted for weeks ago but the weird weather patterns kept them at bay. Now, nearly every tree is covered in exoskeletons of the cicada. I have collected some samples including one emerging from the case. The sound is almost unbearable. You can barely hear yourself think in some parts of town and along the stream. I havent seen them really starting to die yet but there are cripples everywhere. This window isnt going to last long and when its gone who knows, you may never see it again. With climate changes, wars and whatnot another batch of 17yr cicada could be a dream we will never see. I invite you to grab a spot while you can. I took on another job and my schedule has really been reduced. This is something you should come fish, collect and remember for the rest of your life! I will try to post pictures soon. With my hectic schedule even simple things like a picture can be hard for me to come by. But... if you come fishing with me, I will have an excuse to take pictures... write us, call us, come fish!

~Jeremy Hoffman

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Expansion Continues

For those of you who have fished with us as Steelhead Alley Outfitters, you know that we love to fish and take the opportunity to share it with you very seriously.

In the past few months myself and Greg Senyo have been talking about who would fill that last position on the SAO staff.  As you could imagine, we thought long and hard, fished with numerous people and kept looking for that person who we thought would bring a high level of experience and expertise that was second to none. 

Well, the short of it is, that we have found the person and are more than excited to present him to you!  So, I am happy to announce that the newest member of the Steelhead Alley staff and our Spey Specialist is Will Turek. (thunderous applause, shouting, clapping, etc)

Here is a little about Will to help introduce him and some of his experience to you.

Will Turek, born and raised in NE Ohio, has been professionally employed in the fly fishing industry since 1995.  He spent close to a decade working for Fish First fly shop ( based in the Bay Area in Northern California.  While at Fish First he gained considerable experience in fly fishing retail sales, designing and instructing fly fishing classes and on-stream clinics, and guiding walk/wade and drift boat trips on such notable California rivers as the Yuba, Feather, Lower & Upper Sacramento, and Pit.  In 1999 he moved from the Bay Area to Chico, California to open and manage a second First Fish store and develop their guide operation for Northern California.  Will has chased trout, steelhead, salmon, large and smallmouth bass, and striped bass throughout California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Michigan and his home state of Ohio.

Will is currently involved as a fly fishing manufacturer sales representative.  Will has been instrumental in the development of Scott Fly Rods and instructs on-stream casting clinics for the Great Lakes region.  Will is particularly passionate about fishing for steelhead and teaching the benefits of fishing and casting using spey techniques with single and two-handed rods.  Will has been featured in Joe Thomas' Reel in the Outdoors show that airs on ESPN2 and is in demand as a guide, speaker, and spey specialist.  

With Will joining the SAO family, we now have a variety of on-stream casting clinics that we would like to present to you as opportunities to expand your knowledge and experience.  Will is the resident instructor for all of these clinics and at times he may have some over zealous up and coming spey geeks at his side, but I won't mention any names (Patrick and Greg) :)

Check your calendars and get in on one of these schools (see below) as soon as is limited and filling fast.

Spey 101 - July 26, August 30, October 4 - all morning classes
Introduction to Spey: Basic skill level of overhead and roll casting is required.  Introduction to basic principles of spey casting.  Learn basic casting exercises and two spey casts - Circle Spey and Double Spey.
Duration: 4 hours.
Minimum Size: 6 students   Max Size: 8 students
Cost: $100

Spey 105 - July 26, August 30, October 4 - all afternoon classes
Skagit Casting:  Basic skill level of overhead and roll casting is required.  Review basic spey casting principles.  Learn basic caasting exercises adn three Skagit spey casts including Circle Spey, Circle Poke, Perry Poke, Double Spey, and Skagit Double.  
Duration: 4 hours
Minimum Size: 6 Students  Max Size: 8 Students
Cost: $100

Spey 201 - August 2, September 6, 2008
Intermediate Spey: Spey 101 and 105 are prerequisites for 201.  Review basic spey casting principles.  Review Circle and Double Spey.  Learn Switch Cast, Single Spey, and Snake Roll. 
Duration: 6 hours
Minimum Size: 6 Students  Max Size: 8 Students
Cost: $125

50% deposit due upon sign up for all classes.

For more information on our Will Turek and our spey opportunities, go to

If you are interested in Steelhead on single or two-hand rods while executing spey techniques, we are taking bookings for the hot fall fish.  And trust me when I say you need to call fast!!!  Our calendar is nearing full for the fall as we speak.  Don't wait, Will, Greg and myself are all available for these spey only trips.

Will, from myself and the rest of the Steelhead Alley staff, welcome to the team!

Tight lines,

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson

Monday, June 2, 2008

Willing to Work for trout!!

So the steelhead have returned to our toy ocean we call Lake Erie. Ahead is a summer of gorging and growing and getting ready to return to us this fall even bigger and badder than last. As sorry as we are to say goodbye until next autumn , there is certainly no reason to put away the fly rods. Fortunately for us , our region has many great opportunities to chase beautiful fish while exercising the "art of the fly".

Thus it was that an early morning in late May found us happily on our way to check out a local cold water fishery. Granted , there was a border to cross, but at under an hour and a half from my door it isn't all that different from a day chasing steelies somewhere on the "alley". There was one big difference though. As a steelheader , it was downright therapeutic to fly in the face of that odd , enduring association we have between the fly rod and the pain of the elements. On this day in May we are actually concerned with being too hot!

When we arrived we found the stream a bit on the low side and running quite clear. Trout were visible holding and feeding sub surface, so ,much like a day with our favorite chrome fish ,we began by nymphing. It was just a short time before we began to bring some beautiful rainbows out of the water in tremendous leaps that slapped the surface and shattered the silence of the early morning. Baetis nymphs in sizes 14 and 16 as well as Prince nymphs , Copper Johns and Caddis nymphs in similar sizes did the trick through the morning as we brought numerous fish to the hand.

By later morning we began to notice the fish beginning to take advantage of the hatch and we were able to follow the surface feeding and successfully present some Wulffs for the added thrilling dimension of the trout on the dry fly. All in all it was a tremendous day replete with sunshine , the smell and the sparkle of a fresh cold stream and good friends. Steelhead or no, it is good to be a fly angler in Northeast Ohio.

Tight lines
John Clouser
SAO Fly Fishing guide

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mixed Bag Mania

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to hit a river in northwest Ohio that I hadn't fished in a number of years.  Noted for its amazing spring run of walleye and white bass out of Lake Erie, the Maumee River is a fisherman's Meca in the months of March-May.

As May comes to a close, though the fisherman are beginning to thin, the fishing opportunities continue in their intensity.  No, it's not the world renowned Lake Erie walleye or the spunky white bass, but it is often times what some call "garbage fish" that are a great opportunity on the fly.  On a typical late May or early June day, you can catch gar, drum, carp, buffalo,
 quillback carpsuckers, and the normal gamefish....smallmouth bass, an occasional left over walleye, and white bass.  The river does get the occasional stray salmon and also a decent number of northern pike during other times of year as well.

As for me, I only had a couple of hours to be on the water on this particular day, and it was not a very nice day.  It was windy, with some intermittent showers and really, not a comfortable day.  Temps were in the lower 50's with winds gusting down the river up to 30mph.  Yeah, it put my otherwise rooky level spey skills to the test.  I guess the good thing was that no large flies were planted in the back of my skull from picking the wrong cast at the wrong time :)

At any rate, I want to encourage you fly fishers out there looking for additional opportunities or out of the box stuff to give these forage fish a shot!  They are a lot of fun on a fly rod!

Give us a call this summer if you are interested in giving some of these warmwater species a try.

Tight Lines, 

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide