SAO Pages

Friday, December 31, 2010

Absolutely MADDENING!!! A Mad River Warning

A couple of days ago, I had the privilege of making it down to the Mad River to strip some streamers for big fish. It was a beautiful day to be on the water, but not so much of a beautiful fishing day. The skies were high and bluebird blue and the water very clear. That's fishing right?

Well, one thing I have gotten in the habit of doing when fishing the Mad River is not taking anything more than I need to fish that day....I mean nothing more than I actually plan on carrying. The reason being is because of some very cowardly, no good, punks who have made a sport out of bashing peoples windows in recent months and years.

We were very careful in where we parked two days ago and fortunately for us made another trip without incident. Unfortunately for a good friend of ours, his streak of incident free trips ended today and in a big way. As I understand it, he was one of three victims in three different locations on the Mad River that were hit. An extensive list of gear was stolen but obviously these cowardly punks are also stupid, because several very valuable items that were stolen, were tossed out the window on their way down the highway because they obviously weren't worth anything....I guess that is the good in the story if there is such a thing.

Front window of Mike's vehicle smashed.

Another sign of the thieves intelligence....bust out the front
window and you normally have access to the entire vehicle.....
not with these guys...let's bust out another window.

Glass strewn all over the inside as the thieves ransacked
the interior....taking what they thought was valuable
and leaving many things that actually were.

Law enforcement was brought in and as I understand it, they may have a description of the vehicle along with the perps. We all hope that they get busted so that we can go fish in peace!

My understanding is that vehicles were hit at Route 55 and Millerstown Rd. I can't remember the third, so park and fish with caution.

To Mike and Pat, sorry to hear about your misfortune today....may your New Year be a great one filled with many big slob Browns brought to hand and less windy rides home!

Until next time, everyone be safe out there tonight and remember to drink responsibly....Happy New Year!!!

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Brown Trout Style!

Merry Christmas to everyone! Today is a great day to spend time with friends and family, and most are. However, some of the SAO boys have been pushing it right up to the holiday wire busting big fish....check out these nice browns!

SAO guide John Miller with a nice Delaware Brown Trout

SAO guide Brett McCrae slams home a nice buck Brown!

....and that buck Brown Trout liked big streamers!

This time of year is streamer season. If you like pounding the water with heavier rods and lines deploying large gnarly looking flies, then this is the time for you to hit the water. I hope to be doing some for myself during this holiday week!

John puts another nice fish in the boat on a cold winter day.

Up close and personal with Winter on the Delaware

Another nice bruiser comes to hand...

This is a great time of year to get out and see some of the beautiful sights of winter with fish included. Get out while the snow flies and enjoy the solitude on the rivers. It is truly a rejuvenating experience.

Also, don't forget that our fly assortments are remaining on sale through the holiday. This is as good a time as any to fill your boxes for the coming spring. Check out the online fly shop.

In closing, for those of you in the Indiana region, we will be at the Indiana On The Fly show there to answer questions, tie up some flies and overall, just have fun. This show has become a great event and is growing annually....truly a must see for those fly fishers and upland bird hunters out there. We hope to see you there!

Until then, Happy Holidays and safe travels!

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays From SAO!

From our family to yours we would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We greatly appreciate your support and continued business with our outfitter each year.

We have extended our holiday fly sale through the New Year for those of you who would like a great deal on fly patterns for the spring steelhead season. Please visit our Online Steelhead Alley Fly Shop for more details and offered selections.

Our prime spring 2011 steelhead dates for March, April, and May are starting to fill, so if you are planning a trip to Steelhead Alley please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, or to book your dates. If possible RSVP early to insure your preferred dates will be available. To request trip information quickly please use this fast and simple Online Request Form. Or contact us by email or phone by using the contact information on the side bar of this blog.

Are you interested in learning to Spey Cast? SAO Guide and Operator of Midwest Spey Will Turek will be offering Spey Casting and Swung Fly Tactics each weekend this spring. Sign up is limited so if you are interested please contact us for more information and to RSVP your spot on the roster. 

This Lake Erie Tributary Brown Trout Made For An Early Christmas Wish Come True...

Landing A Beautiful Lake Erie Steelhead Will Make A Great Holiday Gift. Steelhead Guide Trip Gift Certificates Are Available Year Around. Please Call 419-466-9382 for more details...

Our first stop of the new year will be at the Indiana On The Fly Show  in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 8, 2011. We look forward to seeing you at the show!

Happy Holidays!
Greg Senyo
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Father & Sons...Days To Cherish!

Well, the snow is here for a good long while...especially where I live in the Ohio snow belt.  We have had roughly four to four and a half feet....yes I said feet of snow fall in the last week and a half.  This has taken it's toll on streams and most are offering very little fishable water especially with the low temps we have been having overnight.  With that said, how about a story from just before the storms hit....

The day was going to be a special one for me for no other reason than the fact it was a father and his two sons who would be fishing with me.  That is always special for me, because I too am a son and cherish every memory I have had the opportunity of making with my Dad!  So, I went into this day wanting to make it as special as I possibly could.

The information I had been given from Dad was that neither one of his sons had caught a Steelhead in their limited number of times out on the water with him.  This was an early Christmas present for the boys and he figured that bringing a guide in to help him give instruction to the boys was the ticket, and was obliged to do so.

We got to an area that I knew would hold fish even with the colder temps and we got started.  Well, Phil got started that is...

 Phil gets the day started with a nice hen.

The boys took quick notice of Dad's prowess and worked diligently at the task I had given them...the task of making good drifts.  They both made fast improvements and soon were making acceptable fish catching drifts.

However, Will was a bit faster to put fish in the bag than his older brother Bo, but no worries there.  Will stuck a nice fish and Dad decided to make it ultra memorable and put one in the bag at the same time!  Talk about a first Steelhead memory!  It doesn't get any better than that!!

  Phil and his son Will punctuate the day with a nice
double that will be remembered for days to come.

  Smiles and fish....I love shots like this!

  Oh, and did I mention that the fish Will is holding in the
above photo (the double shot) was his first.  What a way to 
get it started....showing Dad that you can hang with him!

Sometimes you wish you could capture the pure joy that often comes in discussion following the release.  Well, it just so happened that I kept shooting photos following the release this time to see what I could come up with.  Here you see Will with a deep sense of joy and fulfillment all over his face.  The contemplation in his countenance speaks of memories being imprinted for life!

  I caught will in the seconds after the can see the 
gears turn as he reflects on how cool that experience was!

Well, it was back to fishing as soon as we could get back to it.  We had several more hook-ups, but nothing to the bag.  Bo and Dad both lost fish, and then all at once, it was the dynamic duo back at work.  Can you say another father/son double?  It was really cool.   Will hooks up and I look up stream to see Phil raising his rod on a fish of his own....what a day!

  Would you believe that they did it again...Phil's other 
son Bo is in the background in disbelief as Dad 
and brother put another double in the bag.

Well, before too long, Will wanted to get the feel for the other side of the experience.  He was standing close to his Dad when Phil hooks up.  Will looks at me with excitement and says, "Can I net him?"  I hesitantly looked back and said, "Sure, if you think you can handle it!"

So, off Will races for the net on the shore.  In the meantime, Phil worked the fish down and back toward shore.  Will came racing in and this is where the real steelhead school took place!  I was shouting out the do's and don'ts trying to help him be successful, but in the end, the inevitable happened.

  Since Will was doing so well with catching fish, he 
decided that he would give netting fish a try....good decision?

  Well, after the attempt, Dad decides it wasn't such a good
idea and Will is left with the question, "What did I do wrong."
That was the next lesson I taught him....ha, ha.

Well, the day went on and many fish were put in the bag, but one thing was a lingering, nagging thing in my mind.  Bo, Phil's older son, had not put a fish in the bag despite several hook-ups throughout the day!  This was leaving my day incomplete and I know it was eating at him too!

The day was quickly coming to a close and I was fearing the worst.  Not wanting to admit defeat, I resolved to fishing longer than normal in order to put that final fish in the bag.  As we traversed the river heading back toward the truck, more fish were caught, but no matter how hard I tried to get Bo a fish, we just couldn't get it done.  I finally parked him in the last hole and said, if there are any fish left to fish for, they will be right over there in that deep cut under the fast water seam you can see.

I finally came to the place or resolve and made the declaration, "Give it another dozen casts and let's reel it up and call it a, if there was ever a time to get it done, now is it!"  With that declaration, I backed off and headed back to get gear around for the walk back.  Not a half dozen casts went by when I heard him say, I got one.

I scurried for the net, coaching him the entire way.  I was hoping and praying that the fish would stay buttoned up and punctuate the day.  Well, punctuate it did!  In the words of Hannibal from the old tv show A-Team, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

 After a long day, Bo finally in the last five casts of the day, 
finally sticks his fish and puts it in the bag.  It was the last minute 
shot, the 85 yard kickoff return, the game winner!  Way to go Bo!!!

The days have grown much colder and shorter since this day a week or so ago, and based on conditions looks to be my final trip for 2010.  2011 looks to be a stellar year with many big plans already in the works.  

Thanks to all of our clients who came and entrusted us with a day of your time!  We know how valuable it is and trust that you had as good a time as we did! 

Tight Lines,

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Little Snow Doesn't Hurt, But Watch Out for the Egg McMuffins...

This past weekend we had the opportunity to hook up with a few of our friends from "O-Show" HQ in Vermont. Guys were driving and flying in from all over the region to catch a few Lake Erie Steelhead and to catch up with old friends. Severe weather, icy conditions, and snow storms made the travel slow going from the start, but we all managed to arrive in one piece and in good spirits.

Now here is the part where it gets good or should I say bad? Everyone headed out on the rivers and had a good time, caught a few decent fish, shared a few laughs, and overall had a pretty good day on the river. After the day was done, we headed over to a local bar and grill for some serious grub  It was about that time that I started to feel like I just got knocked out by Chuck Liddell. I couldn't even look at my wings and rings, and I was drinking fluids like I had been stranded in the desert for 7 days. I started sweating to death and shivering at the same time...been there?  I was thinking what the hell is wrong with me?

I decided to excuse myself and headed into the nearest emergency room. After a few minutes the doctor stepped in.  I didn't waste any time describing my symptoms to him.  In a split second, he looked at me and saed that I most likely had food poisoning. I told him I had not eaten anything since nearly 4am with the exception of some beef jerky while on the river. So after a few quick tests, my doctor came walking in with a smile on his face and says he found the problem.  Apparently I had eaten food or put something in my mouth that was contaminated with a bacteria, and it was growing and infecting my stomach. In dumb terms he tells me that someone took a dump, didn't wash their hands, and prepared my food!  

 So I spent the rest of the weekend wishing I was not alive after drinking the nastiest half gallon of antibiotic laxative and sleeping on a cold tile floor.  Friggin' Egg MacMuffins!!!  As you can see from the pictures and video below it was a fun time had by most everyone but me.  So, wash your hands....somebody's good time may depend on it.

 Some of the SAO guys talk with the boys from Orvis 
shortly after their arrival on the Alley....topic: Steelhead!

SAO guide Brett McCrae holds a small buck that was 
willing to play with some flies in cold water.

Christine fishes a nice cut.

Jim Lampros and Tim Daughton pull a nice double 
while the snow flies.  This is Steelhead weather!

Christine poses with a nice fish and
SAO guide Brett McCrae

Shawn pushes the rod to its limit to see how much 
abuse it will really take....looks like plenty!!!

Shawn Brillon and Greg Senyo pose for a quick grip and grin shot.

Doug Bear with a nice winter Steelhead

Christine slams a nice hen on the Alley

While on the water, Pat also had a chance to pull the camera out and get some footage for the "O-Show" crew to help them highlight some new gear that is pulling down some really good reviews.  The weekend may have been cold, but with friends, fish, and some film, the weekend warmed and everyone had a blast.  We are already looking forward to another outing.

 The newest short flick by Flybum Media Productions for The 
Orvis Company's new boot foot that is getting rave reviews across the country. 

In closing, don't forget to check out our fly specials in the fly shop...we can get these out just in time for that special person you want to impress this Christmas.  

Also, conditions are changing quick, but some fish are still available.  We are watching the conditions daily and getting out with clients when conditions warrant.  If you are a die hard fly fisher who wants to experience Steelheading in late season, let us know.

Looking forward to next year, minus the Egg MacMuffins....

Greg Senyo
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Long Time or First Time,We Have Good Times!

Here at Steelhead Alley Outfitters, we fish with a myriad of anglers. Men, women, children, experienced, as well as the greenest of novices. That means that each day can present its own unique set of challenges, circumstances, but also good times.

One of my recent clients was Mike. He wasn't new to the fly fishing game, but he also wasn't the most experienced of those we fish with. It was a great day to be on the water and Mike capitalized on every chance he got.

Mike with his first fish of the day

It wasn't long after that first fish with Mike that we netted the most bizarre fish I have personally seen while guiding. Don't get me wrong, I have seen some really strange fish from other anglers, but never have I brought one to the net this strange...but he ate the fly. We dubbed it the reverse kype fish...ha, ha...

A very strange fish that took a fly...reverse kype?

All day long, Mike took charge and put an impressive number of fish in the net. Here are a couple more from his time on the water with us.

Mike hits a nice bright hen.

A beautiful pink stripe adorns this buck.

It just so happens that the next client was also named Mike. He came under very tough conditions, but still managed to get the skunk off for the day. He was happy with the nice buck he was able to land early in the was I. Mike plans on coming back...this time with a vengeance.

Mike put this beautiful buck in the net first thing in the morning.

There is another classification of angler that we fish with and that is the kind that have fished extensively here at home and abroad. Parker and Conner are such anglers. We fish with them every season here on the Alley and on the Delaware out east. Their company is always a good time and each trip has some special memories to go along with it.

One of those memories was the morning that we had a dog that looked like White Fang follow us around. It was wild how this dog would sit on the opposite shore as if he wished he could stand in the river waving a stick. After some time of fishing opposite of him, we finally made it to his side of the creek and he was a friend for life.

White Fang is a fly angler at heart....he followed us all morning.

The day was slow to start given that it was the first day of fishable water following a major rain event, but when we found where the fish had gone, it didn't take long to get things cranking. Within minutes, Parker fired it up and the engine never shut down after that.

Parker with a stout hen on the day.

Let me introduce to you a you man named Conner. Conner is one of Parker's sons and quite possibly the best angler I know under the age of 25....and he's only 14 or so. Conner has great skills both on steelhead presentations and long lines for trout. Given the fact that he fishes every chance he gets, there is always that unspoken competition going between Dad and son.

It is alway entertaining to watch Parker start putting numbers on the board, because Conner won't stand by doing nothing for long...not if he can help it. Not long after Parker got his first in the bag, you could see the look in Conners eye. He was determined to get on the board and so that is exactly what he did.

Conner puts a nice fish of his own in the net
as his proud father Parker looks on.

Now, when I say that Conner is a great angler, I'm not kidding. This young man has more experience on the fly than many men three to four times his age. Here is a small Brown Trout that he landed this summer...yeah right! I don't know about you, but that is an impressive fish in my book!

Conner is quite the angler for his age...just check out this
monster Delaware River Brown Trout caught with SAO
guide John Miller this summer.

As soon as we hit the water, we got in a stick and move habit, grabbing fish where ever we could find them. Conner kept his Dad scrambling all day with fish after fish. I guess as a father, there is nothing else you would rather see. Although it can make for a very long drive home...

Conner hits another nice fish on the day.

The fish from above made for a very nice close up and personal shot with Conner. This is one of my personal favorites. It doesn't get any better than a happy young angler and a beautifully colored buck.

Conner with a nice close up shot.

While out on the day, this fresher hen decided to have a chicken dinner....a Chicken Little dinner that is. This fish slammed this home and came to hand with a smile.

The day was great and the back and forth battle, although unspoken, continued to rage. Parker was strong on this day and kept his son running and gunning to keep up. However, Conner's go get em' attitude kept him in the game and despite the best attempts of dear old Dad, I think Conner came out on top. But not before Parker put a couple more fish of his own in the net.

Parker adds another to the number and keeps
Conner counting and trying to stay ahead
of dear old Dad.
Parker ends the day with a beautiful buck
with a nice kype and beautifully muted colors.

So, whether we have long timers or first timers, we always strive for one thing...a good time. On these few days, despite what the conditions may have been, we had great times...and we look forward to many, many more!

Until next time, keep your lines wet.

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Beginners Luck or Just Plain Good...Who Cares!

Here at Steelhead Alley Outfitters, we often here the question, "Do you allow beginners?" We always chuckle at that question because of the sheer fact that such a large number of our clients are new or have only fished on the fly a few times.

So, do we allow beginners....of course we do! And often times they are very cool days for us because we have very anglers with an insatiable hunger to learn. There will always be the mishaps of teaching a new angler, but there is something about sharing your passion with another that overshadows the lost flies and bird nest tangles that at times can seem overwhelming.

In the past couple of weeks, I've had a chance to fish with some guys that are as new to the sport as you can be. For Tim and Johnny, that was just the case. Tim had attempted to fish on the fly two or three times out west if I remember correctly, but ironically never caught anything. Johnny was fresh off the shelf. He had never fished on the fly and today would be his first introduction. Tim and Johnny have been friends since their college days and like many other guys were just looking for some more memories for their friendship. On this day, I think it was safe to say that they were excited about the possibilities! In fact, when I told them how big the average fish was, they kind of looked at each other and grinned....almost like two young, mischievous boys getting ready to do something they really wanted to do, but perhaps would feel guilty doing. Well, if guilt is what they would feel for catching such nice fish, then today was going to be loaded with guilty pleasure!

As the sun broke, I started into the basics and covered as much as I could as quickly as they could absorb it and off to fishing we went. The skills were crude to start, but I always tell my clients that ugly casts still catch fish. Pretty can come in time I told them...and time is what we had. The casts continued with little problems and then the first shot at a fish came.

Tim gets the day started with a nice chrome hen.

It was a great start to a day with rookies! One fish turned, one fish hooked, and one fish in the bag. I told them that if they kept that kind of hit percentage they would do what many only wish they could have done.

Regardless of whether they would land the next fish or not, these guys were excited! Never had they caught a fish on the fly and to have such a beautiful fish as a first, was exhilarating! No time to waste, so they jumped right back in and Johnny was ready for his shot at a fish. With the skunk off for Tim, I slid over to help refine Johnny's skills a bit and within minutes, he was putting the drifts right in the zone. A couple of drifts later.....BLAAAAMMM!

Johnny sticks his first fish on a fly and a nice hen steelhead
is a fine way to get started if I don't say so myself.
Johnny watches as his first fish on the fly rips
back into the stream from which it came. Way
to get it started Johnny...job well done!

So, Johnny got his fly fishing career started with one of the country's most popular fish. How could he ever go elsewhere without feeling duped? We now had fish in the bag for both guys, so the pressure was off. Now it was time to refine things, reset expectations so that they could fish on any day in any place and enjoy it...or not be totally disappointed. I mean really, these guys were new to the sport and inside the first thirty minutes had 2 Steelhead in the bag. Anybody who fishes Steelhead with regularity knows that there are many days when they don't come so easy. Beginners luck? Perhaps. However, the day was ours and we were going to do the very best we could with the time we had been given.

Back to refining things...a tip here, a demonstration there, a bit of praise, and things really started to shape up. Soon another hook up took place and it was onto the school of how to properly fight a fish. It was a good lesson, and this time the fish joined in by teaching a lesson of its own.

Not long after that quick lesson, Tim was back in the game with another fish on and this time, he retained the previous lesson learned.
Tim holds another nice fish early in the day.

So, it seems that these guys were anything but beginners, but who was complaining. We landed the fish, snapped a few photos and these guys were jazzed. In fact, they were so pumped about catching fish that they were ready for the next lesson that I don't normally to net a fish. Tim was more than pleased with his two fish and was now ready to try his hand at netting a fish and Johnny was cool with it. Going fish on, I handed Tim the net and gave him some directions on what to do and not do. While doing so, I got this cool shot of friends working together.

Johnny fights another fish while good friend Tim
gets ready to put the fish in the bag.

The day was going well, and just kept going well. The guys were catching their fish and were now enjoying netting each others fish. These guys were sponges when it came to learning and absorbing the lessons. The only thing they hadn't covered yet were some fine cigars. Well, these guys came ultra prepared, and within minutes had some nice dominicans fired up to celebrate the days success thus far.

Well, don't think that they were done just yet....really, for these guys, the day had just begun...

Tim with a bullet shaped chromed out buck.

Tim sticks another nice chrome fish.
This time a stout hen full of eggs.

Johnny wasn't going to be left behind, so he hooked up too. Now, Johnny's percentage of fish landed wasn't as good as Tim's, but some days that happens and you just can't do much about it. Regardless of his hit percentage, he still had a great day with many hookups and fish in the net.

Johnny watches as the fish breeches the water.

A bit later in the day, my path crossed another one of our guides. Tim Hess was on the move with his clients, and while we were close, we started a bit of teamwork. While I was working with Tim's client downstream, I looked up and saw Tim with another fish on.

SAO guide Tim Hess pulls the assist as Tim looks
into the bag as a very impressive buck.

Tim holds the nice buck from the net above

Toward the end of the day, Johnny decided it was time for a rally, and rally he did. There was no better way to conclude the day than to grab a photo with friends and a fish. That is the best kind of day you can have if you ask me.

Johnny holds a nice buck as friend Tim looks on...

So, fish after fish all day long...these guys had an amazing first day of fishing for Steelhead! Not to mention a stellar first day of fly fishing!

Beginners luck or just plain good? I don't know, and I don't really care! All I know is that it was a stellar day, full of fish, and amazing memories for two great friends. For a guide, this was the day you want to be on the water!

Until next time,

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters