As many of you know I had planned a Steelhead Alley trip for April 8th and 9th, but had to cancel due to all the weather forecasts combined with river conditions.
That was until Scott Smallwood called with news from Josh of Mad River Outfitters. The weather forecasted was failing to make it to the actual East Alley basin over the past few days. They speculated these rivers were being protected from the storm cells due to the significant ice on the Great Lakes creating a cold front. When the warm Northern air hit this front, the cells were pushed directly East outside of the watersheds for the Eastern rivers. I am no weatherman, but, when you looked at the history of those past few days and put a little science to it, it all made sense to me.
Long story short, I took a call from Scott at 1930hrs while I was cooking dinner bitching about not getting to fish and he convinced me there was a chance…a chance!
That’s all it takes sometimes.
By 2100hrs I had the wife fed, kitchen cleaned, car packed, and was on the road to Columbus to meet with Scott and Steve. My wife thought I was crazy!
We departed Columbus around 2230 and began our adventure.
Arriving in Geneva, Ohio around 0100hrs on the 9th we checked into our room and after a long five-hour nap on the floor for me, we were ready to roll and show the world how it is done. Then, I checked the gauges…bad news, the rivers in Ohio were all up and blowing out.
Continuing to review the data, we elected to try the backup plan to the backup plan… Pennsylvania! On the road again…
Arriving at Elk Creek, we witnessed the most beautiful sight a tired, hungry, and committed Steelheader could view…clear water with dark holes and decent flows. It was game on!
Rain caught up with us, but our area was being spared the worst of it. Getting waders on, we met a great guy, Jordan Rambo. Jordan and us hit it off and we decided we would all be fishing together this day.
In the water, the group immediately found a bunch of dark shadows scurrying about and excitement began to build. Within minutes, fish on came from Scott…we did it…it was going to be a great trip!
Sucker!!!…fish on…Sucker…fish on…Sucker…you get my point! We did catch a few fingerlings from the previous weeks stocking and continued to do so all day.
Then it happened…my line went taught as the indicator slid back toward the seam and I raised the 9’ 7wt Recon to ensure hook set. FISH ON!!!
A few seconds later and this was obviously not a sucker as Chrome Steel slid about giving the rod a workout, and us an aerial display. A few minutes later I was getting my grip and grin on and she was back with her friends.
As we continued to molest the water Scott took a Steelie to hand, lost one more beast, and we had a few hookups that were suspicious. In between this, a lot of Suckers and fingerlings were taken to hand and safely released.
We took a little break and decide to go up river from where we were as the rain began to threaten the river more minute by minute. Trekking on ahead I released a cast into a slight depression where the bottom was looking as if it were dark blue. Mend, mend, and once again, it was FISH ON!
About this time our luck had run out as far as weather was concerned. The rain began arriving in blinding sheets as I fought to bring this beautiful Steelhead to hand. I used my hand net to tail her and satisfied I had her secured, I reach for my camera. As I pressed on the power button she broke my grip, bent my rod in a gravel grinding U shape, and snapped the line clean. No picture…just a story! A great story though!
By the time I tied back on, the water was a nice cream color and prior to us getting off the river, it looked like coffee. Trip concluded…
In total we managed three fish to hand on the 9th and likely had a few more on, but with no confirmation. That made for a great trip when it seemed all but lost on three occasions prior to departing for PA.
About twelve hours on the road for about five hours of fishing, sleeping on the floor, and getting to bed at 0130 on the 10th, made this guy a tired man at work the next day, but it was all worth it.
Getting out with Scott and Steve, meeting new friends, and learning new water is what it is all about.
The Alley is back to producing nice fish so get on out there.
Tight lines and wade safely!