We started our scouting excursions for Steelhead this past week (end of September) This year has been one of the wettest in recent history everywhere but the Great Lakes area. So as usual we have been playing the waiting for rain game. We got a nice hard rain on Tuesday September 25 which blew up the tributaries for the day. Wednesday morning I was on the stream at the crack of dawn and was greeted with heavily stained above average water levels. But I knew it would only be a matter of time before I was going to get the optimal water conditions that I was looking for.
My goal for this trip was to find the leading edge of the Steelhead run. I knew there were most likely fish in the lower reaches of the stream closer to the Lake but I wanted to know how far upstream some of the fish had made it. This is always hit or miss and sometimes amounts to a lot of wasted time but this information is vital for planning early season trips for our clients.
As the water started to recede, likely holding spots for the fish became more visible and I concentrated my efforts on those spots. One such spot was the backside of a brush pile that had a a deep pocket the I knew could hold fish. I flipped my streamer into the pocket and jigged it several times when a big chrome Steelhead hen came shooting out and inhaled my fly. I instantly set the hook and the fish reacted violently and tried to head back into it's wooden sanctuary. I was able to thwart her first attempt but this only enraged her more and the next run I was unable to stop her and I was quickly broke off.
I moved to a nice looking run with an undercut bank and started working the edge. As I got to the tailout I felt the sudden "thud" of strike and I set the hook. I was hooked up and the fight was on with a fresh Lake Erie Steelhead. The feisty hen put up a great battle but this time I had plenty water to work with and more importantly no brush piles!.
I continued fishing for a few more hours and caught several more fish. What an awesome early season trip to Steelhead Alley. But, as much fun as I had on the stream it doesn't compare to the joy of netting fish for our clients. I'm very excited for the upcoming season and putting smiles on our clients faces.
Huge congrats to our good friend Thao Le on her first ever Lake Erie Steelhead on her first trip to Steelhead Alley!!
Huge congrats to our new friend Tom on his first ever Lake Erie Steelhead
Huge congrats to Robert from Oklahoma on catching his first Lake Erie Steelhead as well as his first fly caught fish!!
I worked my way downstream a few hundred yards to the next likely Steelhead holding area. I drifted my black Egg Sucking Leach pattern through the run at least a dozen times with no luck. Out of the blue a surface disturbance of a large feeding fish quickly got my attention. I cast several times in the direction of where I thought the fish was at but no bite. I decided to change flies and I chose a white crystal bugger. I cast to the same spot and dead drifted the fly down through the run when it was violently attacked. I set the hook and was suddenly in a battle with a male Steelhead. I got the fish into the net and was in awe of his mating colors and red cheeks. I got a couple quick pictures and I released the beauty back to continue his spawning duties.
Huge Congrats to our new friend Jimmy on his first ever Lake Erie Steelhead!!
We donated a Musky trip for Tony Sandrones (Nightmare Musky Flies) St Judes Childrens Hospital fund raiser auction and Nick Viggiano was the high bidder. Nick is an avid Musky on the fly chaser but he asked if I would mind going for Steelhead instead and I was happy to oblige. It meant a lot to me that people were bidding against each other for one of my trips and I was extra inspired to ensure Nick and his friend Jonathan went home with many fish stories. Thanks again to them and thanks to this profession where I get to make so many new awesome friends!
John Robert Devin Liam
I have said countless times that when you fish with us you become not only our client but our friend and I mean that! This early season Steelhead trip with John, Robert, and Liam is indicative of that. fact. These guys made the trek from Oklahoma and Nevada to get a taste of Steelhead fishing in Erie and I walked away with four new friends. We had an awesome day fishing but unfortunately the fish wouldn't stay hooked for us. Robert bailed us out with his first ever Lake Erie Steelhead and his first ever fly caught fish and I'm pretty sure by his smile that he enjoyed the battle.
Jonathan with his first ever Lake Erie Steelhead also! Awesome job Jonathan!!
Gene informed me before his trip that he never landed a Steelhead on all his trips to Erie and I was hell bent on changing that! Big time congrats on his first Steelhead and the monster second Steelhead as well!!
Rob and Todd fished with me last year as beginner fly anglers and caught a few fish..now they are great fly anglers and doubling up on the Steel. Congrats to them and friend Ron on a banner day!!
That smile you get when your first ever Steelhead hits the net. Awesome job by new buddy Dustin making it happen after only his second trip to Erie!
Congrats to my new friend Murphy on his first ever Lake Erie Steelhead on the fly!!
Huge Congrats to both John and Bob on their first ever Lake Erie Steelhead
Another special father and son moment that I was fortunate to participate in. Big time congrats to Ryan on his first ever Steelhead catch!!
Bill Greg John Bob
Congrats to my friend Jimmy on his first ever fly caught Lake Erie Steelhead!!
My new friend Gene had THE hardest fishing conditions of the season to deal with. With his never quit attitude Gene battled through slush and ice and caught his first ever Steelhead on the fly!! Great job Gene!
Big time congrats to our new friend Brad on his first ever Lake Erie Steelhead as well as his first ever fly caught fish!! Great job Brad!!
Our Client Joe got to tangle with this beast on a recent trip...If this fish looks familiar it's the same fish that I caught a week prior on a scouting trip. Catch and release works folks and the happiness Joe got to enjoy was a gift from me even though I didn't know it at the time I released it. Pretty cool experience!
That smile speaks volumes! Nick after losing several fish early on.. Congrats on your first ever Lake Erie Steelhead Nick!!
Father and son duo getting it done on their first ever trip to Steelhead Alley!! Huge congrats to Joe and Mike Quinlan on their first Lake Erie Steel
John the Patriarch of the family getting sneaky on some spooky Lake Erie Steelhead
Rob Pap Tom Dustin
Huge congrats to to Tom Jr for catching his first ever Lake Erie Steelhead which is also is also his first ever fish on a fly rod! Way to go Tom!!!!!
Special moment between father and son.. My new friends Rob and Dustin
Huge Congrats to Greg for his first ever Lake Erie Steelhead