By the time I wound my way back to the Helen Hazen Wyman Park parking lot I was ready for the sports drink. Mostly I was happy to slide out of the hip waders and rest my aching back.
One day after the third series of injections in the spine I had decided to take on Kellogg Creek in Concord Township. It wasn't a mistake though the steroids hadn't done much good in relieving the severe back pain.
No matter. This was Tuesday and my first trip in search of migrating steelhead trout. That the Grand and Chagrin rivers were blown out with ice- and snow-melt was not a surprise. That the lower Big Creek also was spoiled by dingy and high water was.
But not wanting to waste a perfectly fine, sunny and warming weekday I instead decided to hike up Kellogg Creek from the park to around where George's Dinner Bell restaurant once stood high above on the shale bluffs.
The creek winds and snakes through a narrow valley, carved by the undulations of the land forms. It growls over gravel riffles and groans through fairly deep pools.
Though the water's visibility was not so hot I still could see the bottom in a number of places. That condition wouldn't last too long, though, as the water continued to cloud over from the grit and dirt washed by the melting snow. And the adjacent woods still had a lot of that material left, too.
My real problem was - in the nearly two hour exploration of the creek - I came across only two trout: a buck and a hen together on a redd. And no matter what I tossed their way they turned a blind eye to my hand-tied flies. Eventually they spooked and moved further upstream.
Still, it was an interesting hike. It's been years since I last visited the creek in search of steelhead. Even so, the stream's twists, turns, riffles and other attributes were pretty much the same as I remembered them.
And I was thankful that Lake Metroparks has picked up the parcel that fits comfortably between the agency's Helen Hazen Wyman Park and its Greenway Corridor.
The agency even has paid for site work needed to construct a connector trail between the two trail heads. In fact, I came upon a pair of surveyors laying out the necessary measurements needed to build the trail.
Such a trail will ease access to the creek's watershed, though I do have some regrets. As it stands now the creek is quiet with little human contact save for the seasonal penetration by steelhead anglers.
The last thing trout anglers want is an audience that sees just where the better steelhead fishing holes are located. But it's worked well enough on parks system holdings along both the Chagrin and Grand rivers that my complaint can be muted.
No question, however, Kellogg Creek is a sweet little gem of a steelhead stream. One that served me well Tuesday for the kick-off to this spring's trout-fishing season, in spite of the fact that I saw only two fish and didn't catch either one of them.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn