Thursday, March 25, 2010

Steelhead on the run (cold fish, though)

Boy, talk about a long wait. For the past couple of months I've been waiting for the return of steelhead trout into the rivers stocked with them by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

And just like a large number of other trout anglers I've seen very little in the way of a crush of fish. All the while I couldn't see any fish and couldn't locate any redds, which are the hollowed-out depressions the steelhead trout make during their spawning ritual.

To say it's been a frustrating to-date steelhead-fishing season is an understatement. I know that sounds like a cliche but it is true. The fall run of steelhead was almost nonexistent while the so-far run of spring fish hasn't been worth a hoot, either.

Today, however, may prove to be the turning point.

I snatched almost two hours in the late morning until just after noon and fished a small tributary.

The first set of rapids/runs had maybe 20 to 25 spawning trout. It's a little more tricky to fish this stretch when the landowner is home and I didn't want to be a pest. So I headed upstream to another creek section and located another pod of around 15 to 20 spawning trout.

Over the next roughly two hours I hit these fish pretty hard, tossing a whole quiver of hand-tied flies. Woolly buggers, sucker spawns, Otter eggs, something that looks like a green weenie but isn't, Clowser minnows and an egg pattern made from yarn rounded out the arsenal.

Black was the better color though green led to the catching of a couple of fish. The woolly bugger topped them all but a green-colored Otter egg and the green weenie but isn't snared the attention of trout, too.

By the time I was cold and damp from the lowering temperature and steady rain I had landed six steelhead. In the process, though, I lost nearly a dozen flies that became snagged on fishes' tails. I also lost an entire leader and two other 10-pound tippet sections.

Worse, two boxes of flies were left back home, each lure container nesting flies that I wanted to try out.

Some people would think such an outing would be expensive, having surrendered so much leader material and so many flies. Truth is, however, that is the price one pays for sight fishing redding steelhead. If you want to catch fish in clear, very shallow water you better expect to pay a hefty price in terminal tackle.

Nevertheless, I got my "steelhead fix" in for the day. Friday is going to be too nasty to fish with the added difficulty of possibly high and muddy water because of today's rain showers. And I rarely fish for steelhead on the weekends, the foot traffic from other anglers along the creeks, streams and rivers often being excessive.

So I'll steal a few more hours next week for another angling outing. And I hope that my wife, Bev, will find the time to join me.

Afterall, I'm cautiously optimistic that the spring steelhead run has begun with enough fish to at least keep an outing interesting. Late is better than not at all and I'm hoping that the best is still yet to come.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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