Friday, December 28, 2012

CRO End of Year Sale and tying demo

As the 2012 Steelhead Alley fishing season comes to a close, our friends at Chagrin River Outfitters are having an end of the year sale as well as fly tying demonstrations this Saturday. See you at CRO!

20-40% off shop clearance sale at Chagrin River Outfitters December 28th, 29th, 30th.

Fly Tying demo at Chagrin River Outfitters Saturday December 29th with Greg Senyo 12-4.
Do you want to learn how to tie these?
 And catch these?
Come to Chagrin River Outfitters and see Greg Senyo!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lake Ontario Outdoors

The new issue of Lake Ontario Outdoors is fresh off the press. It's expanded, diverse and features two of our Pautzke Great Lakes pros: a feature article from Ben See and guide Frank Campbell with a Niagara River steelhead on the cover.

Team SAA Angler - Ben See shows how it's done in Steelhead Alley 


Monday, December 10, 2012

Bahamas Bonefishing trip with CRO/SAO

Bahamas Bonefishing trip with CRO/SAO hosted by Brett McCrae

Photo: Cameron Miller, Andros South Staff

Where/When: We’re headed to Andros South from March 10-16, 2013 – this trip will include five full days of guided fishing and 6 nights lodging. This week falls during prime time – when weather and conditions are at their best.

The Fishery: The fishery on South Andros is huge, varied and productive. At Andros South, guests fish 4 parts of the island – tidal creeks on the East Side, hundreds of small keys off the southern tip of the island, the West Side which is known for large fish, and inland ponds and creeks in the middle of the island. Some areas tend to hold large groups of fish while others are home to larger fish in smaller groups – novice and expert anglers alike have a great time on the flats of South Andros. There will be lots of opportunities for both wading and poling, depending on your preferences and conditions. Although bonefish are the primary target, Andros South also provides ample opportunity for many other species, including sharks, barracudas, permit, and tarpon – all on flies!

Photo: Cameron Miller, Andros South Staff

Accommodations: – The location is beautiful, the rooms are fantastic, and the food is absolutely outstanding. Each angler will have their own room with a bathroom, shower, air conditioning, and daily room service. The lodge is situated on the beach – and when not out on the boat fishing guests can enjoy a drink and appetizers at the tiki bar, practice casting on the beach, or wet a line right next to the lodge. The overall feel is relaxing and certainly not formal.

Rates: The cost for the week is $3725 per angler. This price includes transfers to and from the airport, single-occupancy lodging (you get your own room), guided fishing with 2 anglers per boat, food, all drinks including beer wine and liquor, and loaner gear and flies. Your only additional costs during the trip are travel to the island and gratuities for the staff. Tips average $50 per boat per day, so $25 per angler. To confirm your space on the trip we are requiring a 50% deposit – with full payment due 30 days before the trip. We will only hold verbal commitments for 10 days.

Additional Information: Andros South has a fantastic website with a ton of additional information on the lodge. The website is I am also happy to answer any questions you might have. I can be reached at 216-780-9209, or by email at Questions can also be directed to Peter Alves at 201-213-9465.

Thanks, and we hope to see you on the flats with us in March!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Switching it up with Ben See - Part 3

Switching it up with Ben See - Part 3

As I continue to learn something new on a daily basis from either watching casting videos to skimming the web for bits and pieces of information I have started to play around with the art of fly tying.  I have tied some simple patterns in the past. Sucker spawn and wooly buggers were often on the menu.  As I get more interested in the switch rod and swinging flies, I decided to break out the vise again.

Being that I want to swing aggressive looking patterns, the intruder style has been the pattern I have been drawn towards.  Like a moth to a flame, these patterns look quite fantastic!  Some have a lot of flash, while others just a few strands of tinsel to reflect the rays of sun in hopes of a steelhead hammering it.

Greg Senyo at Steelhead Alley Outfitters has a fantastic fly tying blog.  I have referenced it quite a bit the past week or so.  Greg cranks out some pretty impressive patterns.  I am happy to say that my fly box now includes some of his art.  The articulated patterns is what I have focused on.  In essence you are tying 2 flies and joining them together.  The back half of this style really wiggles and can only truly be appreciated when one has this style in their hand.

Being that the only materials I had were related to sucker spawn and wooly buggers, it was time to head back to Chagrin River Outfitters and see the staff.  I told Dan what I wanted to do and he picked out a few materials for me to give a try.  I also took a few pictures of his existing flies for sale for reference.

On the bench, less is more from what I have learned.  Too much of any one material makes the fly look like a bulky mess.  Figuring out how much of this and that takes time and practice.  I have messed up my fair share already.  With practice I hope to become proficient with tying some intruder patterns in various colors. 

We will be out on the water this weekend hunting chrome.  That will be the true test to see if the creations from my fly tying vice will actually catch fish.  Lets hope lady luck is on my side this weekend and I can entice a few strikes and land some hot chrome!

Until Next Time...
Fish Hard...Fish Often...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Supporting those who support us this holiday season

Supporting those who support us this holiday season. 

With our lack of snow and cold temperatures, to me it just doesn’t seem like “Jack Frost nipping at your nose” or “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” quite yet, but we are now in December. Thanksgiving came and went in the blink of an eye and before you know it, the kids will be ripping open presents that Santa delivered the night before. 

The tradition in our household is to begin making those Christmas wish lists. Our 4 year old son scribbles in crayon on a torn piece of paper what his desires from Santa will be this year. My wife on the other hand is very neat and organized with her lined paper and perfect cursive writing style. Then we have me the avid angler in the house. I really don’t need a list as my wife knows where to go to find gifts for me, but I play along with the list and each year the first thing on my list has something to do with helping chase the steelhead. 

Throughout a typical steelhead season, if there is something I need to help me land the next big steelhead, I am usually found visiting my favorite local fly shop. Chagrin River Outfitters found on Main Street in Chagrin Falls is a cozy shop with the latest and greatest goodies that an angler seeks. They are a reputable dealer in Simms and a plethora of fly rod and reel manufacturers. They have quite a selection of fly tying materials specific to helping anglers turn their fly pattern ideas into reality. 

Whether you are an experienced angler or one that is just starting to learn about our great fishery, Chagrin River Outfitters has something that will help you on your angling expedition. Dan, Pete, Bill, and Justin are very knowledgeable and friendly. They are always willing to help point anglers in the right direction. Their customer service is also top notch. 

Supporting our local business in the fishing industry is critical during the holiday season. As a small business, they may not have the resources needed to advertise in the traditional ways, such as putting an ad in the paper that you often see in your Thanksgiving Thursday paper. You won’t see commercials on the television, nor will you see mass mailers in your mailbox. They survive year after year by word of mouth, local foot traffic, and building a reputation of quality and customer service. 

Our local fly shops provide us with up to date information on the fishing, what is hot and what is not. They are always there to help us with our questions on fishing and gear selections. It is only fitting that we support them, especially during the holiday season. Whether you are a weekend warrior or a daily angler seeking the fish that bonds us, I would highly recommend you stop in and support your local shops. They support us and we should support them. 

Dear Santa, I have been good this year so get me something from Chagrin River Outfitters

Until Next Time… 
Fish Hard...Fish Often… 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Team SAA Hoodies Now Available!

 Now available in the TEAM SAA shop!


100% Polyester moisture management fabric 
Side and underarm textured waffle weave panels 
Badger sport paneled shoulder for maximum movement 
Front pouch pocket with two hook and loop closure top pockets with headset opening 
Poly rib cuff and waistband 
SAA Logo embroidery on  shoulder/sleeve

A beginners journey Part 2

Switching it up with Ben See – A beginners journey Part 2 

It has been a bit since I have had some time to take a break from the daily hustle and bustle of life to write an update article. I have squeezed in time on the water with the switch rod over the past few weeks. I am continuing to work on some spey casting with the hopes of landing my first fish on the switch. I know where the fish live, and now I am just trying to build some confidence in the sink tip tactics. I have learned a few things with sink tips and other general observations. 

1. If you swing a sink tip with nothing attached to the end of the welded loop, that loop lasts a single cast. Don’t cast a sink tip with nothing attached to it. Welded loop will crack like a whip and break. 

2. MOW tips are easier to cast. 

3. Less is more. Less casting effort is more and seems to give you more power and a better cast. 

4. When attaching welded loop lines together, there is a right and wrong way. If you do it the wrong way the loops double over themselves and are virtually impossible to get apart. 

5. This style of fishing is a bit of a thinking man’s game. Approaching a run takes a bit of thought on where to stand and how you want your presentation to be. 

6. You are in the strike zone a significantly less amount of time vs. other angling methods. 

7. Watch for wind changes so that you can adjust your cast. I had a few close calls with the wind blowing the fly into me. 

So on my first trip out with the switch rod, I get all the way to the river and realize I forgot a key piece of the puzzle. Checked my vest and had no leader. Rather than trek back to the car, I decided to just work on my casting. I realized that welded loops on sink tips don’t last long with no leader or fly attached. 

On my second trip I hit the Grand River. Had 1 head shaker but never did land the fish. I worked more on my casting and began to get more comfortable with it. I worked the river with a few different flies but no such luck landing a fish. 

On my third trip I hit the Chagrin River. Now more comfortable with the single/double spey, as well as the snap T casting I was able to focus more on learning to adjust my stance and try to figure out how to get my fly down to the area I thought had fish. I learned that sometimes when you think you are snagged it could be a fish. Funny story of the day was when I thought I was snagged and all of a sudden a female rocket jumped out of the water. Unfortunately by the time I realized I had a fish on, the fish was off. Lesson learned though, and I made a mental note. 

My most recent trip to the river being the fourth time out, I felt quite a bit better about things. Got the casting to where I can place the fly where I want it both river left/right situations. I can adjust my casting stroke based upon wind conditions. Using a MOW sink tip, I put the fly into position and let it swing. Finally SUCCESS! A chrome steelhead comes to hand. 10 minutes later FISH ON! Another steelhead landed. I am finally putting the pieces of this puzzle together. I am looking forward to my next trip out so that I can continue to learn more. 

Until Next Time… 
Fish Hard…Fish Often…

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Switching it up with Ben See - Part 1

Switching it up with Ben See – A beginners journey

My obsession for fishing started at a young age.  For as long as I can remember I have been holding a fishing rod in my hand.  In the early 1980’s I can remember fishing with my grandfather during summer breaks.  A worm and a hook was the preferred method of targeting bluegill that hung tight to a makeshift break wall of old used tires in the former private Goodyear employees summer get away called Wingfoot lake in Portage County Ohio.  I was fortunate to also have access to a private pond over the hill at my grandparent’s home.  The memories of extended stays in the summer at my grandparent’s house so that I could get up early and target bass and bluegill will be cherished memories.  

The natural progression for me and I would assume for many anglers was to go from that old cane pole and short snoopy rod too your first spinning rod and reel.  Casting mister twister’s, jitter bugs, hula poppers and deer hair inline spinners made me feel like a master angler at the time.  Several years later, a lot of practice and countless sun burns I found interest in pike fishing.  Now at that point a young adult, with a driver’s license I was able to begin the scouting on my own.  I was able to scout new water for the elusive pike, and expanding on my fishing skills and feeding the passion of angling.  

Fast forward a few more years and I happened to be introduced into the world of steelhead fishing.  Little did I realize at the time, the attraction I would have or the road I would get to travel.  It took me 2 seasons of hard fishing to even land my first steelhead trout.  Using a Shakespear spinning reel and 6’ bass rod I finally landed my first chrome.  What a sense of accomplishment I had.  I was hit by the bug.  I haven’t looked back since.

I progressed from that short bass rod to a noodle rod, eventually pairing that rod up with a Centerpin.  Each year honing my skills, learning more about how to target Steelhead Alley chrome and putting up the numbers.  I will be the first to admit that numbers was what I was after.  I felt if I got the skunk, I had a bad trip and likewise if I had a double digit day it was as successful trip.  Somewhere along the line years later, even when I was getting the numbers, I didn’t have that feeling of great accomplishment.  I can’t really describe the feeling other than to say something was missing.  

As I travelled this road of Steelhead Alley fishing, I have been able to surround myself with likeminded anglers, all loving the fishery, the great outdoors and the fellowship shared amongst each other.  I will forever have some great memories to share with my son on some of the best and worst days on the water.  For the past year I have seriously tried to look within myself to figure out where the spark has gone.  While it was always there, the grind to get the next fish seemed to consume me rather than enjoying the one on the line at the time.  I think maybe I need more of a challenge or as the name of this series says “Switching it up”.  Maybe I just needed something different to feed my passion of steelheading.

During my steelhead journey I have had the joy of coming in contact with anglers of all sorts.  From fly guys, to spin guys as well as centerpin anglers.  I began to be a shop rat of sorts at Chagrin River Outfitters in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and meeting the owner Dan Pribanic.  Primarily a fly shop, I was exposed to a different world then I knew with centerpinning.  I have always marveled at the sexy looking streamers, skulpins, bunny leaches and intruders in the boxes at the shop.  A method of targeting steelhead that I was watching anglers use was this rod called a switch rod.  The casting motion looked therapeutic to say the least.   The ability to flip a large streamer or skulpin pattern looked great!  I have considering giving this technique a try but always resisted because centerpinning is very effective.  Though the pin puts the fish on the bank, I am looking to get back that feeling I once had and that sense of accomplishment after landing that chrome. 

For me personally, I look at the methods of targeting steelhead and the tools used as just that.  Tools and methods!  Each certainly have their benefits and drawbacks.  No person is better or worse for their desired method of targeting fish in steelhead alley.  It is simply put, what do you want to get out of your trip to Steelhead Alley?  While I am not saying I will never use a centerpin again, I have decided to make a leap of faith in an effort to get back to what interested me in this sport to begin with.  

I have since invested in a new tool.  Thanks to Dan at Chagrin River Outfitters, his guidance and instruction during the process of me selecting a new tool has been a great help!  I now have a Beulah 8 weight with a Lamson 3.5” Guru.  I will be running a Skagit 475 grain weight head and a plethora of sink tips.  The hard work of learning how to effectively cast and eventually hookup with my first chrome on a switch rod is in full effect.

I look forward to sharing my experiences and documenting them as so that maybe other anglers who may follow in my footsteps can relate with the process of learning something new.  Thanks in advance to those of you who will be getting a lot of questions from me in the future on the what, why, and how to?

Until Next Time…
Fish Hard…Fish Often…

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up November 12th, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up November 12th, 2012

This past weekend, anglers across steelhead alley were presented with favorable river conditions.  Weather was mid 60’s and sunny.  Flows ranged from 150-300 cubic feet per second throughout the area.  Flows were good as was the water color.  Quite a few anglers had the same idea, get out there while mother nature threw us a sunny and warm weekend.  

Some have heard that I am setting down the centerpin for a little while to learn a new technique.  Well the rumors are true and I now have a switch rod.  I have packed away the pin for the winter and plan on dedicating my time learning the Snap T, Single/Double spey casts.  I am looking forward to documenting my journey through this spider web of information they call the switch rod and sink tips.  Stay tuned for a new series called “Switching it up with Ksuflash – A beginners journey”.  

Until Next Time…
Fish Hard…Fish Often…

Thursday, November 8, 2012

SAA Fishing Report

11/7/2012 Rivers are hot and loaded with chrome!

Hurricane Sandy dumped inches upon inches of rain in the Steelhead Alley region.  After about 7 days of rain, the streams and creeks in Pennsylvania began to fish first.  Anglers are reporting double digit days for individuals and triple digit days as a group.  Needless to say, the fishing was hot.  The further western and central Steelhead Alley tributaries began to fish this past weekend.  Flows on the Chagrin River are optimal as of yesterday, and I was able to get out there and bring several fish to the bank.  A mix of Pautzke cured egg sacs as well as single bead presentations were working quite well.

Mother Nature changed many of my favorite holes, filling in some and cutting out new holes that the steelhead tend to hang in.  Log jams once holding fish are now pulverized into splinters, but new log jams now in place.  Fish are now spread throughout the river system, so there should be plenty of opportunity for anglers to get into fish at this point.

Our largest river the Grand River is now fishable and should produce some quality chrome.  Anglers are having great success with both egg sac presentations as well as swung streamers by the fly and spey guys.  Things are shaping up to be an excellent winter season.  Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

Until Next Time…
Fish Hard…Fish Often…