Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On your mark, get set, Mudshark!

On your mark, get set, Mudshark!

 The cooler weather and recent rains in the northern regions has triggered the first main run of King Salmon for the 2012 season.  Good reports are coming from those in Canada of some big fish being landed.  Anglers in the alley still have a bit of time until we are to see any significant run of chromers.  There are a few fish around the alley, but nothing worth waking up at the crack of dawn for at this point. 

 Those itching to get the season started off are heading north into Canada in search of the "mudsharks" as they call them.  Fellow SAA Angler Mr. Sellers and his son ventured up north of the border late last week and were able to lands some nice pigs.  Congrats to Donny on his first venture up to Canada and landing the hogs!  I am sure you father was proud and happy to be there to share that moment with you.  

As August comes to a close, we should start seeing the cooler nights make way for the steelhead to start gathering around the mouths of rivers and piers that jet out into Lake Erie.  Typically, the first good rain received in September opens the gates for the fish to begin their venture into our home tributaries.  When that happens, you can be sure we will be on the water to experience it.  Early season pier fishing is a great way to introduce someone new into the sport of steelhead fishing.  

Chagrin River Outfitters has gone through a recent store renovation.  For all those fly and spey anglers out there, Dan and Pete are stocking the shelves with the latest goodies for all your fly tying and gear needs.  This weekend, Greg Senyo from Steelhead Alley Outfitters will be at the shop to introduce anglers to some new products and patterns that are sure to be hot on the rivers this year.  Congrats to the CRO crew, the new shop is looking fantastic!

If you are not headed north for mudsharks, then this is a great opportunity for you to be walking the rivers that soon will have chrome in them.  With the low and clear conditions, most all rivers in the area are easy to walk and give you as an angler the opportunity to see where the deeper holes are before the flows being to rise.  It is also a great time to land some smallmouth bass.

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

Friday, August 17, 2012

Where to go...When and Why...

The tactics used by many veteran steelhead anglers in determining the river they will fish has been learned over time and experience on the water.  In today’s world where there is so much information at the fingertips of anglers, this has become a lot more streamlined.  Before the internet days, anglers would often find the river blown out or low and clear upon their arrival, only to then begin driving to the next river to find the same conditions. 

In the web world we live in, anglers that are willing to do some leg work behind the keyboard are often better equipped to find a stream in Steelhead Alley that is more likely to be optimal without ever having to see the water in person.  Between flow gauges, weather gauges, web cams, wave reports, water temp gauges and everything else in between these tools give the new aspiring steelhead angler an advantage that others in the past may not have had.

 The annual verbal jousting on forums over this new age of data made available to anglers is always a topic within the angling community.  Whether you like it or not, this data via the web is here to stay. While the online data is helpful, it's an additional tool the steelhead angler has to make informed decisions on fishable river conditions.  It doesn’t really replace the experience and knowledge gained on the stream that ultimately leads to landing the chrome steelhead we seek.

I get asked often by new anglers what river they should fish on any given weekend.  The Steelhead Alley Angler site has to tools available in making those decisions.  This is one of the main reasons the site is here.  To centralize some of the most important tools used by anglers in making these decisions the night before a trip.  There are 4 main factors that I use when considering a river to fish.  Flows Past, Flows Present, Weather Conditions, and Time of Season.

Flows Past:

I have found that flows on the drop produce better fishing results then flows on the rise.  Using USGS stream flow gauges, you can see the pattern of flow for the past week. Using this online flow data is imperative to becoming more consistently successful when on the rivers.  

Flows Present:

Flows present tell an angler what he is going to see upon arrival to the stream in question.  With some time on the water, an angler will know what cubic feet per second is optimal for the area streams.  Using the knowledge of flows the past few days, and flows currently an angler will be able to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together on how to target and where to target fish.

Weather Conditions:

In some aspects, anglers become mini weathermen.  Trying to predict conditions based upon data available online.  If it is early fall timeframe, what time does the sun rise and will it be overcast that day.  Is rain in the forecast, what are the flows before impending rain?  Will I be fishing the mouths of rivers and if so what is the wave forecast for the Lake Erie tributaries?  What is the barometric pressure?  Is it rising, falling, or stable?  What is the weather outlook over a broad range of areas?  Can I find a window of opportunity on another stream that may be fished for a longer period of time prior to potential rain? These are just some of the thoughts that go through a steelhead anglers mind. 

Time of Season: 

Anglers use the seasonal patterns to determine locations of fish.  Fish commonly run in current during the fall and hold in pools in the winter.  Daylight is also different during the season, and also daylight savings times determine what time anglers are typically found on the water early in the morning.


Using all the above determining factors, steelhead anglers take this into consideration when making the choice on what river to fish when.  The Steelhead Alley Angler site provides many tools that you can take advantage of when you are planning a trip to the river.  Information researched via the web can never replace the experience gained from being on the water, but it surely is a tool that will help you to a more successful trip.

Until Next Time…
Fish Hard…Fish Often…

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hudsonhubtimes.com - Dismantling of Cuyahoga Falls dams to get under way next month

As the evening temperatures in the steelhead alley area continue to fall, this will trigger the movement of steelhead closer to shore, and eventually into the river mouths. We have the benefit of surface temperature monitors out in Lake Erie. They are spread throughout the lake. 

After my last check of them, we are getting closer by the day to some better water temperature readings. Most of the area is still in the low 70 degrees to upper 60′s in some spots. This is the time of season that all steelhead anglers begin getting the itch to go out and hunt for their first steelhead of the 2012 season. One of the prime indicators that I use to tell how close steelhead are to shore is by listening to the walleye anglers that troll Lake Erie. When I hear them picking up steelhead 2-5 miles out, then I know it is getting close to that time. 

As you begin your trek out to the area streams and stream mouths, take note of the sunrise times during the early season. The best bite seems to be just before light and a few hours after light. As the season progresses into the fall and winter, these best bite times will continue to be later in the day. 

I get many emails about where to go during early season. It has been my experience that your best chance to hook into a few steelhead during the September timeframe is at the break walls near the shores of Lake Erie. My personal favorite is the Fairport Harbor “Long Wall”. I prefer this area because the break wall extends into the lake quite a ways, and has ample room to move around and try different spots. This walk is not for the faint at heart, and the trek out can be tricky if the rocks are wet. 

If for some reason you are not able to fish the long wall due to a disability, your alternate option is to fish the Fairport “Short Wall”. You can easily park and walk to this wall, and it accessible by all that care to fish.

Some of the most effective methods of catching steelhead in this area would be casting spoons, rooster tails, and jig/maggot combos. I like the Cleo spoons personally, because I can cast them quite a ways. I use the countdown/fan cast method. I fan cast the area and countdown to 5. If Iget no fish, I fan cast the area and countdown to 6, so on and so forth, until I either get a fish or I move to another area. The rooster tails can catch the fish as well, but I prefer the spoons.

Whichever method you decide to use, ensure that you or someone around you has a long handled net. If you hook into a steelhead and are going to land it at the break walls, the long handle will allow your partner to reach down close to the water and scoop the trout up. You would be surprised at how high above the water you are when standing on the break wall pads.

When fishing the Lake Erie shores, it always seems that the fish move in packs. So when one angler next to you hooks into a fish, there may be more in the area, so get ready. Double headers are common.
Labor day seems to be the kickoff of the steelhead season, though weather conditions truly set the stage. As we begin getting more reports from the field, we will bring them to you.  

If break wall fishing isn’t for you, then target your streams in the lower sections before your first riffles. The current stream flows are very low, and any fish that may wander into the streams during the evening time probably are not going to venture very far upstream at this time.

Fish Hard…Fish Often…

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I landed this beauty during the trip North. She is a Kingpin “Sterling” 25th Anniversary Centerpin. #11 out of the 25 series. The red on black truly looks nice.

Listen in as the crew at NW Wild Country talks with Ben See from Steelhead Alley on their weekly radio broadcast 102.9FM KJR/950AM

 Listen in as the crew at NW Wild Country talks Low and Clear with Ben See from Steelhead Alley on their weekly radio broadcast (7/7/2012) 102.9FM KJR/950AM

Blast from the past year.

A look back at the beginning of 2011.  We hope 2012 is just as successful!!!

The 2012 Steelhead fishing season is quickly approaching. Anglers are itching to head back to the rivers with hopes of catching an early steelhead. Anglers are checking their gear, replacing their line and getting antsy to say the least. Flow gauges begin to get monitored and the rain dances begin. Lake Erie temps are pretty warm but this doesn’t deter the steelhead angler from daydreaming of the days to come.

For Team SAA the season begins the second week of September. The annual trek to Ontario is now within view. King Salmon beware! We come ready to put the smack down. This trip has become a tradition, with lots of fish as well as great memories to be recorded. It’s time to meet up with fellow Canadian chrome fanatics and see what new rods and reels they have to look at. Sacs, skein, and the centerpin in hand we will see you in the near future friends.

It is a mad dash around the alley from there. From Canada to New York, then over to Pennsylvania. Then crossing Ohio into Michigan. This year I am going to try and fit it into my schedule to head west into the Washington area and meet up with some fellow angling fanatics. Maybe even hit up a trout seminar. Looking forward to hitting the tributaries once again this year.

While I hurry up and wait for the season to kickoff, I have been in the workshop creating some floats. Figured it would pass the time as well as be somewhat productive. Nothing like watching a custom cork float dunk! See you on the water this 2012-13 Steelhead Fishing Season!!!

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