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…

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