Thursday, March 28, 2013

Switching it up

Switching it up with Ben See

As we approach the spring steelhead run in the Alley, it comes as no surprise that with each rain we receive, the more fish that are coming into the stream system. While I would normally be searching for chrome with the centerpin and spawn sacs, I am happy to say I am keeping up with the switch rod and fly venture. While I knew in the beginning that trying my hand at spey casting and fly fishing would be a challenge, little did I know how much of a challenge it really would be. I have to admit, I have snuck out the pin and put the smack down just to get some of my mojo back. I am sure I am not the first and certainly won't be the last person to enter into the spey world and be completely confused on this technique, gear, and method of targeting fish. But, as I have said in the past I don't quit, I won't quit.

When swinging a streamer you get plenty of time to observe your surroundings and also do plenty of thinking. For me the next thing I think of with the pin is the next fish. The next thing I think of with the switch rod has nothing really to do with fish. While I am trying to figure out how a fish with a pea sized brain can out think an angler and at the end of the day put them in checkmate, I find myself daydreaming. This in itself is probably one of my issues with the my spey success.

How is it that an angler that knows how to read water, knows fish migration patterns, watches USGS flow gauges like a hawk, can pickup a pin and smash fish daily, knows basically every stocked stream in Steelhead Alley, can zig when he needs to zig and zag when he needs to zag? But, pickup the switch and meet the skunk more often then not? This got me thinking stream side, and to my surprise I found myself off on a tangent again in my own mind.

I am a perfect example of why telling anglers where to fish has little to no advantage. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. Teach an angler how to use a specific technique and they will figure out the where to fish. Telling an angler where to fish when they don't have a good grasp on the their chosen technique doesn't do anything good for the angler or the angling community. As social media has become quite popular over the past few years, these sort of tools are a blessing and a curse to our fishing community. A blessing on one hand as to allow anglers to meet those likeminded to learn from each other. A curse on the other hand as it provides a stage for those ignorant of the true challenges of our fishery. While they spew nonsense, only to be confronted by those anglers who can be seen fishing in sub zero temps in the winter and scorching days in the summer for species other than steelhead. The ignorant then become defensive when those that actually know what is going on with our fishery confront them. They should actually speak less and listen more to the true challenges that are faced in Steelhead Alley. Maybe then, which I doubt, but just maybe they would realize they are contributing to the problem and not the solution.

Team SAA will be back out there on the streams this weekend looking to find the chrome. Hopefully water temps will rise a bit more and that will trigger some good action in the coming week.

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CRO Free Spey class Saturday

Chagrin River Outfitters 100 North Main St, Chagrin Falls, OH. 44022
On the water switch and spey seminar with Dan Pribanic. Learn why two handed rods have become so popular for swinging flies along steelhead alley, how to match up lines and rods, choosing the proper sink tips, casting and mending to set up your swing, fishing a run, fly choice, two handed etiquette.
10 am Saturday, March 16th

Be there or be square!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend Wrapup Team SAA

 Anglers both young and old got out and enjoyed the spring like weather conditions this weekend.  With temperatures pushing 60 degrees, spring fever has set in and from the word on the alley, a lot of anglers took advantage.  The Grand River drew anglers with high hopes of finding some pods of fish willing to take their presentation.  The Chagrin river flows made it easy to trek up and down the river hunting for the chromers as well. Rocky river was hot and many fish were observed to be in spawning mode.  We are close to some on fire action the next few weeks!The Chagrin River got some recognition this weekend as well, Team SAA Founder and Pautzke Pro Staffer Ben See submitted an article about the Chagrin and what to expect this spring season.  You can check it out at .  As always, when things get hot on the alley, you can be sure that Team SAA will be out there to report it. 

The highlight of the weekend on the alley was the birth of a new future angler.  Our friend Bob Sparent  took his 2 youngest children out to the river and was able to put them on fish pretty quick.  While the first fish popped off at the shore, the second fish a nice buck fell prey to the Pautzke spawn sac.  I am sure Abby will never forget the day, and certainly Bob will cherish the memory forever.  It is good to see anglers taking the kids out to enjoy the great fishery we are blessed to have here in Steelhead Alley.  I think the picture speaks loud and clear on the pride of a father and daughter.

Team SAA member Sean Armer representing  on the west coast with his new drift boat. 

Until Next Time…
Fish Hard…Fish Often…

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CRO Free Tying Class

 Egg and bugger/minnow patterns workshop at Chagrin River Outfitters on Saturday 11-2. Learn some great springtime guide patterns for steelhead from CRO guides.

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

Switching it up with Ben See – Part 4

Switching it up with Ben See – Part 4

It has been a while since a new episode of “Switching it up” has been published.  I would have loved to come to the computer and write a great success story of how I have been able to pick up a switch rod, throw on some sink tips, swing hobo spey patterns and land some fish.  Unfortunately I still have a lot to learn and every trip out to the streams produced another skunk.  Like the movie Goundhog Day, it was the same ole thing.  Head out to the river, conditions a bit different then the last, but hopes of hooking up with some steelhead still the same as the first day I started spey casting.

This skunk scenario repeated itself 9 times. Yes 9 trips out to the rivers!!!  As frustration levels increased and confidence levels in my fly fishing skills in general decreased I had to reassess a few things.  Is it my casting?  Is it my presentation of a fly?  Could it be the fly itself?  Am I using the right sink tip?  Are the fish just not biting?  Am I fishing the wrong areas?  Where are the fish?  What am I doing wrong?  It is cold, windy and miserable out here.  What in the hell am I doing!!!

Giving up isn’t an option, but I am truly humbled by the spey and the swing.  I never thought I would crush the fish and put up numbers, but rather would find a new way to target the species that I love so much.  As I have said in the past and still believe today, the method an angler chooses to fish for steelhead is of personal choice.  While it is no secret that using bait presentations can and does put up the numbers per say, the fly presentation is a different mentality.  It isn’t about the numbers but rather the experience.

On the bright side, my fly tying skills have grown leaps and bounds from when I first started with fly fishing.  I have grown fond of the Snap T, and feel confident I can put a fly where I want it.  Unfortunately, the fish gods just haven’t blessed me very often yet with actually catching a few fish.  I attribute a lot of this to the conditions I am fishing this winter, and also the learning curve of spey casting with the switch rod.  I won’t quit, I never quit.  

2 months of fishing and no fish, so I figured I would dust off the centerpin and see if I could get my mojo back.  I am a firm believer that if you believe you will catch fish you will, and if you don’t believe you won’t.  I believe every time I go out with the centerpin that I will catch fish, and on Sunday I did just that.  It was nice to have a double digit day on the Chagrin River.  A mix of chrome and colored up bucks, and the action was fast and furious.  

Many have asked me if I have gone back to the centerpin.  The rod and reel you use is a tool.  While I enjoy my time on the water, it is also nice to be rewarded with a few fish as well.  I will be back using the switch rod soon.  I don’t quit and I won’t quit.

Until Next Time…
Fish Hard…Fish Often…