September passed without a visit to a south shore stream on Lake Erie. It was beautiful, but dry September. Some fish were caught, according to reports, but not many.
No way I could go 0 for October, so I headed out today after work to the lower end of the Rocky River, just west of downtown Cleveland. Gun-metal gray skies, gusting winds a slight chill greeted me as hiked from the parking lot to the river bank -- a short hike in this urban fishery. The surrounding trees ranged from dark green to yellow. Fall is here, just not all the way here.
Recent rains had brought the river up - flow was at about 200 cfs - pretty much perfect. Temp was 60 degres. Still a little warm, but nice. The river color can best be described as dingy brown. Visibilty was about 12 inches and the silt covered bottom added to the dingy feel of the river. A big blow out rain is still required, maybe two.
I was swinging a big, weighted white rabbit fur fly that works well in the spring. Swinging flies in the fall is relatively new for me, but I'd like to get good at it. It's easy (in other words, it doesn't require much skill) to catch a ton of steelies on the swing in the spring. The fish and the fly are often in sight. Not the case in fall fishing, where the fish tend to move in during high water times and murky conditions. I have a lot to learn about the wet fly swing for steelhead. I'm hoping to learn some this fall. It has been said that the best way to learn how to catch fish is to actually catch a few. Obvious, I know, but also important. It is hard to learn whether you are doing anything right if you never catch one. And, it is possible to do everything right and still never catch one...
I doubt I was doing everything right today, but I certainly didn't catch any. One spin fisherman -- using spawn -- caught a nice five pound female in the middle of a long, relatively straight run with medium-fast running water. It's a favorite spot for spawn fisherman. I tried the head of the run and few riffles without any luck. I did catch a long, frayed cloth and a metal pole.
I spent a few minutes in the company of great blue heron. He flew in, squawking like a prehistoric creature, landed just across from me, tight against the shale wall. His faded blue feathers blended well with the gray shale. He stalked the bank briefly before quietly lifting off, his oversized wings pumping hard to give him some lift. Sometimes the catching isn't so good, but a close encounter with one of God's amazing creatures more than makes up for that.