There is something special about fishing for steelhead when the temperature drops below freezing. We all learned at a young age that water freezes at 32 degrees, but flowing water won't freeze without putting up a fight. Winter has come early to Northeast Ohio this November, but even with temperatures in the mid-20s the Rocky River still was flowing. The gauge said the flow was 250 cfs and the water temp was 32.5. That's an important .5 degrees. The wind was sharp, the sun was sporadic and the snow was covering the ground.
Juris and I met to fish for an hour or so to try to end the week on a good note. The tracks in the snow made it clear someone had fished the hole earlier in the day, but the river was empty by 3 p.m. I used a white sucker spawn and black wolly bugger and prospected in the slow water at the tail of the ppol. I focused on the inner edge of a seam, assuming that the fish were colder than me and were conserving as much energy as possible. After just a few drifts the float paused, I raised my rod tip and the slow, sluggish head shake of a chilled steelhead signaled that the week would indeed end well. After a brief fight I landed a very chunky, wide steelhead with a bright pink side. She had taken the white sucker spawn.
A few minutes later I hooked another at the very end of the tail. The smaller steelhead splashed at the surface and made a few quick runs before coming to my feet. The hook pulled out as I pulled the fish to the bank -- a long-distance release. On a day like today, I didn't mind too much since I had no interest in grabbing a wet fish on a sub-freezing day.
Juris hooked and landed a male on the trusty psycho nymph. Three fish in 60 minutes or so of fishing is pretty good, particularly when the water was as cold as ice -- if not frozen.