Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Truly a Grand River

Saturday and Sunday were spent on Ohio's biggest steelhead river, the Grand, which flows through Lake County. Draining more than 700 square miles of Northeast Ohio, the river flows through agricultural lands, forests, exurbs and small urban centers. Heavy siltation from the agricultural land and the large drainage area can make the Grand unfishable for weeks at a time every fall and spring. But when it drops below 1,000 cfs (and this past weekend it was about 300 according to the gauge...which is questionably accurate), the fishing can be grand, indeed.

Before dawn on Saturday Jon and I stood on the bank of the river about a mile from my favorite spot for Mexican food, La Mexicana, in Painesville. We were the only anglers in site. A gaggle of Canada Geese expressed their displeasure at our presence. A beaver stopped by to check us out. Our flashlights showed the water was clear. Slowly, as the sky brightened over our shoulders we started making tentative casts. Jon hit the riffles, I tried the deep, fast run. It was still more dark than dawn when Jon hooked his first steelie.

The fishing never really slowed down after that. Jon used a silver minnow fly with a bright green head to consistently hook into a mix of drop back and fresh fish. I used my standard minnow fly to hook enough to wear out my arm. Other anglers, late to the party, fished the shallow rivers as Jon and I concentrated on the deeper runs as the skies brightened. A steady stream of fresh fish would push through the chute and hold in the run. When hooked, they would leap from the water and splash their way downstream into a small rapid. Chasing after the fish was treacherous thanks to a giant boulders strewn about the shallows. Once again the cleated Simms wading boots saved me from several dunkings. We fought fish for for five hours. Several of the fish exceeded 30 inches.
The smile never left Jon's face and we both walked back to the car at noon satisfied and sore.

I returned with Jerry on Sunday afternoon for Jerry's first outing of the new year.
From Steel Pursuit

The water had gotten a little murkier since Saturday -- and more crowded. However, the lone fisherman fishing the spot Jon and I occupied the day before departed upstream shortly after we arrived. While the fishing was a tad slower on Sunday, we still hooked into plenty of fish. The hour before dark brought several fresh fish running through the shoot.

From Steel Pursuit
The rod spent plenty of time bent in a half-circle.

We hiked back to the car in the fading light, retelling stories of fish that wanted nothing to do with coming to the bank. Better yet, we closed the evening with a visit to La Mexicana.

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