Saturday, November 12, 2011

First Ohio Steel of the Fall

Leaves piled up on the surface of the big pool on the upper Rocky River. The current through the middle of the pool was barely enough to move leaves from the head to the tail, where many got caught in a slow eddy and were pushed back upstream. The flat surface of the pool reflected the shale cliff and the angled sunlight bounced off the waterfall that tumbled down that same cliff.

Steelheaders are optimists and we're more optimistic when the air temps are north of 50 than we are when they are south of 4o. M
ost weekends I wouldn't even bother trying to fish the Rocky when the water flow is down near the century mark. But there aren't many blue sky 50 degree Saturdays in November, so after scouting the pool I decided to put on the waders and drift small flies under a strike indicator through the mid-section and tail of the pool where the water is deepest.

Getting a drift was a challenge as the current often faded leaving the flies stranded on the bottom. I hooked into a silver sucker, and that was quickly followed by a brief head shake from a mystery fish. (Fly fishermen are free to declare a lost fish to be a trout, even though it could just as well be a sucker.) I continued to work the different seams of the wide pool hoping to bump into a steelhead.

I cast almost across the pool, hoping to have the brassie and egg flies drift along the shelf before dropping int
o the deeper part of the run. The strike indicator slowly drifted downstream, barely moving before coming to a complete stop. With a downstream sweep I picked up line and set the hook. A steelhead responded to the hook by splashing on the surface, disrupting the silent pool. A few moments later the fish cartwheeled out of the water and then ran upstream. Because I was using 4X tippet in the clear water, I gently pressured the fish to get it turn back downstream. After a few more runs I was able to land my first Ohio steelhead of the fall season; later than normal but I'll take it.

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