Heavy rains early last week induced a fresh run of silver up the Lake Erie tributaries and by Saturday a.m. the streams in Pennsylvania had dropped to the lower-end of what I consider fishable. Odds were the stream would be packed with weekend warriors, but it was worth a shot as our calendars finally aligned and Jerry and his two boys, as well as Rem, were able to make the trek.
We were pleasantly surprised to be the first car in the lot as the eastern sky started to turn pink, but we were joined by a few more cars even before we started hiking downstream. When Elk Creek gets low the spots that hold fish can be few and far between and if your desired spot is occupied it can make for a long day of fishing pocket water as you search for the next unoccupied run. Our desired spot only had one other angler and the five of us spread out and tried different pieces of a big pool, a run in front of the hole and a bunch of riffles below.
The pool held several fish and there was enough fish in the other spots to keep us entertained as we traded places. As the morning brightened it became clear just how many fish were in the pool -- too many to count. Most of the fish were silver as dimes. The fish must have headed upstream on Tuesday or Wednesday and hat gotten stranded in the hole when the water dropped. A large, wide shale shelf with just a little water flowing across upstream limited their ability to continue their southward journey.
The fish would take turns moving up to the head of the pool into the fast water where they would regularly inhale single eggs and nymphs. I ran out of a favorite yellow stonefly pattern that I have to remind myself to fish when the conditions are right.
The biggest fish of the day was a 10 pound male that fought like a bulldog before finally coming to shore. Everyone got a chance to hook fish and land at least a few. The fish regularly reminded us that they have plenty of energy, even when we think they are ready to be beached. On days like this, a net would come in handy.
Jerry observed after the day was over that it's more fun to explore new water rather than fishing the entire day along the same familiar stretch of Elk (we've been fishing this stretch for four years or so now). I agree, but at least once a year it's fun to have a full day of constantly fighting fresh steelhead. Next time we head east we hope to explore some new water on Conneaut Creek. Memories of 10 pounds of silver will tide me over until then.