Spring has finally arrived in Steelhead Alley and that means it's time to swing minnow flies for aggressive males and drop back females. The fish have moved out of the deep holes and into the riffles and gravel runs. While some of the local rivers remained high late last week, the Rocky River was dropping fast. On Friday morning before work, I opted to swing with the single-handed 10 foot rod Thomas & Thomas using a simple marabou minnow fly that has become my "go to" fly when the water is clear.
While there weren't as many fish as I expected, a few could be seen in the shallows, and a few more were making wakes as they moved up into the flats. The sun wasn't yet over the east ridge when the first steelhead hit the fly on the swing and went tearing downstream. I chased after and managed to land it in slow water up against the bank. The two-foot plus long fish held in the slow current in front of my feet for about 30 seconds after being released. I stood over her, admiring the natural tatoos on her back. Eventually she moved into the main current and swam off.
A bit later a smaller, but similarly spirited fish picked up the fly as it swung through the deepest part of the run. I managed to get downstream of the fish, kneeled in the shallow riffle and eased him to my hand. His pink cheeks glowed in the morning light. I removed the hook from the corner of his mought and he splashed me with his broad tail as he hurried off to resume his business.
Some mornings are better than others. This was a good one.