Erie Tribs 4/19 – 4/20/15: Spring Steelhead



The Steelhead is an invasive species. I mean that in the best way. Once you hook a steelhead it will invade your dreams, your nightmares, and most of your waking thoughts from October until May.


Spring steelhead offers the steel-fever afflicted angler a chance to wake from the winter “chrome -a-toast” state and get the blood running. After all, nothing runs like a steel.


Rick and I had a rare alignment of schedules and decided to make the suicide run up to Erie, which is 6 hours away. Unfortunately the last minute plans made it tough for me to switch at work so it was a departure at 10 p.m. on Saturday for us. We made it to the Walmart in Edinborough by 3 a.m., parked the truck  in the parking lot and slept till 6 a.m. then it was off to the creek to evaluate the situation.


The creeks were low and we knew we had our work cut out for us. Never daunted we headed up the creek. Slowly checking the green water, runs and shelves. Persistence, patience and presentation would win the day for two weary travelers too stubborn to give up.


Maybe it was the sleep deprivation that impaired our judgement but after a quick bite at Tereasa’s Lakeshore deli it was back out to the creek to wind down the day. We decided to head upstream and check a few runs close to the road. It wasn’t the most productive but I managed 1. I hooked a monster who promptly took me into a log jam and that was all she wrote.


At that point the forecast weather was moving in, wind and rain became steady and intolerable. We moved out and headed back to the hotel and Avonia for a quick bite and early bed. Weather was moving in over night and we had no idea what to expect in the morning.


Over night we received about a quarter inch of rain. We took our time in the morning heading down to the stream. Half because a full nights sleep was required after the previous day and half because I think we were both hesitant to head to the creek for fear of heading home earlier than we would like.


When we arrived on the creek it was no different than the day before. We were disappointed and baffled that the water did not come up at all. Either way we knew where we were headed. The first run from the day before had a few large fish that we hooked but lost and it was time to see if we could exact some revenge.


We started working the run and the sun peaked out just long enough to make it to hot for our rain gear. I set my sling pack and wading jacket down against a dry tree stump on the side of the run. Five minutes later the water was up to my gear. I moved my gear back 3 more times in a matter of a few minutes. The water rose quickly and the fish slid out of there shelter and started moving around. Several large fish moved into shin to knee deep water.


 I had my chance at the largest fish all weekend as it slid out of the heavy current and into the shallow soft water. After several refusals to a larger streamer I reluctantly switched over to a sucker spawn rig lovingly referred to as “Green eggs and ham”. A suckerspawn sucking shiner with an egg trailer. I also noticed by hook-up rate was lower when using an indicator so I decided to high-stick the flies through the run. On the third drift, BLAM-O! I held on for a great 15 second ride into the heavy chop and then felt the familiar snap of a big steelhead going into a log jam.


Rick and I would later discuss techniques for fighting big fish and I think we discovered that I use the tip of the rod too much on the big fish. To use the butt of the rod more I can tighten my drag and let the reel and butt of the rod do more of the fighting. It was an interesting theory as I dropped 3 fish in the 30″ range through the weekend.


The water finally stabilized and none too soon as it was headed towards the color chocolate milk. Instead it stayed a nice steelhead green color but it wasn’t steelhead we would find as a second round of rain rolled through.


Using a sinking tip, slow retrieve and small flies Rick picked up several lake run small mouth.


It’s a great time of year to be out on the Erie tribs as you never know what you will find on the other end of the line.


Don’t overlook the spring time in Erie!


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