Every year on Black Friday I take the trek up to Erie to "escape the crowds". I do most of my shopping online, so why not take advantage of the day off and fish a weekday. So a good friend of mine joined me whom I haven't fished with in over a year. It was great to catch up on life and fishing.... isn't that what fishing is all about?
So we take the 2 hour drive, and are lucky enough not to see any deer in the middle of the road on the way up. We get to the mouth of Elk at around 7:15 and see around 15-20 cars, which is encouraging. When the fishing is good, this place is just packed. A friend of mine joined us for just a few hours up there with his father and 9 year old son. We put them in a nice spot and started to fish.
The water was in almost perfect condition. Slightly up with a green tint and a foot or so of visibility. We had a nice rain 2 days before which typically sets up conditions like this that are favorable to fish the tribs of Erie. I made my way upstream only to my friend hooked into a fish in the first 5 minutes. (he seems to do that a lot)
I pride myself in finding fish that most other people simply pass up. I get joy out of knowing peoples thoughts..."I would have NEVER thought to fish there". This happened 3 times over the day for me.
So I find this nice long run, maybe about 100 yards and no one's fishing it. I like sighting fish in Erie and there was just enough visibility to do so. I walk about 20 yards up and find a pair of fish. I cast a few times and finally hit the feeding lane and get a strike instantly. He takes off upstream with a head shake and tosses the hook. 0-1 but sting a fish no one thought to look for.
We fished the mouth for a little bit longer and it seems to shut down. We decide to head to Folly's. I love the water there and it just draws me in. Plus we didn't have all that much time or probably would have headed east and the water’s a bit easier for the young boy to fish.
We hit Folly's and the cars are parked all the way up to the road! I park and head into the shop and he tells me I can park right by the pavilion. It pays to run the steelhead JAM there!
So we get out and I head to my favorite run just below the 98 bridge. There's 1 older gentleman fishing and no one else in sight. I strike up a conversation and we have a blast hooking several fish and I finally landed one on a cream egg pattern.
The guy above me lands about 5 fish in the next half hour and it shuts down again. The 9 year old with us hooked into one fish and had a blast seeing all these big fish and the fights they put on. That's almost more fun than catching them myself.
So the fishing shuts down a bit there and I head down to fish with my buddy. He's fishing the "swim at your own risk" pool in the riffles just above it. He claims he's hooking tons of fish all in the same spot and moves over a bit for me to have a try. I put a few drifts through, get a few strikes but none landed. This is one of those days that the action is ok and you're changing flies all day long because they're not keying in on one specific thing.
I open my nymph box and see a few small "Infamous Pink Worms" (IPW), that I typically use for brookie streams or sometimes stocked trout. I've never used one of these for steelhead and figure what the heck, I'll tie it on. So I tie it on the bottom of my tandem and toss it in. About 6 feet into my drift my line goes tight and I bring up a nice fresh silver.
First drift, new fly, I'm a believer!
So I fish there a bit longer and we decide to head downstream. I'm walking some "dead" parts of the stream and see a log that's forming a bit of a faster current and a "V" shape in the water. I slowly sneak over there and see 2 fish swimming right in the V. I put a few casts after adjusting my weight and hit one in the head and they both swim off. That was the 2nd spot that I bet no one thought to fish over for the day.
We hit the first wall downstream and it's packed with fishermen. I head farther downstream, constantly keeping my eyes open for fish. I see a spot that is just raging with water. The stream cuts in half with a bit of a wall on one side and takes an “S” turn. There’s a spot that is white capping right in the middle of the run. I look close and it seems like there’s just enough room right under the cap for a fish to have a holding spot. I throw a few casts in and decide to put back on the IPW. 2 casts later my line goes tight and I set the hook. One of the largest steelhead I’ve ever hooked is on the end of my line and takes off downstream. I let go of some pressure to let him run but it doesn’t matter. He breaks me off and I yell in disbelief. I rarely break off fish and for one this big to break me off is quite a disappointment. So that was the 3rd spot that I KNOW no one fished all day and I found willing fish.
We headed back to the car soon after and even though I only landed a few fish that day it was quite successful for many reasons.
Now to the vise to tie up some IPW’s!
This day reminded me of my readings lately in 2 Corinthians 12:10.
For Christ's Sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak then I am strong.
Sometimes there are difficult things out there that not many people want to step up to do. Those of us who listen intently to what He has to say and step out from the crowd can be rewarded with things that are individual just to us. The joy in listening and ACTING on what God has to say brings much joy to us in our walks with Him.