Some anglers make it look easy.
Big John stopped talking in mid-sentence. He leaned forward and focused all of his attention on the fishing rod in his hand and whispered, “A steelhead just picked up my egg sac, but he dropped it. . . . Wait, he’s back.” A quick snap of his wrist and the fight was on. John, like many anglers we know, has a connection with his noodle rod, line, and bait that makes him an excellent steelhead angler.
Last year, in October and November I fished for steelhead on Lake Erie tributaries for 33 consecutive days. With the exception of Sunday morning, I spent most of that time on Elk Creek, but high water sometimes forced me to fish Walnut Creek. It quickly recovers within 24-hours after heavy rain.
When you spend that much time fishing, you get to catch plenty of fish for sure, but you also get a chance to observe others.
Like we once did, steelhead fishing beginners make the usual mistakes and suffer frustrating fishless days. It seems to me that most experienced anglers always catch a few steelhead. Then you have a few who standout. You may not recognize their names, but if you fish Elk Creek, you have seen them in action. Those anglers have developed fish-catching talents that set them apart from everyone else on the water.
“Standout” anglers . . . . Master a particular presentation. Big John, Camo Ron, Michigan Chris, Skein Man and others could write a book on egg sac fishing. It is a variation of bottom bumping and jigging that puts many fish in the net. Black Bill, TJ, Tim, Roy, Ziggy, Frankie, F-Bomb, Dan and others fish soft plastic lures and hair jigs using a constant twitching action that gets “neutral” fish to strike. When steelhead prefer salmon eggs, single-egg Joe uses a tall, stick float technique that seems magical to me.
Excellent anglers know where to fish based on seasonal movement, water & weather conditions and fishing pressure. When Jimmy and Bill head north on I-79, they have checked the stream gauges, they have a planned fishing destination and they arrive early. Nomadic steelhead move so experienced anglers know the difference between a “slow bite” day and a major fish move. The latter sends those anglers searching upstream.
Catching steelhead is fun, but spending fishless hours casting for steelhead without success is hard work. You need to know when to stay the course and when to quit. Regis and I know the latter. A BK Whopper helps heal our fishless spirits and the Golden Corral early bird special is a perfect option for high water blow-out days.
On any given day, regardless of weather and fishing conditions, the steelhead will bite. Standout anglers know this and never quit. They reap a reward long after most of us have called it a day.
I respect their resolve.
If this post creates more questions in your mind, drop a note to j
Mike Magula - when he was alive, fishing with him was pure joy no matter what we caught.
Regis - with two new knees, he will spend more time on the water rather than sitting in the car nursing joint pain!