Low water challenge
When Erie County repeats the climate history of the last several seasons, you can look forward to a low-water, slow start to the fall run.
Low water angling requires stealth and small presentations two basic characteristics of successful fly anglers. That is why I believe that another low water start to Lake Erie steelhead run will give fly anglers an advantage! Tiny nymph tandems catch plenty of low water steelhead.
We can all agree that tossing a wad of skein into your favorite tributary may not be the best strategy for catching early season steelhead.
I am by trade, a bait chucker. Sacs, singles, shiners, and jigs make up my bait rotation no matter the conditions; however, I have seen the light when it comes to September and early October steelhead catching.
The advantage for being old and retired, if there is one, is you get to fish more than the average angler. Work no longer crowds out that spur of the moment trip for steelhead. By being on the water more, I get to talk to fly anglers who make catching skittish early season steelhead look easy. They share information, flies and advice. I am never too proud to take another angler lures or advice.
Using my noodle rod, super-tiny floats, hair-like leader, and the "crouching tiger" approach to fish holding water, I have some success on most trips. My best fly is the pheasant tail nymph. Second is an egg pattern/nymph tandem. In third place is the small woolly bugger that is used to goad the fish into striking.
Since I am red-green color-blind, I have no plan to leave the comfort of bait for fly only fishing. I still have a truck load of real, trout food with me at all times. But if you see me fishing with what appears to be nothing under my float it is a nymph or a tiny version of my other favorite presentations. If, like me, you are also a bait angler there is no need to grab an Orvis catalog. Just include a few nymphs in your fishing vest, buy some single eggs and downsize the leader weight no matter what.