Every fall I start wishing for awful weather. I guess that's from growing up in Michigan where the weather is miserable from October through March. This time of year I always start getting restless to go stand in 37 degree river water in 33 degree rain. This time of year there is only one thing on my brain; Steel. As in Steelhead. Every year when the leaves fall off the trees, the wind starts blowing out of the north, and the cold rain starts to fall, my mind drifts back to searching for chrome. Well this weekend I had enough daydreaming and rounded up a few friends and headed to the closest steelhead water. New York. The first place we went to was all blown out with chocolate milk colored water. Bail. The second place had a slight stain to it with about 18" of viability which is perfect. My two friends, who rarely fish, and have NEVER caught a steelhead were, of course, the first two to land two nice hens. I had been hooking into quite a few fish throughout the day, but they kept breaking me off or throwing the hook. On the way out of the river for the day I tried one more hole. ALWAYS try "one more hole". I drifted a cream colored sucker spawn down a promising looking run and on the third drift a colorful buck grabbed it and started heading back to the Big Lake. After a few more runs and a couple of jumps, he was in the net. Nice!
The next day we headed back to the same creek for round 2. My buddies Jesse, Chad, and I headed up stream to find some holes that were less pressured than the ones closer to the parking area. They took the first run we came to and I continued on the the next one which was still in earshot of them. As I was talking shit to Jesse, Chad hooked into his second fish. Ever. 2 fish, 2 steelhead. Lucky bastard. I sprinted down stream to net for him, but by the time I got there, he had the fish pinned to the shore. Not really the most gentle way to land a fish, but I can't blame Chad for the enthusiasm. As Chad and Jesse were taking their celebratory photos, I threw my blue sucker spawn fly to the run where Chad had just found his buck. WHAM! Fish on! I landed that one and then worked with Jesse on his dead drift. After he missed his third strike, the ridicule and more shit talking started. I can't tell you how important it is to be on your game with seeing strikes, and having a good hook set. These aren't trout, they're steelhead. You need to set like they're steelhead.
I hooked into 2 more fish and landed 1 of them before the darkness and the thought of cold beer and hot pushed us off the river. We went back to the campsite (yeah, camping in November) and cooked some hot dinner before turning in for the night.
Throughout the night we could hear rain drops on the tent and the wind really began to whistle through the trees overhead. The next morning we woke up to wind, but not rain. We quickly broke camp and threw everything into the back of the truck. We headed to the river with the hopes of getting a few more hours on the water before the predicted snow and wintry mix started. When we got to the river we knew that we were headed home early. The water was the color of dark chocolate milk and about 2' higher than it was the day before. Blown out and shut down.
We checked a few more rivers hoping to find something what was fishable, but everything was blown out. We headed back to Virginia with the smell of fish on our gear, and memories in our minds. I'm not sure if this trip quenched my steelhead thirst, or made it worse. Nevertheless, it brought back some great memories of suffering from my childhood.