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Great Lakes Steelhead Video

Call them steelhead, lake-run rainbows, steelbow rainheads or anything you want. I call them big, bright and lots of fun. Some of my most memorable fly fishing memories to date, involve fly fishing for steelhead and brown trout on Lake Ontario’s seemingly unlimited tributaries. Considering that Lake Ontario is the 14th largest lake in the world boasting an impressive 7,340 square miles and huge sources of forage; it is no wonder why steelhead and brown trout species thrive, naturally reproduce and grow big. I recently read a statistic noting that 40% of the lakes steelhead are wild and that number continues to increase. But, when it comes to what I personally like most about Great Lakes steelhead fly fishing; it has less to do about statistics and more to do with having fun chasing steelhead with new and long time friends. Most trips involve early mornings, late nights, beautiful stretches on big pristine water, small/remote creeks, urban rivers, swinging flies, nymphing, tough days, good days, rain, sleet, snow, sunshine and lot’s of laughs. This trip was no different. The cast of characters was Alex from Argentina, Joey from Colorado and Boz and myself from Maine. There were also a few “extra” characters and friends who happened to be there at the same time; Kory from New York City, Mark from Rhode Island, Kyle from Montana, Dave from Syracuse and Taylor from New Hampshire. The fishing was spectacular with some beautiful steelhead and brown trout. Most of the steelhead were freshies from the lake; pure chrome, aggressive and sometimes too hot to handle. As always, it took us a few days to find this years “chrome zone.” We traveled lot’s of miles by foot and car looking for good concentrations of “chromers” and lot’s of our “go-to” spots were not producing very good results for a variety of reasons. But, after many miles, types of water and disappointment we finally found some productive drifts. We worked as a team, helping each other figure out the micro drifts and perfect presentations. One of the best parts of the trip for me was having my good friend Alex on-board as part of our crew. Alex lives in Argentina and, prior to this trip, all of his fly fishing involved swinging flies to sea run brown trout and rainbow trout. Dead drifting nymphs, is not something he and his Argentine crew typically do. So, for Alex, learning how to dead drift nymphs was very challenging and it was difficult to break the “swing” habit. But, he loved this “new” concept of fly fishing and while everyone else but him seemed to have the “hot stick”; he continued to work hard at dialing into the nymphing game and trying to get the perfect drift. Then, after lots of frustration and very few hook-ups; he got it! And, I kid you not, he lit them up and had the “hot stick” for the rest of the trip. On one occasion, Alex stepped into the river and I said, “No dude, you gotta get out to that far rock!” He humbly disagreed and replied, “Ok, I just want to try one drift here first.” Bang! He hooked a beautiful chromer and shut me up immediately. He continued to do this time and time again and I found myself asking him, “Where is the drift?” So, the best part of fly fishing for me is fishing as a team. We are all one unit and when one of us hooks or catches a fish, it is a “fish for the team.” If one of us is having a run a bad luck, than that person gets the preferred drifts. So, Great Lakes steelhead for us, is all about “the team.” And, that sense of camaraderie carries over into the night and, on this trip, the early morning hours. Friends stop by, we play music, party, laugh and “take it into the backing” as Alex likes to call it. The tune (9 Lives) that accompanies this video is a tune that we all wrote during those nights of sitting around partying and messing around with the guitars. The lyrics are more or less our interpretation of fly fishing for steelhead in the Great Lakes and what it means to us. So, there might very well be better and more exclusive steelhead fisheries around the world with more desirable and elite steelhead populations and all that stuff. That’s cool and hopefully we get a chance to fly fish and hang-out at some of those places someday; but if not … we will have no shortage of fun fly fishing the Great Lakes and chasing “steelbow rainheads.”