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Steelhead Video

The Great Lakes and the Rivers that feed them are the core of my early fishing memories. As a child I spent countless hours chasing Carp and Channel Cats on the mud flats in the backyard of my childhood home on Lake Erie. My grandfather and father spent hours teaching me to read water rig my own setup and adapt my approach to different water and species. It was there that I became a fisherman.I don’t get home to Erie much these days so when I got the invite from Whippa and Jeremy to chase Steelhead on the Lake Ontario tribs I was in.Arriving at the river with a fresh foot of snow under grey skies felt like a homecoming of sorts and I scrammbled to catch up as Jeremy and Kranefly were already making way down the trail. I paused upon first glimpse of the river. It was running high and stained, the lingering scent of rotting King Salmon filled the cool air. I waded in taking the whole scene in as I made my first few drifts.Both Jeremy and Kranes had hooked up in the first 10 minutes on water, and I watched in awe as hot steel burned through the greasy slick and through my mind. Reading and running whitewater professionally for over ten years has taught me the value of local knowledge and being in tune with the nuances that can make or break a run. I wouldn’t run the same “line” through a rapid at differnent water levels and the same tactics apply to drifting a fly through a steelhead run. So when Kranes and Jeremy made some suggestions on the subtlties of this particular drift I listened carefully and within a few casts I was into the biggest brown of my life. Game on! We spent the day fishing the edges of the high flows and found fresh steelies tucked in tight to the creases. It was obvious that Kranes an Jeremy have paid there dues on these waters as they both hooked and landed some nice steel. I also learned why Kranes is refered to as the “silent assasin” after watching him land a fish that most anglers would have easily lost. Nice work Kranes! On a grassy knoll we met up with “Shaq” and his posse throwing Spey to the thick flows. It was good meeting folks you feel you already know a bit from there involvement with Flies And Fins. I got one small steelhead for the day, later referred to as “micro chrome” and we hiked out as the November daylight faded fast.Whippa, Jeremy and I awoke the next morning at 4am and set out for some smaller tribs down the road. I felt better prepared having actually slept and picked their brains on the ride out. The first creek we fished had run off hard recently and the fish were few and far between in the upper runs. We dropped down and focused on the slower water toward the lake and saw countless steelhead rolling and chasing bait right at our feet. The drifts were super slow and the tactics completely different this time around. But we adapted accordingly and drifted our weightless rigs through the run. Just when we were ready to pull the plug Jeremy and Whip suggested trying a streamer dead drifted. So I tied on a softhackle style eggsucking leach that I had tied for the trip. I made one cast and was into steel. I thanked them both as a beautiful fresh steelie was brought to hand.We regrouped and drove on to another spot…The conditions were stacked against us with the big Rivers being too high and the smaller creeks being too low. “Sometimes its a gamble” they said so we rolled the dice and drove along.The next creek produced a pink cheeked beauty for Whip that at first seemed cooperative. That’s when the steelhead laughed and the Houdini act had begun as the fish took the battle down stream into the skinny water. Instinct and experience played the fish well as all three of us savored Whip’s moment in the rare rays of November sun.Desicion time again. We rolled the dice and moved on.The next river we came to was my kind of water, cold, clear and fast, with some decent whitewater. We fished a few runs downriver before Jeremy and I headed up as Dave headed down. We picked through fast pocket water and slides with plunge pools and came to large gravel bottomed pool. Jeremy fished the top of seam as I worked the tailout. I was ticking bottom on every drift and knew if the fish were there I was putting an easy meal in their face. I repositioned myself on a rock in heavy current below a big gravelly gut in the bedrock. Made a cast and watched as my indicator dove. “Fish on!” No sooner had I said those words and Jeremy was shouting the same! Snake eyes! Double steel!I held on as my fish tore through the water and sky making repeated runs. Jeremy and I had to be carefull not to tangle up as both fish ripped the pool apart. As we played our fish out Dave had crossed the river and came over just as we were landing them. Two fresh steelies were photographed and released as the setting sun fell. Truly a moment I will never forget.The next day it was back to the big water. We fished a spot we’d done well in days before, and it wasn’t long before I was into a good steelie that smoked me good. There were many hookups this day but few fish landed as the Steelhead used the big water as leverage toward their exit stratagy. Jeremy hooked one that might as well have been a ten foot Mako Shark as it ripped into the standing waves and bid fairwell. We met up with Moonie “aka Mooncaster” and watched him dial in a few nice steelies drifting a “Tungsten Omlette” through the tailouts. Athough the steelhead eluded me that day the big fish hooked and lost fuels my quest for steel and my inevitable return to the Great Lakes.