It’s been pretty damn cold all over the Country this past week and here in the Pan-Handle it’s been colder than normal. Most cats would take this time to sit behind a fly tying bench and pop out fly after fly thinking what would it be like to be on the water. Normally, I would be part of that group but my crazy ass decided to go steelhead fishing on one of the coldest days this year. Being a government employee and not in the work force of the bug chucking industry gave me the opportunity to be off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I have a dream just like M.L.K, but it was not to go bug chucking in single digits. Although since I did I decided to drag on a new comer to the Bug Chucking world, yeah he is as crazy as I am. His name Is Joe but I will call him Jose Warren for this blog.
Jose Warren showed up at the homestead around 4:30a.m and we were northbound by 4:39a.m. As always the fishing talk on the way north was good, we talked about previous steelhead experiences and certain fish caught. Also about how we have never hooked into any Brown Trout on the PA Erie Tribs. We rolled into a Elk Creek at one of my favorite spots 15 minutes before sunrise to find that the certain parts of the stream was frozen. Jose walked over to check the situation as I geared up because, regardless I was going to be an ice breaking machine to catch Chromeheads. Geared up and down stream we went to find a few fish here and there but not worthy to a bug chucker like Jose. We finally settled in on a run that had ice from shore to shore. I told Jose that fish would be here all we had to do was to break the ice and free up open water. An hour later the run was open.
This section of water gets hit a lot, way more than what it did 6 or 7 years ago but still productive from time to time. Streamers was our searching pattern on the way in but as we narrowed down the fish, nymphs became the fly. Once the ice was open we fished hard for a while with no luck until I dead drifted a streamer pattern down through. First dead drift cast we produced a pretty chrome bitch.
We put our time in breaking ice and the fish Gods rewarded us this several hook-ups but only a few landers. We fished here for a while but it was tough. We finally talked to a few other anglers near the river but werent fishing, they had the better idea and that was 1 card wild and jacks a smoking. Big money hands were being played when we walked in and it reminded me of a John Wayne movie. Regardless they had good prices on fly tying material, know the area????
We made it back to the rig where the deer jerky went right onto the defrosters. We warmed up a bit and decided to explore. I hope all the readers of this blog remembers the word “Explore” that’s when you look for new water. Jose and I found this brown thing????
Look at the Brown Elk Queen, its in the mouth of this pretty!!!
A brown Elk Queen is a fly that was tied by my buddy Adam that now resides in Florida. He is a Bug Chucker by blood and shows that through tattoos, but for this post you will just have to take my word for it. He has some of the best tatty’s that Steve-O will be painting on his bathroom walls when he gets into his new cabin, which will be the new bug chucking headquarters. Ok so back to my “KG” story of steelhead fishing in negative 10 degree weather. Jose and I made our way to another part of the steelhead alley water to find an amazing surprise of a run of beautiful fresh fish. Yes believe it or not we had a warm spell of weather in January that brought fresh fish into the Erie Tribs. We searched and Jose found 3 black tails sticking out from underneath a log. My first cast into the run I produced a fish that I never caught on a Lake Erie Trib. Brown Crack,
You might not believe it but Jose can vouch for me the next 2 fish I produce was the same make and model. How about that, never caught a brown and what do you know, I pull three out of the same run. Once we exhausted the brown trout the steelhead started to produce. We ran many drifts through this run with one type of fly and this is what we were rewarded with.
I can’t say I caught the biggest, I have to leave that to Joe “Jose Warren” he drifted the nymph through the run better than Lefty Humphries Danile, and produce this toad of a hen. It may have been after several snags and a few choice words but after a 10 minute fight he landed the fish of the day. A fresh hen ready to do her thing was in hand and released.
We fished this run for a little longer to catch a few small chromer jacks before frostbite began to set in. The fishing was tough but since we put our time in I think we were rewarded. I now know what early stages of frostbite feels like and I am glad to say that I got it Steelhead fishing. Had dinner at the Country Fair before we made it back to Southwestern PA. I guess that’s steelhead fishing in January!
p.s Cabin Fever is February 23, Cranberry PA, SEE YOU THERE