Late season Steelhead

A good sized fish landed before it’s return to the lake

CLEVELAND EAST SIDE, OH – I rarely chase steel when they have moved upstream to spawn.  Not because of the whole argument over the ethics of fishing for them (and the fish around them at spawn), but rather I just have moved on to other species.  This year, after a friend had an epic outing, I was convinced I needed to spend one more day chasing them.  I ended up choosing a weekday that was as beautiful of a day as we had seen in 2019.  The bad part about that was a resurgence of anglers to compete with for space and fish that could see you just as much as you could see them.  Unless you are talking about park fish that are used to being fed by people, fish that can see you are always weary of feeding.  Adding to all of these things working against me was the fact that I was fly fishing.  Simply put – I am average at best with the fly rod.

What I lack in skill, I make up for with persistence.  When other anglers move on to other pools or different locations, I just keep fishing.  I’m not even sure if this is a good or bad trait, but it does pay off with a fish now and then.  After hours of fishing with only 3 hookups, I finally managed a take that held firm all the way through landing.  The strong fish combined with rather shallow water made for a very chaotic memorable fight.  I’ll consider it a fun day, despite only one catch!

Pond fishing success

A good sized pond Largemouth Bass

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH – Every now and then pond fishing can yield a real nice fish.  I have access to a few and it had been some time since one of the better fish had been caught.  With my recent ability to get out fishing a little more, the ‘icing on the cake’ so to speak was getting a nice fish.  While not a complete monster, it was big enough to quicken the pulse, and keep fish energy high!

My friend Nate, who is an exceptional fisherman, made a very good point recently to me about how if I take my spinning gear and my fly gear – I wont really get better or develop as a fly fisherman.  I know he is 100% accurate as I have found this to be true.  While I really need to perfect my skills in tributaries, I still think even on ponds and lakes I should apply this.  I know this will produce fewer catches at least early on – and I need to accept this as a necessity to get more fly proficient.  Leaving my trusted gear behind, I did one trip with just the 4 wt. fly rod.  I used a minnow pattern to catch some fair sized Bluegill and considered the effort successful.  Only one small bass was caught on the fly but at least there was upside in that the smaller Bluegill didn’t have mouths big enough to get hooked.  This served to cull the smaller fish without ever having to land and handle them… a definite bonus.  I need to commit to more trips with only fly gear in tow.

Midland Painted Turtle

More exciting for my kids then any of the fish recently caught, was a Midland Painted Turtle that I was able to grab and let them admire for a few minutes.  My ‘dad status’ has been legendary after this feat and there are numerous discussions around them wanting a pet turtle.

Cooler weather, bass still hot

It wont be long before we are all longing for the warm weather and days with more light.  Even on the north coast of Ohio where the colder weather months reward us with Steelhead fishing and excellent ice fishing opportunities, I still find myself wanting to hold on to every day of ‘T-shirt weather’.  I’ve done an excellent job getting out fishing lately, but only one notable fish worthy of sharing.

CWF09272015lmbAfter countless Bluegill, a good Largemouth Bass

Certain water I fish has an abundance of Bluegill and Pumpkinseed, so much so that it is hard to catch anything else.  If you are persistent and patient, at times you can be rewarded with some nice fish.  This was the case recently when a solid Largemouth Bass showed the panfish who was boss, and beat everyone else to the fly.  Maybe one day I will get good enough to figure out some flies the panfish ignore and only trigger the bass, but for now I enjoy the work of catching everything and the excitement when a fish like this is landed.  My 4 year old son has been joining me and catching plenty of bass on bait, so the bass truly are still very active.  I hope it stays this way for awhile!

CWF09302015bullA surprise bullhead on an olive Woolly Bugger

Anyone who fishes regularly knows what you expect to catch and what decides to bite can be surprising.  This recently proved true for me when a bullhead decided to take my fly.  For whatever reason, even when bottom fishing, I don’t encounter bullhead often so it was cool to see something different.

Making the most of little time

Time is a commodity I don’t have much of these days.  Between a demanding career and family, fishing has been few and far between in 2015.  Along with very limited outings, getting the time to even do a brief write up has proven difficult.  On the up side, when I have made it out I have had some good success.  Most notably, I made it over to the Sandusky River White Bass run and timed it perfect.  It was non stop action with a real nice class of fish.  Plenty of bonus species also kept things interesting.

CWF05032015wbA 16″ Fish Ohio Award White Bass

The pond has been fishing well, and of course gets the majority of my attention as it provides a quick fishing ‘fix’ when there is no time to get anywhere else.  For the most part, I just have been working on my fly fishing and seem to be getting more proficient.

CWF05032015pumpkinPumpkinseed are quite beautiful

CWF05032015flybassA few Bass get to the fly before the Bluegill

Only a single trip was made to the various spring trout stockings and even on that day I didn’t have much time.  I was happy to at least get a fish, a rather decent 12″ Rainbow that under the circumstances, made my day.

CWF05032015troutInstagram trout selfie

I’m not feeling very worthy of calling myself a fishing blogger these days with so little time for fishing and writing.  I appreciate the folks that still stop by and/or follow on Facebook, even a small following makes me want to continue doing this.  I hope everyone out there is having a fun spring and making some great catches!

Fly Fishing Film Tour, Cleveland

fftlogoSome years ago, I was able to catch a Fly Fishing Film Tour in Maumee, Ohio.  It made a lasting impression and I always hoped that each year the funding or sponsorship would be found to keep it going.  I was excited to learn that the film tour was not only still being produced, but stopping in Cleveland this year.  There was no question, I would be in attendance.

While my overall opinion on the film tour is highly favorable, I do give honest critques and there were some things I didn’t like.  Let me start by saying, none of the negatives were profound enough to outweigh the positives, and I was glad I went and would go again.  So let me get the bad parts off my chest.  Parking is a genuine pain in the a** around the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  There are very few parking spaces on the street, a small lot at the museum that fills quickly, and a nightmare traffic flow problem at the next closest parking garage at the art museum.  The latter option, gives everyone approaching from the right the ability to turn in, while if you need to access making a left turn you will wait an ungodly amount of time – all while making everyone behind you mad that isn’t trying to get in the garage.  For the incredible inconvenience, you are treated to $8 parking.  Maybe the locals or people that visit routinely know the ins and outs and how to navigate it, to anyone else it was a buzzkill start to the night.  I must not have been the only one who thought so, as I heard a museum worker discuss with a patron a “capital project” that included a new parking garage.  If true, I’m not one to just complain, I would give to it.  The next downfall was the apparent mindset of ‘the more the merrier’.  I bought my tickets as a pre-purchase and know there was an “at the door” option for a few bucks more.  I’m sure no one was turned away at the door.  When it came time to get seated for the film, my wife and I ended up in makeshift rows of chairs at the side of the auditorium.  A not so great view of the screen with people behind you putting their feet on the rung of your chair or inadvertently kicking it every 2 minutes.  Heard many people commenting around me about it.

CWF03062015AJSo now let’s talk about the awesome-ness which is the Fly Fishing Film Tour!  My night started with the same beautiful date I had years ago in Maumee, only instead of  being a good looking girlfriend, it was my wife and mother of my two children.  It was pretty fun to have a couple people say they had seen her at events at the museum before – even though she hadn’t been there in 30 years.  It was flattering to my wife (and I) and she is so humble, it was fun to see her embarrassed by the attention.  I know I’m biased, but how gorgeous is she?!

CWF03062015beerBoth the event and museum staff were warm and friendly.  The reception area was plenty sizable and despite the large turnout, there was no shortage of great tasting free appetizers.  Drinks were priced fairly for this type of event at $4 a beer and $6 a cocktail.  My beer of choice, a tasty 16 oz. Sweet Water Brewing Company Pale Ale, felt like a steal.  I enjoyed the beer and the ‘packaging’ was as cool as I have ever seen – a Steelhead in air with the fisherman in the background standing in a small wooden jon boat. Photo to the left.

There were numerous vendor/sponsor tables throughout the corridors.  While due to the aforementioned parking, I did not have time to visit many.  My wife and I decided food and beverage superseded them, in the limited time before the movie.  It did look like people were having a good time checking out the various wares and services, along with entering some raffles for substantially nice prizes.  Bummed I didn’t get to participate.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo the best is for last. The night is truly about the film(s) and that has never disappointed me in the two events I’ve attended. For those that don’t know, the format is a series of short films that in total, resemble the length of a full feature film.  Each short is as diverse and entertaining as the anglers that enjoy the sport.  From swagger and style, to humor, serious, and conservation, it is all covered.  Some parts light, some heavy, all overwhelmingly entertaining.  You leave feeling connected to nature, the fish, and the brotherhood of fly fisherman all over the world.  It is a near religious experience.  The energy and vibe of what not only is happening on screen, but with the audience, is impossible for me to explain in words.  The more obvious and easy to describe moments are when hundreds of people let out an audible sigh and breath of relief when a fish is landed or the collective gasp on a missed strike or fish comes off.  I wont go any further explaining – I just want to invite you to experience it.  If the Fly Fishing Film Tour is coming to a city near you, don’t miss it!

Four days of bliss, an Instagram interpretation

It’s rare that I take time off from work, so this past week when I had four consecutive days off, I wanted to make the most of it.  My goal was to hit a combination of known places to hopefully ensure some catches, while also exploring new waters.  By week’s end, I was satisfied I had accomplished these goals.  The fishing was okay, with the highlight catch being a Bluegill that exceeded the “Fish Ohio’ mark.  Along with Bluegill, other species I encountered included Largemouth Bass, Pumpkinseed, Common Shiner, Yellow Bullhead, Rock Bass, and Round Goby (man those are annoying).

I did a fair amount of fly fishing, and I continue to gain confidence with this technique.  I do miss a good number of hookups, but I know practice and getting more experience is the best remedy for that.  Even missing some fish, I really was appreciating the scenery and simply enjoying the outdoors.  I reminded myself several times, it isn’t just about the fish.

Rather than my typical posing with fish, I thought I would attempt to be a bit more artistic with how I presented the content.  Below, is a selection of Instagram pictures from the week.  If you dig my favorite fishing hat in the first photo, It is from Good River.













The only complaint I have, is that the four days went by far too quickly.  I pray that as the days get colder and shorter, I still get out for a few more experiences like this.  All the fish pictured and caught this week were released.

Fishing the Rocky River’s West Branch

CWF070614wbrockyThe view from the Water Street Bridge

With the family moving recently, it has required some time devoted to researching new waters to fish.  It seems each year I have a goal of fishing new places, the move has made this a necessity, whether motivated to do so or not.  Overall, this is a good thing, and I just need to be patient with my expectations of instant fishing success.  Today’s trip was unique in not only that it was my first time at the West Branch of the Rocky River at Olmsted Falls, Ohio, but also in the fact that I only took fly fishing gear.  This is a personal goal of becoming more proficient with the fly rod and it seems if I take my spinning gear, the fly gear ends up sitting in the vehicle.  I didn’t allow myself to let this happen today.

CWF070614carpA rather large carp was cruising the shallow water

Whenever I manage to make it to new water, especially if it is a venue plagued by shallow water, I always worry about the presence of fish.  Obviously, catching a fish makes that worry go away, but certainly even seeing a fish is reassuring.  Before making my way down to the river, I started by looking down from a bridge to see what it would reveal.  Along with some nice scenic views (including the photo to start this post), I was able to spot some fish.

CWF070614fishpairA carp with a mystery companion fish

Thanks to a good decision to bring both of my cameras, including the one with the 27x optical zoom, I was quite surprised at how well the photos turned out.  The photo above was my favorite, as I didn’t even notice the smaller mystery fish until I was at home reviewing on the computer.  I don’t have any idea what species it is, anyone have thoughts?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI spent the majority of my time fishing this area below the dam

I eventually stopped looking at the fish, reminding myself I was there to try to catch them.  Making my way down to the water, I realized just how popular the dam was.  While some creative cropping yielded the desired affect of pristine untouched water, the reality was that this area was very popular.  Along with several fisherman, there were five times as many people just wading and splashing around in the water.  In a day and age where most kids are glued to the television or video games, it was difficult to be mad that they would cause the fishing to be more challenging.  At least a few parents out there see value in prying their kids out of a chair.  It was refreshing and reassuring to see.

As expected, the fishing was tough.  Every time I found a decent hole, someone would walk through it or close enough to scare everything away.  When I finally reached an area a little less populated, a group of kayakers decided to have a water fight and take respite on rocks right by where I was intending to fish.  I forced myself to simply enjoy the scenery and work on my fly casting.  After all, this was a beautiful place to practice.

Eventually, I found a spot under the dam that was unmolested from foot traffic.  At this point, any catch would have made my day and I was thrilled to bring to the net two little Smallmouth Bass and a Rock Bass.  I did have to ‘cheat’ and I won’t really consider it a fly fishing catch, as I used a 1/32 oz jig tipped with a Berkley Gulp! Minnow.

As a final note, the area I was at today is named David Fortier River Park.

A pretty fly, Fourth of July

CWF070414bluegillA dozen ‘Hand sized’ Bluegill highlighted the day

Catching Bluegill on the fly rod isn’t necessarily noteworthy.  Every Bluegill caught being over 9 inches, however, is definitely something worth writing about.  As I fished in private waters today, I was reminded that the most important factor in fishing is simply having quality fish available at the location you are at.  Sometimes we over emphasize the smallest of details, technique and gear, when in actuality the most important thing to do is find a place with quality fish that are hungry.  I remember watching the weigh-in at a PWT (Professional Walleye Trail) years ago where the winning angler was getting asked all kinds of questions regarding lures, depth, speed, what kind of bottom structure – all kinds of specific detailed things.  The angler looked at the emcee and simply said, “I found a school of hungry fish, and they were big”.  I thought to myself, this angler won’t have a single sponsor left as to not take advantage of a line of questions that was perfectly set up to ‘name drop’ sponsors for every aspect of how he won the tournament.  As I later reflected on the comments, I simply appreciated the honesty and thought there was an abundance of truth in what he said.  So today, I wasn’t an amazing or accomplished angler for catching a dozen “Fish Ohio Award” sized Bluegill on the fly – I simply chose an amazing place to fish.

An enjoyable day with family & fishing

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe family had a gathering today that happened to be at a relative’s house that lives on a beautiful private lake.  As one might expect, I had fishing gear in tow.  As one of my goals this year was to do more fly fishing, I took a 7 wt. fly rod as my weapon of choice.  Although I was mostly going to be targeting Largemouth Bass and Bluegill, this was the scene of my first ever Grass Carp catch and went a little heavier in case one bit.  Without the potential of these carp, I likely would have just taken the 4 wt.  I also brought along one spinning rod in case the fly fishing wasn’t working out.  I’m far from a purist, I just want success!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhile it did prove to be overkill using the 7 wt., the fishing was fantastic and numerous Bluegill and Largemouth Bass were caught.  All of the fish hit on a rust colored Woolly Bugger.  Three Bluegill were well over the 9″ Fish Ohio Award length, while all of the bass ranged from 11 to 14″.  It was easily the best fly fishing I have ever done, as far as numbers vs. the time fished.  Truly, a banner day.

So after getting my fill of the fly rod, I switched over to the spinning.  I was seeing tons of Grass Carp, but was not successful coaxing one to hit a fly.  I took a bobber and placed a hook about 4 inches under it, and then took some long blades of grass and tied them onto the hook.  This was getting a lot of attention from the fish and sometimes right as the bobber hit the water, a fish would swim over to inspect it.  After tons of experimenting, I finally was getting the fish to feed on the offering.  Unfortunately, I was too excited and kept pulling the hook out of the fish’s mouth before it truly had it good enough.

CWF062114grasscarp2This was getting very aggravating, but I reminded myself that this was my first time targeting the species (the only one I had ever caught was inadvertent and only saw it after it was hooked) and it would take a bit more figuring out.  The scenario kept playing out where a monster fish, like the one pictured to the left, would either swim up to the bait or take it – only to have me miss.  I must have pulled the hook out of 4 or 5 fish before I finally was patient enough to let the fish carry the food away before setting the hook.  When I did finally nail it, the sensation was awesome!  The drag was screaming and I can’t begin to describe how good it felt to have such a heavy big fish on the line.  It changed directions often and it would actually create a wake towards shore when it did.  When it splashed, it wasn’t the high pitched light sprinkling water sound, it was more of a dull thud and ‘whooosh’.  As I kneeled on the dock, praying the fish wouldn’t come off, all of the family came down to see the action.  I didn’t bring a long handled net, which only further complicated trying to get it landed.  Every time it got close to the dock it would spook and take off again.  Finally, it decided to go under the dock which turned out to be a help to me.  As it swam out from under it, it didn’t get much of a chance to see the net come down and that was it.  Landed!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe massive Grass Carp was considerably bigger than the net

While the net was short handled, it had a deep basket.  The fish still exceeded this length, with a good portion of it hanging out, as you can see above.  On shore, everyone just commented on how astonishingly big it was.  We hurriedly took a measurement that put it just under 40″ and then I prepared for some photos.  While being measured, the fish got a little ‘dirty’ so I decided I would let it revive in the water and clean it off.  This proved to be a huge mistake, as the power of the fish in the water overwhelmed me, and it got away.  So much for any type of ‘hero’ photo of me with the catch.  At least I had a lot of witnesses, and got to experience the catch with a lot of family.  It was sad though, as this was my lengthiest freshwater catch, with no great photo.  In its own way, the photo above has an artistic qualities and some personality to it – and captures the moment fine.