Ohio Spring Steelhead Fishing

– Welcome everyone,
to The New Fly Fisher. My name’s Mark Melnyk. I love spring steelhead fly
fishing in the Great Lakes,and one of the best places
to go is the rivers of Ohio. Joining me on my adventure is
Tom Rosenbauer and Jeff Blood,who are both excited
about the prospectsof hooking into some
bright, fresh chrome. This is going to be a very
technical and detailed showwith lots of great information. Even better, the nymphing
techniques we will discusshave applications for other
species, too, such as trout. That’s a nice one, too. Great fish. Fantastic steelhead. Stay with us for this great
adventure on the rivers of Ohio. All this coming up next
on The New Fly Fisher. – Welcome to the southern
shores of Lake Erie,specifically, the
freshwater arteriesthat make up the lifeblood
of this Great Lake. Lake Erie is blessed
with multiple tributariesall along its shoreline. The lake borders the states
of Michigan, New York,Pennsylvania and Ohio. All four states contribute to
the stocking of salmon heads,specifically, steelhead,
or lake run rainbow troutinto Lake Erie for the benefitof the lake and anglers alike. We are fishing the tributaries
of Lake Erie in Ohio,making the Steele
Mansion in Painesvilleour home for the week. Fishing with us is local
steelhead expert Jeff Blood,and good friend Tom Rosenbauer. Both gentlemen are well-fishedand experts in their own right. Fishing for steelhead happens
in the fall and in the spring. It’s an important
industry and great drawfor anglers alike in Ohio. Fall time sees lake run rainbow
trout coming into the systemto feed on freshly spawned eggs. Springtime sees them
return to the riverslooking to spawn themselves. It’s mid-April and the steelheadare just entering the system. Fresh fish, or fish
just entering the
river, are our target. The plan is to fish the
southern shore of Ohioand the surrounding
rivers and creeksthat empty into Lake Erie. I’ve never fished here before,and upon approaching this riverI’ve noticed that because of
recent rains and spring runoff,the water’s really dirty. I don’t know what’s
beyond four feetfrom the edge of the river. When approaching a piece of
water for the first time,don’t go barging in up
to your knees right away. Stand back and fish as
close as you can to youwhere you might think
that fish may lay. It turns out we’ve been watching
some anglers catching fish,and they’re super
tight to this bank. So, don’t go barging in,
start short to yourself,cast out, fish it, and
then work your way out. What’s considered perfect
water color for steelhead?Good question. In the spring, there
are a variety of factorsthat will alter the
color of the water. Water color is really dictated
by the amount of sedimentor material in the water
after a natural weather event. Some of the factors that play
into the color of the waterinclude rainfall,
river bottom makeup,and the amount of spring runoffthat the system is experiencing. Ideal water color should be
slightly tinted or off colorwhere you can see up to two
feet or so in the water. A slight tinge in color
allows fish to react to a flyversus seeing it
clearly, and spook it. Stained water allows
steelhead to eat,as that hit can be more
of a reaction bite. – When you’re fishing for
migratory fish like steelhead,you’ve got two options. You either are
flexible and you wait’til conditions are perfect,
you call you a fly shop,you check the internet,
you get on the riverwhen it’s just right, or
you do what we’re doing hereand you take what
the river offers you. You’ve planned a
trip, you’re gonna go. So, we’re here,
the water was high. It’s dropping now, it
looks a little bit better,it’s starting to clear. We’re gonna make the
best of it, have fun,and try to catch some steelhead. I came up to this spot here,
kinda worked my way up. It looks like pretty marginal
water, but you never knowwith the high water
that we’ve had,the steelhead have dropped
back in the shallower water. So, there’s very big
expanse of fast water herewith a tree overhanging,
but the current out there,to my eye, is way too fast. There’s just a little
bit of softer wateron the inside here, and
just gonna take a few castsin this shallow, softer waterjust in case there
might be a fish in here. So, I came up on
this fast water here,and I noticed the soft
water on the insidewhere that whirlpool
goes around. I thought maybe just ahead
of that swirling whirlpoolwhere that big foam thing
is where those bubblesare coming down there,
there’s a nice, soft edge. It’s relatively deep in
there, and sure enough,the second cast there
was a fish in there. So, just looking for that little
bit softer water, you know?This whirlpool would be tough,but that nice, even, soft
water just above there. Not really a good place
to land ’em in here. I’d like to be below him. So, pulling a fish
upstream is always tough. The hook’s gonna pull out. So, I think what I’m gonna
do is try to run downstreamand get below ’em
so I can get ’eminto a little bit
slower water, too. So, I’m gonna get in the water
here and try to get below ’emand get in a little bit
better landing spot. Nice fish. Oh, and he ate the egg!This fish ate a fly
that was given to meby an angler who’s been
doing well with it. It’s a yellow, big,
yellow yarn egg fly,and I’ve gotta go over
and thank him for that. There he is. Pretty, bright steelhead. Give it a drink. Whoa, and off he goes. – So, you can fish for
these fish with streamers,with nymphs, with
traditional salmon fliesor steelhead flies, but today,what we’re gonna do is
fish some egg flies. It’s pretty
straightforward setup. It’s basically nymph fishing,
and I’ve got a floating line. Just plain, old floating
line, standard floating line,and then I’ve got a leader butt,then I’ve got sighter
material on here. So, this is a
multicolored sectionthat I can keep an eye
on as my fly drifts. And then I have, you
can either have a knot,or a swivel, or a tippet ring,and then a long piece of
fluorocarbon tippet fairly thinto get those flies
down to the fish. And then I’ve got a couple
of egg patterns on here. I’ve got a chartreuse one, and
kind of a natural egg color. I’m gonna try a tight
line, euro nymphing-type,where what I’m gonna do
is put some split shotahead of that first fly,and then I will just plunk
it out there with a high rod,follow that sighter
down the current,and watch for any hesitation. – As you can see, Tom is using
a very different techniquefor targeting these
steelhead than I am. He’s tight lining
with a sighter,which means that he’s in
direct contact with his fly,and the weight that
he has to get his flydown to the bottom. I’m using an indicator,
which is not unlike a bobber,which shows what’s going on
beneath the surface for me,but I don’t directly
feel what Tom feels. So, it’s two very different waysof presenting eggs and nymphs,and they’re both very
effective in their own right. You know what?To each his own. Tom loves the
sensitivity of being ableto feel those fish take,
or to feel the bottom,and I like the action of
seeing the bobber go down,the indicator go down,
and setting the hookon these fantastic
Great Lake steelhead. Oh!- Yeah! – Well, it’s been a long
couple of days for me. Let me tell you
that much for free. But through the guidance
of experts like Tom,and of course, Jeff, it’s
finally come to fruition. Come tight on a steelhead
after losing fish after fish. That’s a nice one, too. And it took the white zonker. Ooh, into my feet!Hey, Tom, you were
gonna give me a hand?- Yeah. – Great. Thank you, Tom. – You’re welcome, Mark. Nice job. Nice job. – Great fish. Fantastic steelhead. Good stuff. We’ll get him unbuttoned. And he wasn’t coming
loose anytime soon. – No, you hooked him well. Took the white zonker. – Yup, white zonker. – Cool. – Great fish. – Yup. – Fantastic. All right. Let’s go see, now that
the skunk’s off my back,maybe things will change a bit. Thanks, Tom. – I hope so. – We decide
to pack things upand hit a smaller
tributary of Lake Erie. Tom asked Jeff the most
important of questions,where do we look for
steelhead in a river?- So, we’re here on a
smaller steelhead stream,a tributary of a larger river,
and I’m here with Jeff Blood,who grew up in this area and
knows this fishery intimately. We want to talk a little bit
about how you read the waterbecause where you put your flyis the most important
thing, right?- Absolutely, Tom. If you look at this water, Tom,it’s got a nice current coming
in, but it’s not too heavy,so they’re not expending a
lot of energy to stay here. They drop down in, there’s
a ledge over there,so they like structure,
they like rocks,like what’s in the
water right here,and it’s just a soft
drift coming down through. Perfect place to hold ’em. You want to spend a little more
time on this type of a poolthan you might on
another smaller,lesser pool as you
go up the stream. There we go. Yeah, we got a nice
steelhead here. So, he was laying right in that,
just soft seam right there. And there’s some good structureand a ledge right down there. Just a perfect
place for him to be. It’s not a particularly huge
fish, but it’s a nice fish. So, I caught him
on a white zonker,and I find that fly to be
particularly effective,especially on the
Lake Erie tribs. And what I believe it’s
imitating is an emerald shiner,and particularly, a
dead emerald shiner,which the reason
why it works well isthere’s natural mortality
every day out in the lake,and the fish feed
on the dead ones. A lot of people don’t
know that, but they do. So, this looks like
a nice, little male. You can see that white
zonker in his mouth. So, here we go. Got a little color to him. Woops!That’s a nice, little male. Woop. Yeah, he’s off and
ready to catch again. – Yahoo!Oh, yeah!All right, a jump!Jeff was fishing down there
in a little bit slower water,and I always like to fisha little bit more
towards the head. I think the fish
are easier to catchwhen they’re in
the faster water. They’re easier to fool. They have to grab it
quicker, and this fish,it didn’t take him long
to grab that white zonker. – We are the only
four diamond hotelin all of Lake, Geauga,
or Ashtabula Counties. It’s as good as you
can get in Ohio. We’re a 16-room hotel
and a party center,so we’re really two
businesses in one. We have the potential for
weddings or corporate meetingsup to 125 people,
but down to roomsthat will occupy
just less than 10. We have 16 guestrooms,and they’re all
available for anything. Small ones up to large
ones, everything different. Everything intriguing
and inviting. It really works very, very well. Fly fishing is always very
popular in the local area,and in general, the
whole northern Ohio area. Just on my way to work
I pass the Grand River,which is a fantastic
place for fly fishing. The silver bullets,
the steelhead. It’s a great place to
be, but we also haveall of Lake Erie with
the fly fishing there. The fishing here
is just amazing. I think it’s one of the
under-sung, under-publicizedtravel opportunities that
people don’t know so much about. I’m working on trying to
get the word out there. – We at
The New Fly Fisherhave a storied past in Ohio,namely because the fishing
for steelhead is incredible. – There you go. Now, bring it out
there, just snag there. That’s. . . – Fish on. – Yeah. – Right there!What a technique, Jeff!What a technique, right there!This is outstanding. – Steelhead are
high-jumping, line-pulling,knuckle-busting
adversaries on fly. They will readily take
egg patterns, zonkers,stone flies, and
worm imitations. And when a fish eats,
you’ll know it, for sure. Any unnatural movement on
your tight line or indicator?Set the hook. When you’re fishing
a pool or a run,how deep should you set your
indicator rig on your leader?It’s a very easy question, and
it could make the differencebetween catching and not
catching anything all day. Well, a great rule of thumb
is if you can estimatehow deep the pool
is or the run isthat you’re going to be fishing. Go 1 1/2 times that depthwhere you set indicator
on your leader. So, if it’s a four foot deep
pool that you’re fishing,set your indicator
at the six foot mark. If it’s a five foot deep
pool that you’re fishing,set your indicator
at a 7 1/2 foot mark. When you approach a
pool and you’re readyto start fishing it,
you know how deep it is,or approximately,
go 1 1/2 times,and that’s where you
set your indicator. All right, so we come
to this big bend poolhere on this river, and this
was the third drift through,and boom, got a really
nice steelhead here. Yeah . Look at how fresh
this fish looks. Oh my gosh, it’s just beautiful. This is what you come
to Ohio for. What a great fish. This is amazing. Hot, clean, fresh fish. There he goes. That was fun. That was really,
really fun. Ate the egg. Perfect. – So, the equipment that we usewhile fishing Great
Lake steelheadhere in this great state of
Ohio is really quite simple. I have a nine foot
eight weight fly rod,a large arbor reel for sure,
because these steelheadwill take you for a run. Maybe not quite
into your backing,but you do want the a reel
that’ll be able to pick up linereally fast when they turn
around and come back at you. For leader, we’ve got a
nine foot 3X tapered leader. 3X tippet. Now, the most important
thing I can sayto bring along with you when
you come to Ohio is flies. Whatever fly selection
you choose to bring,make sure you bring
a lot of them. We were fishing with egg
patterns and white zonkers,and we did go through a lot. These rivers can be
very snaggy and craggy,and you want to
make sure you’ve gotyour favorite flies
on hand while fishingthese Great Lake steelhead. Ooh, hot fish!It’s not a giant, but
man, oh man, is it fresh. Silver. And he took the top
fly, he took the egg. Good fish, clean fish. What a fantastic fish. Hey Jeff, you want to come
and help me with this? He did, yeah. He took the top one. But that fish ate,
I set the hook,and he just went, toon! – That’s beautiful. – Man, this cold water. What do think it is?Low 40s, right?- Yeah, it’s pretty cold. – It’s cold, but there’s
still, oh, look at that. No, man. You still go lots of,lots of power left. There we go, right to ya. – Skinny fish. – Yeah,
ate an orange egg. Well, that about does
it for this springsteelhead adventure in Ohio. Thanks for watching. I want to thank Jeff
Blood and Tom Rosenbauerfor their expert advice,
as well as everyonein the great state of Ohio
who helped make this possible. Remember, adventure
is out there. All you need to do
is go and find it. And what better
way to do so thanwith a fly rod in your hand?For everyone from
The New Fly Fisher,thanks for watching,
and hopefully,we’ll see you on the tributaries
of the Great Lake Erie.

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