>>Please stop posting the silly leading us to nowhereville "remember when" threads.... it looks like this forum needs a shot in the arm.>>
I'll emphatically disagree with this. I'm just not that certain that my personal preferences as to worthy topics are unanimously or universally held by the balance of the posters here. It's possible that most people like the "remember when" threads. I know that, speaking only for myself, I don't mind them. I like a mix of topics with a mix of tenors or moods.
>>Do any of you chase steelhead? If so where? when is it best? and what patterns work for you?>>
For you, being in Columbus, the Lake Erie tribs in PA seem a logical destination, I'd think. I grew up there. I always thought the "best" fishing was from mid-November until the creeks lock up around New Years (if indeed they do lock up any more). The crowds have throttled back from impossible to simply annoying and there are always fish all through all the creeks. Here is something I posted on another forum not so long ago. I'm far from the expert on these fish or creeks, but I did as i say, grow up there:
"There are some exceptions, but by and large, these are some of the dumbest fish I've ever put a fly over. I once watched my Dad who knows about as much about fishing for steelhead as I know about brain surgery hook 8 fish in 10 casts using a smoke-colored crappie jig on 12 lb. test with a snap swivel
But they are (or can be) moody and this (IMO) can make them seem much more discering than they really are.
But by and large, if you're the first guy of the day to present to a fish, you're going to catch him unless you spook him first.
Here's a couple things that worked for me over the years:
--All the lake tribs (or at least the ones of any size) are loaded with places where the shale bed suddenly drops off a couple feet to form a pocket. There are a lot of these places in between the bigger pools in portions of all the larger tribs. These places, in my experience) hold the least harrassed fish in the creek and hence the most vulnerable. Regardless of how small these places are, they almost always hold a fish if there are any number of fish in the creek at the time. A lot of guys will fish these places and not get down to where the fish is sitting, which is almost always with his nose pretty tight to the upstream wall of the drop off. What I used to do is put enough lead just above an egg fly (like 2 or 3 BB shot) to be able to roll it down the shale bed and have it drop straight down over the edge, into the pocket and bop the fish on the nose. This seems to work pretty well.
--The best fly you can use is one that nobody else is using or has used or a fly any sane person would would be embarrassed to use, whether it's a size 8 Montreal wet or a gold egg fly with a purple eye. I think this is a function of the heavy pressure. More than most fish, these steelhead seem to be interested in novelty.
The more often you change flies (unless you're really killing the fish) the more fish you will probably catch.
-- Tippet size, IMO, is not really a factor unless you want to fish dinky sucker spawn on 6X in the big, slow pools. That works too. Otherwise, I seldom (actually never) had an occasion to use lighter than 3X, even in fairly clear water in the faster runs.
--Consider using really big egg flies in dirty water and lots of lead to get them down. I've done really well on them. When I say really big, I'm talking the diameter of a ping pong ball on a size 6 hook. I used a lot of these in chartreuse with an orange eye and salmon egg pink with a red eye. Actually, I should revise this a little... I've never tied an egg fly that was round. Too much like work...:) I simply lash three strands of glo-bug yarn perpendicular to the hook shank (two of the body color with a shorter one for the eye in the middle). Then I pull them all up together and give the whole thing a haircut. So, my egg flies always looked more like mushrooms than eggs as there is no yarn below the shank.
Take a water thermometer. My experience has been that there is a pretty sharp temerature cutoff where these fish will no longer chase a moving/worked fly like a wooly bugger or streamer. It seems to be 40F. Not 41 or 39, but 40. It's like they have a handbook that tells them this is what they have to do. Or so it seems to me. For moving, actively worked flies, I really don't think you need anything besides some buggers in all white, all black and maybe a yellow marabou streamer. But carry some weird stuff too, as i mentioned earlier.
In a normal year, there will be fish all through the creeks any time after say, Nov. 15 regardless of how much high water there has been. In dry falls, there may not be that many up high, but there will almost always be enough to fish for at this time.
--If you want to have the maximum possible serenity on the creek and the most untraumatized fish, come in December. There will be fish all the way up all the major creeks and at least marginally fewer guys. Come when it's 15 degrees and the wind is out of the north at 30 knots. That's even better. But fish egg flies on days like this. They won't chase a bugger...:)