Flies For Three Seasons Of Steel: Part 3 – Fall
In this short series I'm highlighting a few patterns I really like to use while guiding anglers on Lake Erie tributaries, where we experience three distinct seasons – fall, winter and spring.
When you think of autumn anywhere in the Great Lakes region, you've got to have steelhead on the brain. The scenery is spectacular, the fish are dime-bright and the anticipation of thunderstorms and heavy rainfall is as welcomed as the return of college and professional football.
Area steelhead are healthy, uneducated and full of fight when they enter the streams in fall. This is my favorite season to fish for steelhead, and it's the main reason I have such a hard time leaving the Great Lakes to fish anywhere else from September through December.
In early fall, when the runs just begin, you can throw nearly anything and the fish will eat it. But I really like to take advantage of the fact that our steelhead have just spent an entire summer hunting emerald shiners, along with a host of other invasive species and natural forage fish in Lake Erie. This is the time to try swinging that big West Coast-style streamer. Go ahead and see for yourself what it feels like and what the hype's all about.
If you're not quite willing to step out of that comfort zone, or you just enjoy indicator fishing too much, it's okay because I've listed patterns below for you as well. (Each photo is followed by a label and description.)
B.O.B Minnow – The Boy O' Boy is a localized version of the white woolly bugger that's become a staple on Pennsylvania's Elk Creek.
Miller Bugger – Created by steelhead guide John Miller, this bugger variation just plain out catches a lot of fish. I don't guide without this one.
Mohawk Bugger – A bugger variation by steelhead guide Brett McCrae that's become a go-to pattern for those tough days when nothing seems to work.
Psycho Prince – Originally designed by Mike Mercer, this pattern's become a staple on the Alley. The color version shown is called the Grand River Special and was tied by local guide Dan Pribanic.
Ice Man Minnow – This simple pattern is one of my personal guide flies. It was designed to be extremely economical and fast to make. This fly has everything – color, translucency and profile. I catch more steelhead with this one pattern than all others combined.
Gangsta Minnow – Large-profile baitfish with a lot of flash to attract fresh-from-the-lake steelhead.
EZ Emerald Shiner – Super-fast emerald shiner pattern for early fall surfcasting on Lake Erie beaches.
Olive Tube Sculpin – A mottled, natural-tone pattern designed to imitate the chubs, sculpins and gobies found in Lake Erie and its tribs.