I went in to this last weekend excited. Excited because I was going to see friends I have not seen in months. Excited because it was my last fly show until the fall. Excited because THE University of Dayton Flyers won their first round tournament matchup against Ohio State, thereby winning the right to play Syracuse (the city where I was headed…likely making me one of few people to watch both of those games deep in ‘enemy’ territory). Excited because I was going to get a chance to fish the Salmon River again and finally hit the water with good friends Allen Landheer and John Collins.
I took off from work a bit after lunch time on Friday and headed up the highway. My route would take me northeast until I hit Lake Erie where I would follow the southern edge of the lake around to Buffalo, and then across towards Syracuse. It was a three cigar drive on a sunny afternoon and there was plenty of basketball to listen to along the way. I rolled in to the cabins that we were staying at along the Salmon River a bit after dark. Allen Landheer and Rich Strolis were already there so I quickly unpacked a few things to keep them from freezing and settled in with a beverage in hand to watch some basketball. A short while later Kevin Compton rolled in and joined the fun. Great stories and a little fly tying took up the next few hours, making them feel like minutes. By morning I hurt from laughing too hard…and maybe a little from that ‘one last cocktail’…
We woke up to the smell of bacon thanks to Allen thinking ahead and being an early riser. We all seemed to come to at about the same time and put a hurting on that pile of bacon and some eggs before getting our gear back together and heading down the road to the show. The show in this case was the Tie One On event put on by the Iroquois TU chapter and Sparse Grey Matter. This was the third year for this growing event, and this year they brought in Kelly Galloup as the headliner. There was a steady flow of people in front of us throughout the day so it seemed to fly by as I tied and talked streamers. They had Rich Strolis, Pat Cohen and I all sitting in a row so there was again a lot of laughter and ideas being tossed about. Around lunch I took the opportunity to head over and talk with Kelly a bit which is always a pleasure…that guy will sure get you thinking about streamers and streamer design. I had purchased a ticket for the dinner banquet but as the day progressed there was sun coming through the window and the wind was laying down. Eventually I was worn down by a handful of guys that were heading to the river after the show and decided that my dinner purchase was to be more of a donation…I was going fishing!
The show wound down and I stepped out with Allen to head back to the cabin for the gear. In my head I was fighting insecurity and worry that my casting would have suffered from a three month layoff. As we arrived at the river I had a huge smile on my face even though the river had been dropped overnight from somewhere around 750cfs down to 350cfs and the temps were dropping, so the fishing was expected to be tough. Al has been fishing the river for decades so as we cruised along I got the dime tour of the holes and runs along with some bits history that will never make it in to any book. We hit the lot and got geared up then headed down to the water and got in to a nice open run. The casting was like riding a bike…a little rusty after the long layoff but it quickly came back, and oh man did it feel good. I had a couple blown anchors but for the most part was getting the fly out there as if I never stopped. We had about two hours of stepping down through a run during which I had one tug and saw a few thick fish fin through some shallows. No fish to hand but it was great to finally be back out.
At dark we got off the water and hurried back to the cabin, both to get some food ordered up and to catch the Dayton v Syracuse game. Kevin headed out after the show but we picked up another group of friends for the night. Jess, Richie, Collins, Kavanaugh, Joe and his dad all started off laughing at me living and dying with every play of the game. Eventually though they were all caught up in it cheering right along with me. The second half was far better than the first and when the clock hit zero with Dayton up I went b-a-n-a-n-a-s…so awesome! The rest of the night was a blur of more basketball, beverages and stories. Not a bad way to spend an evening.
As we woke on Sunday we were pleasantly surprised that the forecast had been off by over ten degrees, so rather than a bone chilling 8 and windy it was merely 20ish with a light breezy. We quickly got breakfast knocked out and then cleaned up the cabin before heading over to the river to see about some fish. Al, John and I found a promising run that was available and jumped in to a rotation. About an hour in I had a fish that I totally farmed and blew what ended up being my one real shot of the morning. It was disappointing not to get one to hand but I did not feel as bad since we only saw a couple fish coming out…the water drop and temp still had them down. It would only have taken the temperature rising a degree or two to turn them on, but that was not to be.
About noon we called it and walked over to Melinda’s Fly Shop. I have heard stories of the place but seeing it in person just blew me away. Every conceivable material, for both modern and old school patterns to be used on the Salmon River, lined the walls from floor to ceiling. The place is a mecca. After talking with Melinda for a bit she pulled out some private stock of classic feathers for Al and I to take a look at, and I left with some serious goodies. Eventually I had to stop looking or I would keep adding to the bag, so I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat myself down in a chair to just soak it all in for a bit before I had to hit the road.
Al took me back to the cabin to get my car and we BS’d a bit before I got rolling. I expected some weather but there were long stretches of highway that I never really saw thanks to lake effect rolling through the region. White-knucking at 20mph makes for a long drive, but I eventually turned south at Cleveland and got out of it. Needless to say I crashed hard last night…and dreamed of heading back!
Below are a couple shots from the river. Allen Landheer wanted to give me first crack at any fish so as I jumped in he grabbed the camera to take some pictures. It was pretty cool to see what he was able to frame up and to get some new shots of me on the water since when I am out most shots are taken by me and not of me!
Can't wait until next time on the water!