Girard, Pennsylvania, October 12-14, 2009
U.S. Fish and Wildlife file photo.

A report from Tom Baltz

I went to
Elk Creek near with my wife, Eileen and friend Yvette over the Columbus Day holiday. We fished all day from Oct. 12 to 13 and only for a couple of hours on OCt. 14.

On the first day we fished from the
"Legion Hole" down towards Rt. 20. The water was pretty low and the crowd very heavy. Lots of bait fishermen who seemed to think nothing of plunking a line and bobber right into the middle of the school of steelhead that you were fishing for. That keeps the fish totally stirred up and spooked. When most of the crowd went to lunch, the steel calmed down a bit and we managed to hook a few of them. I caught a couple on an "It" fly, which is a big hackle fly that you twitch. Yvette had a fish hit a tan Wooly Bugger but missed it.
On Tuesday we decided to try the stretch from the "Tubes" down to Rt. 5. I hadn't been on that water for a while and was really surprised at how much the stream has filled in. These Erie tributaries can change radically from year to year and this stretch doesn't have much good holding water now.

Still,there were a few fish scattered around including about a dozen and a half in what is left of the pool right below the Tubes which some guy was trying to hog all to himself. After an hour or so he finally got tired of watching them scatter every time his bobber landed in the middle of them and he bugged out. We got our turn in there and tried a number of different flies like Woolly Buggers of various colors, small wet flies and nymphs. I finally put on a #10
Royal Wulff (tied on a HEAVY hook) and worked that for a while. The male fish in the picture (about 6-pounds) took it on a dead drift. I had another fresh, bright female charge the fly and eat it after a twitching motion. Several other steel showed interest but that was the end of the takers in that pool.
Both afternoons, we tried the lower areas of the Elk at and above the "Mud Hole" and up past the "Cascade Hole". Again, pretty good crowds and only a few fish being caught. I took one on a flashy tinsel streamer near the "Log Jam" right at dark Monday after everyone had left. There were some fish at the "Cascade Hole" but not much good holding water upstream from there. Tough trip as far as the fishing went.

On Wednesday before Eileen and I headed home we fished for a couple of hours at the "Upper Legion Hole" on Elk Creek. There was about a hundred steelhead holding in a pool of gin clear water with a rotation of anglers taking shots at them.

It was hard to tell who was more aggravating; the bait fishermen who can sometimes be excused for being what they are or the crowd carrying fly rods whom one would have thought were cut from finer cloth. Quite a few fish were foul hooked and "gallantly broken off" after being fought for various lengths of time. The fly rodders foul-hooked more than the bait fishermen. I didn't have any action but Eileen showed some "stick-to-it-ness" and had a couple of strikes on a size 12 partridge and hare's ear soft hackle wet fly. She finally landed a beautiful, bright hen fish of about 6-6 1/2 pounds. Her takes were the only fish I saw "fair-hooked" the entire morning.

EQUIPMENT: Tom used an Orvis T3 6-weight rod that's 9-feet long lined with an Orvis WF-7 floating line on an Orvis Battenkill IV large arbor reel. Standard leaders at 9-feet tapering to 2X or 4X tippet. Flies: Size 10 Royal Wulff, unweighted Wooly Buggers , small streamers imitating Emerald Shiners and various soft-hackle flies.