Another year of Steelheading is in the books. If success is measured by the numbers of fish landed it was not a great year. I spent 12 days on the water between mid October and late December. That does not seem like much but a busy career and family sure does limit the days I can fish.
This fall I spent most of my time close to home in Norfolk County and Elgin County. Exploring some beautiful Lake Erie tributaries. Steelheading to me is a peaceful time. I spend much of my year traveling around Southern Ontario conducting fisheries research. Many don’t realize that my job has a very fast pace that can really take a toll on me. I look forward to the fall/winter season as life slows down and I can take a breath and enjoy life a at a slower pace.
My fall Steelheading season started in late October which is a little earlier than most years. I like to wait until some hard frosts can knock down some of the stream side vegetation as many local rivers have sections lined with thick vegetation. This past fall the local rivers were at record low levels due to a record dry summer. However, this did not keep me at home. Time on the water is very important, no matter the conditions.
During this past fall I explored several kilometers of rivers that I have not walked in a long time. These treks were fascinating as I worked my way through the lush forests of Norfolk and Elgin Counties. I logged over 30 kilometers of river over a few short weeks. There is a lot to learn about rivers and streams during low water. You can see the river bottom, logs and boulders that would normally be hidden by high water. Definitely time well spent. Even with all these treks a few fish were caught. I especially enjoyed a weekend with good friends on some local rivers during the month of November . This weekend was not the most successful in terms of fish landed but good company with old friends far outweighs any negatives.
As season drew to a close the local rivers were met with a large precipitation event a few days before the fall season closing date of December 31st. The local woodlots had a good snow pack from unseasonably high snow amounts for December. This factor combined with 20mm+ of rain caused the rivers to rise and the Steelhead to return. This final push of Steelhead into the local rivers made for a great ending to the season!
A big highlight of the season was spending an afternoon with my family during the last week of season. Usually bitter cold keeps the kids indoors but some milder temps allowed us to enjoy some time together on the river. A very memorable end to a memorable season!
Fishing success is not always measured with how many fish are on the bank!