It has been some time since I fished Walnut or Elk Creek with a fair amount of success. As early as September, you would find us motoring north to the shores of Lake Erie. With good reason, we fished the feeder streams early as an attempt to catch salmon or sometimes a steelhead trout.
My son was attending Edinboro College and it was common for him to forget something so we frequently made the trip up, including a trip to fish. While those trips were a bit of a hike, we all enjoyed seeing our son and the fishing. We enjoyed the camaraderie along the streams and knew some of the people after a few trips. I used spinners and fairly-light line a lot of my time there. Some events happened every year to make a lot of nice memories we have cherished through the years.
There was the time a young man lost a brand new rod and reel when he laid it down and some other fellow caught it on his back cast when he was tossing a large KO Wobbler into the mouth of the creek. I know he was mad, and I really know this because one time my daughter leaned a valuable rod of mine on the back of the car and drove off forgetting to put it in the car. But the funny part of that story was the next time I went up I got that pole back. Someone had turned it in and told the rangers it was mine. They gave it back the next time I appeared, and the daughter was off the hook.
One time we were fishing there when a fellow angler cast his line into a boat which was heading out to fish in the lake. Goodbye line. We always saw something interesting on these trips. One time it was very cold, and we decided to fish at dark. I had built a small fire to keep warm there. Eileen decided to warm rocks to sit on to keep warm. Our daughter was a pre-teen and angry about not leaving yet so she was with her mom when she smelled smoke. It was her mom’s pants, which were slowly burning as the rock was too hot. That story was repeated frequently that year down to this and always embarrassed my wife.
That was fishing the feeder streams at Lake Erie. The fishing here still exists but instead of salmon, the fish at the end of the line is a steelhead. While I don’t profess to be the best, I did get to rub elbows with some great fishermen here. People like Mario D’Amico and Joe Smith each fished here at the time. Joe runs the bait shop on Brownlee Road near Eighty-Four. Both men were excellent anglers and Joe can still give great advice about fishing here.
I learned long ago when fishing a strange place for the first time, I know to listen to those who have done it with some success. Mario is no longer with us, but he sure could fish. He used to always say “Bait, and wait, Spin and Grin or Float and Gloat.” In other words, he liked to float. I have been amazed at the lightweight line he used. It was nothing surprising to see him fishing back then with a single egg, 4- or 2-pound line when the water is clear, and a long limber rod that gives with the pull of a 20- pound salmon. Yes, the Erie fishing is creeping up on all of us and with all the virus stuff going on maybe that could be a good outside activity. One nice thing about going early is the crowds along the banks aren’t there like when the leaves are changing, and a chill is in the air.
I am well aware of the heat, but I can feel fall bearing down on we who hunt. It might be nothing more than the cool mornings, but fall is right around the corner. I don’t know about you but what I see and how I feel dictates the seasons more than a calendar. Aside from fishing the lake, there are plenty of geese. These pests defecate on everything making nothing more than a walk in a park a Goose poop dodging endeavor.
If you like to shoot a quality .22, the squirrels make the perfect target and they are one of the better tasting small game. These are all fall activities and if you don’t feel like it truly is nearby take a walk and see how much farther one can see through the woodland cover. This early stripping of leaves and small branches happens every year as the fall winds rule the weather.
George Block writes an outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter