Early fall is prime time in the Great Lakes Region! Warm temperatures (not hot) and stable river water levels make this the best time of year to scout favorite steelhead hangouts in relative solitude and catch trophy warm water species. Over looked opportunities exist for a variety of species and low water situations confine large predator fish in predictable areas. If you can string together stable weather and water patterns trophy fish are within easy reach of fly anglers. September is the perfect month to experiment and the clearer the water the better off you are with a fly rod. You never know what you might catch…
Per the Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Muskie are opportunistic feeders which eat the most abundant prey fishes that are readily available. Suckers are usually their most common food in streams and gizzard shad, carp and suckers are mainstays in lakes. Scientists reported Ohio’s native muskie to be abundant as early as 1810 and it was still considered economically important as a commercial fish as late as 1930. After 1930, muskie populations declined significantly – especially in the Lake Erie drainage area – as a result of urbanization, blocking of migration routes to spawning areas by dams, and draining these vast marshlands they spawned in for agriculture. Stream populations were severely limited by pollution, channelization, and siltation of spawning habitat. These fish were hardly known to modern-day fishermen until the Division began its artificial propagation in 1952.
We fished a big slow river at dawn, with rolling muskies all over the surface. You’d have thought they might be carp. Until one of them jumped on the end of my fly line. I fished a 20lb leader on a intermediate sinking shooting head system — with a short 44lb fluorocarbon bite leader. I used my Redington 7wt CPX switch rod, but that was probably overkill — for both the fish, and my poor shoulder (overhead casting). Next time, I’m sticking with my shorty Winston 9-wt.
The hot fly in both cases incidentally had been white and green and about six inches long. Nate is holding my fish in these, since I had the camera and he made the assist.