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Going ĎGrandí (the river that is)...

On the Cheap Lake Erie Steelheading

By Tom Gribble



Have you ever experienced something thatís so simple you have said to yourself ďI should do this more oftenĒ? Fishing Ohio's Grand River is one of those things!  The Grand River has a drainage area of 685 square miles, and is designated a wild and scenic river. The Grand River is divided by two counties, Ashtabula and Lake County, Ohio. It has the characteristics of a free stone stream in its upper sections. In the lower middle the Grand River gets a little more sandy and silty. Finally, the lower Grand River is mostly estuary water.


There are several ways to fish the Grand River. The quickest way to fish, and to cover a lot of water, is by swinging flies. A more productive way to fish the Grand is to indicator fish. And a spey rod can be ideal if you're a practitioner of that method, due to the size of the Grand. Regardless of technique, there are some things you must take into consideration if you want to make your do-it-yourself outing both enjoyable and productive.



Ask yourself "How long is my trip?" "What areas do I want to fish?"  Most importantly, ask "How will the weather likely affect my plans?"  The best fishing conditions, for me, have been with overcast skies, pouring rain, or snow squalls. Most people think they want blue bird skies, and warm temperatures. Nice as they are for us, such conditions are not conducive for steelhead.



The following web pages will make any steelheaders life a bit easier.  Check these sites.  Study them!


 www.afws.net/  (hourly rain fall amounts real-time)


www.landbigfish.com/watertemps/default.cfm (water temperatures)


www.ndbc.noaa.gov/maps/EastGL.shtml (real-time open water conditions)


www.buckeyetraffic.org (real-time road conditions, and cameras where available)


http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/zone/gtlakes/clemz.htm (your biggest asset, this site covers the Great Lakes)


There are several area fly shops that offer guide services.  It's worth checking in with these shops for the latest in effective patterns and steelhead conditions.   Mad River OutfittersFolleys End Fly Shop, Poor Richards, Lake Erie Ultimate Angler , TMF Fly Shop  You will need an Ohio fishing license - and it can be purchased at nearly any regional "big box" department or sporting goods store.  You can also get your Ohio license and a lot of great information online at http://www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/dow/regulations/vendor.aspx


The Grand River fly fishes well at 300 cubic feet per second (cf/s).  You can use a spinning rod and be quite successful with flows as high as 500 cf/s.  There are several websites out there to help you prepare for the weather. Lake County has a great website http://lakemetroparks.com. Ashtabula County has a few parks, but they don't have a website set up like Lake County. I use this web site to find out access issues - www.riverfacts.com/states/oh.html. Finally, go out and buy a DeLorme Gazeteer for Ohio. Don't even blink at the $20 price. You wonít regret it.

The easiest access to the Grand River is at the following Lake County Metro Parks: Grand River Landing, Helen Hazen Wyman Park, Hidden Valley Park, Indian Point Park, Riverview Park, Hogback Ridge Park, Masons Landing Park, and Harpers Field Dam.  Once the steelheader figures out when they want to go, then you need to find accommodations. Personally, I only need three things.  If you want to go on the short you'll want these amenities: clean, dry (donít laugh), and cheap. There are several choices here. The link Iím including gives you a choice of campgrounds also at www.riverfacts.com/rivers/12518.html. If you want to be closer to the action and, by that I mean in the midst of a plethora of steelhead streams, I suggest Elk Creek Inn in Girard, Pennsylvania.

This will put you right smack in the middle of Steelhead Alley. You will be one and half hours away from Cattaraugus Creek, within minutes of any tributaries along the Pennsylvania shore line, and forty-five minutes from the Grand River.  Elk Creek Inn is a fishermanís flop house. You will share a bathroom, and a community living room. Elk Creek Inn is for the hardcore steelheader who only needs my aforementioned, three things; a clean, dry, cheap room. Oh yeah, and some "steelhead green" water and a good blow of snow! See you out there!

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