The Art of Angling

Don Kelly holds a salmon caught on Oak Orchard Dam.

Moments after daylight, the words “Fish on!” echoed down the river valley, followed by the unmistakable singing of line peeling off a reel. “Coming dooowwwnn. Waaayyy down.”

Seconds later, a limp line carrying a float and split shot is flung upstream through the air. “Fish off,” the angler sighed.

It’s moments of intense excitement followed by heartbreak and frustration. In a nutshell, that is salmon and steelhead fishing on the Great Lakes tributaries.

This allure of battling giants in streams no wider than Pine Creek attracts crowds from all over. The odds are stacked in the fish’s favor with the will to fight embedded in their DNA.

For every fish that’s caught, half a dozen or more break lines, break rods and break hearts.

It’s incomparable to our local fisheries and an experience that every angler should try at some point. Yea, its not for everybody. It can be overcrowded and chaotic, but it can be rewarding, fun and something you will never forget.

Some people have hunting to occupy their fall season. Me, well, I’m not much of a hunter, and the desire to chase all things that swim consumes my thoughts from the first day of the year to the last.

Locally, fall fishing has been pretty good, but the thought of these giant fish draws me north every season. For the past month or so, our days off have consisted mostly of short trips to Oak Orchard Creek.

Low, super clear water made early salmon runs tough to catch. Rains have helped lately, and more brown trout and steelhead have moved into the river, too. Each day offered a different challenge and success has been a matter of patience and willingness to try different techniques and baits.

On our latest trip, we targeted mostly brown trout and steelhead, but also hooked up a few kings. Single eggs were key, Atlas Mike’s pink shrimp eggs in particular.

Yes, they aren’t just for stocked trout, and every year when the bite gets tough, they produce fish. Sometimes its pink. Other days, a natural or yellow eggs produces best.

You must remember that no matter how big these fish are, essentially, they are still just trout. With salmon in the streams spawning, single salmon eggs or salmon egg sacks are an obvious choice too, to “match the hatch.”

Keep a variety of colors on hand, and switch until one works. It seems too simple, but it’s a technique that works every season. Give them a try on your next trip.

Don Kelly is the owner of the Tackle Shack in Delmar Township. He can be reached at 570-724-5138.