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Single Digit Steelhead

By HUNTER REDFIELD – Student contributor

It all started out how it usually does, a quick glance from Jacob in English class that ended with “Let’s go fishing next weekend.”

Texts were sent to my aunt to see if we could spend the weekend in her basement, and come Friday night, we were packed and ready to leave.

Lake effect snow was scheduled to hit, but with extra time to get there because of Jacob’s canceled wrestling match, we left.

Just before eight o’clock, we pulled in, unpacked the truck, and made our way to the basement with all our needed supplies to survive the weekend. Excitement seemed to be locked in the basement, and we eagerly put our rods together and rigged them up with the flies we thought would best suit the conditions.

We sat around and talked for a while and eventually dozed off. Both of our alarms caused havoc in the basement at 6:20 a.m., and we jumped off the couch to put on all of our extra layers and managed to go through what seemed like a maze while carrying 9’ long fly rods just trying to get to the garage.

We finally made it and put our waders on, not wanting to open the door, but finally we braved the conditions and went. We jumped in the truck with already numb hands from the couple minutes we were loading the rods and cooler, and we cranked the heater all the way up for the two-minute ride to the stream.

We pulled off the road and unloaded all the gear we had loaded a few minutes prior before making the walk we had been waiting for for a week. The frigid weather brought with the lake effect storm left the water crystal clear and the slate stream bottoms having a beautiful mix of blue and gray hues.

However, the top of the water was a different story, and just as we were getting excited, our hearts were shattered by the ice that covered most of the main holes, leaving uncovered water barren of fish.

So, yet again, we found ourselves in the truck driving to the next stream only to see it had the same problem.

We pulled into a turnaround by the mouth of the stream that overlooked the lake that was layered in ice chunks. To our amazement, out of the skyline dark clouds could be spotted across the lake as hundreds of ducks flew around looking for a spot of open water to land in.

After sitting there and watching them fly all around the lake for about twenty minutes, we managed to pull away despite how enthused we were watching them. We managed to make it to the next stream and walk to the holes we thought would be full of fish.

Two guys occupied the holes, and as I was talking to the one, I saw a rod tip suddenly sticking up behind his shoulder, and a quick glance around him signified that Jacob had a fish. But, soon after it had came off and my conversation with the man kept going.

However, not even thirty seconds later the same sight had appeared, but this time I managed to make it across the stream in time to net the fish before snapping a few pictures and releasing it.

Then came the drought when several fish were hooked but got away over and over again. Our numb feet left us wanting nothing more than warmth and a cup of coffee, so we walked out and got into the truck hoping breakfast and a little time to think would benefit us.

We made it to the local restaurant and seemed to mow through the food as soon as it came out. Yet we sat there longer, just seeming to hope the temperature outside would magically rise in the short amount of time we were inside so we would no longer have strings of ice as wide as pencils grasping to our lines that constantly needed broken off.

However, we finally braved the cold and made our way back to the holes. With an all day struggle, we couldn’t produce another fish. So, we decided to move streams. When we realized that no fish were occupying it, we packed up and made it back to the house just before the sun sank.

With English homework needing to be completed and our bodies drained of all energy by the cold, we took a break and made a couple cups of coffee to hopefully boost our energy enough to complete our homework.

Soon after, we found ourselves making another trek up the stairs to try some Vietnamese food before going back to the basement to pick back up with English and eventually go back to bed.

We woke up the next day ambitious that the holes we had fished the day prior would produce fish, and within five minutes of being there, another fish was hooked and lost before we realized our spot would no longer produce.

We made a trip downstream in the truck and then back upstream on foot before making it to a deep hole uninhabited by any humans. We took what we could get and fished it. A red squirrel chattered in a nearby Oak tree and birds sang like it was springtime, and yet neither of us could feel our feet or hands as we made drift after drift through the hole.

Many drifts produced fish, but it took us half an hour to hook a fish good enough to land it. Yet again pictures were taken, and we went back to fishing, but couldn’t seem to hook them while we were focused on how numb our hands and feet were.

So, we ventured back to the truck and cranked the heater up as far as it would go before making it back to the house and drinking some coffee before taking a little break, loading our stuff, thanking my aunt, and once again hitting the road.


Columnist Hunter Redfield is a student at Cranberry High School and a member of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications group.

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