Western Ohio 1.27.07

Today was supposed to be too cold for the tributary I fished. It was supposed to be frozen up, or at least flowing like a coconut slurpee. That didn't happen. Weather people make mistakes, and I was able to profit from this particular one.
When the river temperatures get down to 32 degrees nature takes over, but in moving water this happens in a few different ways. There are generally 3 different types of ice a steelhead fisherman has to contend with, and none of them are enjoyable.
The most common type of ice is slush ice. This is just as it sounds, chunks of slush flowing down the river, bumping into your line, and collecting in slackwater areas. Generally slush ice will "burn off" if you get onto the river later in the morning if the sun comes out. The faster the flow of the river, the easier it is for the slush ice to burn off. As well, fishing further upstream will generally get you into clearer water earlier in the day, since the slush that forms overnight will still be floating downriver. This is a problem for me since I consider myself to be a "downriver" steelhead fisherman, tending to spend my time in chase of silver fish instead of fishing over older fish that are already battle worn and weary.
Shelf ice forms along the banks of the river and it can be very dangerous if you don't know the depth of the river that it has formed over. It's generally never stable enough to walk on, and fish like to run under it when you hook them.
Lastly, Anchor ice is ice the forms along the bottom of the river. This stuff is the worst of the worst. Generally, a good showing of anchor ice is a sign that your time might be better spent elsewhere than on the river. (Yes, and I'm aware of what I just said).
Today there was more than enough shelf ice and slush to go around. Since the weather was actually above freezing for the first time in over a week, some of the ice was breaking up and heading downstream. This is another dangerous problem, when a magic carpet of ice big enough to carry an elephant comes floating towards you threatening to cut you off at the knee. Always keep an eye upriver!
Today's fish were sluggish. I've noticed when there's a melt going on the fish tend to act funny until it's either been going on for a few days, or stops. This area I generally concentrate in faster water, but all of my fish came from slower water areas. I also experimented with cured skein today. It's gooey, drippy, nasty stuff. The fish seem to like it, and it's a lot easier than tying egg sacks. It won't be a staple for me, but it's another little tactic to keep things from getting monotonous.

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