Experienced local fisherman navigates rainbow trout rivers | News, Sports, Jobs
Chris DePaola has accumulated so much fishing experience during his life as an angler that you might guess he doesn’t have much to learn.
That’s not true, admits DePaola of Austintown, especially when it comes to his frequent fishing trips to several of America’s great rainbow trout rivers.
But DePaola doesn’t travel to the Pacific Northwest to work the tracks, seams, and guns of famous Trinity, Rogue, and Deschutes. Rather, he’s heading north on Ohio 11 and pulling on his waders by the streams named Ashtabula, Conneaut, and Elk.
DePaola is a true Lake Erie Rainbow Trout enthusiast with a logbook filled with data ranging from river flows and weather to productive tactics and everyday results. He caught a rainbow trout caught by all kinds of popular combinations of rods, reels and lures, and learned along the way that there are no two days of fishing in the tributaries of the Erie. .
So far in 2021, DePaola said, the numbers tell a fantastic story.
“It has been a very good year for Steelhead”, he said. “We had a lot of good runoff – exactly the right amount – and the fishery was very productive.”
Erie’s body of steelhead fishermen scores with everything that suits him, including spoons, spinners, jigs, plugs, flies, eggs and even nightcrawlers and minnows.
âOver a typical day, you might see several different methods used on the feeds. A group will throw spoons, spinners and crankbaits. Another will use center pin drifting soft balls, then someone will use a one-handed Spey rod swinging big flies.
DePaola’s favorite technique is to drift his scree on a 10ft, 6weight Scott fly rod with a large capacity reel loaded with a floating line. It ties up its own flies and its leaders shrinking up to 6 pounds of fluorocarbon.
Success, he learned, requires him to go to the water every time with an open mind and attention to detail.
âEvery time I go, I learn. Determining where rainbow trout hang out on any given day is important – and that includes where they are positioned in pools and trails and even where they hang in the water column. Sometimes they’re hanging and sometimes they’re downstairs. It is possible to pass your fly under suspended fish and miss them completely. “
Attention to detail actually begins at home, two or three days before his fishing trips, as he searches for the waters most likely to produce rainbow trout. He has downloaded apps that keep him informed of stream flows and other information essential to determining fish behavior.
âYou really have to know the conditions before you even set off – or even not make the trip. I watch two to three days before I leave the house. If the water is too high and muddy or too low, the fishing will be lousy. My applications tell me which streams will be usable.
DePaola’s biggest rainbow trout this fall was a spectacular 28-inch acrobat who slammed his little black fly drift under his egg pattern on a dropper line.
He will fish for Erie rainbow trout all winter long until the waterways are frozen. He gave some tips for anglers who might consider hiking on Route 11 on their own in the days ahead.
âRecently most of the fish were in the tail of the holes, at the bottom of the holes. They prefer this water as the season progresses. Now that the water is very cold, they will usually be in the tails instead of the current at the top of the pools.
Jack Wollitz’s new book, The Common Angler: A Celebration of Fishing, tells the story of many amazing anglers, including Chris DePaola. He loves emails from readers. Send a note to [email protected]