Fly Fishing the Inland Oceans: Jerry Darkes sparks my interest

With the crew in last week for Capt. Nate’s Wedding extravaganza, we had the opportunity to spend some time with my old fishing buds from the Northwest and do a little recreating on the Ohio watersheds, looking for Lake Erie Steelhead. If you see the photo attached, it’s old RR holding a chromed out little guy caught right in the lake, stripping a clouser minnow at the mouth of the Rocky River from our little Boston Whaler.

Great Lakes Steelhead

Now, it’s no secret that I haven’t been thrilled about my move back to the Midwest. I’ve been moping around Ohio, mourning over what I’d lost. Hell, I’ve even taken up birdwatching to fill the void. But it turns out, I’ve been looking at this all wrong.

Yes, comparing Ohio steelheading to Oregon steelheading sucks. A couple years back, I was fishing with some of the best anglers I’d ever met, for native, marine-fueled fish in wild rainforests. So yeah, resentfully wandering around Cleveland with my brother, who didn’t really like steelhead anyway, wasn’t a recipe for success.

I’ve been living with this crazy existential crisis for months. But two nights ago I had a huge breakthrough.

My local TU chapter had invited Jerry Darkes to speak. Jerry had just written a new book called Fly Fishing the Inland Oceans. Nate had picked it up and told me I had to read it. I told him I was busy cataloging species that came to my birdfeeder, and couldn’t be bothered.

But then I saw Jerry speak.

First of all — if you think it’s all about steelhead you’re wrong. This book is really about the amazing spectrum of species and fishing styles available in my region. I considered all the uncharted, or rarely visited corners of the Great Lakes, and you start to look at the fishery from the perspective of saltwater fishing, rather than limiting the comparison to steelheading opportunities, and all of the sudden I was back in the game.

His slide deck featured photos of big native lake trout, caught the day before out of a boat at the bar of the Niagara River, where it drains into Lake Ontario. I was hooked.

If you live in the middle of the country, you need to buy this book. You need to hear Jerry talk. I can’t thank him enough for firing me back up.


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4 Responses to Fly Fishing the Inland Oceans: Jerry Darkes sparks my interest

  1. Jerry Darkes says:

    Glad you enjoyed the talk!
    Fly fishing potential IN the Great Lakes has barely been scratched.
    We need more guys doing it to shorten the learning curve. It’s taken me 30 years to get to the point I’m at.



  2. Matt says:

    Thanks for the comment Jerry, and thanks again for that talk. It’s like you said — you put in thirty years. The guys I fished with in Oregon had been fishing for 30 years too. They made it seem easy. Now, I’ve walked into a Great Lakes fishery, thinking my skills and experience were transferable — but that really only works to a point.

    My brother has the right mindset, and so does your book. I have to look at it from the long view, starting from scratch.

    It’s more interesting to be a beginner, taking on an inland ocean. I needed some inspiration to feel like it was worth it. -M

  3. David Jensen says:

    Matt, and Capt. Nate,
    Glad you survived the extravaganza. If Matt sees any more Sasquatch sightings, please report. We are still on high startle alert and response on the McKenzie.
    Merry Christmas, Happy New Yew Year, and winter steel head?

  4. Great book and Great Lakes!

    The Smallmouth of Lake Erie have made me a believer… and the musky of LSC.

    Thanks for the insight Jerry and more of us are catching on to the potential of the sweet water seas. -Nate

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