This was Russell’s first trip to the “alley.” He learned about it from Williams, who first heard about regional fly-fishing opportunities from a magazine. He has made at least eight trips since then.
“It’s a great place to be, a small town,” Williams said of Conneaut
County tourism officials promote fly fishing as the perfect draw for the “shoulder seasons,” that lull in the tourism year when the beaches, golf courses and festivals are still hibernating. Fly fishermen are not afraid to spend money to chase their sport and are often professionals with the resources to devote to the pastime.
Williams estimated that he and Russell would spend between $800 and $1,000 during their three-day stay in Ashtabula County. Loprire said he knows a guide who had a client come from Japan to fish this area. By reading reports on the Internet, the client knew the location of all the hot spots along the county’s walleye streams by the time his plane landed.
“That’s how international this fishing is,” Loprire said.
Loprire said the area has most of the amenities that fishermen need to keep them happy.
“You don’t have a great restaurant here, but you got what the fishermen want,” says Loprire, who has been following the Lake Erie steelhead fishing scene for three decades and writes a column for Trout Unlimited, a national organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s cold water fisheries/watersheds.
Loprire said the one thing that the area could do to make its streams friendlier to fly fishermen is to maintain a website with fishing conditions reported by anglers working the streams. He said it is discouraging for fishermen to take a day off work and drive an hour or more only to find out that fishing is bad. Conversely, if the fishing is good, a website could help spread the news and encourage an influx of eager anglers. He said that kind of online resource is available for streams in neighboring Erie County, Pa.