Saturday, November 24, 2018

Mid-November Fly Fishing

Jonathan gets ready to release a 29" inch male lake run brown trout.
As of writing this blog post, we still have snow on the ground from last week’s snow. In fact the whole month of November has been more like late December or early January. Colder than normal temperatures rule the day, and rain drops have been transformed into those light white fluffy flakes.
Ethan with his biggest brown of the fall

Even in the face of a lingering cold snap, the fishing has been really good. And that, In part, is due to the release of Erie Canal water into many of our WNY lake Ontario tributaries.

The extra bump in water has provided a continual push of fresh fish into all the streams. Lots of Lake Run brown trout, steelhead and even a few salmon are still making their way upstream. With the salmon spawn done, and the brown trout spawn fully under way with plenty of spawning and post-spawn fish now in the system, the “egg bite” is on!

We have had most of our success while dead drifting egg patterns in pockets, deeper runs and pools. And now that the many of the brown trout are coming off the spawn, swinging streamers have started to take their fair share of fish as well.

A nice big lake run male caught on the 10' 6 weight
Jessie Hollenbeck with a nice steelhead
Even I get to catch a few - Photo by Jonathan
As the season works its way into a winter pattern. Fishing will start to slow a bit, as the fish’s metabolism also slows. This will make the afternoon period better for fishing. Even a slight warming of the water by just a degree or two will often turn fish on to feed. Until then, enjoy fishing big streamers on the swing for some heart stopping action.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Fly Fishing for salmon – October 7th 2018

Ethan with the first fish of the day

Fishing in the early part of the run can be a bit of a struggle. There are always a few fish around, but the majority of those are just blasting on through without stopping, leaving us fly anglers little opportunity to toss flies at resting fish. 
One of Jonathan's, caught on a black woolly bugger

Last weekend I had a great day with the boys and my father in-law trying to do just that…..swinging flies for salmon.

And as the day played out, we realized that there were plenty of fish holding and others blasting on through or to stop for a bit, which allowed us many great opportunities. More than I have seen in years fishing this early.

One of the major keys to our success was our willingness to walk to find fish, and to frequently change locations to find new fish. 

Jonathan with a big fish on!
We used more natural colored bead headed woolly buggers in brown, olive and black, in sizes #6 - #4, and swung them in front of holding salmon. We used a 9 foot tapered leader on a WFF line with an additional small bit of split shot on the leader above the fly to keep in the zone. Too much weight would keep the fly on the bottom and produce a greater chance of foul hooking fish, and too little weight would not allow the fly to stay in front of the fish. We could have tried using sink tips on a short leader with unweighted flies, but I didn’t bring the tips with me.

Each of us were able to bring at least one fish to the net, with a couple of us landing several.

Jonathan's big Chinook salmon
We did see several reds in each of the locations we went to, but only encountered one post spawn female salmon, and no active spawning was witnessed while we were there. Half of the other female salmon we caught had loose eggs, while the other half were still firm.

Ethan resting a salmon before it's release

Jonathan helped guide his Grandpa to his first salmon on the fly

Even I get to land one

Ethan with the last fish of the day

I suspect that by the end of the month, there should be a good number of salmon in all of the WNY tributaries with a good number of trout to follow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wait....summer is over?

Evening on Fourth Lake, Inlet, NY
A busy day can turn into a busy week without much thought. And before you know it, that week spawns several others just like it, and a whole month is gone!

That kind of thinking is usually reserved for the school year, when we find ourselves running around doing our best to just keep up. But it’s the end of summer and I feel like I’m breathing way too hard for a race that hasn’t even started yet.

At least I got a few water breaks in between all that running.

We found a small bit of time to visit my family up in Inlet, NY. A few day excursions to the stream proved fruitful as my oldest son and I found everything from Landlocked Atlantic salmon to fallfish to brook trout and even a heavily spotted rainbow trout.

Landlocked Atlantic salmon
The boys and I also ventured to the top of the state to visit my father in-law’s hunting and fishing camp and to wade some new water with family in search of big smallmouth bass, pike, walleye and musky. And even in the midst of some very low water, where conditions were not great, we managed some very nice bass and had a rather frightening introduction to a rather large musky while wading. An encounter that Jonathan will never forget. On the way home we made a stop at the Salmon river in Pulaski, NY where I got the opportunity to show my boys where I fished at their age.
Jonathan's rainbow trout
Wild ADK brook trout
Jonathan fishing on the St. Regis river
Musky Country, Deer river flow
I even found some time to hit up the inaugural “Knots at the Net Shop” fly tying event at Streamwalker Nets headquarters. Thanks to Leif Mermagen and Bill Banser for being such wonderful hosts. Our fly fishing community here in WNY is awesome!!! 

Lastly, I found myself hanging out with a friend who just so happens to own some land that the Oatka creek flows through. So with a little arm twisting, I grabbed the fly rod and made an effort to find a fish or two that wouldn’t mind eating a fly. And as luck would have it, I did manage to find such a fish. A wild nineteen inch brown trout. My biggest to the net on this stream. Thanks again Nathan!
Ethan with a nice Deer river smallmouth bass
St. Regis river Fallfish

Being busy really isn’t all that bad, it’s a part of life after all. Watching my kids work out their God given gifts through extracurricular activities like gymnastics, playing in jazz bands, robotics, and music lessons, Flower city work camp, church, etc. helps with the long hours of driving, the late nights, and the occasional teenage meltdown. In the end it’s worth it!

You just have to mix in a few water breaks.

Knots at the Net Shop
Ethan and Jonathan at the lower fly zone
Deer river smallmouth
Leif gives fly tying a thumbs up
Nineteen inches of Oatka gold
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Time for a second wind!