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!

Monday, June 4, 2018

In search of Lake Runs - Part II

I know its June, but I am going to go back to last month to share a bit from a great day on the water with my oldest son and my daughter.
Jonathan's May Steelhead

It was May 6th and we were in search of one last drop back steelhead.

Even though it had started to warm up a bit, the water was still quite cold and starting to drop and clear. Just about as close to perfect conditions as you can get for this time of year.

Jon's 1st smallmouth bass
We decided to walk a ways downstream first, and then walk and fish our way back up to the bridge where we came in.

Our first stop was a good sized pool with a great fall down at the top and some great ledges for the fish to hide by in the middle and tail-out.

Jonathan took position at the top and Katie at the middle.

Katie's 19" smallmouth
In that first half an hour. Jonathan managed a beautiful drop back hen steelhead, and a nice sized smallmouth bass. Katie got a good pull, but was never able to connect. When we felt as though we caught what we could, we moved on.

Our next location proved to be more of the same, giving up a few fine fish and then turning off. The pool gave up a rather large nineteen inch smallmouth to Katie, while Jonathan landed a very respectable rock bass. I hooked a large smallmouth in the tail-out, but couldn’t seal the deal.

Our last couple of hours we worked our way back up to the bridge, hitting all the major pools and deep pockets and runs. We each managed some very nice fish, but Katie’s twenty inch smallmouth bass was the fish of the afternoon.

All fish where caught on woolly buggers in olive and brown, and craft hair streamer patterns.

Katie's 20" smallmouth.

Even I managed to land at least one.

I managed to take some great photos and video. I’ll post the photos and try to get the video up when I can…..Enjoy!