Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall tributary season - edition 1

As of writing this blog post, the WNY fall salmon and trout run is now in full swing.

We are off to a great start this year. The boys and I have already taken several trips to our local WNY tributary and have all found a little success in landing a few fish.

September 30th - Our first outing was intended to be more of a scouting mission. Our goal was to look at the condition of the creek at various locations and even spend some time walking in to find the many recent changes that always happen over the course of the summer.

Jonathan with a large female king
Our first stop was at a bridge that was less than a mile from Lake Ontario. It also marks the first good fly fishable water. Here we found a few cars in the parking lot, and one salmon swimming nervously under the bridge.

Ethan with his 1st king of the year.
Our next stop, which was the second bridge up from the first, revealed just how far along the run had progressed in that last week of September. A good half dozen cars lined either side of the street leading right up to the bridge. On our walk up to the bridge, we saw an anger fishing to four or five salmon that were holing in a run on the upstream side of the bridge. Once we got to the bridge and were able to look into the pool below, we counted a good 19-20 salmon. We watched for a good five or ten minutes before we headed to our third location.

At this point we knew that there were fish in the stream. So at the next bridge upstream we got ourselves geared up and headed down the trail.

A fresh hen from "round 2"
It took a little bit of walking before we found fish, but when there is nobody else around, we could take our time and swing some #6 olive and brown woolly buggers in front a few salmon.

We each landed one fish before we left for the day. A great start to the season for sure. 

October 6th – “Round 2” was even better than our first session, as we all had a few hook ups and once again we were able to bring a few fish to hand. 

Jonathan's kyped out king from "round 2"
We ended up fishing a section of stream in the lower end and once again had the place to ourselves. We spotted a good twenty or so fish in and around the main pool area, with a few more that were moving up from down below. We once again used olive and brown buggers and Ethan spent some time fishing a large olive and white rabbit strip streamer.

This is a far better start than what we had last year. And the numbers of fish should steadily build from here on out, especially with a bunch of rain in the forecast.

Ethan gets ready to release his king from "round 2"
A little October color

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fishing with the Boys – September Edition

Ethan hoists a rather large Black Creek crappie.

Just before school started for our kids, we had a little time to get out and try to convince a few fish to eat a fly. And just like the past few years we headed west to one of our favorite locations – Black Creek. 

With a good bit of recent rain, the stream flow had increased and the water level had gone up, which we were hoping would put the fish on the feed. The only potential drawback was the colder weather that can sometimes slow the bite down, a counter effect of great water conditions we were hoping to avoid.

Once on the water, we quickly determined that the fishing would be just fine, even if it started out a little on the slow side.

Jonathan started out fishing with his spinning rod, casting a little crankbait. Ethan and I worked some shallow water with small woolly buggers. 
Nice rock bass

Over the next hour, Ethan and I managed to catch many small bluegill, rock bass and small largemouth bass. Jonathan continued to cast his crankbait, but hadn’t hooked up at all in that time. He changed lures and went back at it. Ethan and I changed gears as well and tied on #8 bead head olive woolly buggers and began to work some deeper water just below the spillway. The change proved to be a huge success as Ethan began to catch several really nice crappie and rock bass, while I was able to land a very nice smallmouth bass. This prompted Jonathan to grab his fly rod, tie on a #8 bead head olive woolly bugger and join in the fun.

Over the last hour of our time, both boys did very well, catching some very nice bass and crappie.

Ethan with another quality crappie
Even with the colder weather, the great water conditions prevailed, drawing in plenty of larger fish to the spillway to feed on the smaller baitfish, and providing us with some really good fishing. It took a little time to figure out what the larger fish wanted, but in the end it was well worth the effort.

Jonathan with a nice BC Large mouth

another one for Jon

Me about to release the only smallmouth of the day

So bring on the cooler weather and rain. Maybe this year we will actually receive a decent run of salmon and trout. The fall tributary season is fast approaching, time to switch gears!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fly Fishing Inlet, NY

Third Lake creek in all its glory!

Every year we make at least one trip to the Adirondacks to visit with my parents and siblings. And every year we bring our fly fishing gear and fish off the dock and walkway that extends into the bay and out into Fourth Lake. Over the years we have all caught some nice fish here and there, in between the boats, around the rocks and from under the dock. Sometimes we will take boat trips up into Fifth Lake or walk the banks of the stream that flows into the top of the lake, depending on the season, just to change it up a little.
Jonathan works a bend

In the past few years I have been dreaming of trying to get somewhere else. Somewhere that could get me in touch with a native Brook trout. Even if that meant going on a hike or exploring up a secluded creek, I was more than ready to take it on. And now that the kids are older and more experienced in the world of fly fishing, I felt it was time!

Jonathan's 1st ever Adirondack brookie on the fly
My father and my oldest son Jonathan joined me as we made plans to check out a creek that flowed along an access road at the Third Lake Creek Trailhead Parking lot. 

The hike in was beautiful. And even though the many low spots in the road held a good bit of water from a recent rain, we managed to hike in quite a ways without getting wet.

The map that I had with me showed that the creek was off to our left, but try as I might, I could not see it through the forest. We eventually came up to an area with a small clearing and I took the opportunity to venture off in search of the stream. With my father and son with me, we quickly came to the edge of a small ridge and could see the creek carving its way through a meadow a good 75 yards below us.

We spent the next couple of hours jumping around the edge of the creek in search of fish. All our efforts payed off and we were rewarded with some very nice native Adirondack brook trout. The hot fly of the afternoon was a brown bead head nymph. It accounted for all but one of our fish on the day.

Eventually our time ran out and we made the hike back out. What a great afternoon - and we had the place all to ourselves. I look forward to what our next trip up to the Adirondacks will bring, and who knows....maybe we'll find a new favorite fishing spot.

Mission accomplished!!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Midnight Mousing Trip – August 2017

Bob sends out a few nice loops before dark.

We have had a great end to our summer and I have much to catch up on. 

I always try and do a late night fly fishing trip to our local stream during the dog days of summer. I make sure to pick a night near or on the new moon, and when the water is low and clear. This gives us the best opportunity for success.

Last year I didn’t even try and get out on the stream, because of how poor the fishing conditions had been over the past few years. The local trout population had suffered greatly since we had to back to back bitterly cold winters. The locations that we usually could find plenty of fish were now vacant, and up until this past winter, seemed to be on a very slow rebound.

The fish and the fishing are now starting to make their way back, but it will still be a few years before the stream begins to fish as well as it did before.

Midnight fly change
This year my good friend Bob and I decided to start at a new location. It was a section of stream up from where we normally fish that receives plenty of stocking during late March and into April, depending on stream conditions. Sure it gets plenty of pressure from all kinds of anglers throughout the spring and summer, but I also know that in those same areas, bigger holdover and wild trout can be a pleasant surprise.

Arriving with plenty of light to rig up our rods, we fished a nice pool below the bridge before the darkness set in. We worked it over pretty well, but no fish came to hand.

We then walked way downstream, tied on high-riding mouse patterns, fished a great looking tailout, and worked our way back up slowly.

We fished our mouse patterns on the swing and with a constant slow and steady strip. In all that time, we only had two or three fish come up and give a good pull, but none of them could stay hooked.

With just a couple of hours or so left, we then headed to a section of stream that we had spent a good amount of time in fishing at night. It is a place, that in the past, we could always count on catching at least a few trout before heading home. Even here, the fishing started off incredibly slow. I was beginning to think that the fishing that I had experienced earlier in the year was just a fluke. And that the fish, were not rebounding like I thought.

Finally on the board!
Over the next half hour or so we flogged the water, until I heard a loud splash followed by a hard pull. It was the first trout of the night. We were on the board!

Over the course of the remainder of our time we had just a few more good pulls, but none of those made it to the net. We left the stream that night feeling fulfilled and tired, and perhaps most importantly, hopeful. Hopeful of the future of this stream and the trout that reside within it’s ever winding course. 

The fishing that we used to experience is still a little ways off. In the meantime, I plan to try and get out when I can enjoy the fish that are there and willing to take a fly.