Saturday, December 3, 2016

My 2016 Fall Tributary season.

1st Chinook of the fall

The 2016 fall salmon run is done and gone and with it goes the last remnants of autumn. It seemed to arrive late and leave early this year, or maybe it just seemed that way to me because my focus has been on a busy family schedule. Either way, the leaves are down and as I am writing this, wet snow is falling.

Black bead head copper and brown buggers worked well this fall
The amount of time spent on the water these past few years has diminished from years past, so I really try to make the most out of each trip. And even though I didn’t get out as much as I would have liked (when do I ever?), I did manage to catch a few fish for myself and even help guide some others into a few of their own.

Guide Jessie Hollenbeck of Wide Sky Fly fishing coaching some clients
Water, or the lack there of, has once again been an issue for our local tributaries. This summer’s drought was severe enough to reduce the water table to a point where even the most robust rainfall couldn’t restore it in time for the fall. Even when we did get a bump in water flow, it didn’t last long. In fact, even with all the precipitation we have received this fall, I believe we are still running a deficit.

Even with less than ideal conditions, we found a few good windows of opportunity.

Ethan trying to turn a Chinook
During one of those post-robust rainfall events in mid-late October, I managed to be at the creek at the right time to find the water level up and stained. Many large Chinook salmon where moving upstream in good numbers. I worked the tail outs of pools and deeper runs, swinging natural colored buggers in front of resting kings, sometimes having three to five fish at a time to work my fly to, with at least one or two of them willing to intercept. 

Jonathan helps Ethan hoist his catch
As the fall run progressed, more and more big lake run trout began to enter our WNY tributaries to take advantage of all those loose eggs being deposited by the spawning salmon. And once again I found a couple of great windows of opportunity to take full advantage. It is at this time that using egg patterns will produce the most consistent action. 

Once the spawning is done, streamers and large nymphs and wetflies will begin to produce a good number of fish until a good slug of water dislodges eggs from all the spawning reds and once again putting fish back on the egg bite.
Jonathan with his spawned out Coho salmon

And so it goes, Summer to fall. Fall to winter. Winter to spring, and spring back to summer again.

Large 10+lb. lake run brown trout

Landlocked Atlantic salmon brought to you by Streamwalker Nets.

I can’t wait to get back out there, See you on the stream!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Streamwalker Nets

Leif Mermagen bending some wood - Photo by Denver Miller
Not long ago I found myself in a situation where I was in need of a new net for my tributary fishing. The old standby was showing its age. It was a Frabill Salmon/Steelhead model with a short handle and large hoop with rubber coated fine nylon netting, which had started to deteriorate the season before, leaving me with a few small holes that would undoubtedly get larger with each new trib fish I put into it

Ethan and I at Streamwalker Nets headquarters
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a great net. In fact it has helped me safely land hundreds of lake runs over the years. I was even considering buying a new one, or at the very least, try and get new netting for the hoop. This is when I started to look around at all the options, and take everything into consideration, including purchasing something a little nicer with a longer handle. I even took a glance over at a new local net maker that was turning out some beautiful stuff that was priced very reasonably.

Enter Streamwalker Nets!!!!

Leif Mermagen - owner, proprietor, investor, CEO, designer, craftsman, builder, etc., of Streamwalker Nets, is exactly the type of guy that you want building nets, your net!

The Lake Run was made for fish like this.
First of all he’s a fishermen, and a fine one at that. In my book that already sets him apart. He knows what anglers want, or in my case “Fly fishermen” want. He’s created a series of nets that will suit just about every need that you might have, from the Native (a small stream addition that retails at $125) to the Sea Run ($475) which can easily accommodate a small child. Each one handmade right here in Rochester, NY. 

Lake run smallie in the net
Don’t think for a minute that these handcrafted Streamwalker Nets are delicate and fragile works of art either. They are made to be used, and this past year I have had the pleasure of putting a good number of salmon, bass, pike and big brown and steelhead trout into my Lake Run net. It's performance has been flawless, not mention great to look at, and even better to photograph.

With fall and the upcoming tributary season coming into view, the lake run is ready to assist in making each day on the water memorable.

When in the market for a new net, take everything into consideration as I did. Then head over to the Streamwalker Net website at and take a look, you won’t be disappointed.

See you on the stream!
Putting the Lake Run to work

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

WNY Spring Tributary Season

Drop Back brown in the Stream Walker net

Spring seems to have arrived a little early this year. Warmer than average temperatures have cleared up all the ice and started to warm up the water in all of our WNY tributaries. Add in a good steady stream of precipitation, and you have the perfect ingredients to help draw in plenty of fresh steelhead from the big lake.

And if you just happen to be in the right place at the right time you can intercept both the newly arriving steehead and the drop back brown trout that have wintered over in many of the area tributaries. In fact, just after ice out is probably one of the best opportunities you will have to get into good numbers of brown trout. 

White woolly bugger did the trick - Photo by Tony Horton
Male steelhead in spawning colors
As temperatures start to climb a good bit above the freezing mark, thus warming the water, and all the spring run-off has run off, the brown trout numbers will continue to diminish as they drop back into the lake. By the end of April they are all but gone, with the steelhead soon to follow.
Ice out drop back brown

Maybe the weather pattern will revert back to what is normal for WNY, with cold and snow, and prolong our spring tributary season. But I’m not holding my breath.

So get out there and enjoy….I’ll see you on the stream!