Monday, August 31, 2009

Late August is Crazy!!!!

August has been a great month! A bit on the crazy side, but great none the less. In fact it has put off my usual blogging until now. So I will try my best to combine several weeks of info into one blog.

Here it goes - Almost two weeks ago now, Luke spent some time fishing Spring creek and Oatka creek. And has been joined on various occasions by the likes of James, Jessie and a new friend Ian. They have, like pretty much every other time, put a pretty good beat down on the fish. But it has been Luke who has set the bar high. On one of these outings he landed many brown trout in the 15" to 16" range and a rare 19" fish that took him nearly an hour to hook up with. And then 10 minutes to land. And this all happened in one day! A high bar indeed!

Last week I had the opportunity to get out with my boys for some warm water fishing on black creek for a little while. And the fishing was pretty good. At least it was for us. We caught a bunch of smallmouth bass on conehead streamers and woolly buggers with white and chartreuse being the hot flies. Jonathan even managed to catch the only largemouth bass of the day all by himself. There were others fishing, but they only managed a few sunfish. Like I said "the fishing was pretty good"

Late last week on Thursday I had the opportunity to fish solo. I sent the "fish" signal out to all prospective parties. And as it turned out only Bob could answer the call on this day. The plan was to meet early. A little after 6:00 am at the cow bridge. Upon my arrival I saw two other cars parked at the pull off. Neither of them were Bob's! Was this going to be a crowded morning? And in the middle of the week? What's up with that!?!?!? I knew that the tricos were still around but I didn't know that they still had a following. I was a little disappointed. But that didn't last because I knew that it was a blessing just to be out fishing by myself and a friend. And that just doesn't happen all that often any more.
I took my time getting my gear together and slowly walked down to the creek. While I waited for Bob at the bridge, I took some time to look around and take some photos. At around 7:00 Bob came down and we headed off downstream to a spot I call the "block pool." The block pool is a nice deep pool about 20 feet in length or so with a large cement block rising out of the water on the north side of the creek. It is also a pool that has been good to me in the past. In fact my best wild trout to date came from this spot, a 17" male that gave me a great fight on a 6 weight.

Today would be different. Today we would be fishing mostly nymphs. And our morning of fishing started like the temperature.....cold! And just as we were starting to get into our rhythm a guy appeared on the opposite side of the stream. At first I didn't even notice him. But when he yelled across at us explaining that we were standing in one of the best runs for the trico hatch, I could do nothing but stare in horror. And I'm pretty sure Bob had the same idea because he just stared at the guy too! He continued his unwelcome banter as Bob and I did our best to ignore him. It was clear he wanted "his" spot. He could have gotten up earlier, but he didn't. And we were not ready to give it to him. Not when both of us have little opportunity to fish alone or together for that matter. Even Bob mentioned to him at one point "I bet you would like to fish here?" Which for a second rendered the poor fellow speechless. A few minutes later the guy realized that all his talking was not going to move us, so he moved. But not far!

We then had to find our focus again. And after numerous fly changes and little adjustments, my first fish of the morning came in. It was fooled by a #22 brown midge larvae fished on the bottom. The next 45 minutes to an hour brought more fish to hand, including a nice brown trout of about 15" and a bigger fish that pulled free after just a few seconds. Fishing was now good. And you would think that I would be happy with the outcome so far. Well you would be sort of right. I was happy that we had now caught fish but I wanted to try and fish the "honey hole." So what did I do? I moved. And in doing that I broke one of the rules of fly fishing - Don't leave fish to find fish. And I can honestly say that It didn't turn out all bad. At least from a learning standpoint. Our "honey hole" turned out to be occupied. And it's occupant was fishing to trout that were now rising to trico spinners. All was not lost. While we were in the vicinity for the remainder of the hour we had to fish, we saw him catch a good 4 or 5 trout. And we ourselves were able to cast small dry flies to some of our own trout just below him. I even had a few takers to make it interesting. But I couldn't seal the deal.
In hind sight we should have gone to spring creek. But the lure of the Oatka was too strong for me. It is, after all, my favorite Western New York inland trout stream. Plus each time I step foot into it's water with fly rod in hand, I learn something new. And that is a good thing!

To finish the month off and this blog. I would like to congratulate my sister and her husband on their brand spanking new baby girls. Two very healthy twins that weigh as much as an average Lake Ontario tributary brown trout. Congratulations guys!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's been a while!

Like the title of this blog says, "it's been a while!" At least that is the how it feels. And I mean since I last wet my toes in the cool water of one of my all time favorite streams.....the Oatka! And this time I was joined by my oldest son Jonathan. And that made the morning even better!

I had made the decision to fish the Oatka that morning. There were thunderstorms and heavy rain last week that had blown out the creek and the water gage was reading at over 3.2 the previous night. But that morning when I saw that the flow rate was at 2.0 and the gage was now reading 3.0, I had to give it a try.

As we arrived at the parking spot I saw that we were the third car in line. There was an older fly fishing guy getting his gear ready. And for a moment I thought we might not get our spot. But that fear was put to rest when we made it up to the "honey hole" and saw that no one was around. I rigged one rod with a woolly bugger and the other a san juan worm. We began tossing our flies into the water, and after a while of nothing, we changed flies. More casting and more of nothing. The older fly fisherman we saw at the parking spot had now worked his way up from somewhere way downstream, to fish right below us in the flat water. He seemed to be casting dry flies to places he thought would hold fish. But like us, he did not hook a single fish. And after a while longer he left.

Jonathan and I continued to fish. Actually I fished, he played in shallow water and had some snacks. We saw two other fly fisherman come and go that morning. Neither of them caught anything. They were looking to fish the trico hatch. A hatch in which many serious fly fisherman enjoy because you can catch weary trout on small dry flies. The only problem with that is you can't catch those weary trout on top when there aren't many bugs around.

We stuck with our game plan to fish nymphs deep. But it wasn't until I tied on a #16 flash back pheasant tail nymph, did the fishing change. And after a few adjustments, the indicator finally dipped. And when I set the hook, something pulled back. A trout!!! Finally. I quickly handed the rod to Jonathan, and he carefully played and landed our first and only Oatka brown trout of the morning. I took a few photos and then Jonathan revived the trout and let it swim away. I was proud of him. He stuck it out with dad and spent the extra time to make sure that fish was ready to swim away.

Our morning came to what seemed like an early end. But not before I hooked one more fish that got off before I could even see it. We left feeling good that we had caught a trout, and had done it together!

See you guys on the water!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Irondequoit creek revisited

Okay so this will be a shorter blog than my usual lengthy rant.

I came across the opportunity to fish Irondequoit creek at Linear Park again last week for about an hour. It was in the afternoon. And fortunately for me the fish responded well to a #12 stimulator in summer flow conditions. And to be completely honest, I don't think it mattered what I had on, as long as it floated!

My first cast was.....well it wasn't really a cast. I pretty much stripped out some line and dropped the fly in the water. And as the fly floated downstream in a good moving riffle, I fed line through the guides. And to my surprise, a small trout came to the surface and crashed the fly. Of course I missed the fish. But on the next pass, when my fly got ambushed again, I was fast on the trigger and I landed the first fish of the afternoon. A small rainbow trout.

I then positioned myself below the run and began casting upstream to every fishy looking place I could get to. And almost every little spot held a rainbow that couldn't resist the stimulator.

This went on for a little while until I exhausted the fish at this section of Irondequoit. So I moved upstream picking away at the fish as I went. Soon I was at a place called the "bend pool." This place is a favorite for all fisherman during the fall and spring for lake run trout and salmon. But today it was occupied by a few swimmers.

Just above the pool is a section of faster water that will often hold fish depending on water conditions. Today it looked good. But after picking it apart, and having no fish to show for it, I moved on. At the head of this run on the opposite side of the stream there was a small piece of pocket water that looked good. My first cast brought a splashy rise and a missed fish. My second cast brought a nice brown trout to hand.

The only other trout I saw in the last 10 minutes I had on the stream was a dead brown trout of at least 16". It was a little sad to see such a wonderful fish wasted. But it is apart of fishing. Sometimes we forget how fragile our natural resources can be.

On a positive note - The fall salmon, steelhead and brown trout season will be hear soon!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lessons learned; Black creek

A lot of times as a fly fisherman I have to check myself at the door. And by that I mean, I can't get to comfortable with what I'm doing every time I go fishing. I enjoy the challenge of not knowing what is going on with the fish all the time. Solving puzzles is a lot of fun. But I sometimes will fall back on what I know or am comfortable with. I usually catch fish. And sometimes I have great fish catching days. But that does not always translate into me becoming a better fly fisherman.

Have you ever started to feel like you were getting to know a place, and then have something happen to totally reverse that feeling? And I'm not talking about a good feeling turned bad, or the feeling that that you missed out on something. I'm talking about a feeling of revelation!!

This past Friday I took my two boys to Black creek for a little fly fishing. It was a good morning, as we all caught fish. But what made it even better was the shared insight of a passionate seasoned angler who spends all his time fishing Black creek. He is not a fly fisherman. But a fisherman none the less. And he was not one of these "old timers" who now spend their retirement fishing every day either. No! He was a young man in his teens. And his passion and knowledge reminded me of what fishing was like to me at that age. And for that matter, still is today!

He walked around with a seine scrapping the bottom of the stream trying to get some live crayfish to use as bait. He then would put them in an empty coffee cup, and when he had enough, he would start fishing.

We had seen him before, and he recognized us right away. We watched him work as we fished. And soon he was joining the fishing just below the spillway on the opposite side of where we were fishing. We talked back and forth. And he shared with us some fantastic stories of fish caught and lost that would make any ones eyes light up. Stories of giant fish that he had caught right where we were fishing. He told us of walleye that he was catching recently along with some big pike(up to 38" long.) He also told us of a few big 20" smallmouth that he seems to catch every day. He even shared a story of a really nice sized trout that he caught in the spring below the dam. And this is supposed to be a warm water fishery! And finally, the icing on the cake, was a story of an almost unimaginable small child eating 52" beast of a northern pike. Sorry, I had to embellish the "small child eating" part. Anyone who has seen a pike that big will surely tell you that they would not want to swim in water where a fish like that lurked. He had said the big 52" northern took a large creek chub that he was using for bait. And he then told me that he had caught the creek chubs in his seine in another part of the same creek. If even half of his stories are is still an impressive resume'.

This is someone who has made a study out of Black creek and has come to know it well. His use of every bit of knowledge that he has gained was impressive. His enthusiasm and passion for fishing Black creek made me realize how much more I needed to learn about this great place. I am now thinking about how to tie flies to meet the requirements for catching a large northern pike. I am also in process of tying some crayfish patterns for some big bass.

It was a great experience for me. And when I got home I came to the understanding that I was learning from this young man. Usually I focus on fly fishing and how I can learn from my friends who I get to fish with from time to time. But this time I was able to gain insight from a "non-fly fisherman" who had a lot more knowledge about Black creek than me.

When I was a young fly fisherman there were many times when I was able to watch and learn from more experienced guys. And every now and then there would be this one guy who seemed to have it all figured out. He would catch the biggest and the most. He seemed to have the right fly at the right time. He knew where the fish were and how to get the right drift every time. He knew the stream and the fish that lived there so intimately that he was always a couple of steps ahead of everyone else. This is where I wanted to be as a fly fisherman. And to some extent...I still do! I have worked hard to learn from those guys and on my own to try and get there. I know I'm not there yet. But I am always trying to learn more and become the best fly fisherman that I can be. Sharing my passion with others who are equally passionate will only help. And this past Friday the tables were turned and I was able to learn from a younger guy who didn't fly fish.

So I'm sending a special thanks to all of you who have shared the passion with me and with whom I have learned a great deal from. You know who you are!!!!! You are all a blessing....keep it real. Or is that reel? Ha

See you on the stream!