Thursday, December 12, 2013

Birthday Fishing

A nice pre-spawn female brown trout. Photo taken by Jessie Hollenbeck

With the recent extreme cold and snowy weather that we have been getting, much of the WNY tributary fishing I like to do will be put on hold until a prolonged thaw. Not that I mind fishing in temperatures well below freezing mind you, rather, the streams I like to fish will be locked up with ice.

These conditions, believe it or not, are a welcome change….at least for me. I can now work on filling fly boxes, making repairs to gear, changing old fly lines and work on producing some art for my portfolio. It will also force me back to my favorite inland trout streams and rediscover those skill sets that are required to pursue the trout that inhabit them.

But before I relent to the inevitable, I had an opportunity to fish for about an hour at a local WNY trib on my birthday. My wife accompanied me and I had fun watching her fish through the head of a run with a streamer. And although she didn’t get a pull from a fish, she stuck it out and did amazingly well. But I do have to say that if I had an extra pair of waders for her I know that she would’ve gotten into a few fish. She is certainly very capable. In fact, during our first year or so of marriage I convinced her to join me on the Salmon River on more than one occasion. And on one of those trips to the “Staircase” in the town of Pulaski, NY we did pretty well for ourselves, and more than that, I watched Colleen out-fish every other angler there. She ended the morning with five fish hooked and almost two landed. Yes almost! I had a part in that “almost” when I went to tail a rather large Chinook salmon and realized that I was not in the right position and retracted my hand to reach around the other side, the fish took a small run and popped the hook. “Fish Off!” She was not happy and I got a well deserved razzing from the other anglers who were watching her manhandle a thirty pound Chinook to shore only to watch her husband botch the landing……ughhh! I am glad that was not the whole story, because she did hook and land a gorgeous ten pound steelhead that we had to chase downstream for at least a hundred yards before landing. She certainly proved herself then, and did again on this day whether she caught fish or not.

I ended the day with three fish landed and a few more hooked and lost, but it was great to have her there with me. And as I was able to land my last fish I was joined by my friend Jessie Hollenbeck of Wide Sky Flyfishing. We shared a few stories, swapped flies, took a few photos and then said our goodbyes.

Not a bad way to spend an hour of your Birthday right? ….Right!

If you are ever in the WNY area and want to experience our fantastic lake run trout and salmon fishery, make sure to contact Jessie Hollenbeck.  Jessie has an amazing knowledge off all our WNY tribs and is patient teacher which, in my opinion, makes him an exceptional guide that will do everything to make your trip a success.

See you on the stream!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bradfield Boys Fishing Trip 2013

Jonathan poses with Grandpa B and his catch

After a little bit of a hiatus the Bradfield boys are back on the stream!

A little encouragement from Dad at our last family gathering prompted me to get the ball rolling on a 2013 fly fishing trip. The plan was to gather everyone together for a fall fly fishing excursion on one of Western New York’s tributaries to Lake Ontario in search of lake run trout and salmon.

With a few phone calls and an adjustment to work schedules, Saturday November 9th was the day to make it happen.

Uncle Andy does battle with a Chinook salmon
In the month leading up to the 9th I worked hard at repairing gear, tying flies and following reports from other fellow anglers who frequent the Western New York tributaries. And yes….even getting a personal up close view of a certain stream before we headed out all together was a necessary part of the preparation. My only concerns were water conditions and angler traffic. Not enough water would mean little to no new fish movement, and intense angler pressure would most likely leave us with little room to fish my favorite sections of stream and plenty of worked over fish.

The morning of our fishing excursion started off a bit chaotic as I had inadvertently left the keys in the van overnight in the on position after filling up an air mattress. This left us scrambling to jumpstart the van instead of getting on the road early. And while Uncle Andy and grandpa left to drive around for a bit, Jonathan and I finished gathering up the rest of the gear.

Andy's first fish landed
The frustration I felt slowly began to dissipate as we got closer to the stream, and I began to secretly hope for a great day of catching large fish from the lake.

Today I was planning on being the ‘guide.’ And with three generations of Bradfield’s now descending upon one of my favorite local tributaries, I couldn’t wait for all three to hook up with their first fish.

The good feeling I was trying to nurture after the morning of chaos took another hit when we approached the pull off area and counted at least ten cars. But after looking downstream from the bridge, and seeing no other anglers, we decided to stay put and give it our best effort.

Andy's second fish landed
The plan seemed to pay off as we found fish not too far downstream. I set everyone up with fly rod and fly, and with a little instruction they got to work on casting to a few fish.

After a little while of making adjustments and working through different parts of the stream, the boys started to hook a few fish. We were even able to put a few fish in the net before we left for lunch. All in all, it was a great start to our day.

The afternoon session had us work through a different upstream section of the same stream, and this time we found no other anglers.
Jonathan does battle with a nice Chinook hen

We took our time and walked downstream looking for fish and enjoying the company of family. We saw some trout and salmon along this stretch and took ample time to present flies to them. Again the boys did a wonderful job and were able to hook up a few times with some salmon. And as we walked back up to the car to get ready to leave for the day, I stopped at a few likely spots to try and find a fish for myself. And on that ‘last cast of the day’ I finally hooked and landed my first fish….a rather large lake run brown.

Fish landed
What a wonderful day we had. Fishing was good, and everyone brought a fish to hand. But the best part for me was spending some quality time with my Dad, brother and my oldest son.

Last fish of the day!

Thanks for all the memories guys….see you soon.

In fact.....Andy suggested the Deleware river next year.....sounds good to me!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I have always loved fishing ever since I can remember. In fact I spent a good deal of each day as a kid dreaming of catching all kinds of different fish in all kinds of amazing places – a practice I still enjoy today.

The only things that kept me from realizing those early dreams were a driver’s license and school. Okay…and maybe money too. I mean how far can you really get on your own when you’re just 10 years old!

I would often replace the books that where required reading during school with any kind of fly fishing material that I could find. This put a dent in my grades, but for someone who hated school, it was a welcome escape from the classroom. I read about giant king salmon in Alaska, West slope cutthroat trout in Montana, steelhead in British Columbia, Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick, and the list goes on and on.

Since those early days of intense fly fishing research I have been able to wet some waders in a few of those far off places. But I have also come to realize that some of those early dreams may never be realized, and that’s okay because I am making new dreams come true with my kids.

Stonefly Press's most recent book release “50 BEST TAILWATERS TO FLY FISH” by Terry & Wendy Gunn brings me back to those early days of daydreaming. Its wonderful photography gives a pleasant pause to the reading of all the lovely details that we fly fishermen can’t live without and can never seem to get enough of.

Each region is filled with its own unique tailwaters accompanied with maps, detailed information on gear, hatches, and much, much more.

It is truly a great book to sink your teeth into if you are like me and spend way too much time daydreaming. Who knows….when my kids get older and are getting ready to fly the coop, maybe, just maybe we will be able to head on out to one of the “50 BEST TAILWATERS TO FLY FISH.”

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fishing with Bob

Bob holds a big male Chinook salmon that measured 42"

It has been at least a good year and a half since I last spent some quality time in the company of my good friend Bob Burrows. And to me, that’s a year and half too long. 

The story of our friendship really started years ago when we both worked for a small newspaper out of Canandaigua New York. We spent a good part of our lunch break talking about fishing, and on our off days we would often get out and fish together. In fact, it’s those early years of our friendship that we spent the most time out on the water in search of fish. And it allowed us to really fine tune our fly fishing skills. He is one of those guys that can help elevate your fly fishing skill set by just spending time with him on the water. 

But more than that, he has given me and my family lots of support through the years, and I am very proud to call him my friend. 

My biggest of the morning
So when I did eventually leave the newspaper for a new job, and things started to get busy with lots of little feet around, I always found time to stay in touch with Bob and even tried to get out fishing at least a few times a year. Some years it would work out really well, and we would get out on the stream two or three times. But for whatever the reason, these recent few years have left us with very little opportunity.

So when I got a call from him yesterday morning saying that he was up at a local WNY tributary, and that he was spotting fish moving upstream, I jumped at the chance to get out there, even if it was for just a little while.

Bob with his second fish of the morning
By the time I met him on the stream, he had already landed two salmon and had watched a good ten or more move past him. Even as I was setting up my leader and tying up for the morning, several fish moved up from downstream and blasted through. And even though the water was on the low side, it was cold, and until the sun moved up over the trees the fish seemed content on running.

We spent our time that morning walking upstream in search of resting fish that might be willing to take a fly, and talking about all those memories from fishing trips past. We even fished around some fall downs and undercut banks in search of an early lake run trout or two. And even though we didn’t find any trout, each of us managed a few salmon to hand before our time was up – Just like we used to do it back in the day.
The release

We may not be able to spend the time out on the water like we used to, and it’s probably a good thing that we don’t – our families would suffer for it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get out every once in a while and make some new memories.

Thanks Bob!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fishig with the kids - Part 2

Katie, Jonathan and cousin Helen fishing on 4th lake

Well…the kids are back in school and it’s been a bit busy around here with all the new schedules and changes in work, lessons, and sports, etc. But I feel as though we are starting to hit our stride and find some sense of order.

So before our glorious WNY fall tributary season starts to kick into high gear, I wanted to share some of the adventures in fly fishing I had with the kids this summer.

Katie's largemouth
Ever spring, in anticipation of the upcoming summer break, I start to mull over some ideas for fishing with the kids. I spend a great deal of time day dreaming about new locations and new fish, but in the end, reality never really lines up all that well with what I envision. But it’s all good!

Jonathan's largemouth bass
Ethan holds a rather nice rock bass
This year we spent time on Oatka creek in search of picky wild small stream trout, we threw streamers, poppers, and nymphs to bass and panfish at our local ponds and Black Creek, we fished under the dock at my parents camp at Fourth Lake, and we even found some time to cast some flies at Honeoye Lake at a family get together where Katie caught a beautiful largemouth bass all by herself.

Jonathan with a nice Black Creek largemouth
And just before the kids went back to school we hit up Black creek one more time. And it did not disappoint. The kids caught a bunch of fish and even dad got to tangle with a few. If there were ever a way to put an end to the summer fishing, to "go out on top,"

Katie and I with a big Black Creek smallie
this was as close to perfect as we could get.

The kids and I will now be regulated to a few choice times to get out and fish together. And It may not even be all of them at the same time, but that’s okay – We still have next summer!