Monday, November 17, 2014

Fishing with and Old Friend

Bob and I watched this fish chase down his swung streamer a good 3 feet before eating.

Bob and I first met back in 2000 at our place of employment down in Canandaigua, NY. He had this fishing decoration hanging from his work desk that prompted the first conversation we ever had. A conversation that started with fishing, and more importantly – Fly Fishing! 

A 10lb+ brown trout to start the day
From that point on we would share our fly fishing experiences together….at least until I moved on to another job, a family, and a full schedule. But even then, we strived to find at least a little bit of time each year to get together and fish.

And each year we make sure to find at least a day or two to reconnect with each other and toss a fly or two to the local fish population.

A gorgeous steelhead ready for release
Back in those early days of our friendship we would find ourselves fishing for hours at the local trout stream, or in the fall at our local tributaries. We caught plenty of fish and made plenty of mental notes of conditions, the fish we caught, and what pattern was most successful. We had some pretty good days fishing together. And I am certain we learned a whole lot from each other as well!

This past Friday we had that opportunity to reconnect again. And as in so many years past at this time of year, we ventured out to see what we could do together at a local tributary.

Fishing started off somewhat slow due to the below freezing temperatures. But there were fish, and some of them were more than willing to be caught.

Another swung up brown
As the afternoon wore on we ventured to other places and found more fish. Even some salmon and brown trout that were willing to move for a swung streamer. This is usually the case with a constant water flow over a long period of time after the salmon spawn is done. Many of the trout in the system turn towards other food items other than eggs, as there are very few loose eggs to be had. This will change as we get more precipitation or a release of water from the Erie Canal, which will once again disturb the salmon spawning reds, releasing salmon eggs back into the stream and turn the trout onto eating eggs.

Bob with a nice male brown

Bob's Atlantic salmon

Golden hen

My indicator dipped down while fishing the head of a deep pool for lake run trout. I never expected this!

On this afternoon we had to walk to find some willing fish, but our efforts were rewarded with plenty of fish brought to hand – Just like the old days!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Quick Stop at Irondequoit Creek

Small stream in fall should never be ignored

On a recent trip out to the dentist’s office I found a brief window of time to look in on a great little fishing spot that I hadn’t visited for some time – Irondequoit Creek.

This small stream gem of a trout stream flows unimpeded from its headwaters (which lie South of the throughway,) North for miles and miles before emptying into Irondequoit bay and Lake Ontario.

It fishes really well at all times of the year for both resident brown and rainbow trout, but during the fall it receives a push of lake run fish that make the creek one of the only small streams in the Rochester area to have both.

It’s small stream charm of overhanging branches and tight quarters are not lost on this fishermen during the fall months when the leaves are brightly colored and there are fish to be caught, no matter how much time I have to catch them.

The first of a handful of these little guys
On this afternoon, for a short while, I found a few willing fish of both variety. But I had to work my way up to the lake run fish.

Working my way up with a nice resident brown trout

A lake run that required more than one hand

My teeth have been repaired and the pain that went with it is now gone, but the visual wonder and feel of this small stream will linger. And that is good!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fishing with the Boys – November Edition

Ethan with our first brown trout of the afternoon
This weekend I finally had the opportunity to fulfill a promise I had made at the beginning of the fall – Take my boys fly fishing for giant lake run trout and salmon.

The reports I had been getting throughout this fall have been very promising, and even when I have had the chance to get out there have been plenty of fish around to make things interesting.

The only downfall has been the lack of sufficient rain to keep our local freestone tributaries at a good flow, or even better, bump it up to high and stained, which is what I and the fish prefer. 

Jonathan with a nice female brown trout
We finally got on the stream around noon and after navigating our way downstream after a short walk, we began to see fish. The boys were very excited and couldn’t wait to catch a few salmon.

Over the course of the next couple of hours we saw only two other anglers and had many of the places I had planned to fish with the boys vacant.

We found some very willing lake run brown trout and even a few post-spawn salmon that intercepted some big streamers on the swing.

The trout took a #10 gold colored nuclear egg pattern and #6 Cone head brown buggers. We found them holding in pocket water, but did our best when we found small pools that where formed by fall-downs near the bank. Here, the fish felt right at home and seemed eager to eat.

Jonathan with his first ever solo caught king on the swing
Many of the salmon we saw were either in spawn or post spawn mode with some carcasses already littering the stream.

Our best success with the salmon came while fishing a long deep riffle section. Here we could see numerous females and males holding throughout its course, with some of the males chasing each other around. This is where we decided to slowly swing big streamers in front of the fish to take full advantage their aggressive behavior – and it worked!

Even dad caught a few - Photo by Jonathan Bradfield
While working a fish with my youngest son, I could track the fly as it swung right in front of a big male chinook. As the streamer passed about a foot in front of the fish, it turned and swam up to the fly, opened its mouth and inhaled it – Fish On!

This worked quite well on a few other fish, but not every salmon was willing to bite, so we moved on.

Ethan does battle with a nice king
We all know that these big kings are in the streams to spawn and then eventually die. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t take a fly. I have seen aggressive fish, like the ones we had on this day, move to intercept flies before. The trick is to be patient, stay off the fish as much as possible and get that fly in front of them. Keeping the fly off the bottom is key. And in these conditions we used a floating line with a long six to eight foot leader tapered down to ten or twelve pound test while swinging a weighted three and a half to four inch rabbit strip streamer to match the many baitfish in this stream. This setup allowed us to control the depth of the fly and keep it in the strike zone with lower water conditions. This same tactic has worked well for me at tail outs of pools as well.

Ethan holds his first ever king salmon with some help from his older brother
Fishing with the boys this past weekend was a blast (as it always is,) but on this day the fishing turned into a whole lot of catching. 

Another nice lake run female brown

Big smiles and sore arms were the norm for this afternoon!

All fish were released