Saturday, December 12, 2015

Brithday Fishing - 12/05

Fish landed - Photo by Leif Mermagen
Fish on! - Photo by Denver Miller

November is now gone and the fishing has remained, for the most part, consistent. Even if that means a little slower than what we have come to expect in recent years.

After a very busy October and early November, where “stream time” was all but nonexistent, I am now enjoying some time on the local tributaries.
In the net - photo by Denver Miller

This past weekend I was able to get out for a little while on my birthday and celebrate with a few friends (Jessie Hollenbeck of Wide SkyFly Fishing, Denver Miller, Leif Mermagen of Streamwalker Nets & Jim Metcalf & Family) along with my youngest son Ethan. Everyone got into a few fish, spent time sharing stories and had a wonderful lunch with a surprise birthday cake.

We caught most of our fish on egg patterns dead drifted along the bottom. Beads, sucker spawn, nuclear roe bugs in a variety of colors all worked. And although we caught fish, we couldn’t really ever find a pattern that seemed to rule the day and put fish in the net on a consistent basis.

One of a few lake run brown trout for us - photo by Denver Miller
The Erie Canal is now draining and providing a much needed bump in water flow for many of our WNY tributaries. Hopefully this will prove to be enough incentive for more lake run trout to make their way upstream and provide us with some quality winter fishing.

Special thanks to Leif Mermagen and Denver Miller for providing photos for this blog.
Ethan with a fish on
Denver with a nice kyped out male lake run brown

What a crew!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fishing with the boys – November Edition

Jonathan holds a brightly colored post spawn male Coho salmon that he netted for Ethan
The release
My oldest son loves to fish and has been chomping at the bit to get out on the stream this fall for some big lake run fish. Seeing photos of his little brothers fly fishing success while he has had to sit out, hasn’t helped matters any. But that is the reality of a busy extracurricular schedule.

This past week the boys and I all found some time to get out on the stream together…..finally!

Jonathan with his post spawn Coho salmon - Ethan on the net
The water levels have been very low and clear this fall season, which have made fishing conditions very tough. Salmon and trout migrations have been slowed to a trickle, and the fish that have made the push upstream have remained, for the most part, in the lower end of the system. There are a few fish that continue to move up further through middle sections of the stream, but they are few and far between, and require a lot of walking to intercept. And then there is the process of carefully presenting a fly to fish in skinny water. Light line, small flies and little to no weight added has led to some success, but even with those adjustments fishing has been very inconsistent.

But we don’t always have the benefit of picking and choosing which day or time we get to fish. So we make the best out of what we have been given.

Ethan with his Jack Chinook - Jonathan on the net
We didn’t find any fish at the first location we looked at. And at the second spot noticed a familiar car already at the pull off. After a quick phone call to confirm it was my good friend Jessie Hollenbeck of Wide SkyFly Fishing, and receiving some much needed intel, we made the decision to try a third location.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking and wading. And as the day unfolded we were able to find some fish to throw some flies at and even connected with a few. The boys each took turns fighting some post spawn Coho salmon and a good sized jack Chinook. They helped net fish with our new Streamwalker net and then took the time to carefully release them.

Jonathan fishing a run
On our way back we told some stories and day dreamed about our next fishing trip.
Moon rise

Another great trip in the books!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fishing with Jessie

Jessie putting some flies to good use

All the family construction jobs are now done, and that means I finally found some time to get out to the local tributary.
1st of the day

Even the high wind warnings and dropping temperatures couldn’t keep me off the water on this day.
The fishing reports this fall have been mixed. There haven’t been the numbers of salmon in the system that we normally get, and that means that you really need to be in the right place at the right time to get into a good group of fish that happens to be moving through the area that you’re fishing. There is of course, more to it than that, and a good bit of prolonged precipitation would be a great start. 

Having said all that, everyone has different expectations when it comes to how they measure success.
Fish on!

A nice kyped out male
Jessie Hollenbeck of Wide Sky Fly Fishing and I had to work for our fish today. The middle and upper parts of the small WNY tributary that I had fished earlier were rather slow, with only one or two fish being sighted here and there. The only saving grace was a large pool that held a good eight or nine fish. And even then, the low and clear water only provided me with a few good opportunities at several of the large lake run brown trout before they became too worked up.

The later part of the day proved to be better. I moved downstream to a new location to meet up with Jessie, and with the new change we saw a higher concentration of fish that would prove to be much more catchable.

But like I said we had to work for every bite we got. We continued to change things up until Jessie found a great new pattern that really turned the fish on. The key was in using a single trout bead (to match the natural color of the eggs in the system,) up about four inches from a number twelve olive gold bead head hare’s ear nymph. About eight to ten inches up from that, we attached one small shot fished without an indicator all on six pound test tippet. Remember we were fishing low clear water, so it pays to dial everything back a bit and go light.

All in all Jessie and I managed a good three or four fish to the net before we headed out for the day.
Our success today was in not measured in numbers of fish, rather in the process in which it took to get the fish we did catch interested in our offering and ultimately to the net. In my opinion being observant, learning to adapt to the conditions at hand, and being willing to try new things is and has always been the best path to success on the stream.

This brown came out of the water a few times
Remember, the trout fishing on all our WNY tributaries is just starting to heat up. Get out there and fish.
My biggest trout of the far!

Special thanks to Leif Mermagen of StreamWalker Nets.....the Lakerun model got a good work out today!

See you out on the stream

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fishing with Ethan

Ethan's first fish of the fall
This past Saturday Ethan and I had found a little time to venture out to a favorite fishing spot to see if we could tempt a few lake run fish to take a fly.

Reports of a big push of fish have been nonexistent to this point. It seems to be a slow and methodical march for the Salmon that have been slowly making their way upstream in many of our WNY tributaries, with a few trout following close behind. 

A good, steady, 3 day rain would certainly help, but until then we must contend with low and clear water. Each year is different, and I have every bit of confidence that by late fall there will be plenty of fish around.

Ethan doing battle with the mighty Chinook
Even with these less than stellar fishing reports, the streams are filled with eager anglers looking to hook into a trophy salmon, brown trout or steelhead, so it has been hard to find a spot that hasn’t been already run through. So when we arrived at our fishing destination and found only a few cars at the pull off, I was very optimistic. 

We spent the first twenty minutes slowly walking the bank, heading downstream looking for the huge dark finned shapes of lake run Chinook salmon that we have come to know throughout the years of fishing this stream. Even a hint of white from the mouth of a trout would be a welcome sight….nothing.

We finally settled into a nice pool where I set Ethan up with a woolly bugger under an indicator. While he began fishing I went back to the bank and started to set up my switch rod. I had just gotten finished with getting all the line through the guides and started to get a new length of tippet ready when Ethan yelled out “Dad I got a fish!” I looked over to see his rod bent down to the cork with the line and indicator rapidly traveling upstream. He held tight, only letting line out when the fish went on a run up or downstream. Soon the fish began to tire and Ethan could bring it closer to shore where we could see he had hooked a large male Chinook salmon. I grabbed the net and headed just downstream from him and waited until the fish made for the shallow water. A quick scoop and a tight grip on the tail was all I needed to do to help Ethan land our first and only fish of the afternoon.

Ethan gives our fishing trip 2 thumbs up
After a short break we were back at it, but no other fish found the bottom of our net. And even a long walk downstream didn’t do much to change our situation. We only spotted three other fish and none of them were willing to even look at our flies.

That’s fishing on the tributaries for you. Some days you catch a run of fish and some days you don’t.
I had a blast either way. 

Watching my youngest son cast, hook, fight and land such a giant is

something I will always remember.