Monday, December 18, 2017

Fly Fishing for Lake Runs – Birthday Edition

A big post spawn female lake run brown trout

Once again I had the opportunity to get out for my birthday and share some water with a few friends.

Small but feisty lake run brown
Denver on the net for Matt
It was certainly a day to remember as a warming trend over the past few days put the lake run trout on the bite, with many, many Lake Run giants coming to the net.

Leif's huge hen lake run brown
Leif on the net for Ethan's lake run brown
Matt with the release
Jessie with a nice Kyped out male
Jessie tries to control a steelhead
Fish landed!
Denver, Matt and Leif started their morning at an upstream section of a favorite WNY tributary and enjoyed some fantastic streamer action, landing quite a few nice brown trout on the swing.

I started out fly fishing at a downstream location on some private water before everyone else showed up and quickly put two fish in the net, one of which was easily over the twelve pound mark. The other, a smaller post spawn female, took a lot longer than expected to find the net. In fact, many of the fish on this day would follow its example and put us and our gear to the test over, and over, and over again. 

Ethan with a nice female taken on the swing
Matt tries to make his 4 piece into a five....again!
Denver and Matt with a double
By late morning Jessie, Ethan and the rest of the upstream gang met up with me on the private section of water. We each continued to find our own fish, taking a break here and there to grab a cup of coffee, share some stories and catch up on the goings-on in each other’s lives. The only stop in the fishing came during lunch, when our gracious host Jim provided an amazing homemade venison stew. But, as good as the lunch was, the fishing had been better and we needed to get back on the water.
Jessie with a nice post spawn hen

Over the next few hours more and more fish came to the net. Mostly all brown trout, save one nice steelhead that Jessie landed to ruin the curve. And with his landing the only bit of chrome of the day, he maintains his perfect yearly “birthday” steelhead batting average. A tradition that I don’t think he’ll relinquish anytime in the near future.

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Colored up post spawn female
The fish were everywhere. The riffle sections, pools, pocket water, and slower tail-outs and slack water all held fish. The spawn had been done for a couple of weeks and with the warmer weather, they were on the search for food before the cold started to settle in.

Our fish on the day were on par for the average for lake run trout in any of the Lake Ontario tributaries, which is right around seven pounds and somewhere between twenty four to twenty six inches. Many of us were fortunate to land fish over ten pounds with a few in the low teens. Even then, I still managed to find a pod of lake runs here and there that held one or two fish that were easily pushing the twenty pound mark. A truly massive fish that never found the bottom of my net.

The end of my day finished just as it had started, with two more brown trout to the net. And that was it! I then said my good-byes, shook hands with the guys that were left, and spent the next twenty five minutes on the drive home replaying the day in my head.

My last fish of the day.
Kyped out male brown trout
When the catching is as good as the fishing, you try and hold on just a little bit longer to the memory of each fish. Hoping that they remain separate and don’t bleed together into one big mess. 

Thanks again Denver for sharing a birthday with me, and to the rest of the guys who did their best to drag themselves out there to celebrate with us!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Late November Fishing with the Boys

Jonathan with an average sized lake run brown trout

We made the trip up to one of our favorite WNY tributaries in search of big lake run trout only to find every spot loaded with anglers. Even an old standby location that has served us well in the past when angler traffic gets heavy, was now posted and equipped with surveillance cameras. 

Ethan with a nice kyped out male
So we headed back to one of the pull-offs, parked the car, and decided to hike a bit upstream, away from the bridge where there were at least 7-8 anglers.

Along the way we made frequent stops to check every little nook and cranny, carefully searching for a holding fish. Over the course of the next hour or so, we saw a few here and there and even fished a nice pool or two along the way, but our venture upstream proved fruitless.

Back at the bridge, we were very happy to see that almost all the other anglers were now gone, save one lonely soul across the stream on the other side.

Over the last hour that we had left, the boys and I fished a spot that often gets over looked. We each managed two hook-ups a piece, with the boys each landing one. Not a bad way to end a tough outing.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fishing with the boys – November Edition

Jonathan and his 30" inch female brown trout

Our fall tributary season has had a great start. Plenty of fish to go around and most importantly, plenty of water. It’s been years since I can remember having this quality of flow in our WNY tributaries and that has helped bring in a steady push of fish on a daily basis. And because of this, fish are most likely spread throughout the system, from top to bottom. And that should mean great fishing throughout the winter and into spring. 

Recently the boys and I headed out to one of our favorite WNY tributaries in search of large lake run trout. The salmon run has been pretty darn good up to this point, with plenty of spawned out and spawning fish still around. This means that any trout that have now entered the stream are on an egg diet, and we were ready to take full advantage!

30" inch male brown trout
The water was cold and at a good medium flow with still a hint of stain to it. Salmon reds littered the tail-outs of runs and pools, and even though we could not see any fish holding in and around them, we knew the trout where there.

Jonathan hooked up first in a long run with a chartreuse bead head olive woolly bugger. It was a large fish, and he struggled to gain control of it. I had to move a good bit downstream to eventually get the net under his first fish of the day, a gorgeous thirty inch female lake run brown trout.

Ethan gets ready to release my 1st steelhead
After Ethan worked through the run, I was able to step in and hook up next with a light pink sucker spawn/light pink bead combo. And after another ten minute battle, Jonathan slid the net under a large kyped out thirty inch male lake run brown trout.

We fished a bit more in that section before heading downstream, leaving without another hookup.
It was another half hour before we worked our way down to another location that always seems to hold fish, and in the past has produced well for me. Again, the boys drifted on through first, without a hook up. They continued to fish down in the tail-out and I took a turn in the pool. A few drifts later and I was into my second fish of the day. It was a smaller fish, but still managed to pull hard and take some line off the reel. A few minutes later, Ethan put the net under a very fresh lake run steelhead, my first of the fall.

Ethan and his 1st ever steelhead
By now Ethan was feeling a bit left out. He had yet to hook up with a fish and his feet were starting to get cold. As he took a break on the bank to try and warm up a little, I told him to stick with it and that the next pool would provide another opportunity for him to get into some fish.

About one hundred yards downstream, at the tail-out of a long slow pool, I put Ethan
Ethan and his last fish of the day
into position and over the next thirty minutes he hooked up with three fish and landed his first ever fall steelhead. All his fish took a chartreuse bead head olive woolly bugger with a bright yellow bead two inches up on the leader, dead drifted under an indicator. All that action seemed to warm him up enough to want to continue on to our next spot, where he promptly hooked up with and landed his second fish of the day, a beautiful female lake run brown trout – again, on the olive bugger/bead combo.

The hot fly of the day
All in all it was a great day of fishing. We each managed to get into a few fish and bring a few to the net. We are certainly blessed to have such an amazing fishery.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fly fishing WNY - October 14th edition

Jonathan hoists his big 27" male brown trout before release.
Once again we were able to get out on the stream for an afternoon shift.

This time we would be fishing a good 4-5 days after some major precipitation, which prompted us to dream of large trout.

We fished down on the lower part of the stream and found plenty of salmon holding here and there in each deep pool, pocket and run. We witnessed several nice fish fishing blasting on through, even when the stain of the high water period had almost completely worn off….No trout were spotted.

The boys and I stuck to fishing buggers, even when we could see a few reds that had been made by salmon in a few of the gravel sections nearby. Of course, by the time this blog is posted, the increased number of salmon and spawning activity will no doubt change that. Eggs will be in high demand!

Ethan worked the head of a pool, swinging a large lead eyed rabbit strip streamer, where he could just make out the dark shapes of several nice fish. Jonathan decided to work a few pockets and seems in the lower end of the pool area, prospecting with an olive woolly bugger for what might lurk in each little nook and cranny.

Ethan hooked up several times, but couldn’t seem to keep a fish on. Some he thought were foul hooked and they popped the fly quickly. A few others he said took the fly but he didn’t get a good enough hookset. That’s fishing.

Ethan rests a female king salmon before its release.
Jonathan, who had been quiet for the past half an hour or so, finally yelled “fish on!” and after just a few minutes I could make out the telltale signs of a large brown trout pulling hard near the surface.  Not soon after, I slid the net under a gorgeous 27” inch kyped out male brown trout – the first trout of the fall for the Bradfields.

The rest of the afternoon we kept at it, trying to find the right location and drift to put our flies in front of a few willing fish. Only Ethan came away with a nice female King salmon in the last hour. It was a fresh fish, with a little glint of silver here and there.

Not bad for the early part of October. Let’s just hope we can get out a few more times this fall. Fishing should continue to get better and better, especially as the ever increasing numbers of salmon start to spawn.

Thanks in part to Streamwalker Nets for making these fish possible!