Friday, December 11, 2020

Fall Tributary Season 2020

Ethan works a nice pool


Has it really been that long since my last post.....really?

Jonathan with a nice October King
Oh well.

Here it goes.

I will try and put up a few posts in short succession to highlight some of the past fishing trips over the course of the year.

I will start with this fall tributary season, and hopefully add some backlogged stories as I go.

This year’s WNY tributary season was pretty normal, at least from my experience.

We had water, not a lot, but more than what I had seen in some past years. And that allowed for the salmon migration to start right on queue. Fish moved up all fall, and even had some opportunities to push way up into some of the smaller freestone tribs with the occasional pulse of rain and/or canal release.

Ethan with a streamer king

Even though we caught some fish, we didn’t ever seem to find a good group of fish, and had to put in a lot of steps just to find the few we were able to catch. But, that’s fishing. Each year is different, and some years are better than others, especially when it comes to finding plenty of fish that are willing to take a fly.

Our best flies this year were woolly buggers tied in olive, brown and black and in sizes #4-#6. We primarily dead drifted pockets and pools and swung them in tail-outs and runs. Or, a combination of the two.

Woolly bugger king
As the fall progressed, we started to find more and more trout in the local streams. And like every other year, we match the hatch with egg patterns. As the salmon run winds down and the spawning is complete, the lake run brown trout start to pair up to begin their spawning. Here is a great opportunity to target the pools, deep pockets and runs for early lake run steelhead/rainbows and other brown trout that have yet to get on the gravel to spawn. You can also witness some of the spawning that takes place, like the salmon, in the shallower gravel sections of the stream. But remember, these fish are trying to naturally reproduce. And even though there isn’t a high success rate in natural reproduction, it does happen, and it is recommended to leave actively spawning fish alone.

Once late November comes around, the brown trout start to come off the spawn and will eat almost anything and everything…..including a swung streamer!

Jon's first fall lake run brown
In a couple of weeks winter will officially be here, at least meteorologically speaking. That means the fishing will slow way down as the stream temperatures drop. And that’s when the fish will start to pool up and hunker down. We will need to slow our presentation down, and keep those flies in the zone. Fishing the afternoon will usually be better, because as the day warms, so does the water. And any warming of the stream will mean the fish will become more active.

Enjoy the upcoming Holidays….and hopefully I’ll see you on the stream.

Make sure to check out these links of local guides and craftsmen, along with other major brands that we use while on the stream

Wide Sky Fly Fishing

Streamwalker Nets

JP Ross Fly Rods

Waterworks - Lamson

Jay Peck Guides 

Cortland Fly Fishing 

Rio Fly Fishing 

Temple Fork Outfitters

Ethan and a big post spawn hen

Egg patterns and post spawn lake run brown trout

Jon with a big drop back
Ethan with a nice streamer caught male brown trout
First fall lake run rainbow

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Mid-November Fly Fishing

Jonathan gets ready to release a 29" inch male lake run brown trout.
As of writing this blog post, we still have snow on the ground from last week’s snow. In fact the whole month of November has been more like late December or early January. Colder than normal temperatures rule the day, and rain drops have been transformed into those light white fluffy flakes.
Ethan with his biggest brown of the fall

Even in the face of a lingering cold snap, the fishing has been really good. And that, In part, is due to the release of Erie Canal water into many of our WNY lake Ontario tributaries.

The extra bump in water has provided a continual push of fresh fish into all the streams. Lots of Lake Run brown trout, steelhead and even a few salmon are still making their way upstream. With the salmon spawn done, and the brown trout spawn fully under way with plenty of spawning and post-spawn fish now in the system, the “egg bite” is on!

We have had most of our success while dead drifting egg patterns in pockets, deeper runs and pools. And now that the many of the brown trout are coming off the spawn, swinging streamers have started to take their fair share of fish as well.

A nice big lake run male caught on the 10' 6 weight
Jessie Hollenbeck with a nice steelhead
Even I get to catch a few - Photo by Jonathan
As the season works its way into a winter pattern. Fishing will start to slow a bit, as the fish’s metabolism also slows. This will make the afternoon period better for fishing. Even a slight warming of the water by just a degree or two will often turn fish on to feed. Until then, enjoy fishing big streamers on the swing for some heart stopping action.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Fly Fishing for salmon – October 7th 2018

Ethan with the first fish of the day

Fishing in the early part of the run can be a bit of a struggle. There are always a few fish around, but the majority of those are just blasting on through without stopping, leaving us fly anglers little opportunity to toss flies at resting fish. 
One of Jonathan's, caught on a black woolly bugger

Last weekend I had a great day with the boys and my father in-law trying to do just that…..swinging flies for salmon.

And as the day played out, we realized that there were plenty of fish holding and others blasting on through or to stop for a bit, which allowed us many great opportunities. More than I have seen in years fishing this early.

One of the major keys to our success was our willingness to walk to find fish, and to frequently change locations to find new fish. 

Jonathan with a big fish on!
We used more natural colored bead headed woolly buggers in brown, olive and black, in sizes #6 - #4, and swung them in front of holding salmon. We used a 9 foot tapered leader on a WFF line with an additional small bit of split shot on the leader above the fly to keep in the zone. Too much weight would keep the fly on the bottom and produce a greater chance of foul hooking fish, and too little weight would not allow the fly to stay in front of the fish. We could have tried using sink tips on a short leader with unweighted flies, but I didn’t bring the tips with me.

Each of us were able to bring at least one fish to the net, with a couple of us landing several.

Jonathan's big Chinook salmon
We did see several reds in each of the locations we went to, but only encountered one post spawn female salmon, and no active spawning was witnessed while we were there. Half of the other female salmon we caught had loose eggs, while the other half were still firm.

Ethan resting a salmon before it's release

Jonathan helped guide his Grandpa to his first salmon on the fly

Even I get to land one

Ethan with the last fish of the day

I suspect that by the end of the month, there should be a good number of salmon in all of the WNY tributaries with a good number of trout to follow.