All posts by brookdog

Inspired by camaraderie between brothers and close friends while fishing and camping in the wilderness of New York and Pennsylvania, Brookdog Fishing Company’s goal is to provide our clients with the best fishing experience possible while developing lasting friendships along the way. Let us help you explore and better define the, “best fishing experience possible,” while exchanging ideas, trading stories, and making plans for trips to come.

Preparation for a Day on the Water

I’ve been meaning to write about preparing for a day on the water for awhile now but keep kicking it down the road. This will be the opposite of a “how to” article. In a sense, I’m advocating to throw out many of the how to articles you’ve likely read over the years. We’ve discussed fishing preparation in several of our articles. From what to consider in advance of a big road trip to conducting reconnaissance on local water. The theme of this article will be my observations – both what I do and what I see others do – during those couple of hours before getting on the water.

Sharpening the Sword

I love this phrase – I’ve heard a couple of my guide colleagues use it and have adopted it myself. The imagery conjured by “sharpening the sword” is one of medieval warriors around campfires or in fortresses. Their focus in internal. They are usually hunched over, deep in thought or feverishly going through some sort of mental checklist.

Occasionally, soldiers preparing for battle look over at their fellow warriors to see what they are up to. Maybe they do this to get a sense of what they are missing. Maybe they do this to see where they stand compared to the others in the group. Whatever the motivation or mindset during the preparation, all have one thing in common – they have some sense that their fate will be in their hands if they prepare “well.” In the hours before getting on the water, I’ve seen anglers exhibit the same behavior. It’s awesome to see yet somewhat frustrating.

What Does it Mean to be “Well Prepared?”

I am not going to try to answer this question because the response is almost entirely personal. What everyone is trying to do in this situation is generate some sort of confidence. Confidence in their gear, the conditions on the water, their abilities, etc. – thinking about all of this is an internal way to fight back anxiety and ultimately lead to success on the water.

I’ve always had a hard time empathizing with people going through these motions. I guess I have a hard time believing that it’s a pleasurable experience. Mainly because if one prepares “thoroughly,” anxiety is sure to emerge one the individual recognizes that many things can go wrong no matter how “well prepared” one is.

 

The reality is that Mother Nature always plays a huge roll in what will transpire once you depart for the water. Sometimes you’ll get a flat tire on your way to the launch. When you get to the spot you planned on fishing for the day, there may be quite a few anglers already there. You may break a rod. You may sprain an ankle. The point is – no matter how well prepared one is, chaos looms and you’ll almost always be in for a surprise. How are you going to react when it does? I can assure you that all your preparation isn’t gonna help.

Keep it Simple and Chill Out to Thrive in Chaos

I could go into a long essay about the art and science of warfare and where preparation for battle falls in it all – but I won’t. The general theme to contend with chaos is to keep things simple and remain flexible. The more detailed one gets in preparation, the more stress bubbles up and the greater the hardship one experiences when something unanticipated emerges. Trust me – something you never considered almost always pops up.

Here’s a non-fishing related example everyone can relate to. Throughout my life in academia, I’ve witnessed the same “sharpening of the sword” behavior prior to exams. Feverish highlighting in books and notes. All night benders in pajamas in college libraries boosted by Adderall. For what? Does it help you retain any knowledge? The answer is a resounding “no” almost every time. Does it help you get a better grade? Sometimes…I guess. The question to ask if you exhibit this type of behavior is, “why are you doing this?” Inevitably, you’ll encounter something on the exam you didn’t anticipate. All your preparation is for naught. What now?

Mental health issues like anxiety or depression can affect student’s schoolwork, and can be identified with screenings by the MSU Counseling Center. The Center will be hosting free screening at different locations around campus on Thursday. Lauren Wood/The State News

The answer to how you got here the case of exams is likely because you didn’t fully absorb the material in class. In the case of angling, you likely haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on around you all the other times you’ve been on the water. Either that or you have too little experience and too much gear.

Experiment with Very Little Preparation and See What Happens

I am by no means advocating that preparation for a day on the water shouldn’t happen. It should – but the process should be simple. Everyone should always have safety in mind – all the equipment required to ensure a safe day on the water should be prepackaged. One need only inventory it from time to time to make sure it’s all functional/in working condition. Other than that, hit the water one day with minimal gear and minimal preparation and see what happens.

Quickly grab a couple rods, a handful of flies/lures/bait, a little bit of terminal tackle on your way out the door and let events unfold as they may once on the water. When Mother Nature deals you a hand you didn’t anticipate, make a mental note of it, get creative, and adjust accordingly. That experience of getting creative will ensure resonance – it’ll stick with you and add to your intuition the next time you prepare for a day on the water.

Conclusion

Look – I am not advocating to forgo preparation for a day on the water. I am saying that it shouldn’t be anything like preparing for war. Trust yourself. Trust your guides. Build your own intuition through experience and just have fun. Instead of preparing for hours before getting on the water, sleep in/get some rest, have a few cups of coffee and a decent breakfast before departing, and just roll with the punches.

You can read “how to” articles until you can’t see anymore but none of them replace actual experience. That may be a blinding statement of the obvious for some but not many. In most cases, such articles speak in generalities and are written by another human being – via his/her own experiences and personality. Only you can “do you.” Get out there and develop your own preparation pattern via personal experience. It’ll become much more intuitive and stick with you forever.

Observations from the Water

We’ve been out every day since our last blog post. Since that time, we’ve made the transition from the Upper Niagara River and Lake Erie to the Lower Niagara River and the Great Lakes tributaries. The salmon bite is hot right now. We’ll let the pictures tell it.

We’ll be out with clients for salmon all this week and next. Then…it’s time for a quick vacation before the steel, browns, and lakers come into full swing. Give us a call if you want to get out there!

Urgency is in the Air – Fall is Coming

Maybe that’s why I like fall so much. When that first cold wind of the season creeps up your spine it triggers a sense of urgency that’s palpable everywhere you look. It’s a season of sensory overload – vibrant colors, incredible smells, tastes you can only experience this time of year. This sensory overload is part of the urgency of it all – it fuels our daily lives in a much more obvious way than any time of year.

For those of us that live in Great Lakes bordering regions, this atmosphere comes from a primordial place. It’s a natural prompt for action – time to start stocking up, food/resources won’t be available for too much longer. For those people that, “don’t do cold weather,” the fall their final chance to enjoy the outdoors before slipping into hibernation and the inevitable case of the shack nasties. Luckily, if you live in the Buffalo Niagara region, there are many options available to get outdoors and enjoy the splendor of the season.

We Aren’t Alone in this Experience

If you have spent any amount of time outside lately, you’ve likely noticed that this sense of urgency isn’t uniquely human. New birds are showing up. The trees are starting to show a little flicker of color change. Animals are becoming more active. The sun is rising later and setting earlier. Most importantly, the fish are putting on the feedbags or are staging to make their spawning runs.

Regional anglers benefit from nature’s sense of urgency this time of year. Regardless of the activity – feeding or mating – fish start to congregate thereby becoming easier to locate and catch. The smallmouth bass, muskies, and walleye that are putting on the feedbags aggressively pursue prey.

The salmon, steelhead, and lake run brown trout start staging in well-known and accessible locations. Just like any predator in nature – large groups of prey concentrating in certain areas is cause for excitement. The urgency that follows is a prompt for action – gotta get mine before everyone else/the opportunity passes.

The Urgency of the Fall – How are you Taking Advantage of it?

What are your fall plans? It’s obvious what our plans are – fishing…daily. This video shows what we’ll be up to for the next couple months.

It is by far my favorite little slice of the year – if for no other reason that it’s fleeting. Salmon fishing in the lower Niagara River is something that’s truly unique to the Buffalo Niagara Region. Deep canyons, crazy colors, and big fish everywhere. Simply put – it’s a marvel everyone should experience at least once. Give us a call if you’re interested.

Observations from the Water (a few weeks ago – 20180908)

I’ve been slacking on the blog lately. Honestly, August was a slow month for business. We expected this though – see our late summer blog.  August was a heavy walleye month and pictures of dead fish on the table lose their flair after you take a few so there wasn’t much to show or talk about. In the future, August will be a heavy vacation month and harvest month for us – getting ready for the next 2 months of solid work.

The walleye bite on Eastern Lake Erie has been great out at upper 50 – upper 60s depths near the international line. We’ve been bouncing the bottom with harnesses in pink and purple and have had few if any problems catching our limit on our full day programs.

The Smallmouth Bass bite had been slow but is kicking into high gear. The river is producing more and more with each outing and those old reliable spots on the Lake are producing more fish. They are feeling the urgency of fall for sure.

I had the privilege of working as first mate for Capt Matt Yablonski of Wet Net Charters a few times this past week. What a blast! It has been very cool to see the salmon make the transition to spawning colors while staging outside the Lake Ontario tribs. It won’t be long before we start dedicating all of our time to the lower river.

Plan for Next Week

Recon work and preparation is the plan. Starting 17-September, we’re booked every day until late October. It’s to the point now that we are considering doing 2/day trips. The boat needs to be in tip top shape. We need to dial in the pattern. Finally, we need to chalk up some family time as it will be scarce for more than a month. We hope to see you out there!

Late Summer Fishing In Buffalo Niagara

It’s late summer people. Even I have to kick myself in the butt to shake the late summer lull. If you’re a resident of the great lakes region, you do everything you can to maximize your summer. Why do we behave this way you westerners and southerners may ask? Because our winters are harsh and some of us hibernate. The problem with this way of life is that many of us take it too hard during the first few months of summer. So hard that by now, mid-August, many of us are worn out. Shake off that late summer lull my friends. There’s still a few weeks of fun remaining.

A Recent Revelation

A couple days ago, I was tying leaders on my boat in my driveway when I felt something. It was something I haven’t experienced in quite some time – a chill. The breeze blew, clouds shrouded the sun, and I got a little chill down my spine. I experienced something similar yesterday when I was fishing with my daughter. It was warmer in the river than outside. Today – I wore a hoody during the morning commute to Lake Erie.

The morning and evening temperatures seem a bit cooler. Days are getting a bit shorter. It’s late summer alright. Do you feel it? Although many of us have had incredible summers thus far, a sense of urgency should be on the creep. There are only a few weeks left until the kids go back to school and schedules start getting a bit more complex. Now is the time to get a second (or third or fourth) wind and get the most out of this last month of summer.

These emotional peaks and valleys us great lakes folks experience define our culture in a way. We take pride in the fact that we can cram a ton of fun into a short period. We work hard and party harder. Delayed gratification is THE ONLY WAY to truly enjoy something. Having something to look forward to fuels our work ethic – I just gotta grind a bit more and then all will be well. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Still – there’s one month left before we really start seeing some change and I want to maximize every bit of it.

It’s Late Summer – Steelhead…Really!?!

It’s been happening more and more lately. Although it’s late summer, social media has been simmering with TBTs and old pics of people gripping and grinning steelhead. There is a substantial faction of the angling community who are already thinking about the fall run. Unfortunately, these folks are missing out on some awesome, late summer angling, going on right now.

My friends, the stockers can wait. Don’t fret – the leaves will change, snow will fall, it’ll get cold, and steelhead will show up. They will also stay around for 7+months so you’ll be able to fill that emotional void and keep it full for quite some time. For now, get outside and enjoy our late summer action on the big water. Flip flops, a choice beverage, and a quick dip into the water to cool off every once in awhile. Don’t have a boat? Give us a call – we can help you out.

Observations from the Water

Smallmouth bass are starting to strap on the feedbags. Like us, they have been in a bit of a late summer lull but that’s changing. I’m guessing they sense that the days are getting shorter and that’s triggering them to pack on the pounds before the water gets cold and prey species become less available.

Higher water temperatures make them want to work a lot less for their food, so they are chowing down on easy meals around rocks and structure. Half-digested crawfish and gobys have been showing up on the deck of the boat – little donations from the stomachs of  boated smalljaws.

We’ve also been doing a lot of walleye fishing. This is a new game for us but were getting it dialed in. From talking to my colleagues, this has been a banner year. Although I don’t have a frame of reference, it’s been fantastic. They are such an excellent eating fish. So much so that I’m going on a walleye only diet for a week. I’ll get ripped – watch!

I also went out with Matt Yablonski of Wet Net Charters for my first summer king trip.  Those fish are incredibly strong – a different animal than the ones we’ll be catching in the lower river in about a month.

Plan for Next Week

Bookings are a bit light. That doesn’t matter though as we’ll be on the water anyway. Bass and walleye will continue to be the focus. The forecast looks excellent. Get out there and enjoy it while you still can. If you want to spend some of that time on the water – give us a call!

The Journey – Revelations About Chalking All 50 States

The adage that it is not about the destination it’s about the journey sounds cliché when you’re young. (Yeah – this is going to be another philosophical piece so if you want the fish porn, scroll to the bottom and check out the pics). Watch, someone will comment that I’m still young (I’m 40).

I may be young compared to many but I’m old in the eyes of my colleagues in their 20s and probably on the older side of the guide community. I digress…the point is that when I set goals when was in my 20s it was all about accomplishing them. As I’ve matured, I’m beginning to realize that the journey is much more important.

The Foundation vs the Journey

When I was in the military, I wore my accomplishments on my chest in the form of badges or medals. Few cared how I received them (I barely did) – it was typical male boastfulness on full display. Kind of like a male peacock spreading it’s feathers or a male brown trout with a huge kype jaw. The display was as much about impressing other dudes as it was to impress the opposite sex.

These days, it’s far less about boasting (I still have an ego – it’s just less dominating nowadays) and more about how I internalize the experiences the journey of life provides. In recent years, I’ve found that reflecting on the journey, living in the moment, makes life much more fulfilling.

The 50 before I Turn 50 Goal

Something like 15 years ago, when I first began fly fishing, I dove in head first. With typical male, testosterone laden thought, I wanted to prove to everyone I encountered that I wasn’t some chump. I wanted to prove that I could fish among the best anglers and make a name for myself.

Since I was in the military and I moved around a lot, the best way I could come up with to do this was to fish as many places as possible, learn as many techniques as possible, and catch as many species as possible. Admittedly, it was all about chalking states and bodies of water – something like earning medals in the military.

With chalking in mind, I began recording my endeavors in an excel spreadsheet – a brag sheet I could bust out like a resume if anyone challenged my abilities. Within a year or so, the idea of catching a fish on the fly in all 50 states before I turned 50 became a goal. It made sense – what better way to test my skills and learn a ton while doing so all while having a statement I could boast to people in conversation.

Goal Setting Isn’t Necessarily All Bad

This mindset had some benefits. It helped me plan trips every year. It kept me focused. It placed a timeline out there for which to hold myself accountable. All tenants of effective campaign planning in the military. However, it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I realized that I was too focused on the goal and not what was happening before my eyes.

Every journey exposed me to new and interesting people. Each journey took me to new and wonderful slices of nature – all distinct yet the same in some ways. As I made myself reflect on these experiences, I realized how lucky I am to have a passion and to have the opportunity to meet others on their own journey that share the same passion.

What Now?

Oh – I’m still going to accomplish that goal. Partially for some of the same reasons I set out to accomplish it back in my 20s. However, the journey has become my focus nowadays. The travel. The people. The fish. The environment. Hell, if that wasn’t genuinely my focus, the journey could end up being a grueling endeavor.

Case in Point

I was in Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend with my wife fishing with Abbie Schuster of Kismet Outfitters. How did I end up in Martha’s Vineyard? I was trying to chalk Massachusetts, of course…and what better way to do so than with a striper on the MA coast? The problem with using weekend bangers to chalk new water is that Mother Nature can foil your plans pretty easily.

As Abbie, Justin, my wife, and I fought big wind and rough seas trying to find fish, I found myself smiling – almost laughing out loud at the hand Mother Nature dealt us. The conversation flowed. We laughed at the situation. We exchanged stories and had a genuinely great time – with few fish to show for it. The journey was the center of attention – landing a blue fish on the fly and chalking MA was icing on the cake. If we skunked – whatevs – we would just come back next year. But we didn’t skunk, and I’ll be back anyway.

Observations from the Water (20180715 – 20180721)

The bass bite has been awesome lately. I don’t really need to say much more than that. They have been where they are supposed to be – deep buckets near shoals and on sandy bottom with good rocks. Both the river and eastern Lake Erie have been fishing extremely well. The bass have been packing on all the weight they lost during the spawn. I’ll let the pictures tell it.

Plan for This Week (20180722 – 20180728)

We’re booked every day. We will continue to fish Lake Erie with a little bit of the river mixed in. Give us a call if you want to get on the water. The bass action will continue to be excellent for the months to come.

The People – Why We Keep Doing What We Do

Disclaimer: I’m not a spokesperson for all guides by any means. I am junior in this business with only a little over 2 years under my belt. Although I may be relatively new to this industry as a professional, I feel compelled to write about my observations…for posterity sake. It would be an added benefit if my colleagues actually read the content and provided meaningful commentary in response. Either way, I believe what will follow to be of sound logic and will resonate with most if not every guide out there. Here is the position: Our clients, the people around this country, are the reason we continue to do what we do.

What’s So Interesting About “The People?”

Even as a junior guide, I still spend a great deal of time on the water – a huge percentage of my conscious life. I’ve seen a lot of our local water and caught many fish around here. Some of what I see is part of routine. Other aspects emerge through exploration. Regardless of how the day unfolds, there are 3 common threads woven through every outing:

1. The People on your boat will likely catch fish or have some really close encounters (*for the musky anglers)
2. Mother Nature will throw some sort of obstacle in your way and you’ll instinctually work to overcome it, trying to do so without detection by the people on the boat.
3. Unless they are repeat clients, the people that hire a guide are all different and require different “techniques” to ensure their day is as awesome as possible.

Meeting whatever challenges emerge as part of threads 1 and 2 isn’t terribly difficult for guides. In fact, it’s probably something that occurs very “naturally” in the life of every guide. We’ve been fishing for much of our lives. We’ve caught many fish and have seen many fish caught. Point number 3 on the other hand isn’t necessarily an instinctual endeavor.

The complexities of meeting new people are highly engaging and differ with nearly every outing. For me, it’s the most exciting part of guiding. From the introductory handshake and the first look in the eye; to explaining what’s going on for the day; to building rapport; to seeing that look of panic on their first hook up; to maintaining rapport for the entire time on the water. It’s all a blast.

Report from the Last Couple Weeks (20180701 – 20180714)

In keeping with the theme of “the people,” I wanted to take a quick moment to write about the great clients we’ve had over the past couple weeks. If you just have to know about how the fishing has been – it’s been excellent. We’ll let the pictures tell it. Back to the people – every trip has been a ton of fun for it’s own reasons. The demography has been interesting:

States/Provinces Represented:

Arizona
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Maryland
Texas
South Carolina
Arkansas
Massachusetts
North Carolina
Virginia
Local

Professions Represented:

Lawyers
Marketing Specialists
Outdoor Industry Professionals
Retirees
Engineers
Law Enforcement
Realestate
Department of Forestry

Get the idea? The diversity is immense in just these 2 demographics. How many professions do you know that put people, often complete strangers, into an intimate environment from which “escape” is somewhat difficult for 6+hours? I can’t think of any. I don’t know how many of my colleagues have considered this but to think that thoroughly enjoying this aspect of the job isn’t the central characteristic of why we do what we do is lunacy. We all love it (some more than others) but we all do LOVE IT – it’d be a rough go if we didn’t.

 

Plan for Next Week (20180715 – 20180721)

We have a few client trips early in the week and then my wife and I depart for a weekend angling getaway in Martha’s Vinyard. Stripers on the fly – new species, new state! Give us a call if you want to try to sneak in a last minute trip this month or get something on the calendar for August.

Getting Older and Feeling Better – Fishing as a Fountain of Youth

So I turned 40 today. I’m not a big birthday person so I’m bordering on hypocrisy writing this but I mention the fact that I’m getting older for a reason. Although I’m officially middle age (I guess), fishing is keeping me young. As a charter captain and fishing guide, I have the privilege of doing what I love every day. It’s amazing how that kind of lifestyle makes getting older unnoticeable.

Getting Older Should be Synonymous with Getting Wiser

Some people reading this would assume what I love is fishing. Sure – I love fishing, that’s pretty well documented. However, what I really love is guiding. I get to meet people from all over the world (mostly the U.S. though). It’s endlessly entertaining. Everyone is different – ages, background, ethnicity, culture, political views, religion, etc. Exposure to this kind of diversity is invigorating. It’s enrichment for the mind that makes getting older a badge of honor instead of a curse.

All these folks are stranded on a boat with me for about 8 hours so we get to know one another decently well. Although we are different in many ways, exploring those differences helps me gain new perspectives. Making these new acquaintances, engaging with them effectively, and trying to learn a thing or two serves to keep my mind sharp. Hell – it better. If it didn’t, it could be a grueling experience on some of those slow days. Ultimately, the act of forming these relationships makes getting wiser inextricably linked to getting older.

Resonance Makes Getting Older an Enjoyable Journey

Some of these folks choose to fish with me again. Others are tourists just passing through that I never hear from after we shake hands at the end of the day. Whatever the extent of our relationship – the effect of our time on the water together is never fleeting. I grow with each experience and each experience enhances my ability to make the next trip a bit more enjoyable for all parties involved.

Avoid Feeling Older by Putting Yourself Out There

Everyone should make getting older fun. I try my best to do just that. It’s for this reason that I don’t really care about my birthday – it’s just another day. Yesterday was great, so was today, and tomorrow will be too. I’m not some naive idealist – read my bio and you’ll know where I’m coming from. I’m just a guy who likes to fish. Better yet, I’m just a guy who likes to guide.

I put myself out there with every client – on every trip. When was the last time you did that? If you don’t know – give fishing with a guide a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised and will likely start thinking about getting older a bit differently.

Observations from the Water (20180624 – 20180630)

It was an awesome week that ended up with some serious heat. Water temperatures have been climbing and the summer pattern is really coming into full swing. Bass are moving deeper and getting shoal oriented on the lake. Post spawn bass are on the feed in the river too. Every outing has been productive on all tackle types. We’ve been covering a ton of water just for the hell of it. It’s been a lot of fun and ultimately helped set the groundwork for next week’s program. I’ll let the pictures tell it.

I also had the privilege of fishing in the Basseye Tournament. Our team placed 4th. Not too bad considering I made an effort to teach my team some new techniques and show them some water they had never seen before. I look forward to making this tournament part of my annual program.

Plan for Next Week (20180701 – 20180706)

We’ll avoid the river like the plague on the 4th as a nightmarish number of boats will be on the water. All of the other days will be spent on the lake shoal and rock pile hopping in search of the biggies. Give us a call if you want to get out there!

Summer – It’s Officially Here – Don’t get into the Summer Lull

It’s officially summer according to the calendars and how the earth spins around the sun.  Long days, short nights, great weather, and plenty of opportunity to fish.  It’s time to embrace the fact that summer is here.  However, don’t get into the summer lull and forget how fleeting our summers around here can be.   

The Summer Lull – Avoid it

The summer lull is something that can affect all of us that live around the Great Lakes.  It affects everyone – not just anglers.  What is it?  The summer lull is what happens when you get comfortable with being comfortable.  Many of us that live around the Great Lakes take for granted that the summer is a fleeting season. 

          June is spent getting used to the fact that summer is here and it’s a great time to get outside. 

          July is spent making plans for the weekends and trying to enjoy them as much as possible. 

          Then August hits – it stays warm and sticky – and people have the audacity to complain how hot it is when only a few months back they were making the opposite complaint. 

          Suddenly September shows up.  The kids go back to school.  A few of the days end up being a bit chilly, and BAM!  You realize that fall and winter is coming and there were quite a few things you wish you would’ve done over the summer that you just didn’t get around to.

How do you avoid the summer lull?  Make plans – starting now.  Yeah, I recognize that I’m a bit extreme compared to the average person – I have plans for fishing trips and vacations through April ‘19.  However, if you don’t plan at least a season in advance in our neck of the woods, you’ll miss out on some awesome opportunities to get outside and have fun.  As a fishing guide, you know what I’m going to recommend as an activity.

Summer Fishing in Buffalo Niagara

The video below does a good job showing you what it’s like.  What the viewer doesn’t really get to absorb is the experience itself.  Here are some of the tangible and intangible aspects of summer fishing around here:

          You’ll get to see incredible sunrises

          Fishing is consistent throughout the morning so there will be few dull moments

          The fishing is also not all that taxing – just hold on to the rod and enjoy the view.  The bite will come.    

          It’s a perfect family activity – the kids will catch the biggest fish of their life.  Couples will enjoy a unique experience.  Bottom line – it’s a unique bonding experience and you’ll make memories that will last a life time. 

          The beauty of getting out there to fish in the summer is that you’ll still have 8 more hours of daylight to do something else.  When you get on the water at dawn and catch a bunch of fish – you’re usually off the water about 6-8 hours later.  That’s 2:00PM at the latest.  Plenty of time left to do something else and even sneak in a nap before doing something else that evening. 

Give us a Call – We’re one Remedy to the Summer Lull

We’ve had a great season thus far and the summer is looking promising.  We’ve booked many more trips this year than years past.  July will be a banner month for us but there is still some openings if you want to get out there.  August is looking a little barren – we have plenty of openings.  That’s the month that the summer lull really kicks in.  Make plan now – we look forward to making memories with you!

Observations from the Water (20180617 – 20180623)

The summer pattern for fishing here in Buffalo Niagara isn’t quite “settled” yet.  We’ve been finding more and more fish in the Niagara River and around structure in Lake Erie and less and less fish around the harbor.  In other words, moving around and trying different techniques in different areas has been key.

Last week was awesome.  Not necessarily because the fishing was on fire (we caught good numbers) but because the weather was…strange.  The wind kept shifting and rain showed up a few times.  Early in the week, Lake Erie was rolling with big waves due to a strong west wind.  This forced us to stay on the Niagara River and to fish in spots we don’t normally fish.  Surprisingly, we found fish nearly everywhere we explored.  Nothing huge in size in numbers but consistent enough to keep things engaging throughout the day. 

We also had the pleasure of hosting Jeremy Walker and Tyler Breen of Backcountry Traditions.  They were in town to feature summer fishing in Buffalo Niagara for a future episode of a TV show that will launch next year.  I’ll let the pictures tell how it went.  Look these guys up on social media and start following – big things are coming in their future. 

Plans for Next Week (20180624 – 20180630)

Bookings are light but we’ll be on the water near daily.  We will be competing in the Basseye Tournament hosted by Rich’s Products on Friday so we’ll be doing some pre-fishing for that throughout the week as well.  The weather looks stable so give us a call if you want to book a last minute trip!

 

   

Upper Peninsula Smalljaws on the Fly

Until this last week – I had never been to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In a couple words, it’s an anglers paradise. There is water everywhere and people are scarce. That means low pressure and a ton of water to yourself. Oh yeah – there are big smalljaws in many of the rivers as well. What else can you ask for?

How the Upper Peninsula Adventure and About

Mike Schultz of Schultz Outfitters sold me on this little Upper Peninsula adventure about a year ago when we filmed with he and his team in Ypsilanti, MI. Mike knew of my shared obsession with smallies and told me that if I wanted to catch some beasts on dries in shallow water, the Upper Peninsula is a must visit. I checked out some of the pics and committed right away.

The Accommodations

There were six of us that ventured up to the Upper Peninsula this past week. I was the only foreigner being from New York – the rest of the crew were from Michigan. All of us stayed in a well equipped house on the banks of a small lake. There was a ton of food – we had dinner prepared for us evening evening. It was excellent. The accommodations of the house were ideal – plenty of beds and bathrooms for those that care about that stuff. Bottom line – we didn’t have to rough it.

The Program

We got a great taste of the angling opportunities for smalljaws on Upper Peninsula thanks to Tight Lines Fly Fishing Company. It was 2 anglers and one guide per drift boat. We fished for 4 days – all day – on a different stretch of river every day.

I had the pleasure of being guided by Gavin Marquart and Charlie Pettite. These guys were incredibly knowledgeable about the fishery, offered excellent instruction, and were genuinely great dudes to spend time with on the water. Shore lunches were excellent as well – a nice bonus.

The Tactics

It was just as Schultzy said it would be – big fish sipping dries all day. Sure – we tossed streamers and had some success but big, buggy dries were the ticket. Ive fished on top for jaws in a couple places now but it’s a little different in the Upper Peninsula. The eat is so stealthy that is barely perceptible.

Fishing on top for smallies is a rare event here in Buffalo Niagara. It’s the best we to fish for them in the Upper Peninsula. I was stoked to fish for my favorite fish in a way that differed from my norm. It’s got me thinking of places it may work around here.

Contact Info

Schultz Outfitters put this program together – it’s an annual trip the crew does in June. Click here for their contact info and book fast before next year’s slots fill up.

If you’re interested in making a trip up there on your own – I wouldn’t do it without a guide unless you have a ton of time on your hands. The guys from Tight Lines are top notch – do yourself a favor and book them before trying to explore this area on your own.

Plan for Next Week

Recovery for the weekend. The musky opener is today so we will dedicate some portion of our days to casting for skis. Smallies are moving back to deep water so we’ll be on our sonar this week hunting on the big water. Carp are also on the flats now – I didn’t spend much time targeting them last year so that’s on the docket too. Should be a great week! Give us a call if you want to get on the water!

Late Spring Lull in Buffalo Niagara

A Little Late Spring Lull

Late spring can be unpredictable around Buffalo Niagara and this year is no exception. Weird temperature swings, wild shifts in wind direction, and smallies transitioning to full spawn mode have slowed things down slightly. By slowed things down I mean instead of boating 40plus jaws in a day we’ve been hovering around the mid 20s. The smaller males have been defending their territory while the females have been on beds.

Fishing to the Beat of the Drum

The higher water temperatures of late spring also mark the arrival of the freshwater drum to shallower depths as they begin to spawn. Freshwater drum or sheepshead can be the bane of a smallmouth angler’s day on the water. They are voracious feeders and often beat smalljaws to what’s on the end of your line. I don’t mind them. They keep the action going and fight insanely hard. They have some cool spawning colors too.

Action Remains Consistent

Despite this late spring lull, we’ve been on the water daily – entertaining clients from Pennsylvania to Alabama to California to Buffalo. Although it’s our perception that things are a bit slow and the jaws have been a little on the small side lately – it’s definitely not theirs. Whether they are from the other side of the country or within eyesight of Lake Erie, people are consistently impressed with the size of our smallmouth bass. When this late spring lull passes – jaws will drop even further as we patrol the depth of the big water for big fish.

Observations from the Water (20180603 – 20180609)

As I stated above, the spring lull has been in effect. We’ve been catching a ton of drum, many small male smallmouths, and an entertaining number of big females. They’ve been eating emeralds, swim baits, and flies – all in good numbers. I’ll let the pictures tell it.

We had a few special guests this past week (well – all of our clients are awesome but these guests were part of a series of awesome networking opportunities) Amanda Bly, the genius behind the Buffalo Pizza Blog, and her boyfriend Evan fished with us for an evening. Rob Benigo, the artist behind Lakes Rivers and Streams, also joined us for an evening on the water. We also had the pleasure of guiding Rob and Frank of the Waterkeeper Alliance who were in town for a conference.

Plan for next week (20180610 – 20180616)

I’m taking a little vacation and headed up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with the Schultz Outfitters crew. It’s a long drive so I wanted to break it up and make a pit stop in the Detroit metro area. However, idle time isn’t my thing so while I “rest,” I’m going to wet a line with Eric Grajewski of Musk -E- Fly Fishing Adventures on Lake Sinclair. Musky, smalljaws, and white bass are in the docket for that stop. Then on to the UP for beast smallies on the fly. Looking forward to this week. Stay tuned!

We’re solidly booked for the next 2 months but still have a couple openings for anyone interested in pursuing big smallies. Plus – musky season opens next weekend and carp are showing up in big numbers on the flats. Give us a call if you want to get on the water!

The State of Being Well-Fished

The State of Being Well-Fished

I’m well-fished. This time of year is insane for guides in Buffalo Niagara and I imagine it’s the same for our peers across the northeast and the Great Lakes region. Memorial Day weekend is often the first good stretch of time off work people get when there is great weather for outdoor activities.

Considering how frigid our spring was here in Buffalo Niagara – there was/is a lot of pent up energy and desire to absorb some sun. Crowds are everywhere one can take a walk and enjoy a bite to eat on a patio. Thankfully, many of these same people want to fish. We have been there to accommodate them.

What Do I mean by Being Well-Fished

A person becomes well-fished if he or she is experiencing exhaustion caused by extensive time on the water. You can spot a well-fished individual easily. People who are well-fished often have to ask others what day it is. Burnt, re-burnt, now brown, and cracked hands are another telltale sign. In Buffalo Niagara, torn up thumbs caused by lipping bass are another symptom of a well-fished individual. Their faces look like the reverse of a raccoon – white around the eyes and dark everywhere else – caused by sunburn while wearing glasses. Well-fished people may sway while standing in line – trying to maintain balance on a boat they are no longer standing on. Finally – a well-fished individual may turn down an offer to go fishing (yes, that’s possible).

It’s Not a Complaint – Just an Observation

I exhibit all of the above symptoms. I’m not complaining at all – just relating a phenomena that’s relatable to many or maybe interesting to others. I’ve fished all but maybe one or two days since the end of April and every outing has been highly productive. It’s gangbusters on the waters of eastern Lake Erie right now and I’m absorbing all of it as if Mother Nature could take it all away in a quick snow storm. It’s probably time to level out a bit and start acting like it’s summer. I guess I need to accept that the fishing and weather will continue to be great for months and pace myself accordingly. We’ll see if I can pull that off. Honestly – I’m too tired to write too much more and I have to get back out on the water for an evening bite.

Observations from that Water – 20180520 – 20180526

Every one of our clients left the boat launch well-fished from their outings this past week. We brought many big fish to the net, experimented with some new techniques, and genuinely had a blast. I’ll let the pictures tell it.

Plan for Next Week – 20180527 – 20180602

More of the same. I may take one day off…doubtful.  Slots are near full for the month of June – give us a call if you want to get on the water and click here to see what it’s all about!