Tag Archives: fishing in buffalo

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!

The Smalljaw Syndicate – Buffalo Niagara Represents

Buffalo Niagara – A Strong Stop on the Smalljaw Syndicate

A few years ago, Mike Schultz of Schultz Outfitters started an Instagram hashtag – #smalljawsyndicate. It was and continues to be a great branding and marketing tool that generates a strong appeal for smallmouth bass. Let’s face it – in the fly fishing world, for generations, trout have reigned supreme as the target game species for fly anglers. Although trout are a very appealing quarry for many reasons, the smalljaw syndicate is growing and beginning to challenge them in appeal.

The Native Angle

I am not a purist in any area of the angling community. I fish for every species with all tackle types and every method I can get my hands on – always trying to learn something new in order to accommodate all clients of all experience levels and to ensure they have a good time. However, I border on the purist space in one area – I prefer to pursue native species. Where we live, and this goes for just about every state bordering the great lakes, smallmouth bass, walleye, pike, and musky are the premier, native game fish.

Conventional tackle anglers in this region have pursued these fish for generations and often get religious about it. Fly anglers on the other hand, remain weirdly loyal to salmonids. Steelhead, lake run brown trout, and salmon draw massive crowds and a ton of money to the region but nearly all of these are stocked by the hundreds of thousands every year – none of them are native. Yet – they maintain a nearly religious following.

Steelhead, for example, have a huge and extremely loyal following in the great lakes region – Buffalo Niagara included. There are books and films that capture all of it in its glory. Fly anglers pine over steelhead season (which lasts 8 months out of the year) and become downtrodden when they leave the tribs. Don’t get me wrong, they are truly cool fish, a ton of fun to catch, and I happily guide clients for them but what’s the difference between fishing for them vs. fishing the stocked trout creeks on the opener? Size and fight? OK…

Enter the Smalljaw Syndicate

I’ll state this again – I didn’t come up with the term smalljaw syndicate. Mike Schultz did and got it to spread like wild fire. I love what it represents – he and his team started a trend that is spreading rapidly – smallmouth bass are a sexy species to chase on the fly. He and his team pursued the premier native game fish in his area on the fly and showed everyone how awesome it could be.

I’m sure other guys were doing it in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New York but not in a big way until he paved that path. These days there are numerous guides and outfitters popping up around the Great Lakes that focus on smallmouth bass and/or adding them to their guiding portfolio. The smalljaw syndicate is growing and people are taking notice. Gorgeous specimens are popping up all over the region and people are starting to travel to the region to get a chance at a native trophy.

Here in Buffalo Niagara

There has always been a small and loyal group of fly anglers that can’t wait for smallies to leave the depths of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and head to shallow waters where they become readily available to fly anglers (myself included). The key adjective is small. For generations now, conventional anglers from around the country have been visiting here to catch them but I don’t know of any fly angler from outside the region that’s done it. I’m sure they are out there – but don’t know them and it’s certainly NOT common. Why?

 

I’m not saying this is the best place to fish for smallmouth bass on the fly. I’ve fished for smallmouth bass on the fly in every Great Lakes bordering state (except for Indiana – it’s on the to do list) and many more down south and all of them have their own appeal. None of these places – except for Lake St Clair – produces the numbers and size of the fish available to fly anglers than Buffalo Niagara.

Aside from numbers and size, the key distinguishing factor in the Buffalo Niagara region is real estate. Pound for pound, smallmouth are among the hardest fighting fish out there. When they have very deep water and a ton of space to battle you, an angler with a 9-foot fly rod is in for a real treat. You get everything they have to offer and that’s a ton. They don’t quit – even when you lip them for the hero shot/release. They double over 8wts easily and every fish wears you out.

The Next Fly Fishing World Record Smallmouth Bass

After boating numerous 6+lb bass on the fly over the past few weeks, it got me curious. What’s the world record for smallmouth bass on the fly? Here’s the link. I’m not saying this to be cocky in any way – but my clients and I beat all of those records a few times over the past few weeks without realizing it. That’s our next project – setting that record. I’m not a record chaser by any means but if that’s what I have to do to draw fly anglers to the area – I’m up for it and I challenge all my regional brother and sister smalljaw fanatics to do the same.

I’m not a complicated dude. I don’t have a chip on my shoulder and I’m not the kind of person to stir up drama and talk trash. I AM a humble veteran that’s passionate about his fishery/region and equally passionate about it’s native species. I think any venturing angler that wants to pursue big, beautiful fish on the fly should add smallmouth bass to their to-do list and make Buffalo Niagara a stop on your tour of the smalljaw syndicate.

Spring Fishing is in Full Swing – 20180513 – 20180519

Spring fishing is on fire right now. Since our last report, we’ve been on the water every day. Every outing has been incredible and it will continue to be this way for the foreseeable future. All tackle types have been productive. Regardless of conditions, clear skies, dense fog, east/north wind, etc. – nothing slowed the bite down. This time of year is my favorite. I’ll let the pictures tell it.

Plan for Next Week – 20180520 – 20180526

More of the same. The wx forecast looks awesome – we’ll continue to fish for jaws for as long as we can. If you want to give it a shot – give us a call!

Happy Mothers Day – Show Some Love to the Moms in Your Life

Happy Mothers Day, Mom!

Mothers Day – I’m usually not a fan of contrived holidays but I am a fan of celebrating this one. If it wasn’t for my mother and my beautiful wife I wouldn’t be where I am today – a happy father doing what I love. My only hope is that reading this take the opportunity to reflect on what the mothers in our life have given to us to get us where we are today.

My mother (and father) raised a fire team of 3 boys. She was outnumbered 4:1 dudes to her and made her influence felt nonetheless. It had to be daunting but she did it the best way possible. She let us roam, explore, break ourselves (and each other), and learn by trial and error – the right way in my opinion. She was always there to encourage us and fix us when we were broken (emotionally and physically) and she continues to do so today.

That selflessness opened the door for my passion for the outdoors. Allowing us to wander off to fish or explore the woods for hours on end cemented what came to be the most important attribute to what I wanted in life – a loving wife and a life outdoors. I got just that. Happy Mothers Day mom – I love you!

The Other Mother in My Life

My beautiful and supportive wife, Janice, is the other mother in my life. She does an incredible job raising my daughter – providing her everything I can’t. She’s emotional, caring, loving, and just crazy enough to show our daughter you have to be a little off upstairs to marry/remain married to a fishing guide. We’re an awesome team and I couldn’t live my dream life without her. Thank you, my love – happy Mothers Day.

Please Reflect

As a father of a daughter, I’ve gotten more in touch with my emotions that I would admit around a campfire drinking beers with my bros. Those mothers in my life helped nurture that in me. If you’re a guide or outdoors enthusiast, and you’re married or still young enough that you live at home with your parents, take a moment to reflect on how the mothers in your life have helped you get to where you are now and where you want to go.

Observations from the Water (20180506 – 20180512)

It was a rollercoaster of a week. Those warm temps we wrote about last week stuck around for the first few days and we had some incredible days on the water. Dozens of jaws eating tubes, flies, and stickbaits. One day, the average fish was 5lbs with 2 over 6lbs – insane. Then the north and east winds hit and made things tough. We still got on them but it wasn’t gangbusters like early in the week. It seemed like they responded better to stick baits – but that could’ve been random.

Admittedly, I went a little internal for a couple days. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to wear my bib again until fall but froze my ass off for a couple days. Not cool – rather too cool.

Plan for Next Week (20180513 – 20180519)

I’m hoping the rain in the forecast actually happens this time. The tribs are low and clear. They are full of fish but many are getting on nests and we don’t fish for them when they are spawning. For one – the fight sucks and they don’t really eat. Also, it’s just dirty – they are easy targets and are just trying to raise their young. Let them be.

If the rain happens, we’ll likely spend some time on the tribs just to stretch out the legs a bit. That kinda hard to do considering the harbor and river are fishing extremely well right now – but it’s a lot of fun to throw flies in shallow water to fish that willingly slam streamers.

Give us a call if you want to get out! If you need a video to show you what your in for, check out our YouTube Channel.  Tight lines!

A New Pattern and Warm Weather – Finally!

Finally! Warm Weather and a New Pattern

At long last, a new pattern is here. If you’ve been reading our posts for awhile now, you know that I lack patience. That comes into play when I’ve been doing the same thing for a prolonged period. Last September was the last time I fished without my bib and warming layers. Finally, this new pattern of warmth and sunny skies over the last week allowed me to fish without gloves and only a long sleeve shirt to keep me warm. It also marked the waning of the salmonid runs and the beginning of pre-spawn smallmouth bass action. We’re very excited about this change.

Don’t get me wrong, we love catching steelhead, lakers, and lake run browns. However, we’ve been longing for warmer temperatures and smallmouth bass for about a month now. It’s weird when you think about it – here in Buffalo Niagara, these species are available to anglers for over 7 months out of the year. Another month and a half is dedicated to king salmon and cohos (for those captains like me that only fish the lower river for them in the fall). That leaves about 4 months of the year dedicated to smallies. I’ve missed them. Finally, they’re back!

Observations from the Water (20180429 – 20180505)

We have been thoroughly enjoying this warm weather and the new pattern. By new pattern, I mean fishing different gear, for different species, on different water. We got our last jabs in on some steelhead this past Monday and Friday and picked up some huge numbers – not many big fish though. We poked around the Buffalo small boat harbor on all the other days and found smallmouth bass right away. We caught them on flies, tubes, and bait. It seemed like everything worked. We’ll let the pictures tell it.

Plan for next week (20180506 – 20180512)

We will continue to exploit the new pattern until it isn’t new anymore. We found smallies in all their classic spring haunts over the past week but aim to continue to scout new spots that aren’t loaded with anglers. This awesome weather is a blessing and a curse. It marks the beginning of pleasure boaters, WAY MORE weekend warrior anglers, and ultimately a ton of traffic on the water. We are going from having the water nearly to ourselves as charter captains to now sharing it with everyone else. It’s cool though – it’s a new pattern, I’m fishing in flip flops, and I’m happy. If you want to hit the water with us, click here and we’ll call you right back.

Check out this video to get a glimpse of what’s in store for you if you book a trip! Don’t be deterred by the fact that it’s fly fishing focused – we specialize in ALL TACKLE types and experience levels.

Tight lines!

The Fishing Workout – Plus Observations from the Water – 20180408 – 20180414

People normally don’t put physical fitness and fishing together in the same sentence. I mean, why would you? For most, fishing is a way to escape the weekly grind and leave the toils of life behind. Considering it a workout may taint the experience for some. However, think about every guide you’ve ever known. How many are fat? I’m betting not many. You don’t often see fat/out of shape guides. In fact, staying in shape is very important in our profession to ensure focus and efficacy during long days on the water.

Where Did All This Fitness and Fishing Talk Come From?

I turn 40 this year. That age is less significant today that it was a few decades ago because people are living well into their nineties these days. However, it is still a benchmark for some/bears some sort of significance on people’s adult life. Like New Years, it offers an opportunity to set goals, reflect on what you’ve accomplished in life thus far, and look forward to what’s in store for the future.

My personal goal is to get into the best shape of my life before my 40th birthday (30-June). Really, the goal is to look the best I’ve ever looked. Considering I’ve been a paid athlete for all of my adult life (i.e. your tax dollars paid for me to be in elite physical condition while on active duty), I don’t have to do anything too transformative to hit this goal. However, a few tweaks are necessary for me to hit the mark and I have to consider the fact that I need to be able to guide at the same time.

Last Sunday, I injured my back at the gym during a workout I’ve done dozens of times. The injury wasn’t anything crazy. However, it hurt enough to leave me bed ridden and off the water for a day or two. When I was laying around wallowing in self-pity, I couldn’t help but consider, “What if I REALLY hurt myself?” In this line of work, if you can’t move, you can’t fish/guide. If I can’t fish/guide, I can’t feed my family. So what should I be doing in the gym to keep me in shape, allow me to hit my goal, and avoid injury? I have a few ideas.

Guides Are Generally in Shape For a Few Reasons

Back to reflecting on all the guides you know. Again, few are fat/out of shape and there are a few reasons for this:

– We’re always on our feet or on the move. Especially if you’re a guide that runs a walk and wade or rowing program. The other day, a buddy of mine told me he had been tracking our steps on his iPhone. We walked nearly 5 miles. It’s kind of tough to get out of shape when you’re logging that kind of activity on a regular basis.

– Being on the go means we often miss meals. In the dieting/fitness world, they call this “intermittent fasting.” There are a ton of studies out there that show a 16+ hour gap between meals has numerous health benefits. From weight loss, ability to burn fat, and control insulin levels. I’m not a dietician nor am I a scientist – I’m just providing commentary on what I’ve read.

– We’re outside, enduring all kinds of conditions. Fishing in the cold, rain, and snow, taxes our bodies to maintain warmth. It takes a lot calories to make that happen.

Ideally, a fitness routine that optimizes performance on the water should be low impact but extremely taxing. The program should be something we can do in less than an hour (30 mins is optimal) so we can squeeze it in when we get off the water. Such a program should also be easy to do at home – in the basement or garage – thereby saving gym costs and drive time back and forth.

The Workout

I will propose a few exercises but the exercises aren’t important. You can replace any of these with exercises you enjoy. The main idea is that every workout should be simple, quick, tax the entire body, and leave you exhausted once complete. You can do any of these workouts as many times per week as you want. Some weeks I workout every day. Some week’s I can only squeeze a couple workouts into the schedule. Bottom line, I make time.

Workout 1: Medicine Ball Slam Insanity

The Routine: Do as many as possible in one minute and then rest for 3 minutes. For that working minute, you need to get yourself to the point that you believe your heart will explode. Some element of fear, excitement, and adrenaline should creep up. You need to be completely smoked – so much so that you’ll need the 3 minutes of rest. Do this 8 times – so that’ll take you no more than 32 mins. That’s it.

The Logic: picking something up off the ground that has an awkward shape, lifting it over your head, and slamming it down as hard as you can works every muscle in your body. It’s also a movement you’ll likely repeat throughout the day when on the water. Well, not the slamming portion but hopefully you’ll end up bending over to net fish numerous times throughout the day and doing ball slams will ensure that’s never a problem.

Workout 2: Uphill Sprints

The Routine: Run as fast as you can on the steepest incline you can for a minute then rest 3 minutes. Tax yourself the same way as prescribed in the medicine ball slam.

The Logic: walk and wade guides in particular would benefit greatly from this kind of workout. The incline reduces impact on your joints while taxing the hell out of your legs, heart, and lungs. This will build leg and core strength that will help you last longer when on the water.

Workout 3: Burpee Box Jumps

The Routine: do a burpee next to a 2 foot box. When you complete the burpee, jump up on the box. Then drop down and go straight into another burpee. Do 10 of these in a row and take a minute rest. Do this 10 times.

The Logic: This is probably the most taxing exercise I’ve ever done. It works every muscle in your body. It also reinforces your connective tissue thereby allowing you to walk farther and stay on your feet longer.

Workout 4: As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes

The Routine: 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats (no weight). Do this sequence of exercises as many times as possible in 20 minutes.

The Logic: this workout hits every muscle in your body and keeps you moderately stressed for 20 minutes. Think of it as something that would help you if you had to carry a client or fishing buddy that got injured or if you needed to run to get help.

Parting Shots about the Workouts

All 4 workouts are simple, extremely taxing, and short. You can also substitute any number of exercises in place of what I recommended. For example, substitute kettlebell swings for ball slams. Use a YETI cooler instead of a box (thanks Willey). Jump rope fast instead of sprinting uphill. Your options are limitless. Just get the sessions in.

The Diet

This is perhaps more important than the workouts. My diet is EXTREMELY simple. Some would say it’s extreme in general. Bottom line, all I eat are animals. Eggs, fish, beef, venison, waterfowl, chicken, turkey, pork, bacon, whatever. If it was alive and had blood coursing through it’s veins at some point, it’s fair game. I started this by default when I was in Guyana and have kept it up since I returned. The results have been amazing.

I completely understand many who read this will think this kind of diet is either boring, or insane. Google the carnivore diet and read up. It’s not for everyone but it has worked amazingly for me. If you just can’t make yourself eat like this – do your best to eat whole foods. Nuts, veggies, meat, and a little fruit. Keep it simple. Eat only when hungry (don’t make yourself eat 3 meals per day). If you’re only hungry once, eat once.

Final Thoughts

Back to what got me thinking about all of this – the back injury. I hurt my back doing heavy deadlifts. Why was I dong heavy deadlifts? Pride and testosterone – it’s as simple as that. I shouldn’t have been doing them. They are useless for someone in my line of work. That kind of workout won’t help me hit my goal. Deadlifts are also high risk if not executed properly. I’ve been doing them for years but when you are far along in a session, sometimes laziness kicks in, your form suffers, and an injury happens. Never again.

Keep a log and try to outperform what you did on the previous workout. Listen to your body. Use the mirror and how you feel as your guide. Put some of these principles in place and I assure you that you’ll see awesome gains and will perform better when you’re on the water.

Observations from Last Week on the Water- 20180408 – 20180414

The back injury kept me of the water for much of the week but I managed to get in some water time and net a few fish. The tribs (all except Canadaway for some reason) got low and clear toward the end of the week. They all produced fish but angling get more difficult as the waters cleared up. We managed to hit the lower river for a quick outing before the sleet and wind hit. We did well.

Plan for this week – 20180415 – 20180421

We’ll be on the big water Monday through Wednesday. From Thursday through next Monday, we’ll be in Washington State trying to chalk up yet another region. Stay tuned and give us a call if you want to experience this first hand instead of reading about it.  You can also check out a video version of what we don on the water by clicking here.

False Spring – Being Cold is Getting Old – 20180401-20180407

What is a false spring? I made the term up this past week. Well…in my head I made it up and haven’t bothered to research if it’s a real thing. A false spring is when the images and sensations one so fondly associates with this season don’t seem to come to pass. Things like budding trees, warmer temperatures, increased time outside, the smells of flowers, pairing of animals, birds you haven’t seen in a while showing up, etc. just don’t seem to be happening.

The Vernal Equinox was nearly 3 weeks ago, yet it snowed on us while we were on the water 3 times this past week. Ice continues to choke up most of the Niagara River. I haven’t seen evidence of budding trees anywhere. Mid-day yesterday, while breaking the ice out of the guides on my fly rod for the fiftieth time, I culminated. Being cold is getting old. When will this false spring turn into something all of us usually associate with this time of year?

The Silver Lining of a False Spring

Although I have a high threshold for pain, watching the snow fall as I write this is generating a little bit of anxiety. Admittedly, my first response to watching these big flakes come down is, “REALLY! REALLY!” Although this weather is gloomy and somewhat painful (mentally and physically), there is a silver lining for those who love to catch steelhead.

Many of the steelhead fanatics around here are somewhat excited about this false spring phenomenon. I say somewhat because few, if any, people want it to remain cold for too much longer. However, these cold temps are keeping the steelhead in the creeks and that’ll likely remain the case until early May. I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen a spring run of steel kick off in earnest. Sure, a few chrome fish started popping up before Wednesday’s crazy wind storm, but the overwhelming majority of the steel landed lately have been drop backs.

If the spring run is happening in earnest, it’s a slow walk rather than a run. That’s exciting because catch rates have been high lately. If fresh fish continue to enter all the tribs while the fall run fish slowly drop back, we’ll be in for some amazing days on the water in the upcoming weeks.

Transparency

From a guide’s perspective – that’s great news. From this guide’s perspective – that’s cool BUT I’m longing for change. What I love the most about guiding in the Buffalo Niagara Region is the variety this fishery has to offer. As seasons change, the target species change as well. We’ve been fishing for steelhead since last October. It’s felt like winter here for nearly six months. Although steelhead are a lot of fun and I will happily take advantage of the prolonged pattern of this false spring, I’m also ready to wet the net with something new (read SMALLJAWS!!!). This time last year, we filmed the first part of this video and were guiding clients on the tribs for smallies. Look at the difference.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for something spectacular to happen. A quick shift to warmer temps might just push a ton of smallies into the creeks while the steelhead are still in heavy but dropping back. To some extent, this happens every year. However, it’s amazing when there is a significant overlap. Every cast is anyone’s guess about what species may hit. However, there is no guessing about the size of the fish – it’ll be big.

Notes from last week (20180401-20180407)

We logged a lot of time on the water this past week. We had clients in from Maine on a fishing bender that they executed like pros. On Easter, we recon’d the tribs to get a sense of when they’d be fishable (recall the ton of rain we received the few days prior). On Monday, we hit the river and had an awesome day. Good numbers and a few nice sized fish. We walked the tribs Tuesday and caught 2 of them just right. Perfect water clarity and temperature resulted in an awesome streamer bite and many fish brought to the net. Then the big storm rolled in Wednesday and messed everything up. Well, it messed up the big water but the tribs recovered quickly and continued to produce fish for the rest of the week.

Plan for the upcoming week (21080408-20180414)

Guess what? According to the forecast, the false spring continues…somewhat. It’s going to be slightly warmer with few lows below freezing. Maybe there will be a day I don’t have to triple layer and wear gloves. It’s anyone’s guess about how long it’s going to take for the big water to clear up. It’s both muddy and filled with ice and Lake Erie still has plenty of ice around. Take a drive down HWY 5 if you don’t believe me. The boat launches on the upper river (U.S. side) are completely encroached with ice. We’d need a snow plow to open them up (call me if you’re willing to volunteer – I’ll make it worth your time). We will be looking at the big water daily and will take an opportunity to fish it if one presents itself. However, most of our time this week will be spent walking the tribs and recon’ing some areas we think have some promise for a new program we’re considering. The forecast looks good for the tribs. Give us a call if you want to experience false spring fishing at its finest.

Reconnaissance – the Cure for Slow Fishing

Reconnaissance – the Cure for Slow Fishing and Getting in Touch with your Fishery

“Just drive down that road, until you get blown up,” – General George Patton, about the role for reconnaissance troops
“Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted,” – John Marsden

Viewed through the lens of modern warfighters, General Patton’s methods for reconnaissance were extremely crude.  Although a bit simplistic, he makes a valuable point for anglers who often get comfortable in routine. I have to check myself daily from going to that reliable water I know will catch fish. A recent reconnaissance mission put us in touch with something we believe worthwhile to explore. “Just driving down that road” taps into something primordial that we anglers cannot experience from working our reliable haunts – the excitement of fumbling into the unknown.

Although this started philosophical, that’s not the direction this essay will follow. We want to give our fellow anglers a methodology for “fumbling into the unknown.” Before starting down that road, we’ll drop one last plug as a quick aside to set the stage this “how to” piece. Over the past few weeks, conditions in Buffalo Niagara have been less than ideal. Cold, wind, bright skies, no precipitation (low water in some of the tribs) have been the bane of our fishing life lately. Sure, we’ve caught fish everywhere we went but it has definitely been a grind. So much so that we felt compelled to give fishing a rest and recon some new water we can fish when it warms up.

When was the last time you set out on a reconnaissance mission? Across the country, winters often carry a stigma for being tough. As this trying period is now ending, many anglers (us included) start getting excited for the more reliable spring fishing season. In western NY, that means steelhead, lake trout, and smallmouth bass. If you are just waiting for ideal conditions and relying on what you did last year – guess what – so is everyone else! That means that the same crowds/dense concentrations of anglers you experienced last year will be in play this year. How can you avoid this problem (around here it is definitely a problem – fistfights break out on some stretches of water)? If you don’t know how to begin, here are a few simple rules to get you started.

Nick and Nate capitalized on a solid recon session in PA this past week
Find the breadcrumb trail

Though, our favorite water to recon is the scarcely or totally unknown, forgotten, or otherwise underutilized fisheries – many bodies of water that you want to explore may be brand new to you but old hat for someone else. Take advantage and find the little nuggets lying around on the internet (while understanding that not all of it may be reliable). Use your favorite search engine with general terms of what your looking for and start following the trail. Use the collective knowledge that is already out there to build upon and take it to the next level.

Wait for it; this is going to be earth shattering, BUY A MAP!

Whether you are just getting into fishing or have been an avid angler for years, if your vehicle does not have some sort of detailed map/atlas/gazetteer, buy one ASAP and study it. There is some potential in every blue line and dot. We use Delorme Atlas and Gazetteers for every state we fish. Canada has a similar product for all their provinces. You’d be amazed at how many blue lines and dots as well as state/national lands are within reach. It can be daunting and generate some anxiety.

Formulate a plan

As a former United States Marine, this was my specialty. For anglers that have “normal” jobs and only have time to fish/conduct reconnaissance on the weekends or holidays, TIME is your most precious resource. Developing a plan will ensure the most effective use of your time. Once you have a map, plan your route carefully, looking for the best roads to take you to potential access points. There are a couple sub-rules here as well.

In the Marine Corps (and I’m sure this is in the corporate world’s lexicon as well) we have a saying, “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” That Atlas we mentioned in rule 1 contains a lot of information. As you start out reconnoitering an area, cut it up into manageable pieces and explore one piece at a time. Before long, you will thoroughly cover a large portion of your area.

Bring a supply of food and water with you to avoid making stops – besides, if you are venturing off the grid, there may be nowhere to eat. Lack of food and water will cause an early culmination on your mission or may serve to suck the confidence out of you.

Get familiar with Google Earth

This program is an invaluable tool for doing preliminary, off-water reconnaissance. The software allows you to explore satellite imagery of any given body of water. Though it may not be as useful for small mountain blue line streams, it is a key tool to have in your bag for larger bodies of water like lakes, ponds and rivers. Take advantage of the historical imagery to see what a given piece of water looks like in the low flows of summer or high flows of springtime run-off.

For lakes and larger rivers, you can even identify structure like weed beds, flats, deep water and rocks to help formulate your on-the-water plan of attack. If floating rivers is your game, you can map out a float and even measure the number of river miles to ensure you don’t find yourself looking for the pull-out long after dark while wondering if you somehow missed it.

Do not bring fishing equipment with you

We put this rule out there with some reservation but remember the point of the mission: to gain information that you can use for a future outing. Your purpose is not to fish. I know, that sounds crazy, especially if you end up recon’ing some new water and see fish just begging to be caught.  That’s understandable but remember the intangibles of fishing – embrace the excitement of discovering something new and develop a plan to go back.

Some may think not bringing gear is crazy so here is a compromise.  If you must bring a rod with you, don’t get caught up growing roots in one spot. Keep moving and cover ground.  Recon is about seeing a large enough slice of water that will allow you can form some broader conclusions and decide whether further, in-depth exploration is warranted.

Consider the environmental conditions

This rule is perhaps most important during summer recon missions. When you look at the water, consider what’s been happening with the weather lately. Is it low or boney? Maybe that’s because it hasn’t rained in weeks and that should trigger you to look for areas with deep pools where fish will likely hold until the water levels rise. Is the water raging and looking like chocolate milk? Well, that’s probably because it rained recently…or is it? In that situation, you at least know that the body of water is part of a viable drainage. If you visit a pond or lake, is the shoreline encroached with weeds? That’s probably because water temps are up and long periods of light are allowing the aquatic plants to grow. Try to picture this body of water in the late fall or spring.

Visit the tax assessor for the area

This may seem somewhat outdated as there are some apps that can do something similar.  However, tax assessors have maps that show what land is public and what land is private. Tax assessors are also locals to that area. Developing rapport with them may connect you you to a slice of angling heaven you didn’t know was there.

Conclusion

Getting out there is the best part of fishing – at least it is for us. If you fish often enough, you know there are days you just can’t buy a bite. Recon’ing is another way of getting out there. In the best of circumstances, you’ll find water you can call your own for a bit.  Worst case, you’ll find an area devoid of life but will have a better knowledge of the area. What do you have to lose…really?

Results of Last Week’s Time on the Water (20180319 – 20180325)

As we alluded to in last week’s blog, personal commitments kept us off the water for much of last week. We did get some water time in but it was a struggle. North winds, east winds, cold, low water in the tribs, etc. challenged us daily. We spent a HUGE amount of time on reconnaissance missions in preparation for the next 2 weeks.

Tony “The Zone” Lohr of 85th Day Angling continues to enjoy his winter vacations here in Buffalo Niagara

On the Docket for this week (20180326 – 20180401)

The weather looks good. The wind looks a bit dicey on a couple days but nothing too problematic. Temperatures will be in the upper 40s and low 50s! Finally, after about 5 months, we can fish without a beanie or gloves. It’s gonna feel weird. There is a good amount of precipitation in the forecast as well. That’s awesome because we need it. As we wait for that rain to fall, we’ll be spending all our time on the big water – picking away at fresh and drop back steel and lake trout. Give us a call if you want to get out there!

Complacency Kills Angling Prospects

Does Complacency Kill in Angling?

Back in my military days, Complacency Kills, was a phrase embedded in our heads starting in basic training. The theory behind the idea is that if you become complacent, you lose situational awareness.  If you lose situational awareness, you could end up getting yourself and your fellow warriors killed. Yeah, that’s a bit extreme if you try to directly apply that example to what you do on the water – but maybe not.

I could site numerous examples how complacency could kill you (or injure you severely) if you don’t pay attention to what’s going on when you are on your boat in the middle of winter with ice cold water flowing by at 225,000 cubic feet per second. However, that’s a different blog for a different time. Complacency could kill your chances of catching fish if you end up lulled into the rhythm of flowing downstream on the same drift repeatedly, watching your float/bobber/indicator, using the same bait/lure/fly.

Taking a Different Angle

Situation: You pull up to a small tributary to one of the Great Lakes with the intent of fishing a spot you’re confident will produce. After getting set up and making a few casts, you hook up, reinforcing your confidence that there are a ton of fish in that spot. Do you:

1. Move on to another pool or location in search of more
2. Catch a couple more from that spot if you can and THEN move on to another spot
3. Stay in that spot all day and catch as many fish as possible as long as the action permits

I’m willing to bet that most people would choose (3). Is that complacency? Well…yes, it is. Is that a problem? That all depends on your perspective. If you don’t fish that often and you just want to feel the tug, I’d say it’s not a big problem. If you fish often AND you remain in the same spot and keep catching, I’d ask you to think about what that pool around the bend might be holding. After all, didn’t you just catch a few fish? How many do you REALLY need to land to feel satisfied? Don’t answer that aloud – you’ll likely learn something about yourself you didn’t want to know.

Guiding Considerations

If you’re a guide and are fishing with clients, the answer to this question is A LOT more nuanced – well, it is for me. Maybe it’s a good call to stay to keep your clients happy – nothing breeds happiness on a fishing trip more than catching fish, right? The problem with staying is that you may beat up that pool and ruin your chances of catching fish there the following day with a different set of clients. Another problem with staying is that your entire day will be spent in one spot and nothing breeds complacency more than remaining stationary. Yet another issue with staying and slaying is that you leave your clients with the impression that this little slice of water your on is the only thing around worth fishing.

Making it Personal

Everyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m decisive – to a fault. I like to move. Exploration is key. Wondering what’s going on around the bend is always on my mind.  Changing things up just to see if it works is always at play.  Personally, on my own time, I would chose option (1) from above – no question. If I catch a fish from a spot, I may make a few more casts but if I don’t catch something soon thereafter, I move or change things up. With clients, I roll with option (2) as it’s a healthy compromise to keep me sane and to keep my clients happy.

On my own time, I nearly ALWAYS leave fish to find fish and I’m not bothered if by doing so results in me not catching another fish for the rest of the day. If I end up skunking at the follow on spots, at least I learned where the fish are and where they aren’t. However, more times than not, moving on results in catching more fish in more locations and keeps me sharp while doing so. Complacency doesn’t even emerge as a potential problem. Could I have caught more fish if I just stayed put? Maybe…maybe not. I’ll never know and that doesn’t bother me. Who am I kidding?!? It bothers the hell out of me, it’s one of the things that fuel my continued interest in angling, and I hope it will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

Conclusion

It is not the intent of this little “think piece” to provide the reader with a recommendation for how to fish. There are plenty of instructional articles out there that do an awesome job teaching anglers about what to do in these kinds of situations. There are a dearth of articles that ask the reader to think about what they would do and why. It’s my hope this article accomplished that end. There is no WRONG answer to the question above. However, complacency may end up playing into your decision when you are on the water – especially when it’s cold, you can’t feel your fingers, and it just started snowing. Try not to let it.

Fishing Report from last week (20180312-20180318)

What a week! Lots of fish. We fished a lot of water and all of it produced. Although the week started off slow, from Tuesday onward, we saw awesome action. I’ll let the pictures tell it. We caught fish on every tackle type and all produced well. Water levels on the Great Lakes tributaries were excellent as were the numbers of fish present. The big water was clear as well and full of willing fish. The only thing that wasn’t optimal was the weather. Cold, warm, frigid, snowing, melting, blowing – this seems like a never-ending winter in Buffalo Niagara. The only thing keeping me sane these days is how awesome the fishing has been through all of it.

*we got lucky and caught a few pike – purely on accident.  The lucky part was that this happened the day before pike season in this part of the state closed the following day.  If you see them, leave them alone to spawn.

On the Docket for Next Week (20180319 – 20180325)

Personal commitments this week will keep us off the water for a couple days. That’s somewhat a good thing in that this ridiculous, frigid weather is going to continue. Highs won’t break freezing for much of the week and winds from the north will make those cold temps feel even colder. We’ll hit the big water at least a couple days but will likely spend most of our time walking the tribs. Many of them will be low and clear, which means we’ll have to go into stealth mode with lighter leaders and sparse baits/lures/flies. We’re up for the challenge. Are you? Give us a call if you want to find out!

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