Tag Archives: fly fishing

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.

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!

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 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!

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.

Late Winter Fishing Report – 20180305-20180311

Late Winter Fishing Report – 20180305-20180311

Late winter in Buffalo Niagara often feels like, well, winter. Just like it did this past week. The temperatures were below freezing, the wind blew from just about every direction week, and it snowed – white outs at times. That may sound dreary to some – to most people probably. From casual small talk at the gas station to random conversations with friends and acquaintances, people think it’s insane that charters continue throughout the winter. I’m shocked that they’re shocked.

#noshacknastiesaroundhere

Too many people go into a quasi-hibernation mode around here during the winter. Lately, I’ve been questioning the sanity of the population around me when I think about the how many people in the Buffalo Niagara region have been cooped up inside for the past few months. Granted, fishing may not be for everyone (doubtful) but people still need a passion, interest, hobby, or SOMETHING that gets them outside long enough to absorb some fresh air and sunlight for their mental and physical health. For the hundredth time –WINTER FISHING IS AN AWESOME OPTION if you don’t have that THING to get you out outside.

What Gets You Outside in Late Winter?

Our clients and friends over this past week represented a variety of demographics – from people with “secure” careers, to small business owners, to teenagers. Some had fishing experience. Others had very little time on the water under their belt. Prior to stepping foot on the boat, all of them shared the belief that fishing in frigid temperatures is probably a bit nuts. Thankfully, morbid curiosity and a bit of late winter caginess prompted them to give us a call. We’re glad they were daring enough to challenge the mindset that hibernation is the only way to endure a Buffalo Niagara winter.

To some extent, I’m sure the perceived insanity of late winter fishing continued to flow their minds as we motored up through the rapids on the Lower River, dodging the occasional small chunk of ice. That mindset may have continued as they tried to absorb the grandeur of the Lower Niagara River canyon. However, the idea of late winter fishing became COMPLETELY sane when they got that first hookup on a big fish. Suddenly, staying out there and continuing to fish for huge lake run fish became the only sane thing to do.

Notes from Last Week

Fishing was WAY MORE feast than famine compared to the week prior. Sure, as often happens in fishing, there is a slow few hours or maybe a slow day in the mix but we had excellent action all week. We fished a variety of water – from the bar to the Niagara River, to the Great Lakes tribs – and did very well on all of it. The water was, and continues to be, extremely cold but something prompted the fish into feed mode and we took advantage of it. I’ll let the pictures tell it.

 

     

On the Docket for this Week

Believe it or not – and this is probably a bit crazy – I experienced a little anxiety when daylight savings hit because it let me know spring is getting close. Weeks like last week leave me wanting winter to endure a bit longer so we can continue to catch steelhead, lake trout, and brown trout with relative ease. This week, the weather looks promising to make me feel like winter is sticking around for a bit. Temperatures will remain low but so will the amount of precipitation. We’re hoping that leads to more of the same kind of fishing we experienced this past week. We’ll be out there almost every day so we’ll find out soon enough.

 

For the Sake of Buffalo Niagara Mental Health

Help your fellow western New Yorkers by shedding the shack nasties. Your friends, colleagues from work, and most importantly – your family, will thank you for it. We have some ideas about things to do here in late winter. Give us a call. For those that decide to remain cooped up – the first day of spring is coming quick. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t come too quick.

Take Someone Fishing

Take Someone Fishing

Take Someone Fishing. It’s a simple ask. Whether you consider yourself an angler or someone who fishes every once in a while – chances are that when you reflect on your time spent fishing, it brings back fond memories. There’s some science/psychology behind this reaction but that’s not my area of expertise. I do believe I’m kind of savvy in the science of fishing and based on all the smiles I’ve seen in person as well as the millions on social media, people find angling immensely enjoyable. If you’re one of these people, you should spread the love to friends and family – there’s more than enough to go around.

Where did this, “Take Someone Fishing,” Rant Come From?

Over the past week, we guided 4 people who had never really fished before. I talked to a barbershop of guys who hadn’t wet a line but a couple times when they were young kids.  Maybe some faint memory of a grandfather and some worms but that’s about it. Encountering adults with this little fishing experience still amazes me. Especially if those people are from a state that has a major river drainage or one that borders one of the Great Lakes. The Great Lake Region alone is home to nearly a quarter of the worlds freshwater – how is it possible you’ve never wet a line?

I finally got Sam, one of my closest and oldest friends, out on the water. He had only fished a couple times…in his lift. This lake trout is the biggest fish he’s ever caught.

I don’t fault these folks for this lack of angling experience. I’m just happy to be around to see them experience catching a fish for the first time. They are the clients that truly enjoy the entire experience of being on the water – not just catching fish.

As much as us experienced anglers contend that we still love it like it was our first time out, that’s all B.S. It’s a genuine thought that comes from a good place but that’s just not possible. Getting bombarded with a ton of completely new/foreign stimuli is tough to replicate after that first trip. In fact, I’d contend that for most of us that have been doing this for a while, some small part of us still fishes to this day trying to chase that feeling.

The Clock is Ticking…

This is a great time of year in Buffalo Niagara. The air is nervous – trying to transition. Everyone wants it to be spring. It can be a roller coaster out there – like it was this past week. You get a little bit of warmth, start feeling good, and then end up pissed off when it gets cold the following day as if Mother Nature is screwing you over. All that agitation is a good sign – the end of winter is in sight. All of you that stayed in a cocoon all winter are starting to think about what you are going to do as soon as it gets warm. I have an idea – take someone fishing or call us, we can arrange something for you.

Last Week’s Observations on the Water (26-Feb – 4-Mar)

It was a crazy weather week. I don’t even want to reflect on it – it’s behind us. When we were able to get on the water – the fishing was as sporadic as the weather. Feast then famine then feast…then famine. Still, it was pretty cool to see the scenery change literally overnight. Brown and gray to complete white. We spent all our time on the lower Niagara River and did O.K. The brutal north wind toward the end of the week hurt – physically. After experiencing a little bit of warmth early in the week, getting knocked around by cold wind from the north was painful. Stinging wind aside, we dressed for it, hung in there, and managed to land some fish. I’ll let the pictures tell it.

Plan for this Week (5-11-Mar)

More cold and wind in the forecast. Spring isn’t coming this week. Either way, as long as the wind stays down, we’ll be on the Lower. If it gets windy, we’re busting the waders out and hitting the tribs. Give us a call if you want to get out there!

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