Tag Archives: niagara river charter fishing

Urgency is in the Air – Fall is Coming

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

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

We Aren’t Alone in this Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan for Next Week

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

Late Summer Fishing In Buffalo Niagara

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

A Recent Revelation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations from the Water

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

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

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

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

Plan for Next Week

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

The Journey – Revelations About Chalking All 50 States

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

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

The Foundation vs the Journey

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

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

The 50 before I Turn 50 Goal

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

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

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

Goal Setting Isn’t Necessarily All Bad

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

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

What Now?

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

Case in Point

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

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

Observations from the Water (20180715 – 20180721)

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

Plan for This Week (20180722 – 20180728)

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

The People – Why We Keep Doing What We Do

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

What’s So Interesting About “The People?”

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

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

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

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

Report from the Last Couple Weeks (20180701 – 20180714)

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

States/Provinces Represented:

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

Professions Represented:

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

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

 

Plan for Next Week (20180715 – 20180721)

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

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

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

Getting Older Should be Synonymous with Getting Wiser

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

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

Resonance Makes Getting Older an Enjoyable Journey

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

Avoid Feeling Older by Putting Yourself Out There

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

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

Observations from the Water (20180624 – 20180630)

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

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

Plan for Next Week (20180701 – 20180706)

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

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!

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.

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