Tag Archives: scientific anglers

Fly Fishing in VA with Blane Chocklett: Re-Discover Your Region #8

Fly Fishing in VA with Blane Chocklett

I’ve never been the kind of guy that has heros or mentors. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m the first born but for some reason I always believed I had to blaze my own path and make my own mistakes. I am by no means advocating this way of life. In fact, it’s kind of ridiculous. As I got older during my time in the USMC, I realized that learning from others by employing best practices and avoiding bad habits is far more efficient. Still, that was a very mechanical way of growing. For whatever reason, as I started developing my plan to become a guide, it didn’t take long for me to develop a more personal approach. Enter Blane Chocklett.

Blane Chocklett – I have no Idea How he has Such Perfect Teeth
What’s a Role Model?

The manifestation of this personal approach likely came about because my desire to become a guide originated from a passion. It was something I really WANTED to do. About 5 years ago, when the goal of becoming a guide started to gain momentum, I connected with someone who would quickly become my mentor.  Since then, Blane Chocklett and I have maintained a teacher/student relationship though which I continue to benefit to this day.

Who is Blane Chocklett?

Blane has become a household name in the fly fishing community. As an innovative fly tier and ambassador to nearly every type of product used in the game, his reach has grown exponentially since I’ve met him. Yet, he remains humble. Hell, he barely acknowledges it. It’s this kind of mindset – being grounded and in touch with every aspect of our little community that caused me to frequently seek his guidance over the years.

Blane with the Behold Smalljaw Pose
The Blane Chocklett and Brookdog Fishing Co Relationship

Blane has helped me with a lot – both personally and professionally. That’s saying a lot because I’m likely his biggest pain in the ass friend/client. I complain incessantly when I fish with him. From doubting if there are any fish in the river to letting him know that he’s sucking the life out of me, he’s likely relieved to be rid of me every time we fish together. Still, he’s always been there for me.

Blane is a father, a husband, a professional, and an ambassador to our passion of pursuing fish on the fly. He embodies over a quarter century of experience in this game and somehow still keeps getting better looking – WTF! With him as a mentor – I’ll get there someday!

I’m sure some who read this (it won’t be millennials because you guys likely didn’t even read this far) will comment something like, “get off of Blane’s nuts!” I really don’t care if that sentiment emerges in a few people – he knows where all this is coming from. But enough about Blane, on to the video description.

About the Video

This WILL NOT be a steady stream of fish porn. It was nearly 100 degrees with bluebird skies both days during the shoot. As Schultzy would say, “not optimal!” It was a struggle to say the least but we caught some great imagery. There will be some beautiful smalljaw footage, some underwater footage of muskies, and a shock when we get, “’skied.” The video closes out at the new Ballast Point Brewery outside of Roanoke, VA.

All the “porn” aside, the focus of this video is to provide another perspective about one of my mentors. This video short WILL focus on who Blane is, what his fishery is all about, and give the viewer a glimpse into why he has become a leader in our industry. Enjoy!

Blane Chocklett and Brookdog Fishing Company Collaboration
Warmwater Gem – Smallmouth Bass
The Oldest River In the U.S. and one of the Oldest in the World

This is #8 in our Re-Discover Your Region Series.  We have 2 more on the docket for this year and 12 projected/scheduled for next year.  Please show us your support in our efforts to showcase some incredible fisheries and the personalities that explore them by subscribing to our YouTube page.  Click here to begin viewing all.

 

Smallmouth Bass on Midwest Waters: Re-Discover Your Region #7

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass on Midwest Waters: Re-Discover Your Region #7

If you’ve been watching our videos, you likely picked up on a theme – I like fishing for wild fish and go out of my way to pursue them. If the species is native to the drainage – that’s even better. From where we live here in Buffalo, NY to the western edges of the Midwest, one predator dominates the warm water rivers through numbers and voracious feeding habits. That fish is the smallmouth bass. (Note: read that statement again, carefully before you attack me with comments like, “Dude, what the F&*K are you taking about? Musky are the king!” Again, re-read the claim.)

Why Smalljaws?

Smallmouth Bass, smallies, smalljaws, etc. are my favorite fish. Many people ask me why I travel all over the place to catch them when huge specimens are in my backyard in big numbers. Well…I love these fish – perhaps irrationally – but that’s a sure sign that passion is involved. They look a little different everywhere I go. Every drainage where smallmouth bass has distinct characteristics. Topography, gradient, substrate, forage base, biomass, the list goes on. All these variances lead to distinguishable angling tactics. My hope is that learning some of them well help make me a better angler.

Love these guys! Everywhere I find them
Love that Dorsal Pop!
What Sets the Profession of Guiding Apart

On the journey home from every fishing trip, I tend to reflect on what just transpired over the past couple days. When I think about it, what ends up sticking with me the most are the relationships that are built through time on the water. Guiding is the only profession I can think of that puts a group of complete strangers together in an intimate setting, with little to no escape options, for an entire day. That’s kind of daunting when you think about it. However, in my experience, it rarely works out poorly.

Why Midwest Waters Angling Company?

Now, Mike Allen and Kurt Nelson were not complete strangers to me. I met them briefly at the 2016 Hardly Strictly Musky tournament. We didn’t hang out or anything – just said what’s up and went about our way. Shortly after that, I began following Mike and Kurt’s guide service, Midwest Waters Angling Company, via their social media outlets. I saw that they were catching smalljaws on small rivers and many of them were big. I also noticed that they were based in Illinois – near Chicago. Since it’s a personal goal to catch a fish in all 50 states on the fly and IL didn’t have a chalk mark next to it – I had to go.  Kurt and Mike did not disappoint!

Gar on the Fly – Sick!
We were only an hour away from this – downtown Chicago
Cheers to Midwest Waters and Another Good Shoot
Enjoy the Video and Please Share!

I’ll let the video speak for itself. Just know before clicking that there will be plenty of fish porn and amazing scenery. However, take note of the dialogue and the personalities at play. That’s the undercurrent of every one of our videos and Midwest Water Angling Company is no different.  They have their own brand – playful and professional.  Entertainers when the action is slow and laser focused when the action is hot.  Passionate through and through. Enjoy!

Big Thank You Goes out to

Colton Wright – for producing this.  Even though it took forever!

Kurt Nelson and Mike Allen (http://www.midwestwaters.com) – for hosting us and being professionals.  Click their names to go to their site.  Here are their social media outlets:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MWatersanglingco/
Instagram: @Midwest_waters_angling_co

Mike Davis – I’m not saying you’re the best oarsman out there but…

Penrose Brewing – (http://penrosebrewing.com/)for hosting us

Disclaimer:

Because we’ve completed 8, Re-Discover Your Region Episodes, more and more people are getting exposed to our content and the response seems to be positive. A few people have asked me how we choose who we will feature or where we are going to go. It’s not a science or anything but it needs to be some combination of these factors:

1. We know you, enjoy spending time with you, respect your knowledge, and believe we have much to learn from you.
2. You’re a new guide, like us, and are going through the pains of starting your business and trying to break into this small industry.
3. We’ve never been to your state and want to chalk it up (of course you have to have some sort of portfolio that leads us to believe you know your fishery and can put us on fish)

Look at who we’ve featured so far and who’s on the docket for the rest of the year (Chris Willen and a musky collabo we’re developing) – I think you’ll see every episode fits at least one of these criteria.
If you’re interested in a collabo, don’t hesitate to contact us. Click here to see all the places we’ve been. If there’s a gap, help us fill it!

Penrose Brewing – (http://penrosebrewing.com/)for hosting us

Summer Fishing in Buffalo Niagara

Summer Fishing in Buffalo Niagara Region

Summer fishing in Buffalo Niagara can be arduous if you don’t know where to go. We wrote about this a little bit last year but have picked up our game a since then (read more water time and conflicts with that work life balance). Here are some general guidelines to help focus your summer fishing plans around here:

Bobby – Bewildered by the Size of Our Smalljaws
Smallies on the Fly – Life is Good
Angler’s Problem #1: Fish aren’t sedentary creatures – they move

Sure, a blinding statement of the obvious but understanding this is critical to fishing around the Buffalo Niagara Region. More daylight = warmer days = warmer water = increased photosynthesis = what was once a great place for fish to hang out in the spring isn’t so great anymore.

When water surface temperatures on the Niagara River and the Great Lakes start climbing it’s time to make a change. Fish start to move deep so you’ll have to do the same. This applies to all species. By now, the spawn is done and fish are filling their gullets and livin’ the laid-back summer life. In other words, they don’t want to have to work too hard to get their sustenance. All you need to do is locate those spots and bring the food to them.

Problem 1 Mitigation: Believe it or not, this isn’t terribly difficult but definitely takes time on the water

There are online resources to get you started. We’re not going to do all the work for you – but just google eastern Lake Erie fishing locations and you’ll be off to a good start. However, these resources are just that – a start. You’ll need a decent sonar and navigation system for your terminal guidance. These spots are deep areas (usually over 20 ft) and border structure. Shoals, defined weed lines, ledges, etc. all attract fish that are just trying to relax and feed. If you don’t have a water craft and a halfway decent sonar and navigation system, it’s going to be pretty difficult to get on fish.

Your presentation should be slow and deep – right through these holding areas. Think of the tackle required to accomplish this. Slow trolling deep divers. Jigging off the bottom. Dragging bait off the bottom. Stripping weighted flies and heavy, full sinking fly lines. If your sonar works, this becomes like a video game. You find the fish, present your offering, and hope. Eyes often glued to the screen. Rod and/or stripping hand at the ready. Oh yeah, I’ll state the obvious here – you need a boat to do all of this. Either buy one or book a charter.

Joe Appreciated a Little Guidance on the Big Water
My Biggest Smallie of the Season – On the Fly Nonetheless
Angler’s Problem 2: Warm water means lower oxygen levels

This is another reason why water temperatures are important. Once they climb into the low to mid 70’s, anglers should REALLY start paying attention. These temps are your indication for the summer pattern mentioned above. At this point – carp will only be on the flats early in the morning. You might find (not consistently but you can get lucky) smallies crashing bait in shallow water in the morning too. However, these are fleeting occurrences and take some serious searching to discover. Generally speaking, at these temps, fish will be deep (ref Problem 1).

The other reason water temperature is important is that the warmer it is, the lower the oxygen content. Once water temps climb into the mid to upper 70’s, it starts becoming a workout for fish. Think of it like us on the treadmill – all day long. Species like musky are particularly sensitive to high water temperatures. They are a big animal and burn O2 fast just to sustain. Leave them alone when the water gets this warm. Muskies are likely to die from exhaustion shortly after the release if you catch them at these temps. If you happen to catch one incidentally, keep the wet!

Joe is Speechless Over this Niagara River ‘jaw

The same general guidelines apply to trout. None of our inland trout fisheries are tailwaters so they warm up quick under the hot summer sun. Particularly when it doesn’t rain for a week or so. Once the inland creeks start climbing into the mid sixties, it’s time for you to leave them alone. Our inland creeks are just about there right now.

Problem 2 Mitigation: Monitor the water temperature

Your sonar should also have a thermometer. If not, buy a cheap one and take the water temperatures. Last night, the Niagara River was a little over 75 degrees. That temperature is only going to go up in the near term. Fish early morning when the water temperatures are the coolest. Fish deep water for species that live down there in the summer and are more resistant to warmer temps. Some examples are walleye, smallmouth bass, salmon, and steelhead.

If you refuse to buy a boat or don’t have the means to do so, find warm water rivers and lakes like the Allegheny River (and it’s tribs) and Chautauqua Lake where you can cast from shore or via kayak or canoe. A better option is to just hire a guide or charter captain (we know a few ). The same rule still applies on these bodies of water though – look for carp or smallies.

Anglers Problem 3: Summer is the time for pleasure boaters, jet skiers, ad kayakers

Summer Fishing in the Buffalo Niagara region is great but it comes with its challenges. Water temperatures and moving fish are one aspect but that’s not unique to this season. Every season offers a different environmental challenge that anglers have to consider. What’s unique about the summer is that us anglers aren’t the only ones out enjoying the bounty of the region. We have a lot of water around here and people love getting out and enjoying it. That comes in all forms. Pleasure boaters just drifting with the current. Jet skiers flying around at mach z. Kayakers paddling around with little situational awareness. And my personal favorite – people taking their kids tubing in fast current and/or high traffic areas.

The big take away here is that us anglers aren’t going to be the only people on the water. I can set my watch by this: at 11:00 AM on weekends, it becomes rush hour out there. Us anglers need to lift our heads up from the water every once in awhile and pay attention to what our fellow humans are doing. Often times, we take for granted the importance of general safety on the water. It’s just something we do (most of us that is). We know that we should respect people’s space and not “throw wakes” at people. We also  know to check our boats for safety issues before we go out. Perhaps of upmost importance, we know the water – when we need to slow and when we can lean on the throttle. The vast majority of the pleasure boating community – well, they don’t. They are just out there having a good time with little regard to everyone else outside their boat.

Problem 3 Mitigation: Put simply – get out early and keep your head on a swivel

Pleasure boaters don’t typically get on the water until late morning – right when that first bite window starts to close. I’m usually on the water at dawn. It’s calm out there and there is little boat traffic – other than our fellow guides/charter captains. As the morning progresses, make sure to pick your head up and look around often. Pay attention to others out there and assume they aren’t paying attention to you.

Conclusion

Like we’ve said on numerous occasions, the Buffalo Niagara Region is a year-round fishery. Summer fishing in Buffalo Niagara can be a great time of year. Do a little research and invest in the equipment required to find those summer holding areas. Be responsible/respectful in maintaining a sustainable fishery by paying attention to water temps. Finally – maintain situational awareness. Do all this and you’ll be set for experiencing Buffalo Niagara Summers the best way possible – on the water.     

Mike, Tristan, and Maddy – a Happy Crew

 

IT’S AWESOME NOW AND IT’S ONLY GETTING BETTER: A Sustained Spring Pattern

Fishing Report: Sustained Spring Pattern

Put simply – the spring pattern persists – and we’re stoked about that! The Niagara River and Lake Erie smallmouth bass fishing is incredible now and it’s only going to get better. This spring has been very mild and decently wet. Although it’s horrible to see the effects all this water has been having on some of the people that live along the Lake Ontario shoreline, the fish will benefit tremendously. Cool temps and high water will hopefully keep them in this big water spring pattern for a long time. The “typical” spring patterns have been at least 2 weeks behind schedule due to these factors…and we’re not going to complain. I’m still wondering what “typical” really means these days – I guess what it really means to all us anglers is we have to get out there regularly and remain flexible.

RIck with an Ear to Ear
Intensity Pays Off

We’ve seen only a handful of smallies on beds in the lake and none in the river. All the fish we’ve caught were along staging lanes where the bottom is sandy and loaded with rocks. Depths vary widely, between 5-25ft. The offering has been pretty consistent – anything that represents a small baitfish has been the most productive. However, speed of presentation and the fish’s willingness to eat varies throughout the day. All I can say here is once you find them, start slow and speed it up until you dial in the right approach.

Always Admiring These Beauties
Perfect Specimen

This rain and mild temperatures have also been awesome for our inland trout fisheries. This time last year, it was “uncharacteristically” hot and dry. That’s definitely not the case this year. Water is up and cold and trout are feeding off the surface. We haven’t been out there too much but many of our friends have. The few times we got out, there were plenty of bugs around. From sulphers to march browns to caddis – the evening rise is getting increasingly better. Once we get a stretch of consistently warm days, it will explode!

Sipper

Business Report: Brookdog Fishing Company’s Latest and Greatest Adventures

In case you missed it, we published our latest video featuring Schultz Outfitters. Click here to check that out if you haven’t already.

A couple weeks ago, we travelled to the foothills of the Colorado Rockies to film an episode on some of the areas famous trout water. The imagery is incredible. The guides we featured, Jack Wickman and Cameren Shinabery, are buddies from Sweetwater Guide School. Both are finishing their first year guiding. Click on their names to check out their social media profiles and their programs.

Jack with a Cheesman Canyon Beauty
Thanks to Cameren For Putting Me on this Brownie

That Colorado episode should hit the web by 9-June so subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive the notification. Our next shoot will feature Ben Rogers of Chasing Tails Fly Fishing down in Southeastern PA. Smallies, musky, and trout on the fly – good times! Stay tuned! Following that shoot we will feature the following Guides/Outfitters:

Brookdog Fishing Co (yeah, us again) – WNY – Smallmouth Bass, Trout, Carp
Midwest Waters – Illinois – Smallmouth Bass
Blane Chocklett – Virginia – Smallmouth Bass and Musky
Sedona Fly Fishing Adventures – Arizona – Trout
Chris Willen – Wisconsin – Musky
85th Day Angling – Maryland – trout

…and 2 special/passion projects that will be truly incredible.

Drop us a line if you want to connect instead of reading about it.

Spring Fishing Update 20170421-20170501

Spring Fishing Update 20170421-20170501
Spring Smalljaws

Since our last spring fishing update, the seasonal pattern has come into full swing. This past winter was super mild and we thought that would lead to an accelerated spring. That’s exactly what happened. A few unseasonably warm days raised the water temperatures a good bit. Steelhead seemed to vanish in the tributaries and numbers brought to the net in the lower Niagara River came down significantly (it was never consistently “hot”). Steelies are still around but not as numerous – more of an incidental than a consistent pattern.

What excited us most about the rapid warm-up was an early surge of smallmouth bass in the tribs, the Safe Boat Harbor, and the Lower Niagara River. We began catching these lake-run fish in good numbers about 3 weeks earlier than we did last year! Numbers and size seem to be up compared to last year as well.

A Spawning Run Starting Point of Many WNY Lake-Run Smallmouth Bass
Spring Fishing Update:  Smalljaws on the Fly – Nothing Better For This Guy

This is our favorite little slice of a season all year. These fish move up the tribs to spawn in big numbers after fattening up all winter long. The run is similar to the runs anadromous fish make from the ocean into their spawning grounds and is unique to a few Great Lake tributaries. However, unlike the salmonids of the region that make this journey in the fall and spring, these fish are native and have been doing this for thousands of years. As a fanatic of all things native – this phenomenon is pretty damn special to us.

Spring Fishing Update: Letting her breathe
Look at those colors!

On the beginning portion of their run, these smallmouth bass are aggressive feeders that slam baitfish patterns with reckless abandon. Color doesn’t seem to matter. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve experimented with everything in the box. Size doesn’t seem to matter too much either – we’ve fished #4 clousers to 5 inch articulated patterns. All are equally successful but I’d go big just to generate that huge strike!

Colty boy with his first fish on the fly – glad he got one!

This run never seems to last long enough. Once the water temps get into the 60s and stay there consistently, smallmouth bass move from holding water to slack water where they can build their beds and spawn. A little depth, gravel/rocks, and minimal current, make for good spawning grounds. Once they get on their beds, we leave them alone. They get a little sluggish and to be frank, become easy targets.

Nate with the tight loops in tight quarters
Nate with a Lake run tron
Lay Off The Bedding Fish – Move on to Trout, Carp, or the Big Water

Unfortunately, most anglers don’t see smallmouth bass on beds and think of it as a time to leave them alone. The opposite is usually the case. In a few weeks, take a walk down some of the Lake Erie tributaries and you’ll see many fish with scar tissue and loose, white flesh hanging off their jaws. They will look that way because while they protect their beds from predators, many anglers will stand over them and pound them with flies and lures to trigger a strike. Once caught and released, these fish will return to their beds and become a target for the next angler.  Sadly, that cycle will repeat more than a few times.

This recent bout of cold weather and rain holds some promise. Water temperatures, especially in the larger tribs, aren’t quite where they need to be to trigger a full on spawn. There are a few beds here and there, but not many. Hopefully this week’s forecast will hold, dumping a lot of rain and cold water into the tribs, keeping these fish in pre-spawn mode. Yeah – I just wished for cold weather and rain. We’ll be out there monitoring this activity.

Letting the fly…fly
It’s Time for Rising Trout Too

Another benefit of all this rain in the forecast is that the inland trout water levels and temperatures should remain in good shape for quite a while. Hopefully that’ll come to pass because the early warming pattern and drought we experienced last spring/summer put us off the trout water earlier than normal. We’re looking forward to catching trout on dries – it’s been quite some time. Sure, stripping streamers all winter produced some big fish, but nothing tops that surface eat on a dry.

It won’t be long before we start seeing robust insect hatch activity and rising trout. It’s happening sporadically now but once in full swing, our region gets some great hatches that would put any dry fly fanatic into a frenzy. From hendricksons, to sulphers, to caddis, to eastern green drakes and more, that last hour of daylight in the late spring showcases all the elements of a healthy ecosystem. Seeing mother nature in all her splendor can’t come too soon.

The next Few Weeks

The wx this week is going to wreak havoc on just about everything.  BIG wind and rain will turn everything into chocolate milk.  However, we’ll still get out to recon a few things.  We intend to maximize the trib smalljaw run to the last minute.  We’ll also be checking out the inland creeks for hatch activity.  Finally, the big water is calling our name.  Eastern Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River are in need of some love.  Smallies will be staging for the spawn as will carp soon thereafter.  While we are on the water, we’ll be on the lookout for muskies in shallow water in anticipation for the opener on 17-June.  Book a trip with us now to secure your own slice of the action.

Re-Discover Your Region Update

On the weekend of 20-22 April, we travelled to Ypslanti, MI and linked up with Mike Schultz and his team at Schultz Outfitters. This was our first travel/destination episode of Re-Discover Your Region and it was a resounding success. We had a blast fishing with Mike and Justin Pribanic – they put us on some beautiful specimens and equally beautiful water.

As you are aware, we are HUGE smalljaw fanatics and Mike’s region of Southeast Michigan is a truly unique native smalljaw haven. I’m not going to say too much more here. The episode will be live in the next week or so. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications of the publishing date.

We’re also in the process of filming our Buffalo Niagara Spring Episode. This will be our best local video today and will round out a year of filming. Fly anglers in the know – picture all things fishy in the Buffalo Niagara region during spring. It’ll all be in there. Don’t worry, we won’t be blowing up any spots.

Finally, we will travel to Savage River State Park in Maryland next weekend to visit our close friend and guide Tony Lohr of 85 Day Angling Company. Small water brook trout, freestone browns, a strikingly beautiful forest, and an “uber sexual guide.” What more can you ask for in a video for the mountain, off-the-grid, and trout fishing fanatic. Stay tuned.

Tony Lohr – Uber Sexual Guide

Tight lines and best fishes.  Give us a call if you want to get out on the water!

Brookdog Fishing Company

Fly Fishing for Musky – Interested?

A New Authoritative Source for Musky On The Fly

Over the past few years, much has been made of pursuing muskellunge on the fly and for good reason.  These fish they get huge, have sharp teeth, are photogenic, and are difficult to catch. Muskellunge (or musky) are THE apex predators with gills in freshwater.

Because they are at the top of the food chain, they eat when they feel like it.  This makes them hard to target on the best of days. However, when you do hook one, hold on.  The fight is like playing tug of war with a pit-bull. With violent head shakes and the occasional acrobatics, no other fish displays such intense anger toward its captor as the musky.

All of these characteristics are more than enough to attract a seasoned fly angler that is up for a challenge. The ability to cast big flies and stay focused through what could be many fishless hours is crucial.  If this piques your interest OR if you’ve played the game before and want a new perspective, Rick Kustich’s book, “Hunting Musky With A Fly,” needs to make it into your literary collection.

A Buffalo Niagara native and current resident, Rick spent his life fly fishing and exploring waters both local and across the country.  Along the way, he captured his experiences and insights in a number of books.  “Hunting Musky With a Fly,” his latest edition to this collection doesn’t disappoint!

Pick Up A Copy…NOW!

This book is a must read.  Whether you are just curious about chasing musky on the fly or if you are already obsessed with throwing flies for these beasts, it has something for everyone.  The book is as visually pleasing as it is full of great content!

We are extremely proud to have contributed to one of the only and most comprehensive texts written on the topic.  Big thanks to Rick for allowing us to play a small part! We also want to send props to Nick Pionessa for his beautiful photos throughout – especially the featured flies section!

We’re Honored to Have Contributed to this Authoritative Source of Knowledge on Musky Fishing
Hunting Musky With a Fly

 

Buffalo Niagara Winters: Stave Off the Shack Nasties

Buffalo Niagara winters can be painful…if you let them

Although our region is known for an insane amount of snow and frigid temperatures, it’s really not all that bad.  At some point, years ago, we got a bad rap.  I’m not sure how, because Buffalo Niagara winters aren’t even in the top 20 coldest in the lower 48.  We don’t get that much snow either.  Sure, every once in awhile we get a strong blast of lake effect snow but it melts quickly and just creates a soggy mess.

This bad reputation for horrible winters in Buffalo Niagara is truly a shame.  Even some of our locals buy into it.  That kind of sucks because this should be a winter tourist destination (more on that in a minute.  The real issue – just one guy’s opinion – is the wind and clouds.

Days often go by where the sun won’t poke out from the clouds and the winds rage in the upper teens to lower 20s MPH.  That lack of sun and the sometimes screaming wind often keep people indoors.  Cocooning like this creates what’s called the shack nasties.  This disorder causes pale skin, depression, weight gain, and a general malaise toward life.  NO WAY!

We refuse to be bound up indoors!  After all, look  at what we’d be missing if we did.  Oh yeah, the fishing is pretty good too.  Click here for details about our winter fishery. 

The mighty Cattaraugus River
The mighty Cattaraugus River
The mighty Cattaraugus River
Winter Steelheading on Lake Erie Tributaries
Sword and sheath
Parking Lot Prep
Winter Steelheading on Lake Erie Tributaries
TFO Promo
Steelheading = lots of casting

Don’t get the shack nasties!!!  Give us a call to experience this region first hand instead of looking at it on a little screen.

Fishing for Bowfin – Blue Collar Stuff

Bowfin: Add These Dinosaur Fish to Your Bucket List

Earlier this year, a fishing buddy of mine, Chuck Yauch, introduced me to the idea of fishing for bowfin around the Buffalo Niagara region.  Up to that point, I hadn’t really taken the idea seriously.  Nate showed me some pictures of them in spawning colors years ago (they’re incredibly beautiful by the way).  He and I talked whimsically about going down to some marshes in PA to pursue them but it never came to pass.  However, my love for natives put this dinosaur fish on my bucket list – somewhere on the bottom where it loomed until Chuck brought it up this past summer.

Allegedly, there are some reliable spots where a venturing angler can catch a bowfin around my home waters here in the Buffalo Niagara region.  Late spring/early summer is the best time – so I’ve heard.  But, you need the type of boat that can get you shallow, back into the marshes, and over some obstacles.  I’m not going to lie – that’s one of the reasons I purchased my Flycraft.  Since it’s still winter here, I’ve just been  biding my time.  Then my trip to Florida happened.

Why South Florida?

The intent behind the Florida trip was to shed the shack nasties of the WNY winter by pursuing peacocks in warm weather.  But, anyone who’s fished in south Florida knows that some seriously random fish can come to hand during a day on the water.  That’s where bowfin entered the picture.

Our guide in South Florida, Scott Rose of Miami Peacock Adventures, took us out to the Everglades for a little adventure.  He put us on quite a few peacocks and largemouth  bass.  After getting our fill, we became more interested in the “exotics.”  Gar, myans, etc came to fruition pretty quickly.  Then, as we wandered up to a little pond, I noticed a rather large fish.  Scott quickly identified it as a bowfin.  I was stoked.

The other day, I posted a picture of my first bowfin.  The post had little flair so I decided to dedicate a blog post to my second.  Although smaller, it’s colors were more spectacular.

I’m now smitten by these native dinosaurs.  They fight hard, smash you’re presentation, and from what I hear, they love frogs.  I’m looking forward to taking the Flycraft into some of my home water marshes in a few months to pursue these guys on the fly.  Give us a call if you want to give it a shot as well!

Bowfin

 

 

 

Largemouth Bass on the Frog

Yep – we caught largemouth bass on the frog.  Topwater.  For hours. What better area than the Florida Everglades where you can consistently bomb huge casts down a long straight bank that’s consistently covered with weeds along a steep drop-off? Frogging is a blast! The retrieve on the surface, the visual take by the fish, the discipline required to wait a couple seconds before setting the hook, and the strong hook set. So much fun!

I guess this is kind of a quick coming out story – I USE CONVENTIONAL TACKLE SOMETIMES. There I said it. I feel so much better now. It took me awhile to come out because fly fishing anglers can be pretty brutal about that kind of stuff. I guess I just don’t care anymore. Over the past couple seasons of guiding and running charters, I’ve fished with some awesome conventional anglers who’ve taught me quite a bit. Let’s be honest, or maybe this is just my opinion, but there are some things you can’t do with a fly rod. Just as there are just some things you can’t do with conventional tackle.

I will always favor fly fishing and default to fly tackle, especially when I’m fishing new water – it’s a point of personal accomplishment that’s more intangible than anything else. BUT I also want to become talented at all methods of fishing.  Again, the following statement is just my opinion – I am in no way trying to stir up a controversy or debate – just one dude writing his thoughts for consideration:  Experimenting with all methods of angling opens up a lot of doors. New things to learn, new places to fish, new people to meet.

For Example:

Now here’s a little bit about the fish king of the Everglades according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

Largemouth Bass: Micropterus salmoides

Appearance:
The largemouth bass is the best known and most popular game fish in North America. It is distinguished from other black bass because the upper jaw extends beyond the rear edge of the eye, and the first and second dorsal (back) fins are separated by an obvious deep dip.

Habitat:
The Florida largemouth bass is the state freshwater fish. Found statewide in lakes and rivers, they are commonly found along vegetation, or underwater structure, but schooling bass are also found in the middle of lakes.

Behavior:
Black bass spawn in spring, when males fan out a bed and then protect the eggs and fry. The baby fish eat zooplankton (microscopic animals that drift in the water column), and when about an inch long begin eating other small fish. Adults eat a wide variety of fish, crustaceans and larger insects.

Additional Information
State Record:  17.27 lbs. (Note several larger fish have been documented but not certified.) Participate in TrophyCatch, FWC’s citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 lbs or larger!
Big Catch minimum:  24 inches or 8.0 lbs.

Fishing Tips and Facts: Florida is an outstanding destination to catch a trophy.   You can convert a photo and measurements of your fish into lifelike fiberglass mounts, so you can release the lunker to fight another day. The best live bait is a golden shiner, fished under a float or free-lined.  Plastic worms are the most dependable artificial bait for largemouth bass. A weedless Texas- or Carolina-rigged worm is especially effective with heavy plant cover. Checking “Florida Fishing Weekly” is a great way to learn about the full array of techniques available to bass anglers as well as specific details about different bass fisheries around the state.

Midas Cichlids are a Blast – if You Can Get One to Commit

Aren’t these guys incredibly photogenic?  This is a Midas Cichlid and he put up a fight well above his weight class. Thanks to Scott Rose for putting me on this beautiful little guy!  Drop Scott a line if you want to chalk-up this species along with many other SFL canal inhabitants (http://www.peacockadventures.com/).

I’m thinking this is going to be a yearly trip for me.  Maybe a destination for a Rediscover Your Region Episode.

Here’s a quick blurb from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about this fish. Notice what it says about the sporting quality:

Midas Cichlid: Cichlasoma citrinellum

Appearance:
Has multiple color phases (or morphs) ranging from dull gray and black to orange, red, and even white; all young start off gray, looking much like small bluegill or Mayan cichlid, but most change to brightly-colored morphs, starting when they are about three inches long; a mottled coloration indicates a fish in transition; in Florida, more than 95% of adults greater than 10 inches are brightly colored, but this ratio is nearly reversed in their native range; males and females equally likely to be brightly colored; pronounced forehead nuchal hump associated with breeding present in some fish; like most other cichlids this one has broken lateral lines.
Range:
First discovered in Florida in July 1980, now common in the Black Creek and Cutler Drain canal systems in Miami-Dade County. Native range includes Atlantic slope of Nicaragua and Costa Rica where more common in lakes than rivers.
Habitat:
Prefers clear-water, box-cut canals with lots of shoreline crevices that they use to hide from predators.
Spawning Habitats:
Similar to other substrate spawning cichlids that provide biparental care; parents also produce a mucous body covering fed on by young; females mature by 7 inches and males by 8 inches; March through May appears to be the peak spawning season.
Feeding Habits:
Feed primarily on snails and other benthic material including aquatic insects, small fishes, and some plant and animal matter attached to or associated with submerged logs, leaves, rocks, etc.
Age and Growth:
Reaches just over a foot in length, and can weigh over 2.5 pounds; males tend to be larger than females.
Sporting Quality:
Rarely caught on hook and line, but can sometimes be aggravated into biting; no bag or size limits.
Edibility:
Little known, but probably good.

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