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Brookdog Fishing Report – 20160710-20160716

Brookdog Fishing Co. Weekly Fishing Report

20160710 – 20160716 

This is the first of many semi-weekly fishing reports intended to inform the area’s anglers, as well as individuals interested in learning how to fish, of what’s happening on the water tailored to the waters and species we target.  It will also provide information about area events we plan on attending – most of which will be fishing related but there will be a few random outliers that aren’t fishing related but entertaining nonetheless.  Here it goes:

Overall Situation Update:

We finally recovered from the madness of the 4th of July weekend – albeit a few brain cells lighter but with many memories that were worth the price.  We had a blast at our 20 year high school reunion – such a good time to see friends we haven’t seen in over 2 decades – and enjoyed the numerous fireworks displays along the east Niagara River.

To break up the week a bit, Ryan traveled to southeast Pennsylvania to link up with Ben Rogers of Chasing Tails Fly Fishing and provide him with some excess capacity to take on clients for a couple days in that region.  Ryan and Ben fished the Susquehanna River for 3 days targeting smallmouth bass and walleye.  WHAT A BLAST!  It is a beautiful fishery with a unique topography characterized by huge boulder gardens and rock ledges – awesome habitat.  Ben is a fellow veteran (of Army Ranger stock – but we won’t hold that against him) and his professionalism, work ethic, and talent level is a reflection of his years of honorable service.  If you’re interested in exploring this region, let us know or contact him directly – his contact info is at the bottom of this report.

A beautiful Susquehanna Specimen
A beautiful Susquehanna Specimen

Inland Creeks – Trout

Without getting too scientific about it, trout need a lot of oxygen to survive.  The colder the water, the more oxygen it holds.  Additionally, as water flows over rocks and forms small rapids called “riffles,” the little bit of white water created by that flow adds more oxygen to the water.  The ideal trout habitat has both of these attributes.  Numerous creeks in the region provide this habitat and many of them hold trout.  However, it hasn’t rained in any significant quantity for well over a month AND it has been HOT so all of our creeks are low (reducing the size of riffles) and warm.  These are EXTREMELY taxing conditions for trout so it is important to leave them alone any time the area is experiencing long periods of hot weather and little rain – and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. Please do the same.

Niagara River – Smallmouth bass, Musky, and Carp

There haven’t been too many days in the past month or so when the wind speed doesn’t get into the teens before noon and gets worse as the day goes on.  Lots of wind makes it difficult to fly fish so we’ve been getting out at dawn and coming off the water around noon.  It’s been paying off.
Smallmouth Bass: the smallie bite on the fly has been a bit slow but big fish are coming out of every outing.  We’ve been using fast sinking lines and flies that imitate goby minnows and crawfish.  A slow and deep retrieve over rocky bottom at depths between 8-15ft has been productive.

Teaching the nephews how to do it!
Teaching the nephews how to do it!
Kobe with a nice Niagara River Smallie
Kobe with a nice Niagara River Smallie

Muskellunge: The musky fishing on the fly has been slow but we’ve been seeing fish on nearly every outing.  We’re starting to fish deeper (10-15 ft), targeting areas with heavy weeds and a sharp change in water depth.  We’ve been using fast sinking lines to get to these depths and flies have been between 8-10 inches in length.

Common Carp: The carp fishing on the flats is pretty much done but we were able to pick up a few before they moved to the depths.  We’ve been patrolling flats with defined transition/traffic zones.  These flats border steep drop offs covered with weeds. You’ll often see clearings in these weeds that serve as traffic lanes for carp to come up from the depths to feed for crawfish, small baitfish, nymphs, and other little critters that live in the rocks, shallow weed beds, and sand.  Look for those fish that are nose down feeding on the bottom or cruising slow.  We’ve been using floating lines on an 8 wt rod and flies that imitate crawfish and nymphs.

Mirror!
Mirror!

Conclusion: The region is definitely settled in the summer pattern.  Although it is a shame the inland trout fisheries are struggling, the big water on the lakes and upper and lower offer MANY opportunities to get out and wet a line.  The only downfall is that this water is best fished from a boat and many anglers don’t have one – that’s where we come in!  Drop us a line at 716-704-5144, send us an email at [email protected], or fill out a trip request on the website.  Our schedule is filling up fast!

Here is Ben Rogers’ contact info:

Ben Rogers
Owner
Chasing Tails Fly Fishing
http://chasingtailsflyfishing.com/
[email protected]
717.698.3704

Ben Rogers doing what he does best
Ben Rogers doing what he does best

You May Surprise Yourself

“Sunrise, open my eyes, no surprise.”  The Notorious B.I.G. refers to his time in Belize in the track, “Breaking Old Habits”

I’m about 1 week away from my 20 year high school reunion and it has me reflecting a little bit.  There are many strands swimming around the old duder’s head these days – what’s next, how have my peers fared over the years, am I a good father and husband, will I ever be satisfied by my quest to capture fish around the country, etc.?   One question that recently started nagging me is, “When did I become a creature of habit?”  Over the past 5 years or so, I’ve prided myself on avoiding this trend that is so prominent among my fellow adults and found that most times, when I challenged conventional paradigms, I was profoundly rewarded for doing so.

I hope that nobody takes offense to what I’m about to say but I think both men and women can relate to this.  When I was a teenager, I had one goal that I’m willing to bet all teenage guys have shared since the dawn of the human race – to hook up with as many girls as possible.  Long-term commitments, although convenient, never appealed/worked for me.  I had to have as many experiences as possible.  Sure, there were some routines back then: I had to wake up for school and go to my classes but when I got home at the end of the school day and especially over the weekends, anything was on the table – adventure and experimentation was the key.  More times than not, this quest (some might have perceived it as self-destructive but I believed what didn’t kill me gave me some great stories to tell) yielded some fond memories.  I’m not saying this is true for me but I’ve heard many people say that high school was the best time of their life.  Damn – that sucks!  Worst-case scenario, that period of your life represented only 1/15th of your time on this planet.

I digress – my drive for experimentation and exploration continued throughout college but slowed down a bit my senior year when I committed to joining the Marine Corps.  I guess this is when I officially became an adult.  Fast forward a little bit – I blinked my eyes and 2 wars, numerous deployments, my marriage, and my daughter appeared when I opened them.  How the hell did that happen?  ROUTINES!  I’m not bashing all habits and routines as they are essential for survival in today’s society but breaking them from time to time will open your eyes a lot earlier, help you realize balance, and lead to personal growth.  Whatever you do, please don’t take this as another older guy (hell, I’m only 38) trying to pass on a BIG life lesson.  Give me a second; let me tie this in to fishing.

How many of you routinely fish the same beats/float the same water every time you go out?  How many of you always go to those holes you know have fish?  How many of you do the same fishing trip every year?  How many times have you driven past a body of water and asked yourself if it fished well but pushed forward to your planned destination?  I’m willing to bet most of you will answer in the affirmative – YOU ALWAYS DO?  Why?  Because your time is limited and you want to do what you know will work – to have that convenient feeling of escape.  What are you missing?  Are you really escaping when you trade one set of habits for another?

Breaking habits is a lot harder than it sounds.  I received specialized military training for 2 years that taught me to identify habits and understand how they influence decision making in an organization and I still have problems breaking them.  Nevertheless, it’s somewhat unsettling to think that at one point in our lives, we were completely comfortable with change – we thrived in the chaos of our youth.  Yet, as adults with means and goals, we fear chaos and fall back to our comfort zone.  Yeah, many of us have families and we have certain habits and/or routines that we believe will keep drama at bay.  However, how many of them ACTUALLY do?  Carrying this question forward to our passion for fly fishing:  if fly fishing is our escape (or our career – for all the guides out there), should it follow the same patterns we follow in daily life?

I’m not bringing this up to brag, merely to make a point:  I just chalked up my 25th state and 180th River.  What I’ve realized in all my travels is that every place has its own nuances, patterns, and beauty.  All require some sort of adaptation and demand experimentation until you figure it out.  You also meet new people and pick up new techniques.  In doing so, you try flies you normally wouldn’t try.  You tie many knots.  You cover a lot of water.  You see, hear, and smell new things.  You become good at adapting to your surroundings.  Moreover, when you get in your car to drive home or you arrive at the airport for your flight back – you are a better angler.  Another benefit is that you’d be surprised how easy it is to get away from the indigenous/local anglers as they are typically creatures of habit.

The biggest edge we anglers have over the vast majority of the rest of the world is that we have a passion we dedicate a significant portion of our life to – we have a way to escape our daily routines.  Yet, for some reason, so many of us just pick up a new set of routines during these escapes.  I’m not proposing you throw all your habits in the trash – just that you become aware of them and how some may be holding you back.  Maybe I’ll never be satisfied by my pursuits, my longing to explore, and my desire to experience new things but that’s a gamble I’m willing to take.  Are you?  Surprise yourself once in awhile!

Challenge Yourself to Think Differently About your Fishing Habits
Challenge Yourself to Think Differently About your Fishing Habits

 

Simms Intruder – The Ultimate Wet Wading Boot

Brookdog Fishing Co. Review of the Simms Intruder Boot

If you’re from a year-round fishery like we are, you likely deal with the challenge of getting equipped for every season.  One problem that I struggled with for years was the transition from spring to summer – it can be miserable wearing hot waders when the temps go up.  “Why don’t you wet wade,” you ask?  I do, but it comes with its drawbacks as well.  

For one, the neoprene socks you can get that allow you to use your wading boots to wet wade stink after a few uses,  create abrasions on your shins after prolonged wear (found that out fishing the Shenandoahs), and allow gravel and sand to get inside from the top (albeit small quantities).  There are also some wading shoes out there that claim they keep gravel out but these things  offer little ankle support and still let in some debris. I’ve even purchased hip waders before but could never find a pair with a good fit that provided me anything better than just rolling down my regular waders.

I recently found a solution to my wet wading woes – the Simms Intruder Boot.  Their ad, linked at the end of this review claims these boots provide, great traction, superb ankle support, and a tight seal to your shin that doesn’t rub.  I field tested these boots in 2 places that could confirm or deny these claims – the brook trout creeks of western North Carolina and the trout waters in and around Savage River State Park, MD.  If you’ve never fished western NC in the mountains, the creeks are steep gradient and your day will require a lot of hiking.  Some of the creeks around western MD, although beautiful, have a bad case of rock snot – they’re slippery to put it mildly.

How did they perform?  Just as claimed!  So good a bought my wife a pair for our upcoming trip to the Sierra Nevadas.  Give them a look.

Fishermen Immortalized

We’ve noticed a recent trend in magazines, on Facebook, in Twitter feeds, and on Instagram that we find disturbing, inconsiderate, and downright weak – hero shot haters. Our approach to determine who all these haters are hasn’t been scientific but anecdotal observations in these social media forums reveal that these guys are neither industry leaders, nor respected professionals, nor top echelon anglers – just local haters doing what haters do. We’ve been treating these guys like we have since we were kids – just ignoring them (haters gonna hate, right?). But we’ve seen a few out there so over-the-top that we felt it important to write a short piece that counters this ridiculous trend. If for no other reason than to help educate new comers to the fly fishing world while offering up some support to those that want to show the social media world the fish they caught in the place they had the pleasure of exploring – be proud my friends.

The hero shot haters we’ve seen don’t hate from the position of advocating for fish safety – which would be a strong way to come at the argument. Holding fish out of the water for extended periods of time just to get that pic harms the fish and contradicts why you are out there in the first place. Picture sprinting 400 meters with a hook stuck in you controlled by something you can’t see – an alien perhaps. Then, once you think that sprint is over, something crazy looking grabs you and dunks you underwater for a couple minutes. Bottom line, consider the fish and snap away responsibility. No, the haters make fun of individuals by blotting out fish and putting all manner of things in their hands or taking a photo while not holding anything and photo shopping something into the space where the fish would be. Haters – if you feel compelled to criticize what others choose to share on social media, it says more about your character than it does about the guy holding the fish with a big dopey smile on his face. Remember – not all anglers are as seasoned as you so why begrudge the guy a rare photo opportunity.

The hero shot is important. Without going into a long dissertation about how humans are visual creatures and how fly fishing is an extraordinarily visual activity, the hero shot shows many things about the individual, the fish, and the surroundings in the picture while serving as a small advocacy effort for the sport we all treasure. Let’s start with the individuals in these pics. Look at all real hero shots and you’ll notice one trend in common – smiles. Yeah, that’s kind of cheesy and we’re not mentioning this to evoke some sort of touchy-feely response, but in that moment of appreciating the results of the pursuit nobody has to tell you to smile – it just happens. If you’ve posed for these before, you know this to be true and those beholding the hero shot can see the expression as natural. Sometimes beholding these pics evokes a haterish response and sometimes it makes the observer desperate to grab a rod and get out there. Although the passionate angler may experience a little bit of the former, that’s usually quickly dismissed as he or she quickly formulates a plan to get on the water to try to match the accomplishment displayed in the hero shot.

Smiles aside – look at what those individuals are wearing or the gear present in the picture. Every major fly fishing company trying to make it in this country relies in this “free advertising.” Sure, the online adds and those in the leading magazines hook some of us and lead to a purchase – mainly those anglers that are new to the sport. However, the stronger, better placed hook that often brings more experienced anglers to make a purchase is what other anglers are using or what we see guides using. Got it, the gear seen in the hero shot was not responsible for the angler catching the fish (or was it?) but it surely helped out (or did it?). Guides use this same “free advertising” to generate more business as well. Would you hire a guide without a catalog of hero pics on his/her website?
Then there’s the fish and where we catch them. There is no need to get deep here. Even the hero shot hater fishes…probably loves to fish and appreciates the beauty of our quarry and where they are found. From musky, to trout, to carp, to bass, every species brings something photogenic to the table and the environments from which they emerge rival this beauty. Seeing all the species in hero shots out there makes us want to try them all, reducing our focus on one species or one area. This might a stretch but maybe, in aggregate, this helps spread out the angling community a bit – we need it.

So, fellow anglers, keep the businesses that fuel our industry churning out new and improved products and services. Keep up the advocacy that helps preserve our fisheries for generations to come. Keep showing the world what your region has to offer. Keep the hero shots coming – we’re looking forward to seeing them…just don’t hold the fish way out in front of you and up close to the camera.

Worms and Minnas Work the Best

FYI – that isn’t us in the video – but this guy definitely knows how to get it done!

Something like 30 years ago, give or take, I learned something profound about fishing.  It was early summer and the smallie bite was hot along the Niagara River drop off near Buckhorn Island.  Following days on end of spending at least an hour before fishing harvesting crawfish, I decided it was time to pick up some lures so I asked my dad if he could take me to a tackle shop.  Where did he take me?  K-Mart of course (facts to consider: 1. my father wasn’t an angler, 2. back then, Walmart didn’t exist and K-Mart was a big deal).  While gazing haplessly at the few isles of lures with what must have been a glazed look over my eyes, an old guy approached me.  He asked something like, “what ‘ya been fishing for?”  Not used to random old dudes approaching me (does anyone ever get used to that?), I didn’t know what to say.  Honestly, I have no idea if I said anything at all.  I think he sensed some awkwardness after a bit so he spoke up and offered me some advice.  It went something like this, “I’ve been fishing for over 50 years and if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that worms and ‘minnas work the best.”  Strangely enough, I’ve fished with neither worms, nor minnows, ever since.

Why do fly anglers take what humans have been doing for thousands of years (I’m talking about fishing here – big dudes hunting little dudes type of stuff) and consistently make it more complicated?  There is something very interesting, unique, or (place glorifying adjective here) about doing it the hard way, calling it an art, and becoming “successful” at it.  OK, if you haven’t picked up on the sarcasm yet – wake up!  It never ceases to amaze me how many sub-cultures there are in the world of fly fishing.  There are dry fly purists, streamer junkies, big predator hunters, those that only use glass, those that only use bamboo, nymph-o-maniacs, faceless fly fisherman, and the list goes on and on.  The only trend is that most are trying to start a trend.  Couple this with the drama that emerges at fly fishing shows, fly shops, and online chat rooms and a common theme emerges – too many people take the act of waving a stick around and tricking a fish into getting hooked in the face WAY too seriously.

OK, time to tone down the rhetoric a bit.  This phenomenon of an insecure drive for “wanting to be special” isn’t unique to fly fishing.  In fact, this behavior rears its ugly head in most hobbies/passions often referred to as art.  Consider fashion (oh, wait, there is a budding fly fishing fashion industry – what label are you wearing?), painting/photography (look at your walls or on your desk), sculpting (fly tying or rod building parallel?), to name a few.  My friends and I make a conscious effort to avoid getting embroiled in the drama this culture can create and we’re definitely not alone.  It’s likely that the vast majority of the fly fishing world keeps it simple and just goes fishing, snaps a few pics for memories while doing so, and tells his/her buddies later on.  However, the fly angler’s propensity to slide down the slippery slope of self-aggrandizement is always there.  Please let this quick read help prevent the fall.

My friends and I are by no means innocent.  We’ve struggled with keeping it simple and not taking ourselves too seriously ever since we became fly fisherman.  When I first started out, I poured all the gift money from my wedding into gear.  I purchased a couple $700+ rods and reels, top of the line waders and boots, and a box full of flies I had no idea what they were – and I thought I was a baller.  There was a time not long after this early period that I told myself I would only fish dries!  It’s during this formative period, you know, when you’re just getting into something, that you are the most likely to try to be special.  It’s more enticing now than ever to try to stand out considering the many platforms that allow an ill-fated individual to do so.  Pinning, tweeting, posting to FB and Instagram (to name only a few) can consume hours of a day – to what end?

Think about it for a couple seconds – man and fish have co-existed for thousands of years and man has hunted fish this entire time.  Over this span, we’ve invented many ways to hunt our slippery quarry – hell, I’m not sure “hunt” is the best word to use any more considering it’s become a borderline sin in recent history to harvest the fish we catch.  It’s great that we’re all becoming more mindful of how we impact our environment and putting all our exploits out there might even breed more accountability.  Just don’t take yourself and fly fishing so seriously.  On second thought, stay connected to the internet when you’re on the water.  Keep those posts up when you’re fishing.  Remain distracted by trying to film while fishing.  Spend more time on social media.  ‘Cause while you’re doing that, my line will be wet somewhere cell signals can’t reach.  Wait, was that an attempt at trying to be different.  No way.  Not possible.  I’m just a dude who likes to fish.

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