Tag Archives: smallmouth bass

March Madness – The Angling Version

I can only speak for myself, but March felt like the longest month ever here in Buffalo Niagara. Very high highs and very low lows. The following article is by no means a knock on our fishery. In fact, I challenge anyone to find a place in the U.S. that fishes better than the Buffalo Niagara region during the month of March. Considering that we are spoiled in that regard, I will tread lightly. However, I think it’s a fun exercise to relate to whomever wants to read this what the past 31 days has been like. It’s been an emotional journey that, because of the numerous challenges we experienced, ultimately made us better anglers.

You Know it’s March When…

To make this somewhat easy to read, I am going to divide my observations of the longest month ever into a few parts. Part 1 will address the weather. Part 2 will address the tactics. The emotional spectrum will comprise Part 3. Finally, Part 4 will be what we have to look forward to next month. Here it goes.

Part 1 – March Weather in Buffalo Niagara

You know it’s March when:

  1. The Forecast is wrong/right 50% of the time.
  2. You see the highs are supposed to be in the 50s so you go light on layers. That’s a mistake, as find out the hard way, because the water is still cold. Like below 32 degrees cold. Water that cold still produces a layer of cold air above it that causes you to freeze your ass off when on the water.
  3. Once per week you think spring is here only to wake up and find snow on your driveway.
  4. Bookings are lighter than normal – it’s even hard to get your friends to come out to endure the cold.
  5. People start seeing the sun for the first time in months and decide to wear shorts around town. Ridiculous!
  6. You fantasize about NOT wearing gloves. Actually, you try it a couple times just to remember what it feels like only to end up regretting it shortly thereafter.
  7. The tributaries start locked up with ice, then flood, then get super clear. All in short order.
  8. You check the ice coverage on Lake Erie multiple times per day – full knowing it only updates daily.

March weather in the Buffalo Niagara region is a roller coaster. Only the most resilient can endure. One would think that because we’ve been fishing for the past 4-5 months in frigid temperatures that we’d be used to it. We are used to it but this is the time when it becomes taxing. Being cold gets REALLY OLD. When conditions start to get to you, you’ll find that you keep telling yourself, “4 more weeks until good weather.” Well…one can only hope.

 

Part 2 – March Fishing Tactics

You know it’s March When:

  1. You start thinking 6lb test might be too heavy for the big water.
  2. Even if you’re running a 7ft leader, you still think it’s not long enough.
  3. You start tying bags of every color and size imaginable in the hopes that one will be more productive than the other.
  4. Minnows vs beads vs sacs becomes a heated debate among friends.
  5. Weight size, rod length, line type, and reel type also become topics of debate.
  6. You begin to believe, perhaps rightfully so, that a half digit on your trolling motor speed will make all the difference in the world.
  7. You start experimenting with new tactics you never thought to use before.

March fishing tactics are somewhat different than the other, “easier,” times of year here in the Buffalo Niagara Region. Because Lake Erie is still frozen, it keeps the sediment levels down in the Niagara River. Low sediment = the clearest water of the year. Often there is close to 20ft of visibility in the Lower Niagara and more than that in the Upper Niagara. Stealth becomes key. Matching the hatch becomes extremely important. You find yourself constantly questioning everything. I believe this is an awesome opportunity – if you can do well in March, you’ll crush it the rest of the year.

Part 3 – The Emotions of March

You know it’s March when:

  1. You have an awesome day on the water followed by an extremely slow day. Same conditions, same drifts, yet far less fish. You don’t know why. You find it hard to accept. You start questioning reality as a result.
  2. You start wondering if March is the better month for your annual family vacation instead of January.
  3. Although you are stoked to get on the water every day, somewhere around 10:00, with only a couple fish in the boat, your frustration levels start simmering.
  4. When it’s sunny out, you tell yourself that it’s just great to be out there.
  5. When your clients say, “That’s why it’s called fishing and not catching,” and you aren’t frustrated.
  6. You begin to feel like all confidence is false confidence.

Maybe I’m showing too much of my hand in this section – but that’s just me. I wear it all on my sleeve and my friends, colleagues, and clients know that about me. I love this profession PRECISELY BECAUSE of the range of emotions we experience every day. It makes me stronger and it makes our clients appreciate the skill required to do this job well.

Of course, I prefer an easy-going day where we end up boating numerous fish. However, if it was like that every day, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much. If all days were “great days” none of them would really be great. People from the Buffalo Niagara Region pride themselves on embracing the idea of delayed gratification. We’re no different.

Part 4 – What we have to look forward to

You know it’s the END of March when:

  1. The forecast has rain instead of snow and you are POSITIVE that the rain will produce a fresh run of fish.
  2. You don’t care how cold it is, you don’t wear gloves just to make a statement to yourself.
  3. Fresh runs of steelhead start showing up in the tributaries as well as the Upper and Lower Niagara River.
  4. Big browns start feeding like crazy in the tributaries as well as along the mud lines in Lake Ontario.
  5. Lakers, smalljaws, cohos, and kings start crushing baitfish on the Niagara Bar.
  6. The removal of the ice boom on Lake Erie is coming REALLY SOON.
  7. Hope/optimism shoots up.
  8. Trees start budding.
  9. Every hen steelhead you catch drops eggs.
  10. The rest of the non-angling world finally thinks it’s safe to go outdoors and the charter business starts booming.

March is over and spring is here my friends. It’s time for you to re-embrace the outdoors. Give us a call if you want to get outside.

Stay Fishy My Friends,

Ryan

Tribalism and Angling – There’s No Room for It

Why can’t we hairless apes avoid the negative aspects of tribalism?  Acting superior without thought or basis, rushing to judge, haplessly tossing labels around, etc.  All that counterproductive, generally negative behavior even manifests in our recreational pursuits.  As a community of anglers, we need to consider how all this inter-tribal rivalry looks from the non-angling population.  Especially to those that are considering getting into fishing.  We owe it to ourselves to work with one another/try to understand one another in order to demonstrate the overall benefits of this primordial pursuit to would-be future anglers.  For the sake of the sport…for the sake of our environment.

What am I Talking About?

Where is all of this coming from?  I’m not going to waste my time providing examples tribalism within the angling community.  Every angler reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about.  There are what amounts to 3 large tribes in the angling community:

  1. Fly Anglers
  2. Conventional tackle (spinning, casting, trolling) anglers
  3. Center Pin anglers

Within these 3 general groupings, there are thousands of sub-tribes with their own rivalries and distinct languages.  Moreover, one could easily come up with a different, overall tribal grouping.  An example could be catch-and-release anglers and harvesters.  The names of the tribes and their associations don’t matter.  The community of anglers is rife with tribalism.  The argument that follows suits every level of inter- and intra- tribal behavior.

Seek Understanding

People get into fishing for many different reasons.  Some enjoy it right away or at a minimum, find it interesting enough to decide to pursue the passion of angling as a personal endeavor.  Maybe because their virgin angling experience involved great weather and a ton of fish.  Maybe because that first time on the water opened their eyes to how fishing helps relieve stress.  Whatever the reason, many people continue to fish for the rest of their life after that first time on the water.

Consider these budding anglers as a blank slate.  Someone, or a small group of people, will form and shape that individual’s growth.  Unfortunately, far too many beginning anglers start off with mentors that are deeply tribal, hell I’ll say it, radical and close minded in their beliefs.  Perhaps a little naively, these new anglers adopt the ideals and beefs of the tribe with little to no thought.

Why Does this Happen?

Newcomers to a community want aid, encouragement, and mentorship at most and ambivalence at least from the other members.  The act of associating with or considering oneself a part of a specific community/tribe implies a desire for some sort of acceptance.  A pride of belonging.  Such behavior is completely understandable.  However, I am imploring all newcomers to think and ask questions before giving yourself a label.

Regardless of one’s reasons for deciding to get into angling, everyone wants to enjoy it.  Tribal drama, both on and off the water, is an impediment to the enjoyment one should experience while fishing.  If one engages in tribal drama, one will miss out on what should be an enriching and enjoyable activity.

Try to Rise Above the Fray

You can avoid tribalism and fishing, or be a casual observer of the behavior, by becoming a generalist.  There is no “best” way to fish.  There are hundreds of methods with hundreds of their own variations.  All have advantages and disadvantages, and all have radical, tribal instigators.

Ignore anyone who claims, “it only counts if you catch a fish _____.”  I’ve seen that statement many times on Instagram.  Every time I do, I want to throw up.  ONLY COUNTS TOWARDS WHAT?!?!?  Here’s my message to anyone who uses a line like this:

Is your ego so frail that you have to make up some bullshit competition that only you can win because the other competitors don’t even know you’re playing a game?  OR are you just copying a hashtag someone you admire used and now you’re doing it because you think it makes you “cool?”

New anglers should also avoid anyone who claims superiority of method.  As I mentioned above – there is no best way to fish.  The word best is completely subjective.  What’s the definition of the word, “best?”  Does best mean most effective?  Most effective toward what end?  Catching the most fish?  Catching the biggest fish?  Providing the greatest amount of fulfillment?  Only the participant can answer that question and that question is best answered through exposure to a multitude of experiences.

There is a ton to learn in the pursuit of our quarry.  Why not exchange best practices instead of putting someone down who does things differently?  If you think this idea is too soft and sensitive, then just don’t engage.  If your ego is so frail that you really need to hype yourself up, please try doing it in a way that doesn’t claim superiority.  It’s easy – just set an exemplary example.

Where Does Brookdog Fishing Company Fall?

We started as generalists and remain generalists.  A hunger to continue learning and developing relationships with fishy people keeps us motivated.  We’re disgusted by tribal superiority complexes.  We’re disturbed by hapless judgements and the casting of labels.

We just want to fish and have a good time.  Sometimes we use fly tackle.  Other times we use spinning tackle.  We put casting gear to use.  We troll.  Every once in a blue moon we’ll bust out the Tenkara rods.  We’ve also been known to fish under floats.  It’s all fun.  It all works.  Sometimes one works better than the other.  Sometimes they all work the same.  Every time it’s a blast.

We don’t always, “keep ‘em wet” – we respect the hero shot for the memory of the experience it provides to our clients and friends.  Besides, sometimes we eat the fish we catch so when we plan on doing so, why would we “keep-em-wet?”  They are going right into the live well with severed gills moments after that photo and into the skillet a few hours after that.  Sometimes, we’re voyeurs of nature that help people trick our quarry into eating what’s on the end of the line in order to experience a fight and/or connect to something wild.

Stay Drama Free

Label us and others however you want.  It really doesn’t matter to us as we don’t pay too much attention to all the drama.  However, occasionally, we feel compelled to offer our angling colleagues a different way of thinking when we notice a negative trend.  So here is our take on tribalism and angling: avoid it…don’t align yourself with a tribe.  Just be a person who wants to fish and enjoy drama free days on the water.  Well…I guess that’s kind of a tribe of its own.

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!

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!

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