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Pre-Season Scouting

Posted on September 18, 2018 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Beautiful stretch



Well spent a little time a few days ago looking around on some of the local creeks and rivers. It's starting to get to my favorite time year, and the best time to be outside as far as I'm concerned. Didn't spot any fish in any of the smaller creeks, which was a bit surprising to me. Though we've had hot weather over the last week, before that we had three cool rainy days that I'm sure pushed in some fish. The nice thing is that all the smaller creeks I checked had at least decent flow so any fish that entered a week and a half ago may have been able to make it up a little higher than I'd normally expect. 

Then I jetted over to take a peek at how things looked over on the Catt. Despite air temperatures above 80 and water temps reading in the low seventies people were out fishing low on the river. I feel like a broken record for saying this, but it's just too hot right now. Looking ahead, though we had been forcasted to drop down into the 60's for highs, that has changed. On Thursday the high is in the mid-80's, and low 80's today and tomorrow. By Friday though that all is supposed to change. Again, hopefully this will be the last bout of hot weather until spring. But only time will tell.

In the meantime, tie some flies.



Tight Lines,


 - D 

Wyoming and Utah Trip and Fall Forecast

Posted on September 10, 2018 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)


Matt with a really nice brown trout


Well we're at that time of year again. Steelhead season! But before I get into what this fall has in store, Matt and a couple of his buddies just finished up a few weeks of trout fishing out west in Wyoming and Utah. From the pics he sent me, it looks like they had a blast with browns, rainbows, and cutthroat all captured, photographed and safely released! 

Back to business. Last week was miserable with temps in the mid nineties. But what a change happened on Friday! Temps started dropping and by Saturday morning we had temps in the low sixties with rain, and it hasn't stopped raining or dropping temps since! As I write this, it is 57 degrees and drizzly. This front is sure to draw in the first small push of fish, though larger systems are all high and dirty and will remain so for a few days at least. Even the smaller creeks will be off line for a day or two with all the rain we've received.

Looking ahead the rain is supposed to taper off today, and the temps are going to be bouncing back up. By the middle of the week the forecasters are calling for highs in the low to mid-eighties. Water temps will trend with air temps, so if you are planning on getting out and looking around on the creeks and rivers as they drop back into shape over the next few days, please be mindful and bring a stream thermometer. Concentrate fishing efforts during the first few hours of the morning, and if you get a water reading over 65 degrees as the day progresses remember to call it quits.

As for this fall season, last year we had a really consistent run starting about the first week of October. The two week forecast has the temps dropping back down after next weekend into the sixties with consistent rain. Hopefully this next heat wave will be the last real warm spell of eighty or more of the season, but you never really know. If the weather does pan out as called for, we should be in store for another consistent early fall season- which we'd love to see.

Can't wait to swing the floating lines.


Tight Lines,

 - D





Beautiful cutty




Another great brown





Clean rainbow





Matt with a well-fed cutthroat



Found some big bucks

Posted on December 11, 2017 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)




Art with a mid 30's incher


Sorry for the lack of reports over the past few weeks, but Thanksgiving and moving has been keeping me busy. Anyways, fishing remains really good. Art came back up for another trip. Needed a few more steelhead to tide him over until spring! And we checked out a number of spots. Fish in all of the usual places. We're seeing a mix of fresh chromers and colored up fish that have been in the rivers a while, so that's nice. Also finding a few XL's in the rivers too. Over the weekend we got 2 in the mid 30's length and low teen's weight. Haven't seen this many fish up to around 35-36" that I can ever remember as we have in 2017. They aren't everywhere, and the average fish seems to still be between 26 and 27" but the big bucks are around if you see enough fish. We lost a couple and landed one in the spring and lost a couple and landed a couple here in the fall. So those back to back warm winters and long growing seasons are starting to pay off.

I even got to swing up a fish on the Catt that Art netted like a pro. Right now the flow is good but the water is really cold. The fish I swung up ate in 33 degree water. If you want to swing, fish the slowest water possible where you can still get a swing. Consider using a lighter tip to really allow swinging slow water, and fish far back into the shallow tailouts. In cold water black and blue have been my best producer, and surprise surprise the fish on Saturday at the whiskey hangover.

Looking ahead, we have some really cold weather moving through in the next few days. This will cause some ice problems on the smaller creeks, but we should be able to get through it. By next weekend the weather looks like it's back in the upper 30's and low 40's. Snowmelt may also cause some problems though, especially if there is some rain. But the fishing is still really good, and should stay that way until we do get locked up with ice for the season (if it happens).


Enjoy the rest of the pics, and tight lines


 - D




Art locked on




Nice fish 




Me with another one of Art's toads 




Pretty fish




Art even let me swing one up

Here's to the end of a great floating line season

Posted on October 23, 2017 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)




Noel and I with his first fish that took a streamer fished just under the surface on a floating line-long leader


Just finished a few days up on the Catt, and like usual it was spectacular. While the fishing can vary, any day on the Catt is special. But these last few days were especially so. There were good numbers of fish pushing through, and we are definitely seeing the meat of the second push of fish. All fish hooked except for one were better than 5 pounds, and we hooked fish well into the double digits. It was a large push of two and three lake year fish for sure. Saturday I spent fishing with Noel and his wife Lisa, and we hooked fish from surface to substrate. 

Lisa fished an indicator rig and Noel fished a combination of indicator rigs and the swung fly, while I stuck to spey fishing. In all we hooked 7 fish indicator fishing and 10 fish swinging. Most of the fish swinging were taken on a floating line, floating poly leader fishing smaller streamers high up in the column within a foot of the surface. The fish were very aggressive due to how fresh they were, but were spooky with the clearer water. Therefore stealth was the key when swinging and trusting that in the warmer water (55 degrees) the fish would move very well. And they did. While we did hook a couple on a sinktip, including me landing a fish in the 30-31" and 11 pound ballpark, once the sun got out, the fish would spook from the sink tip. The cool thing about hooking them so high in the column is that the water usually boils with the take, and they just blow it up. We ended up breaking fish off on the take alone.

Noel hooked 4 fish swinging the floating line, landing his first ever swinging without a sink tip. The fight was insane as the first run the fish peeled out about 100' of his running line and the backing was visible on the spool. Luckily we were able to turn the fish in towards shore where the shallower water kept it from going through a narrow chute and getting into a bunch of wood. Lisa landed a nice one right off the bat and lost a couple others. It was her first steelhead in like two years.

Towards the end of a very good day already, I couldn't resist fishing a bomber skated with a riffle hitch. The first pass a fish rolled on it but didn't commit. Then while I worked my way through the gut of a broad bouldery run about three feet deep, I put the fly on the opposite bank near a log jam and as I skated and skittered it away, I watched a fish charge out of the jam, literally torpedoing just under the surface for some 8 feet or so, crush the fly in the most vicious take I've ever seen and turn back towards the logs. I didn't need to do anything because of how fast it happened. It's funny because when we swing subsurface, we usually only feel the end result of a fish taking. The visual aspect of watching such a predator chasing down the fly in kill mode is almost frightening. I mean if that fish for whatever reason decided to charge at me in the water and latch on to my hand or something, it would be a genuinely terrifying event.

Anyways, I came tight and fought the fish. The first thing it did was cartwheel. And this was the largest fish I have ever hooked up top, easily in the  9-10 pound class. The fight was furious but briefer than I'd have liked when my line became wrapped around the knob of my fly reel. I don't often dwell on a lost fish. It is a fundamental part of the game. But that is a fish I would have really, really liked to land. To see it up close with the bomber in it's mouth, and the hateful glare in it's eye. Even now, a few days afterwards, it haunts me. But I still got to see it chase down a bomber from so far away. There is no doubt in my mind that he was commited to take the fly the moment he left his lie. And that is a treasured sight.

On Sunday, I fished with Paul and his wife Jen, who had never fly fished before. We started on the Catt in the same run as the day before, and not long into it Jen hooked a really good fish. In the excitement, she forgot to let the line go and the fish pulled free. A little while later she hooked another big fish that jumped, ran upstream, then doubled back down and wrapped us around a snag. Then Paul hooked a nice fish that broke us off.

After a little while longer, it was clear that most of the run had pushed by us. So we jumped over to a couple smaller creeks, and spent the rest of the afternoon twitching nymphs and ended up each landing a nice fish. While we had to work for them yesterday, it was still a great day.

Looking ahead, the weather is turning. It looks like today or tomorrow will be the last day of surface season. The high temp tomorrow is only 62 or so, and from there it falls quickly into low 50's and high 40's. That means, for the foreseeable future, I expect the daily high water temps to be around 50 or less. That's not to say there won't be another day or two that will warm up enough to get the water up there in the mid-50's, there certainly might. But it won't be consistent if it does.

So looking back, this October has been the best floating line season by far. The total tally for roughly 10 hours fishing the surface proper this season is 2 fish that ate dries off top, 1 fish that gave a hard look to a dry off top but refused last minute with a roll, and 5 fish that ate a riffle hitched streamer skimming the surface. Of all those, I hooked one on the dry but lost it and I landed 3 of the riffle hitched eaters. Then in addition to those, we hooked 8 more in the top foot or so of the column.

If this surface season has taught me anything it is just how willing these fish are in certain conditions to come up near or all the way to the surface to take an offering. Though I'm still relatively new to surface fishing, only about 5 years of so of real concerted effort, this season has been one of constant surprise. Again, Saturday was an exceptional day. But those conditions definitely exist each year, where a good push of fish is happening in waterflow that is just right for this type of fishing. And with Octobers starting to get warmer and a bit drier over the past few years, a trend I think is probably gonna become more prevalent in the future, we may see these conditions more frequently.

So all I can say is that as anglers, we better be willing to adjust to the point of at least considering the floating line and dry fly options as a serious alternative to the sunk line tactics we are so heavily dependent on. The floating line fished either on or near the surface is quickly becoming my go to and most productive early season technique. Enjoy the rest of the pics. 



Tight Lines,


 - D  

 



Lisa with a nice steelhead





Noel with his first of the day





Me calling my fish out haha






Beast mode Catt fish






Noel with a stunner





Small white streamers fished up high = vicious takes


Today was a good day...

Posted on October 8, 2017 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)



First fish on a riffle hitched streamer skimming across the surface


Rose five fish on the Catt to a riffle hitched streamer fished on a floating line with a 10' clear floating poly leader and another 8' of flouro tapered down to 6 lb. Ended up landing three. So today was a very good day. After a bust last year during surface season, this year is shaping up to be spectacular. In two days I've had one fish eat a dry proper, and five come up and eat a streamer fished skated hitched on the surface similar to a waking dry. That is just unreal. Most fish that will look up run between 15 and 25", so don't expect too many of the bigger guys. But they are just too much fun and watching them come up is breathtaking. The fish I landed today all fell within that size range, with the biggest being right at 25". And not that this kind of fishing needs any sort of enhancement, but all these fish were from the mid river where I was the only soul around. That's why I like to fish those areas this time of year. You can find the unpressured fish that might be willing to play with you if you fish a dry line. It doesnt happen all the time to be sure. But it does happen. And when you have a day like today you fill the bank, and that's what will carry you through the next dry spell. Today was a great day.


Tight lines and enjoy the rest of the pics


 - D




A familiar face 




Hooked up with the first




Riffle hitch water




Why I like fishing mid river early...




Biggest of the day




Another riffler eater




My money run today

Lake Erie Kings?

Posted on October 7, 2017 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)



Wild Lake Erie King Salmon



Well after getting over a bit of a stomach bug, I made it out to scope some spots for the upcoming season. First spot was a mid river run on the Catt. As I was walking in, I noticed a familiar shape in the riffles. There in the shallow water was a dead 36" king salmon. I stopped and took a photo and a couple quick measurements before starting towards the run I was planning on fishing. Then a bit later, I saw a few live kings blow through a riffle. There are usually a couple kings that find their way into the Catt every year, with most years getting somewhere between 0 and 50 fish by my estimation. But I expect this to be a "better" run for a couple reasons: 1) last "good" run (comparatively speaking) of kings into the Catt was in 2013, where I found a run with about 30 fish in it and since kings usually run on a 4 year cycle this will be the year when any wild progeny should return, and 2) the overall good numbers of kings in all the other lakes will likely mean more strays. Judging by the size of the adipose fin of the dead one, he was a wild fish.

Remember, a good run of kings on the Catt likely stays well below 100 fish, so even in the best years it's not really a run that you can target. You just have to be in the right place at the right time to find them. But I do expect there to be a few more sightings/perhaps if I'm lucky even a king landed for myself or a client this season on the Catt. 

Anyways, when I got to the first run I wanted to fish shortly after the sun hit the water a fish rolled. For fishing this high up this early it was a really encourgaging sign. After making a couple passes I got a nice little smallmouth on the bamboo spey. But no steelhead. Next run I fished on a tight swing with little more than the sink tip out and got absolutely lit up. The small, fiesty 20" fish put up a spirited battle but was beached shortly thereafter. 

Swithched it up to a light polyleader and began working my way through a riffle with a scandi line. As I worked through the chop I blew a set on a fish. At first I thought it was a rock because the water was super shallow so I didnt really set but slowly pulled with the swing to try to free it. But then a headshake. And because I had already pulled the rod over to the side I was out of position for a set. And the fish was off. As I stood there all I could think was that I'd really like to have that one back.

So I took a break for a bit. Sat on a log and observed. Then I started the riffle at the head again. As I was swinging the small white bunny zonker into the kill zone, I got bumped again. The player was still there. Next cast he lit me the fuck up, rolling on the surface and tossing the hook before I could even get my shit together. It was the nicest fish of the trip so far, somewhere around 6 or 7 pounds. God I've forgotten just how hard those shallow water takes in the riffles are. When a fish is in a riffle, it is juiced with oxygen and supercharged. And don't be afraid to fish riffles that at first glance look a bit on the shallow side. Fish them with a light polyleader and unweighted fly or a long tapered leader and a lightly weighted fly. Those knee deep riffles and runs will have little potholes and tiny depressions spread throughout where even just a couple inches of extra depth can provide a quick resting spot.

Was off the Catt by about noon when the sun came out and it started to get a little hot. All in all one landed and another couple hooked and lost, along with a few short strikes that hit pretty hard but didn't turn on the fly. After the Catt, I checked out a few other area creeks. The smaller creeks usually will stay cooler due to the more complete canopy over the the creek bed. All have fish. At one creek I strung up a switch rod. Because of the low clear water I skated a fly and for the first time in two years got an eat on the. But the fish didnt get the point.

So, to sum things up there are good numbers of fish with some larger fish in the mix well up into the middle section of the Catt despite the recent heat. This means that it's not just the first push of small fish that have made it that far upriver. Also keep your eyes open for some kings this season. They wont be around every turn, but if your lucky you might see a few. Finally for how low and clear the water in the smaller creeks is, I have been pleasantly surprised by how many fish have pushed in and even a ways up the little creeks too. This should be a fun fall. Check out the rest of the pics.



Tight Lines,

 
 - D





Little smallie on the bamboo spey





Hooked up!





Not a biggie, but a fun little fighter





Pod of fresh steel

Cattaraugus Steelheading

Posted on November 20, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)


My dad and I with his personal best from the Catt


It is always difficult fishing on a dropping barometer with dropping temperatures. Fish like consistency, and changing weather patterns frequently result with fish being put off the bite, especially if that change brings falling temperatures. As fish are ectothermic creatures, creatures with a metabolic rate determined by environmental conditions, even a small drop in temperatures slows the metabolism. And a slow metabolism means that fish simply are going to be less interested in our offerings.


Noel and I fished with my dad yesterday on the Catt. When we got there, the water temp was around 44 degrees, and the air temp was in the low 50's. Waterflow was less than 220 cfs and about 3 turbidity. We hiked in quite a ways to get to the first spot I wanted to fish. We call the spot stump hole. The river makes a slight turn to river right as it dumps over a riffle. About 20 feet below the riffle right in the middle of the dump is a big rootwad and tree trunk pointed downstream, then a small gravel bar that turns into a long run. Most anglers that make it to stump hole, fish right next to the trunk of the tree and fish down through the run. But a lot of fish hold up high in the riffle dump in front of the rootwad.


We set my dad fishing the whitewater head, where the riffle dumps in, and within about 15 minutes he was on to a good fish. The fish blew through the dump and into the gravel run. It was about a 10 minute fight as it was a heavy fish and it kept taking line and running for the heart of the run. But we were able to coax it into the net. The fish was a solid 28" and normally a fish that long would be in the 8 pound ballpark. But this fish was stout all the way through to the base of the tail. It's girth was about 17". That puts the fish right around the 10 pound mark. It just goes to show how good forage is out in the lake this season due to the warm winter last year. My dad landed that fish at about 9:30. If you check the USGS site, you'll see that at that time, the water temp was rising.


Next we hiked up a bit further burning water up to slide hole. This hole follows the same general profile as stump hole. The river dumps over a riffle while turning river right and tails out into a long, boulder and slate studded run. In the dump of slide hole are a few big boulders and fish will hold around them in the current breaks. While fishing through it, Noel hooked up on another big stocky fish. This one came to the surface and rolled before making a powerful run. Unfortunately, the hook pulled free, and the fish disappered back into the depths. Noel hooked this one at about noon. Checking the site, this was the high water temp point of the day.


Continuing our trek we jumped up to another good run. By this point, the air temp was noticeably colder. We worked the run well, but no fish wanted to cooperate. The rest of the day was filled with snow squals, wind, and plummeting temperatures, but no more fish. The good thing about doing this kind of fishing is the moment you get cold, just hike up to the next spot. You'll be warm by the time you get there.


If there is anything to take away from this post, it's how important it is to pay attention to conditions. The fish we hit were while the water temps were rising or at the high point. The moment the water temps started to fall, we didn't touch another confirmed fish. All said and done, we did about a 7 mile roundtrip. But I can't think of a better way to spend a snowy Saturday.


Some more pics:



It's beginning to look a lot like... winter steelheading!



I thought this was a really cool shot of Noel crossing the river with the snowy trees in the background


Tight lines


 - D





Fall update

Posted on October 16, 2016 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Spent yesterday and today out on Cattaraugus Creek. Still beautiful, still very low. Yesterday, again I started below Gowanda. Spent the first few hours working over a really good pool with an intermediate tip and a variety of streamers. My only tug came around ten in the morning on a white woolly bugger, but like last time it was quick and non-committal. The low water has the fish really finicky right now, and if you're out to swing, stay small.


After that, I changed up to a dry line and a ska-opper. Spent the rest of the day yesterday and all of this morning skating and popping the ska-opper and an orange bomber across pools. Yesterday after leaving lower Gowanda, I jumped way upstream, above the valley. The runs up there are beautiful and the trees right now are on fire with fall colors! But where few fish have made it up to Gowanda, even fewer have made it up there. The tradeoff for solitude this time of year is fish.


Today, however, I fished the reservation. It's not my favorite place by a long shot, but this fall is shaping up to be a good year to try to get a few on the surface, and I wanted to fish to more concentrated numbers. When I got there at daybreak, the waterflow was 85 CFS and water temp was 58 degrees. Low and clear but perfect temps for surface techniques. Spent the morning working the ska-opper through shallow runs, around downed trees, and casting to the high banks and popping it out. Had a small fish roll near my fly but I'm pretty sure it was only a coincidence and was not showing interest in my offering. As the sun got higher, again I switched to the bomber for a more buggy presentation. But came away empty handed.


The other anglers I spoke to this morning seemed to be doing pretty well, and I saw about a dozen fish caught ranging from 12 to 28 or so inches. There are good numbers of fish in the lower four or five miles of the Catt, but there are people. By about nine, every nook and cranny had at least one if not more anglers fishing it. So if you do come out to fish, find a good pool and get there early. And don't count on there being many open spots by mid-morning.


While I was walking out, I stopped and talked to some centerpinners. They couldn't seem to get over the fact that I haven't caught a fish yet this season, despite about four days of fishing. Most of that is due to the locations I've been fishing and the techniques I've been using. I've been hitting the mid and upper river. I know there aren't a ton of fish up that high, but at least I have space. And, with the exception of fishing one pool in the morning a few days with an intermediate tip, I've been concentrating on skating dries. I've logged about 10 or 11 hours now fishing either the ska-opper or the bomber. If this fall is like seasons past, that means I'm about halfway to a good take. Over the years that I've kept track, it seems like I get one take for every 20-24 hours of fishing the surface. The key is staying dedicated. Today watching the pinners and indicator guys catching quite a few fish was hard. Knowing how easy it would be to put on a bead and pull a fish or three from a falled tree, or even swing a streamer on a sink tip through some of the runs makes it that much more so. But it's been a couple years since I last touched a fish on top, and this year I'm going to keep fishing dries until the weather turns, or I catch a fish or two. After all, catching a steelhead is supposed to be memorable. The image of the last fall fish that ate my dry is still vividly burned onto my soul. I don't think any of those fish caught by the centerpinners leaves such a lasting mark.


So, like last time and until next time, enjoy a scenic shot (who ever said dry fly fishing for steelhead was easy! ;))


  

Update from New York

Posted on October 10, 2016 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Spent the last few days on the Catt and the surrounding area creeks. What a beautiful time to be on the rivers! It's no secret that the water is super low right now, and that makes fishing challenging. But there are fish in every creek if you put in the time to find them. Currently the Catt is at base flow of around 90 CFS, but the water temps are good and even in low flow she is glowing green! Most of the fish are holding low on the reservation. Because the lower reservation is often crowded, especially early on, I normally don't spend too much time on it. I'd rather fish where I have some space and risk not bumping into one, than have to stand shoulder to shoulder with guys fishing the lower reservation holding pools.


I started below Gowanda, and was the only car parked in the lot. While working over a few of my favorite pools just after first light, I saw a few fish roll before the sun hit the water. There are definitely steelhead up that high, just not in any great numbers yet. Missed one really good yank, but the fish never turned on the fly. Ended up landing a couple good resident smallmouth in the 12-14 inch range, and that was a pleasant surprise.


Also checked out a few of the smaller area creeks. New York has been putting some effort into habitat restoration such as stream bank stabilization and helping with fish passage, which is really cool. One of the smaller creeks just had another fish passage project completed over the summer. While walking down the smaller creeks, I spotted a handful of fish in every creek. Definitely not great numbers yet, but a pleasant surprise due to just how low the water is right not. Also found some pink salmon spawning in one of the little creeks. Over the summer a couple charter boats out on the big lake were getting into surprisingly high numbers of pink salmon and even a few kings and cohos on Lake Erie. Looks like there are going to be a few in the creeks this year. If there is a message to this post it's just how badly we need rain. This is the lowest I've seen the Catt at this time of year in a long time. Checking the USGS website, you have to go all the way back to 2007 to find the Catt below 100 CFS at any point in October. 


But there is good news. The fish that I spotted looked healthy. I didn't really fish to them. They were really spooky in the clear water- so much so that a dry fly on a 14 foot leader tapered to 8 lb fluoro was enough to scatter a group of four. I didn't see a ton of smaller fish that normally make up a good portion of the first trickle of fish, which means a couple of things. The warm winter last year was good for the size of the fish- I expect to see good numbers up to around 12 pounds this year and some legit bigger ones. The smaller fish have probably already made it further up the creeks, so taking a peek around the middle stretches can mean fishing to a few fish without the crowds. But if you're thinking about making a trip up to the area in the next couple weeks, it might be a good idea to reschedule unless you don't mind fishing in a crowd. The spots that are holding fish are no secret, so if you do come up expect company. It's going to take quite a bit of rain to get things really kicked off up here. And it will need to be days of rain that refills the aquifers and doesn't immediately run off. At this point, I don't see that in the cards for the next week or two.


Check out a couple pics:



Catt Smallmouth (And yes, it did take the whiskey hangover!)



Full flow below Gowanda



Scenic shot



Recent salmon redd in a small creek


Tight lines guys



First day on the Catt

Posted on September 25, 2016 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Hit the Catt this morning for a few hours. Yesterday a front moved through and temps fell from the low 80's to the upper 40's. Today the highs are in the 60's. Water temp was 64 and falling. Figured I'd get out and look around. I wanted to hit the first riffle up from the lake, but when I got there at about 7:45, there were already 5 or 6 cars in the parking area. So I jumped upstream a bit to about river mile 6. It was a beautiful morning, and the river was flowing around 150 cfs with some color to it. I didn't think I'd find one up that high yet and my suspicion proved correct. Spent the morning popping ska-opper through the head of some runs, and just really enjoyed being out for a couple hours. It won't be long now...