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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! ;))
|Posted on October 21, 2015 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
Well today was interesting to say the least. Fishing was kinda all over the place. At the first place we fished, we found a decent pod of large 3 lake year fish. Most of the fish we hooked were at least 8 or 9 pounds with some waaayyy bigger. In the clear water, there were steelhead that were dwarfing the average 8 pounder. I'm gonna guess that the largest we saw were around the 15 pound ballpark. And we hooked fish. But our first half dozen or so hookups either broke off or pulled free. Some of the large fish we were hooking would run upstream to a deep plunge pool where they could wrap the leader around a rock, or simply sit in the heavy current. It was frustrating for the first hour or two to hook some of these monsters, but because the water was so clear we could use nothing heavier than 6 pound floro, and when the fish would run all we could do was watch them bury themselves in the heat. We simply couldn't put enough pressure on to keep them from getting there. Finally we got one of the smaller fish in the net. Though I said small, it was still 7-8 pounds.
Meanwhile, Art and I had walked downstream a bit to a slooowwww tailout and it was stacked. We twitched nymphs, pulled woolly buggers near the surface, tried smaller streamers, but only had one hit right of the bat on a white streamer and it didn't stick. Seeing how many fish were stacked in there, and how often fish would slap the surface, I opted for a dry fly with a small nymph dropper. Art would cast up, dead drift down, then skate out. Fish immediately showed interest in the dry fly, chasing but nothing was committing. Finally as Art's drift was ending and he was skating the fly, a fish turned and lit him up. The fish crushed the dry, and the fight was INSANE! The fish crashed up and down the river with room to run, but after a long and spirited fight we netted the 6 or 7 pound chrome fish, dry fly in the corner of her mouth. What an achievement.
Once the fishing slowed there, we checked out another spot and found a decent pod of fish. We hooked another five or six, landing two or three more beautiful chrome steelhead. At 12:45 we called it a day. It was an epic trip with some of the hardest fighting steelhead I've ever seen. Landing one on the dry was the icing on the cake.
The pics speak for themselves.
Why yes that is a dry in the corner of it's mouth.
Another shot of Art's steelhead on the dry.
Jess with a chrome fighter.
Catch and release.
Me and Jess.
Father and daughter.
|Posted on October 4, 2015 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
This past week has been what we were waiting for! High temps in the 50s since Wednesday, even a 40 something day on Saturday! This coupled with around an inch of rain has pushed in the fish! Friday brought high winds to murky up the shore. Definitely a small craft advisory! Saturday the Catt was under 300 CFS with steady river temps right around 50. Started at daybreak on the reservation below cabbage patch. With all the gravel mining they are doing at the patch, I wanted to see what the river lower down would look like in otherwise prime conditions. Well it wasnt great to say the least. What should have been near to or slightly more than 20 inches of vis was cut down to under 10. Not un-fishable but very tough. Spent a couple hours swinging down there and lost a solid fish into the wood despite the less than favorable visability.
By mid morning, I decided to hop above cabbage patch. Ended up a little higher up than I would have liked because this weekend was definitely a steelhead season weekend and there were cars and fisherman at each spot. Watched some center-pinners pull out a few fish near the patch. Checked out one of my favorite mid-river stretches and there was no-body, and the water looked great! Good news is run looked even better than I remember, but the bad news is that since the water looked so good up there, the gravel mining will keep the lower 5 miles or so at 10" or less. Didn't expect to find a fish this high up with the late summer and early fall we've had, and wasn't surprised by any.
Decided to pack it over and check out some of the smaller creeks. Each were clear and each had fish. Saw one hole on a smaller creek with a few fish lined up in the tailout. Grabbed my switch with a dry line and a long leader. Tied on a bomber and watched a fish chase it till it ran out of water. Chased it three casts in a row, but couldnt commit. Still it's always fun when you find a player.
All the creeks have fish in them. Here are a few pics.
A money run. The near side is deep and boulder studded, while the far side has a slow water bucket that people walk through and forget to fish.
Where dreams are made. All those rocks on the other side will hold fish.
|Posted on September 11, 2015 at 5:40 PM||comments (0)|
Its about that time of year to start thinking of chrome. The beginning of September this year has been one of the hottest I can remember, with a week straight of upper 80s low 90s. Yuck. But the worst seems to be past, and the coming week's forecast reads nights in the lower 50s with rain showers over the weekend. Better yet, the high temperatures on some of those days are in the 60s. Finally its starting to feel like fall. And that means steelhead. While the creeks will probably be low and clear for some time to come, steelhead will start to nose their way in.
This is the time of year to explore the rivers. With lower water, you can see what has changed over the past year. Plus with fewer people on the water its a time to find solitude. The crowds of peak season are still weeks away. Finally lower water is a great time to fish a floating line. There is no more exciting way to take a steelhead than on a floating line with a long leader. Swinging a fly on or just under the surface through a riffle only to have a steelhead explode on it will stop your heart. And the next few weeks are the time to try it. So if you do try the floating line, fish with an open mind because success is not measured in numbers of fish but quality of the total experience. And you just may be surprised by a willing taker.
|Posted on August 4, 2015 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
Fished the Salmon River yesterday and today looking for summer steel or atlantics. I always forget just how much the river looks like a classic new england salmon stream. Tanic water flowing fast over dark colored cobble and boulders. No wonder this river hosted one of the most prolific atlantic runs in colonial times. This proved not to be the case over the last few days as the only thing missing were the salmon! Saw a couple (literally 2 or 3) in the tailout of the top pool, but they sure as shit werent interested in anything. Fished the entire upper flys only section yesterday and today. Threw muddlers, caddis, bombers, foam wakers, and classics. Managed a few stocker steelhead smolts 6-8 inches long on a waking bomber. Any time a fish takes a wakng dry its fun, but they came in pretty easy on a 12'6" 6wt spey rod.