Friday, November 18, 2011

Small water - BIG fish

For three days this week my buddy/guide partner Jim and I fish some small Lake Ontario tribs near Rochester, NY. We have fished the Salmon River before and heard there were other tribs with big fish that are not as crowded. We confirmed that fact!
We did the 6.5 hour driver from So. NH arriving around noon. After checking into the motel, we met up with friend/client/FFNE-blog-follower Matt (hi Matt!) and fished a local spring creek for wild browns. Somewhat similar to the Swift River in MASS, I coaxed a half-dozen beautiful wild fish to net using small soft-hackles and BWO emergers. The next day we met our guide Jason Franz on the river and proceeded to learn a lot about the fishery and about catching these large lake-run browns and rainbows. There were even a few lingering Chinooks around, as well as a few Atlantic salmon. Jason has access to some private water, so we enjoyed targeting some really big fish at fairly close range. The spot we fished was not far from the lake estuary, so the fish had not run the gauntlet prior to hitting this section of riffles and pools. The large male browns (some over 10 pounds!) were fighting for position around the females and putting on quite an aggressive show. Unlike my experience with LL salmon, they weren't territorial in the sense that they would attack a well-placed streamer fly. If they were defending territory they were not interested in eating. But once females started dropping eggs there were plenty of male and female browns and a few rainbows there to gobble them up. I had a couple takes but no good hookups on bunny streamers, and all the hookups and landings were on eggs.

These are a couple of the larger fish we caught with Jason.  We each had larger fish on, but they came unbuttoned before we were able to land them.  We also fished a few spots on public access water in order to learn more about the river and discover some places we could fish on our own.  Jason is an excellent guide and we learned quite a bit about the fishery and the river.  He has an uncanny knack for spotting fish and selecting the correct approach to fish to them.  It was great for a change to have someone else rigging gear, pointing out holding lies, and untangling snarls, landing fish, etc.  
On Thursday morning we fished on our own at a couple spots Jason showed us and also did some exploring based on advice from locals we met on the river.  In about 15 minutes I netted three almost identical female browns (two on consecutive casts!) from a very productive pool. Jim is pictured holding one of them.  I also had three other larger fish on for a few minutes, including one giant fish that we believe to be a very large female brown.  It wasn't dark and scarred like the Chinooks we saw. Wasn't dark and colored-up like the large male browns. And didn't run and/or leap like a steelhead.  By process of elimination, probably  a large female brown. Who knows?  I only know that it was hooked in the mouth; we both saw it close-up and it was much larger than the male browns pictured above. (BTW we both accidentally foul-hooked Chinooks and broke them off, so we know it wasn't one of them.)  If you want to sample some great big-fish fly fishing and don't want to put up with the hassle of the Salmon River, contact Jason at Troutnabout Charters   - In the summer months he also operates a charter boat on Lake Ontario.  Right now through December is a great time to fish for the big browns and steelhead, and again in April and early May before the water warms and they head out to the lake.

This Tuesday 11/22 at 7:00PM I will be presenting my Labrador Trip at the Squann-a-tissit TU chapter meeting in Pepperell, MA.  Free admission - come check it out. 


  1. Gerry,
    Can that smile get any bigger?

  2. You take just the loveliest photos. Everything looks so fresh!perfect Small water big fish thanks

  3. I think you had a great time out there, very unique and big fishes you have caught in the small water!

  4. Lovely photographs...its really exciting for any one to catch such a big fish.