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On the Ice At Last

Today was the first day I was able to get on the ice this year. I have been trying to get out but it seems like there has been something going on every nice weekend.  The weekends nothing was going on the weather was so cold I didn’t want to leave the house.  I don’t mind ice fishing when its zero or less outside as long as I am already on fish. I don’t want to be scouting in that weather.

Today I had to sign my son up for baseball at 11 so I figured I would get out for the afternoon.  I stopped by the tackle shop for a couple new jigs and some bait. The lady behind the counter told me good luck I hear they got a foot of snow up that way.   This was not encouraging but I was going ice fishing so off I went.

I pulled into the parking lot at the Elm’s golf course where I planned to walk out from. However, when I got there I realized I couldn’t even see the ice from the parking lot. The wind was ripping and blowing snow all over.  After a few minutes of contemplating braving it I decided to go check Green Point. I pulled there and it was better but still not very good so it was off the Lake View.  I arrived at Lake View at the same time as a couple other guys that were heading out and there was once shanty out there already.  Again the wind was ripping but I had made up my mind I was going to give it a try. I unloaded the 2 man shanty from the truck bed and filled it with gear. I have a single man as well but the plan is to fish with my oldest son and wife tomorrow so I figured I would just deal with dragging it so I was ready for tomorrow.  This tuned out to be a mistake.

As I drug the shanty to the ice I realized I never put my ice cleats in the truck. The ice was snow covered so I didn’t think it was going to be too bad.  As I started out onto the ice I realized I was wrong. The ice was smooth as silk underneath 3 to 4 inches of snow making dragging the shanty very difficult. With no other choice, well besides going home, I pressed on.  I tried multiple techniques to move myself and the shanty with out falling.  No of which worked all that well. The third time I fell I decided that was where I was going to fish.  I cut two holes and set up the shanty.

Anyone who has set up a shanty in high winds by themselves know what kind of shit show that quickly turns into.  After a brief fight I was inside somewhat out of the wind. I cleaned out the hole and dropped in the Vexilar. I saw I was in six feet of water and there were fish down there.  It took a couple tries to figure out what they wanted but then I had my first blue gill hooked. It was a decent one around 8 inches. I say around because it fell off the hook and managed to land right back in the 6 inch hole which it more than covered before it flipped and swam away.  I wasn’t happy about that but hey at least there were fish there and they were what I wanted.  The next few minutes when well as I landed a few nice gills and placed them in my bucket.

Then a gust of wind came up that almost flipped the shanty. I fought to keep it held down as a few things fell off the seat next to me. Luckily not landing in the other hole I had cut that I was now realizing would not be used.  As it settled down I moved my seat position further back as to keep more weight on the back of the sled. I caught a couple more gills all keeper except one. The wind was blowing snow under the sides of the shanty but I was on fish and that was all that mattered. Then it happened, a wind gust so hard it flipped the shanty up on it’s side with me in it. I struggled and managed to hold it from flying away on me. As I got it back onto its bottom I realized it was time to pack up the shanty.  Why didn’t I bring that single man shanty again?

After It was packed up I decided I would fish with out it as long as I could. This was interesting as the snow was being blow into the hole and the Vexilar screen.  I lasted about 15 minutes landing a couple more gills and losing a really nice one that got caught on the transducer.  If I was using a heavier jig I could have lasted longer but the snow in the hole and ice on the line got to be too much of a pain.  When it was all over I had 11 gills in the bucket. Considering this was a complete shit show that only lasted about an hour or so I didn’t think that was too bad. I am hoping for lighter winds tomorrow.

 

 

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You often here people talk about fishing destinations and how they are “bucket list”.  These are places people dream about fishing and hope they will make it too before they die. Many times they plan to go when they retire, when the kids move out of the house, child support payments end, and so on and so on.   I have a big problem with this.

First off you don’t know how long you are going to live.  You could die tomorrow, year or in 50 years.  No one knows how long they will live.  If you put a trip on your bucket list and then kick the bucket before you get to go what was the point.  No one shows pictures of places people wanted to visit at their funeral.  They do however often show pictures of extravagant places people visited while they were alive doing things they loved.  Think about when you have seen these pictures. Chances are you thought about how they may not be with us anymore but at least they were able to do things they loved in cool places. This likely brought a bit of a smile or a bit of relief to you during a sad time.

The second problem I have with bucket lists is you don’t know what kind of shape you will be in when your retire or whatever excuse you are using to delay trip of life time happens.  You might not be physically able to make the trip or may experience an unexpected financial hardship at a time in your life you aren’t able to make that money back up. So here you sit wishing you had taken the trip when you were younger. Again you never run into an old man in the fly shop talking about the trips he thought about going on. You will often see that old man telling you all about the places he fished when he was younger though. He will smile the entire time too.

This is why I say take that bucket list and turn it into a F it list.  Go now while you can. This doesn’t just include fishing trips. This is anything you have wanted to do. Find a way and do it.  Don’t have the money?  Find it. Sell some stuff you haven’t used and no longer need.  Get a side job. Take a loan if you have to. That is as long as it wont take food out of your families mouth that is. Now if you are single and it means box mac and cheese dinners for a few months I say go for it.

Now what I mean by a F it list is take that list of places you want to go and prioritize it. Now figure out a way to check one spot off each year.  My personal list has places that are expensive and places that won’t take much money they just require actually going.  My plan is to do an expensive one followed by a year or two of less expensive trips so I can recoup from the big trip. This spring I am going to Argentina to fish for Golden Dorado. To be honest I had no idea what a golden dorado was until I heard about this trip.  I found out a details from my friend Mark and said F it I want to go and I am going to go.  Fly fishing in South America is something I have always wanted to do. I had just planned on going for trout but only because I didn’t know about golden dorado.

I am also going with my family this winter to Mississippi to visit my brother in-law. This will mostly be a family trip but will include fishing for red fish and sea trout. Something I have also always wanted to do.  My wife has wanted to go visit her brother for a long time as well so we are saying F it and going this year while we can.

Many of us has places or types of trips we have wanted to take that are close by we just don’t take the time to do it.  It is time to change that.  Go do what is is you have dreamed about. As my boss always says this isn’t a dress rehearsal, if there is something you want to do you need to do it.  So many people die at young age before getting to do the things they dream about. Don’ t let it happen to you. Turn that bucket list into a F it list today.

Salmon Season 2017

As I look back on this years salmon season I can’t help but think about how blessed I am to have such great customers.  This year was with out a doubt my best year as far as guests go.  I sent out a few messages to past customers in August and filled most of my open dates in just a few days. It is a great feeling to have people come back year after year.  The remaining dates were filled by September by new customers some of which are now repeat customers as they have already booked future dates.  In this business you never know who you are going to get. Every guide has stories of people they couldn’t wait to get off the boat.  This year I never had a trip where I felt that way and it was great.

We spent the season casting or trolling lures and baits even when others said it was to warm to get them to snap. Day after day we proved them wrong taking plug bites on 70 plus degree days with water temps in the high 60’s.  When we got to the ramp we may not have had as many fish on ropes as others but we didn’t snag ours.  The only way the snagging mentality is going to change is if it starts with the guides.  I know for a fact I changed a few peoples outlook on salmon fishing this season and I am happy I could do that.

Overall the Salmon River was crowded most of the season but 99% off the people were friendly and moved out of the way of the boat. There are always going to be the guys who hate the drift boats but I think the number of them is getting smaller.  Most people are realizing that it’s not that big of a deal to wait or take a few steps back while the drift boat goes through. They are also realizing that many times the boat gets fish moving around and they hook up right after the boat passes.

2017 Salmon Season was my most fun season by far.  The only problem I had was that my son is now old enough to realize that dad is gone all the time.  This really hit me hard when he told my mom that dad couldn’t play with him because he works all the time.  There will be some changes next fall continuing until the boys are old enough to understand why dad is working 7 days a week for 2 months.  I will be running less trips and spending a few more days with family.   That being said I have already been booking 2018 salmon trips so if you have dates you want to fish with me I would recommend getting them booked soon.  I will be blocking off dates on my calendar on http://www.fisherguiding.com as they are booked if you want to see what is available. This should be done by the end of the week.

If you were a guest of mine for the 2017 Salmon Season thank you for making it awesome and I hope to see you again in 2018.

I have not been doing much as far as reports go this season. The reason is simple, my reports from early September through now would all be the same. It would say the river is full of fish. They are everywhere from the DSR to Altmar.  I have seen some keyboard hero’s complaining that the reports are false and there are no fish. Let me just say this if you went to the salmon river and didn’t find fish you are either blind or didn’t move around.  Now if you were just looking to snag fish in the shallow water areas earlier in year you probably didn’t find much. The fish were stacked in the deeper darker holes as the water and air were very warm this year.

Recent rains finally brought all the smaller streams up to a good fishable level and the fish moved in.  I am not going to name any of them but if they run into Lake Ontario there are fish in them now.  Hopefully we continue to get rain and keep the water levels up so they stay at a good fishing level.

Salmon River still has plenty of fish with a few late pushes coming in the last few days. We should be on decent salmon for the next couple weeks.

I have also seen many people complaining about lack of steelhead this year. Hello it’s barely the middle of October.  Yes some years we see good numbers of them as early as September but those years are rare.  This is a good thing as many would get snagged and dragged out on ropes. I have no problem with people keeping steelhead. I myself love to eat them. However, when there is a good early run you will often see people kill more than their limit and claim they are coho. If only there was better cell service on the river so they could be reported more often.  Steelhead are starting to show up more and more each day in the lower river. I talked to a lake captain two days ago and he said there were good numbers of them out deep in the lake. We should be looking at a good steelhead fishing season this year.

I do have a couple of November dates left and a few more open dates in December if you want to get in on the action before the cold sets in. If you are looking for peace and quiet January and February are wide open. I will have heat and hot coffee on the boat this winter.

Have fun and fish.

You have just landed the fish of a lifetime and you want more than just a picture to remember it by. Taxidermy is the first thing that comes to mind. You would love to see a mount of the fish on the wall.  The question is who do you take it to.  This is where it can get complicated.

If you already know someone who does taxidermy and you like the work they do then your choice is easy. However, if you are out of town or don’t know any taxidermists then you need to make a decision.  The first decision is do you want a skin mount or a reproduction. The big plus to the reproduction is with a few good pictures and measurements you can release or eat the fish and still put it on the wall.  Once that is decided now where do you go.

If you are fishing with a guide there is a good chance they will have someone they recommend. Personally I recommend people to Anglers Choice Fish Mounts as he does excellent work. I have not seen a fish he has done that didn’t look good.  His prices aren’t the cheapest but also not the most expensive and you get what you pay for. Actually sometimes you don’t get what you paid for and that will leave you with an ugly fish on the wall ruining the whole memory of the catch.  The last thing you want is to pay top dollar for a mount and be unhappy with it. This brings me to my next point.

If you aren’t with a guide ask your fishing friends or a local tackle shop for a recommendation. Many tackle shops are drop off locations for taxidermist.

Even if you have been recommended to someone look at their work first.  Make sure the fish they do look good. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to fish mounts. Make sure the work they do matches what you like. If possible go to the shop in person and look at the fish they have there.  DO NOT just agree to have your fish mounted with out seeing work first. I know of multiple people who have had fish mounted and were unhappy with the results. You want the fish to look like it did when it was caught.

Price is normally a concern when it comes to taxidermy. I am all about shopping around and comparing prices but only if you are happy with the quality of multiple peoples work. DO NOT compromise quality to save a couple bucks an inch.  Remember most likely you aren’t getting fish mounted that often and it is going to be hanging on your wall. You want to be proud to show it off to your friends.

Everyone has different levels of experience and abilities.  There is no getting around that. When planning an outdoor adventure you need to remember this and be honest about it.  You also need to remember you might not be as good as you once were.  This is true for many aspects of your trip.

When you set up a trip with a guide they may ask you questions trying to judge your abilities. Based on the answers you give them they then plan out said trip.  This is why honesty is important.  Any good guide is going to have a plan b and probably a plan c. However, if you weren’t honest on the phone plan b and c might not be any better than the original plan.

This is especially important if your trip includes fishing back country out of the way waters and you have to hike to get to them.  You might have had no problem hiking for miles fishing in your younger or lighter years.  If those days have gone by and you don’t have time to get back into shape be honest. Tell your guide if you have trouble getting around or if you have knee problems.  Ask them if they can still put you on fish with out long walks to the water. If you don’t you may arrive and quickly find out you are not up for what the guide has planned.

This recently happened to me. I was told by a gentleman that him and his sons were used to hiking 3 to 6 miles in search of wild trout.  They wanted to fish somewhat remote areas where they wouldn’t see many people if any at all.  I was excited to book this trip as it is one of my favorites.  I started planning months before they trip and had 4 streams mapped out for the two days they would be fishing with me.  One of these streams required some bushwacking as there are no worn down trails and the other included a half mile walk from the truck followed by multiple waterfall climbs.  After fishing these two spots on day one I knew that my plans for day two were out the window and it was time to scramble and come up with a plan d.

The original stream for day two involved a few miles of step grade and big boulders.  This left me scratching my head as I needed easy walking wilderness fishing.  As you probably already know those don’t go together that often.  I scraped together a plan and we did our best on day 2 actually landing the biggest wild brook trout and wild brown trout of the weekend.  At the end of the day I was left feeling like two of my four guests weren’t happy with the results of the day.  I don’t like that feeling at all and of course went home and tried to figure out what I could have done different.

The answer was nothing. If had taken them any where that was easier walking it would have involved stocked fish and/or an urban environment.  Two things they didn’t want. In the end given correct knowledge of their ability I could have planned out the days a bit different as to not beat them up so much on the first day. I could have also explained ahead of time that I could put them on some big fish with easy walking on day two but we would be fishing in the middle of town. If they were honest with themselves that might have been alright with the idea.

Here is a list of some of things you should be upfront about when talking to your guide before the trip.

  1. What time you are willing to get out of bed. – Many guides want to be on the water before sun up.
  2. Your physical ability – Can you hike all day or would a boat be a better option.
  3. Your fishing ability – Don’t say you can cast an indicator rig 70 feet unless you can. This will come out very quickly.  A good guide will put you within your casting range of the fish.
  4. What you are expecting to catch. Make sure your expectations align with what the guide is planning to fish for. If you want 20 inch wild brook trout in a small stream it’s probably not going to happen.
  5. Any food allergies. Especially if the guide is providing food.

 

Just be honest with yourself and your guide. It will make for a much more enjoyable trip.

Most years I hope for a wet spring. A wet spring normally extends the good fishing by a few weeks or more. However, this is getting ridiculous. 

The lake is flooding and people are losing lots of money. Businesses that habe been waiting all winter to start making money are under water. Even worse are the memories lost when a family camp or home is washed into the lake or flooded beyond repair. My heart goes out to these people.  

Enough with the doom and gloom. Let’s get to the good points of all this rain

  1. Trout were stocked in many places just before it started. This means those fish were able to spread out in the streams before the poachers got them.
  2. We will have good flows and cool water through June and maybe into July for the Tug Hill trout streams. Trout fishing on Tug Hill is going to be good this year. 
  3. Steelhead fishing on the Salmon River will extend well into mid May. 
  4. Back country bass ponds should remain full of water and fish we’ll through the entire summer this year. 

Now let’s all just hope the rain stops soon. While you are sitting at home hoping make sure your gear is ready. When the water receeds it’s going to be on in a big way.