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It was a cool fall morning when we launched the boats in the dark.  This was my first time rowing down the river in the dark and to say I was nervous would be an understatement. I wasn’t going to let me first ever customers know that though. I was lucky enough to have a veteran guide let me follow him down river.  We were the first ones in the river so we had our choice of spots.

At 5:15 am we dropped anchor at tail of the School House Pool. We only had about a hour and a half to sit in the dark and wait for legal fishing hours.  We hadn’t been sitting there 5 minutes when one of my guests cracked his first beer.  They had brought a 30 pack with them so this had me concerned.  I started rigging up the plug rods we would put out at daylight. Once the plug rods were set I made sure our bottom bouncing rods were ready then I drank my coffee while they drank their beer.

When I put out the plug rods at day light there were at least 6 empty beer cans in the bottom of the boat and fish all around us. I was praying we would hit a few fish on the plugs and get them to the net first thing. That was not the case. We had 3 hard hits that doubled the rod over but never hooked up. At that time you couldn’t run bead chains unless you had a special lures permit and being new I didn’t have one.

Now it was plenty light out and we could see the fish constantly moving through the current around us. You could also now see at least 10 empty beer cans in the front of the boat. I pulled in the plug rods and hand them the bottom bouncers. I am not going to lie and tell you we were trying to get the fish to bite. We were trying to line them just like almost everyone else on the river at that time.  I explained to them how to cast just up stream of the fish so as not to spook them and then drift the line back into them. They kept casting right at the fish. I would tell them to cast ahead of the fish and they would cast way upstream and get snagged. I retied and they cast directly at the fish again. I was in trouble and I knew it. After about 2 hours of this and a few more beers the fish were gone and it was time to pull anchor.

When we dropped anchor again there were about 50 in the current right along side the boat. I though we were safe because it was a bit deeper water so they could get away with casting a little too far upstream. They were having trouble seeing the fish so their casts were even farther off target. It seemed no matter what I told them they did the opposite. It wasn’t long before another guide came through saw the fish and purposely splashed his oars through the hole sending them fleeing. I was not happy and never forgot this moment. I didn’t say a word as I was the new guy on the river and I had customers with me. I let them cast for a few more minutes while I regrouped and made a plan. I knew something had to change if I was going to get these guys at least one fish.

We made a big move down stream where I could pull plugs in some deeper water. I knew this was our only chance as they were never going to get one casting.  We fished through the first hole with out a strike. There were a few shots from a liquor bottle taken though. As I was setting rods in the second hole I noticed there were at least 20 empty beer cans in the bottom of the boat. I could tell the guys were far from sober. The second hole was money or at least it should have been. I watched the right rod double over and saw the fish thrashing on the surface. As I yelled “right rod right rod right rod” I rowed upstream as hard as I could to keep the line tight. Of course both guys tried to grab the left rod. By the time they got to the right rod the fish got slack line and came off.

There was only one spot left to try plugging before the boat launch. It was now or never and I was far from optimistic. I put the lures out again and started working them in the current. We were almost to the tail of the pool when the middle rod slammed down into the bow of the boat. I pulled hard on the oars and yelled “middle rod get it and reel”. I told them in the beginning you don’t have to set the hook, the fish will do it for you, just keep the line tight.  When he grabbed the rod out of the holder not only did he set the hook like Bill Dance but he dropped the rod right back down giving the fish the slack it needed. The fish was gone and so was all hope of saving the day.

Back at the lodge they told a bit different story to the owner who they had booked the trip through. They were not happy to pay all that money and not catch a fish. I was given the chance to tell my side  of the story when I stopped in later that evening. I learned a lot in that first trip. First and foremost I needed a special lure permit. Second there would be a limit on how much alcohol was allowed on my boat from there on out. This was when I decided if someone is just looking to catch a buzz they can hire someone else.

 

 

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It was how it all started I think. I’m not sure if I actually went fishing or not but from what I can remember it was the start of this crazy obsession. I know it sounds crazy that I don’t know if I went fishing but claim it was the day I got hooked on fishing. 

I do know I was no older than 5 years old. At the age of 5 my parents bought the house I lived in most of my childhood and we hadn’t moved yet.  That means it was possibly the summer I turned five but no later. 

It was a beautiful summer day some time in the morning or maybe it was afternoon. It was 30 years ago cut me some slack. My grandfather, Papa, had pulled up infront of the house with his boat in tow. The boat was a beautiful white and blue Conroy cuddy cabin. At 19 foot it was huge to a young child. Realistically it was on the smaller side for fishing Lake Ontario but that didn’t matter to me. 

Unfortunately I don’t really know if I went fishing that summer day. For all I know he might have picked my dad up and I might have stayed home. I highly doubt that. I wish I remembered going out on the water. Although it doesn’t matter because I will always remember that day as the day it all started. I blame and thank Papa for causing my fishing obsession. 

I spent many days on the water throughout my childhood on that boat most of them with Papa and as I got older many of them with friends. I will always cherish that time. Last year I was given the chance to buy that very boat and there was no way I was going to say no. It needs some cleaning and tuning but next summer I will be taking my wife and sons out on Lake Ontario and I can’t wait. Of course Papa will be invited on the first trip out. 

I have to say a big thank you to Papa for my fishing addiction. With out it who knows what I would have done. I might have become addicted to something else and ruined my life. I might have invested the 100’s of thousands of dollars in have spent on fishing and been rich.  What would I do with all that money? There is no way it could make me as happy as fishing and guiding does. My fishing addiction has made me rich in other ways…better ways. 

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I spent the majority of the day inside watching it rain. I did take the time to spool up a reel with new 10 weight line and mount it on a 10 weight rod I had forgotten I bought last fall.

That might be the first sign of a problem. I was thinking about buying a 10 weight for fishing bass in heavy cover and for pike fishing. As I was shopping around trying to figure out if I could spend the money at the moment for something of decent quality I realized there was a fly rod in my garage I bought last year. I went out to take a look at it and sure enough it was a 9/10 weight. I bought it from a snagger that needed money so it had a 7/8 weight reel that was spooled up with monofilament.

I started looking for a reel on ebay hoping to maybe find one spooled with line already. Then it clicked. I have a 2 handed 5 weight rod and reel in the garage that I don’t use and the reel is too big. Again there might be signs of a problem developing here but I am just going to ignore that.

So today I swapped reels put the 10 weight line on the larger reel and spooled the other with a brand new switch line that I had forgotten about in my office. Perfect 2 fly rods all ready to go and both new to me in one way or another.

It was still raining when I sent my friend Jamie a text asking if he wanted to go fishing in the rain. I knew he would say yes. He is always up for fishing in the worst weather at the worst time of day.

I told him where to meet me and put the rods in the truck. I was excited to try out this 10 weight and hoped to find larger bass in a pond I just started fishing last week. My first trip to the pond I only had small poppers and a 5 weight. Today I had bigger flies and a heavier rod.

It was still raining as we strung up the rods. I gave Jamie the 5 weight with a smaller foam bug that I knew would catch something. As I tied on a fly that was given to me by a fellow guide and friend I pointed out how, well let’s just say not pretty it was. We had a little laugh but I said what my friend always says “It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to have the right shape and

size.

” In the case of top water bass flies the right movement is also very important.

It only took two casts to prove that statement true. I soon was releasing a Largemouth. I didn’t end up landing any big ones but I did see one that was over 2 pounds caught by a guy with a spinning rod. That gave me more hope that there may be some true lunkers in this water. After only fishing a short time I caught 3 bass and Jamie caught 2 crappie. We missed a bunch more strikes and will be back there with a boat in the near future.

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of guiding Cherie, her son Ben, and his friend Luke. The boys are both 11 years old. They fished with me back in the fall for salmon and the boys worked together to land the one salmon we managed to hook that night.  This time they wanted to catch lots of fish even if they weren’t all that big.

I took them to one of my favorite spots to go just catch fish. I knew they wanted to take fish home for dinner so I hoped we would get into some Crappie and Rock bass which we did. I also knew that the smallies would keep them very busy.

Keeping kids busy is the most important part of taking them fishing. If kids get bored they won’t stay interested in fishing for long.  Don’t take young kids to a body of water that doesn’t hold a lot of fish or holds fish that are difficult to to catch. Find some place that holds panfish that can be caught with a worm or minnow and a bobber.

I chose minnows and bobbers for our trip. I also had night crawlers and wax worms just in case. As an added bonus my minnows were a split of fat heads and rosy reds. The red/orange minnows not only caught fish but the boys thought they were really cool.

Though out the afternoon we landed 7 crappie, 4 rock bass, a big blue gill, and over 20 smallmouth bass. We kept the crappie, the 2 bigger rock bass and the blue gill which provided them a delicious dinner the next night.  This is another way to get kids interested and keep them interested in fishing. If they like to eat fish take them fishing for a species they can keep and eat. Catch and release can come later in life for them.  Keeping what they catch allows them to show off more than just a picture and it is rewarded for them to eat fish they caught.

If you notice the kids getting bored or restless it may be time to switch it up. Skip rocks, look for frogs, or even call it a day. I can’t stress enough you must pay attention to how they are acting and if it is time to call it a day call it a day. Don’t keep them out there when they don’t want to be there just because you aren’t ready to go home.

If you want to take your kid fishing but don’t know where to start or have the equipment give me a call. I offer discounts for take a kid fishing trips. I will provide all the gear and bait. I have the patience to help teach how to cast and to untangle lines all day if needed. I am willing to bet your kid will not be the worst fisherman that has been on my boat. I have a few good spots weather your want fish to take home for dinner or just want to catch and release a lot of fish. We will have a good time and your kid or kids will go home with stories to tell all their friends.

 

 

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First off I would like to say good luck to all of those headed out for opening day tomorrow. As I write this I am sure on some streams there are people already lined up waiting for midnight to start casting.

Opening day is a holiday for many. For those that have to work they will most likely spend the day doing their job while secretly planning their attack for Saturday.  I am sure there are some that will even call in sick if they haven’t already.

I am going back to work tomorrow after being out for 3 weeks due to having my gallbladder removed. I know going back to work on opening day is crazy but I have guide trips Saturday, Sunday, and Monday so I needed to be back to work before I can be guiding.  Also there is the fact that my home water, the Salmon River, is open for trout fishing all year. We have been chasing giant rainbow trout, steelhead, all winter long and will continue to do so through April. In fact the bite just started to really get good while I have been out of work and unable to fish so I am really looking forward to this weekend. I do still have a couple dates open but my April is close to being fully booked.

In between working and guiding for steelhead this month I will be organizing my fly vest and tying more flies. Just waiting for May when I will hang up the steelhead gear and start chasing brookies, rainbows, and browns. I have already been following the line blue lines on my topo map and searching for new places to try. There is a beaver pond I have been meaning to hike to for two years now and this is going to be the year I finally do it. I have never been a still water fly fisherman but that is going to change this year.

I am also planning a trip to my favorite trout stream the West Branch of the Ausable river. I introduced my friend Jamie to it last year and he had a blast even though we were only able to fish one evening. This year we are planning a 4 day trip filled with trout and craft beer which happen to be two of my favorite things.

I am looking forward to seeing the Facebook and Instagram posts tomorrow as the mild winter has left most streams in prime condition for the opener.  Even the Tug Hill streams that normally have snow lined banks are in great shape as all the snow has already melted and run off.  Again good luck to everyone that is fishing tomorrow or this weekend.

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I had the pleasure of guiding Tom and Joe today. I decided yesterday I was tired of playing the who can get on the river earliest game. Last Saturday I pulled in to the Launch at 3:50 am and was not the first boat in the river. This morning we launched the boat at 5:30. I knew we wouldn’t get the spot I wanted but I also knew we could still get a good spot. We anchored up in a spot I like, started the heater and waited for day light.

Once it became legal fishing time we started casting Finger Lakes Tackle spinners. On Tom’s third cast the spinner stopped dead then took off upstream in the mouth of a nice 6 pound steelhead. Tom did an excellent job fighting the fish and it wasn’t long before it was in the net. They had decided they wanted to keep one to eat so this one went into the box. It was a good thing it did because the rest of the day we had a lot of trouble getting them to the hoop. We did land a nice little brown trout later in the morning though.

Spinners and egg sacks took all the hits today. Talking to people as we made our way down the river it seemed that most people were having a slow day. There were a few drift boats that had a pretty good day though. I know Tom and Joe thought it was an excellent day, as did I. We battled snow, wind, and cold all day yet still managed to hook multiple fish and land a couple. That is a good day in my mind.

Tom and Joe also enjoyed the comfortable seats and the warmth of the heater. Multiple times they complimented the Pavati especially using the doors to get in and out of the boat. I am definitely looking forward to fishing out of it this winter.

Finger Lakes Tackle Spinners doing work

Finger Lakes Tackle Spinners doing work

Happy Customers

Brown Trout and Cigars

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This review is very late as it was mid August when I had the pleasure of visiting the Reno Fly Shop. I figured late is better than never and I must share my experience with this awesome fly shop.

The Reno Fly Shop is located right in Reno, Nevada. It is walking distance from the Truckee River. The guys that run this shop are great. I was headed to Reno to visit some of my wive’s family so I of course googled fly shops in Reno, Nevada. It turns out there is only one and it is the Reno Fly Shop. Looking at the map I could see it was walking distance from Circus Circus where we were staying so I put it on my must do list.

Our first day in Reno my wife, son, and I went for a walk around. After checking out a few shops we made our way to the Reno Fly Shop. As I walked in I could tell I was going to like the place. We were immediately greeted by one of the owners. (I am horrible with names.) We told them we were in town visiting family and I was interested in fishing for at least one morning while I was in town. We talked about fishing in New York and Nevada for a bit.

I asked about hiring a guide as I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to fish and wanted to make the best of my time. They told me that if guided back home I probably didn’t really need a guide there. They would rent me the equipment and point me in the right direction. This was a shock to me as most places want to get as much money out of you as possible.

I came back a few days later to rent a fly rod for the next day. The basic set up was $20 a day. That included fly rod and reel, a hip pack, leader, tippet material, fly floatant, and basic tools. All I needed to buy was some flies. They picked out a half dozen flies that would work, gave me directions to a good section of the river, and told me how to fish it. I couldn’t wait for the next morning.

The next morning my wife, son and I arrived at the river around 7 am. I was going to fish and she was going to go for a run through the park with our son. I rigged up the fly rod and headed to the river. On my first cast the dropper became snagged on a rock and when it came loose the line tangled on the end of the rod. I placed the reel on the rock next to me as I made my way up to the tangle on the end of the rod. As I untangled the line the reel fell off the rock leaving me holding just the last 8 inches of the rod. You can probably guess what happened at that point. The rod snapped in my hand. I couldn’t believe it. I sent a text to my wife and headed to the car.

After breakfast we headed back to the shop to tell them what had happened. I had full intentions on paying for the rod I had broke. When I told them what happened they told me not to worry about it it was covered under warranty and they would just send it back. Not only did they not charge me for the next days rental because I didn’t get to fish that day but they wouldn’t let me even pay the shipping to send the rod back. These guys are fisherman and understand that things happen. Of course this caused me to spend extra money in the shop on clothing and a fly box that I have been using this salmon season and am very glad I bought.

The next day I did get to fish the Truckee River which is a beautiful river. I didn’t land any fish that morning but I didn’t hook into a very large trout that go off after making a down stream run around a very large boulder.

If you are ever in Reno I highly recommend that you stop in the Reno Fly Shop. Even if you don’t have time to fish while you are there I am guessing you will at least want a tee shirt as they have a great logo.  If you are planning to fish while you are in town this is a must stop before you fish as they guys really know there stuff. There is no doubt in my mind that your day on the water will be better if you stop in the shop the day before.

 

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There is nothing worse that waking up early after staying up late preparing for a fishing trip only to find the wind blowing way to hard to get out on the water.  If you fish Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake, or any similar water there is no doubt you have had one of these mornings.  This has happened to me the last two days. The wind and rain have been to intense to get out on the water.

I normally take advantage of these days by getting work done around the house.  After all a happy wife is a happy life.  Some days I just can’t get the fishing bug out of my head though. These days I like to spend tying flies, putting new line on my reels, or writing about fishing.  There is also the most expensive blow off day activity buying new gear. I try to stay away from this last one even though it is the most fun.

What do you do on blow off days?

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Today was my first ever day fishing open water on Oneida Lake New York. Yes there are a few bodies of water in the Central New York area that I have not fished. Until today this was one of them. I have fished it through the ice a couple times but never open water.

I have been getting reports of the Walleye fishing on Oneida Lake being hit or miss. Some days guys have been crushing them and then getting nothing in the same spot the next.

Today I was fishing with my friend Mike Tankersly aboard his Lund boat. Mike fishes Oneida Lake regularly so I was excited to be out with him. We launched out of Oneida Shores boat launch. It was my first time at the launch and I was very impressed. I would recommend using it.

It turned out today was one of the miss days, although we did have some action. Shortly after we started fishing Mike caught a perch around 8 inches. Many places I fish this would be a keeper but anyone who has fished Oneida Lake for perch knows that this is a small one there. It wasn’t long after that I felt a hit on my black and purple buck tail jig. It was a nice walleye about 18 inches or so. As we continued our drift we noticed the boats around us where moving to other spots and not drifting back through the area we where in. We fished for a bit longer and then decided to do the same.

At our next spot Mike caught another perch, this one even smaller then the first. We both caught big small mouth bass. Another fish that Oneida Lake is know for.  I also managed to hook up with and land 2 pickerel. One of which was the smallest I have ever caught. I didn’t measure it as I wanted to get it right back in the water but I am guessing it went about 10 inches.

We only had a few hours to fish this morning so we quickly went and unsuccessfully tried one other spot before it started to rain and we decided to call it a day about a half hour earlier than planned. Overall I was happy with my first trip to Oneida Lake walleye fishing. After all my one walleye would be enough for dinner for my wife and I. Mike said next time would be better though so I can’t wait to get back out there and try it again.

 

 

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