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Posts Tagged ‘Drift Boat fishing’

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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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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I am a bit late posting but Saturday I set up and ran a 2 boat trip. The fishing wasn’t hot and heavy but we had some action and managed to get one into the net. The guys were very happy as they had struck out on their trip the day before. (It wasn’t with me) The one that came to the net smashed a Finger Lakes Tackle Blades of Steel spinner. We also took hits on beads. Overall it was a great day. The weather was good and we all had a good time.

Sunday I had the chance to be guided rather than be the guide. It was great. I set up the trip for my friend Steve’s bachelor party and we had a blast. We landed 4 steelhead and lost many others. A big thanks to Mike Kerstetter and James Kirkland for taking us down the river.

This is a short report as I am tired but I will say fishing has been a lot like it used to be. You have to work for them but they are there and if you put in a bit of effort you will be rewarded. Spinners and beads have been the hot baits the last couple weeks. Fly guys that know what they are doing are getting them too.

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I had the pleasure of fishing with Jeff and Brandon on Friday and Mark and Corey on Saturday. We had a great time both days however the fishing wasn’t that great. We fished Altmar to Pineville both days. There were a good number of fish in the top of the river we just had some trouble getting them going.

Friday we only managed to get one to the boat and the best part is we didn’t even hook the fish. We somehow managed to hook into the swivel at the end of a leader someone had broke off while fighting this fish. It was tough to get to into the net as I had to pull it in by hand at the end. We did hook a few others that came unglued.

Saturday we put two fish in the net and lost about 8 others. It probably would have been a much better day if a group of people hadn’t waded out into the river right down from us causing all the fish to scatter. We had anchored up in a good spot with a lot of fish around us and about an hour into day light the people walked right into where they should have been fishing. Many people seem to not understand that you don’t need to go chase these fish around. You can sit back and wait for them to come to you. They want to go upstream if you just let them.

Overall river report:
Fishing is still not great but it’s not bad. If you put some time in you will be rewarded. There are good numbers of salmon spread out through the entire river. The majority being in the upper sections. More steelhead and browns are being caught each day. Again they are throughout the river however more are being caught down low. Egg sacks and beads have been the best bet for the trout. Salmon have been caught on a variety of flies, egg sacks, and lures. Remember it is still single hooks only on the Salmon River for floating lures.
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Phil has fished with me the past 2 years. The first year was a great trip. We had 2 kings in the boat by 6:30 in the morning and put the 3rd in the boat about 10:30. Last year was not so great. Actually it was horrible. It rained the entire time we were on the river. To make it worse we never landed a fish. We only hooked one fish that turned out to be a very large brown trout that got off just inches from the net.
This year Phil and I debated where to fish when he came up. After looking at our options I told him I felt fishing the evening into the night in the river mouth would be our best bet. Turned out I was right. We started fishing about 4:30 pm and the boat was back on the trailer with a limit of King Salmon in the fish box by 8:30. Phil was obviously a very happy customer. Phil’s fish weighed in at 24,19,and 17 pounds. All very nice Salmon. The only problem he had was that he brought a cooler for Maryland fish to NY. As we say here we measure our fish in pounds not inches.

Phil should've brought a bigger cooler.

Phil should’ve brought a bigger cooler.

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Team Pavati. I love this boat and so did Phil.

Team Pavati. I love this boat and so did Phil.

Built in fish box. Team Pavati

Built in fish box.
Team Pavati

24 pounds of King Salmon. Gotta love "the truth" scale. Pavati has it all.

24 pounds of King Salmon. Gotta love “the truth” scale. Pavati has it all.

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Everyone is waiting for the run to turn on and be in full swing. I wish I could report that it was. However, there are fish in the river from top to bottom. More fish and more fishing pressure in the lower half of the river. If you are willing to work for your fish you will catch some. You will also enjoy a few less people on the river than normal for this time of year.

The trick is to get on the river early and pick a spot you believe the fish will be in that morning. If when day light comes the fish are there then game on. If they are not give it an hour or so to make sure they aren’t just down stream of you and headed your way. If they don’t show get in the truck and head to a new spot. Keep moving until you find them. Don’t necessarily follow the crowds. During my trip on Friday we moved to a section of the river that we had to ourselves and we found more than enough fish to keep us busy.

The other option is to hire a drift boat guide that will cover water until you find fish or take you out in mouth of the river at night. I will say as of lately the night fishing still hasn’t been what it should be. I have a feeling by this weekend the run will be on but if it isn’t follow these steps and you will find enough fish to keep you happy.

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