Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lake Effect

Since the very first time I met my good friend Marty, I've heard tales of monster trout in his boyhood stomping grounds. He grew up in Rochester, NY on the southern shore of Lake Ontario and started fishing those lake tributaries at an early age. I finally got tired of hearing about it and decided to experience it for myself. So, I managed to squeeze in a few days off from work and we headed North to check it out. His folks still live in the area and were nice enough to give us a warm bed and food in our stomachs for 5 days (Thanks again Mr. and Mrs. Romeo).

A recent slug of rain combined with a forecast of temps in the 20s, with snow every day, meant conditions weren't going to be optimal. We would endure high, muddy water and constant icy guides, not to mention frozen reels, feet and fingers. The blow out those streams received just a few days prior to our trip meant we would be confined to the smaller streams that would drop and clear more quickly. We drove all night on Thursday and arrived Friday morning to the only blue sky we would see for days, but it didn't last long and the snow started soon enough.

I started out fishing an old W&M Granger Favorite 6 weight bamboo rod - mostly because I really like that old rod and had the notion that it would be neat to land a nice brown or a steelhead on it. I didn't really expect to hook up on a 25" plus steelhead that might have tipped the scales at 8 or 9 pounds for my first fish, but that's exactly what happened. That 60 year old rod was up to the task (mostly) but I ended up with a pretty nasty set in the tip after that fish.

I gingerly nursed the rod through the rest of that first day, landing a decent brown, but opted for a more suitable 8 weight graphite for the rest of the trip.

I spent the 2 weeks prior to our trip tying various streamers, stonefly nymphs and sucker spawn patterns in 6 different colors, so I was well armed for battle. It turned out that I could have left everything at home except the chartreuse sucker spawn. It was too cold to swing streamers and we needed something bright for the fish to see in the muddy water. By going slow and deep, we were able to pick up at least a few fish every day.

Marty managed to spot this fish hanging out just downstream of a small King Salmon. We figured he was waiting on the Salmon to pair up and spawn so he could grab an easy meal. A well placed sucker spawn proved to be too tempting to resist.

A "little" lake-run brown.

Big fish in little bitty creeks equals lots of fun.

This brown actually looked happy to have been caught and flashed a big smile for the camera.

This guy was a little more angry about the whole situation.

Marty won the prize for big fish of the trip with this beast:

Hooked up and slamming the steel. That's some sweet stuff.

Did I mention that it was cold?

Smaller fish but shaped like a football, and check out those red gill plates.

Thanks to Marty for playing guide and showing me this awesome fishery. I already can't wait for next December.