Thursday, April 30, 2009

My First Successful Fly Fishing Adventure!

I FINALLY caught my first fish with a fly rod! It was a gorgeous steelhead and guess what… I have no picture to prove it! I did get a photo of my second steelhead ever caught (pictured above), but not the first. You see, a certain guide of mine who shall remain nameless, (ha who am I kidding… it was Fran Verdoliva from the Salmon River Fish Hatchery), accidentally let my fish go before I had a chance to get a picture!

I figured Fran knew that my blog postings were usually about my hunting and fishing failures. I’m convinced it was a set up and he was just trying to keep my stories consistent. Or maybe he was just doing his job as an environmental conservationist and handled the steelhead with care and the steelhead took advantage and slipped away. All I know is that I reached for my camera and I turned around and my fish was GONE! I was more determined than ever to catch my next fish so I could walk away with a photo, or else I'm pretty sure no one would believe me.

We were fishing in the catch and release section of the Salmon River in Altmar. It was a beautiful sunny day and the water was low enough to see the fish. This was exciting because every other time I had tried my luck at fly fishing I could never see anything, even with my polarized glasses on. I had a theory that polarized sunglasses only worked for people with brown or blue eyes – not hazel like mine. Well apparently they do work when you actually know what you’re looking for.

Fran set me up with a fly rod, polarized glasses (that I now know how to use) and his homemade flies. It took me quite a while to get the hang of the casting. I was used to full casts with no trees behind me. Fishing on a river is a different story. I got the hang of it (well that’s a matter of opinion) and I waited for my bite.

First bite: The fish took off so fast I think the line was almost completely off my reel. Needless to say that speed demon broke off and left me with a broken heart.

Second bite: I caught her! The infamous fish I mentioned above. The one who didn’t get away - at first. I had the sweet taste of victory and it was ripped from me when she jumped out of Fran’s arms.

Third bite: I didn’t even know I had a bite. I thought it was a snag. He broke free.

I had about an hour left. We had moved to a different spot on the bank of the river where there was a tree directly over me. We had to kneel and try to cast. That was entertaining. I can barely cast standing up with no trees above my head. You can only imagine how I looked trying this technique out.

Fourth bite: He stayed on! I fought hard and I was shaking because I was SO close and I knew this could be it. I finally tired my fish out enough to get him on dry land (we would have used a net, but someone forgot the net; once again not mentioning names).


So this actually felt like my first steelhead ever because I got to hold him and take photos! Of course we threw him right back in because it was the catch and release section of the river.

On a side note: my fish had a hook stuck in its eye. I am assuming someone accidentally snagged it and left the hook there. So, when possible, please remove the hooks from your fish! It was dangerous not only to the fish but to Fran as he tried to remove it.

So that is my first successful fly fishing story! If you’ve never fished the Salmon River you are missing out! We have overwhelming amounts of information so please contact me if you are interested in fishing the Salmon River. Or you can visit our “Where to Fish” section of the Oswego County Tourism website.

Part of the catch & release section of the Salmon River in Altmar

Fran, fishing the river

And again, showing me how it's done

Another picture of my beautiful steelie!

Fran posed with my fish. He deserves some credit since he somehow managed to teach me how to actually CATCH fish.

Fran's buddy, Charlie, holding his catch

Fran got another one

Check out these two videos of Fran fighting and landing a Steelhead. I had to stop recording once he landed the fish to help out. The second video shows off the fish.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why I Prefer Bullhead Fishing

Matt, with one of the many bullhead he caught on April 15.
I went bullhead fishing Wednesday night on the Salmon River Estuary in Port Ontario. I decided to have a little fun with this blog by paying homage to David Letterman. I love bullhead fishing more than any other kind of fishing and here is why:

Reason 10: There is no snow on the ground when the bullhead start biting. It might snow again after they start biting because of Mother Nature’s sick sense of humor; in which case I would take a brief hiatus from bullhead fishing until the snow melted again.

Reason 9. I don’t have to put on waders or any other complicated fishing gear. (I know most of you are saying waders aren’t complicated; with me, anything is possible).

Reason 8. I don’t have to stand in the water. Don’t get me wrong, I love water, just not in the middle of winter with a current strong enough to take me down and send me into Lake Ontario.

Reason 7. There are gorgeous sunsets.

Reason 6. There is absolutely no technique. Unless you consider casting the line and checking it every so often, only to find a bullhead on the hook, a technique.

Reason 5. You can sit on dry land in a chair with a cold drink listening to music and hanging out with friends.

Reason 4. You don’t have to wander around a tackle shop for an hour trying to decide on the best bait to use based on: the temperature of the air, the temperature of the water, the depth of the water, the type of fish, the time of year you are catching the fish, the color of the fish, if the fish is male or female, what the fish had for dinner and if it likes long walks on the beach. You just buy a container of worms.

Reason 3. I can talk as much as I want and I won’t scare away the fish.

Reason 2. I have actually caught a bullhead!

And the number one reason I prefer bullhead fishing over any other kind of fishing is:

It’s so easy - a caveman can do it!

If you’re interested in bullhead fishing, here are some hot spots you can check out: Salmon River Reservoir, Lake Neahtahwanta, Panther Lake, Salmon River Estuary, Oneida Lake, Oneida River, Oswego River and the Oswego Harbor. If you’re not sure where these places are, just send me an e-mail at

A friend's son, Austin, fishing from land before the sun set.

Matt fishing off the dock.

Just before the sun set. Life doesn't get much better than this.

A great shot of Matt & Austin

Matt fishing during the sunset.

Welcome to the Salmon River Estuary!

Reason #5: Friends

Matt was trying to catch a bullhead, instead he caught a pike! Something I can't manage to do when I'm trying!

Another bullhead caught by Matt.

Becky & her catch.

Using the cell phone to light up the big knot that we created by crossing lines. Oops!

Matt showing Jake how to reel in a fish.

Matt showing off the fish that Jake helped him catch!

Adam's bullhead.

Becky caught another one.

I finally put the camera down long enough to catch one!

Kyle caught one at the same time as me.

Ashleigh, the pro, had to show everyone how to get the fish off the hook.

Manasseh and Adam waiting for a bite.

Jake was more worried about posing for the camera than catching bullhead.

He finally caught one by himself and even held it up! You can see the excitement in his face.

Here's a better shot!

Manasseh started getting bites left and right.

Jake was having another go.

Ashleigh showing off one of her many bullhead.