As the first quarter of 2021 winds down, I thought I'd take a little time to reflect upon some of our winter fishing excursions. We started out the year with a January trip to Oatka Creek. It seems like whenever we decide to fish Oatka, the conditions are less than perfect. We're either trying to navigate high muddy water or the water's so low that the fish see you coming from a mile away! This trip was drastically different. The USGS gauge at Garbutt was hovering around 160 CFS and the air temperatures warmed to 35 degrees by mid- morning. These factors set us up for a perfect day filled will larger than average trout.
About a week later we took a drive to Cayuta Creek (Shepard's) to fish the special regulations section. The morning conditions really seemed favorable, but nevertheless we ended up with our first "goose egg" of the year. Neither of us were convinced that the fish weren't there, but we can promise you that they wanted nothing to do with any of the flies in our fly boxes...Believe me, we tried everything we had! The day ended up becoming more of a scouting mission, which is ok too.
In mid February I had the opportunity to meet up with my brother-in-law, Josh, to fish the special regulations section of a small Pennsylvania tailwater. It was cold, the water was very low and it took most of the day to figure out what the fish wanted. A size 20 zebra midge finally did the trick. We ended up landing some beautiful wild Pennsylvania browns before we headed home for the day.
During the first week of March, we went fishing for Lake Erie steelhead with our friend and Guide, Tyler. Stream conditions were very tough. The day before we arrived, the temperatures rose into the high 60's which sent a large volume of snow melt into the streams. We talked to Tyler the morning of our trip and decided to give it a go. We ended up with three great fish in our nets before the stream levels rose again. The highlight of the trip was watching Chris land his first ever steelhead on his 30th birthday. Tyler knows where to find fish and how to catch them...plain and simple. Even in the toughest conditions he seems to find a way. Check Tyler out at https://www.facebook.com/Aroundthebendguideservice
On March 23rd, I had an awesome opportunity to fish Seneca Lake for landlocked salmon on the fly...Yes, you read that right. Captain & Guide John Gaulke (Finger Lakes Angling Zone), has this technique dialed in. We fished the south end of the lake from the launch in Watkins Glen and hit few locations that he feels are pretty typical for this time of year. I had an absolute blast and I learned an awful lot. We netted five fish in the four hour trip and I lost another. If you're looking for a fun charter, call John. He is a wealth of knowledge and experience. Visit John's website http://fingerlakesanglingzone.com
Winter trout fishing is tough! Trout get fussy and their metabolisms slow way down. If you're patient and hit the stream when the conditions are right, you'll be rewarded. All in all, we had a pretty good winter season. When the snow was too deep to access some of the streams, we spent time preparing our gear and tying flies. Dan is a fly tying machine! Take a good look at the new regulations and management plans recently posted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. A lot of people put a great deal of time into this revision project and it shows. I really feel like the State is headed in the right direction. April 1st is right around the corner, take the time to check your gear and get prepared for the season! See ya on the stream bank!