Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Day 2007

Originally, our plans were to try out Yawgers Creek for rainbows and then hit the Canandaigua Outlet for browns. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Yawgers has been heavily posted against trespass, striking that option from the playbook. George asked me "What about that creek where you caught that lake run steelhead, the one by your mother-in-law's?"

So, I faced a dilemma. George has taken me on countless productive open water fishing expeditions for salmon and trout, so I owed him big...but he was asking for my top secret honeyhole!! Well, of course, I agreed almost immediately and we changed our plans to a 5:30 AM departure for the Irondequoit Creek watershed, where I caught the below bruiser a few years back.

We arrived just a few minutes before sunrise, and scouted the beat I call "Maggie's." It didn't look hot, and there were suckers. We tried it for about an hour...George caught and released a pike, and Zack, George's son, and I both hooked up with suckers, but no salmonids.

Zack is a great kid. He's really into fly-fishing, fly-tying, entomology, and just anything that has to do with stream fishing. I badly wanted to get him into some good fishing, something besides the regular stocker fare, as did George. Things didn't feel right, so I pulled the plug and announced we'd be heading to another spot about a mile away. The water was up, the riffles more like rapids, and the opening day crowds were out in force. We snuck past most of them and headed into more remote sections of the stream. I posted Zack at the head of a long series of riffles, while George and I went further upstream where the water was slower and wider. We were after Great Lakes steelhead, and perhaps a bonus stocked brown or rainbow.

George and I poked around for about half an hour, seeing very fish running and no hatches. Suddenly, Zack appeared on the trail with a nice 2 lb rainbow trout. looking for forceps to remove the hook. Zack shared with us that he had actually been sight fishing, and had hooked the smallest of three fish in the pool. We congratulated Zack and reveled in the overall renewed zeal and optimism brought back into the day. Zack was excited and wanted to show me where he caught the fish, so I ambled back down stream to where he had run back to.

Zack was keying on a small shelf with gravel at its head, where a female steelhead seemed to be working on a redd. It was only 5 meters off of the bank, and easily "dappled" with an 8 ft plus rod. There were at least two males competing for this female's attention, one of which Zack had added to the dinner menu. I stood and chatted with Zack about his situation, his presentation of the egg sack imitation he had made, and how his persistence in multiple presentations had paid off. The kid was a picture of concentration, plopping the fly in the fast-moving current right in front of the fish over and over and over. I excused myself from his spot, having seen a tail and fin about 50 yards down stream. No sooner had I reached the spot and made a cast, I heard Zack whistle.

I looked up to see his #8 rod bending alarmingly, his line slashing through the current, and a huge fish wagging his thick head. This fish wanted out of there and in a hurry. He literally was dragging Zack down the rocky bank of the stream towards me. When Zack had played him about half the distance to me I shouted to him over the roar of the rapids "Play him over to that shoal... I'll run down there and tail him." Zack worked mightily as the fish surged repeatedly into the main current, each time Zack easing him back to the shallows where I waited for an opportunity. After a few failed attempts, I was able to finally get a hold of him. It was like wrestling an alligator at first, but he finally tired and gave up his noble fight. Once I had him secure, Zack reeled in and came over to claim his trophy. My fish in the picture above weighed just over ten pounds. This in one is bigger.

Congratulations Zack! What a fish! I look forward to seeing that one on your wall.

We did some back slapping and picture taking and the thunder rolled in. We Packed up just before it started to pour, deciding to use the rain time to make for Canandaigua outlet

We caught quite a few brown trout in the Outlet. All three of us released many fish, keeping mostly only fin damaged or badly hooked fish. One fish haunts me, a nice 15-18 incher that lept beautifully when hooked, entertaining four or five onlookers, and promptly snapping my line. That would have been my biggest brown. Would have. The picture below is of cold, wet, tired, but happy fisherman, back in town, ending opening day with smiles on our faces and memories to cherish.


Grousers' Jim Tantillo said...


don't forget to send Pete the coordinates of your top secret honey hole.

Anonymous said...

It appears that The horseshoe doesn't fall far from the tree", Oh wait, I think that should be "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"!

Thanks for recognizing and supporting Zach's passion, as well as fostering the development of his character.


Anonymous said...

Woahhhhhhhh what a big fish I bet that cool kid that caught it is awesomr. Just Kidding thanks so much kieth I would have been good if i had only caught that sucker. But the 2 trout made it better than any opening day ever. Thanks

Zachary A Havelin