Are you ready for some “Footballs”?
By Bryan C. Meck
When I moved up to Rochester, NY in 1996 I thought my serious fishing days would be limited to my trips out west and back to Pennsylvania. As you have read from my article last September I was wrong. After I realized my fishing could be very successful I thought I would have to throw heavy streamers and glow bugs. I could live with this, but it was not my ideal kind of fishing. I read an article in Fly Fisherman a year ago and it described the type of fishing I am about to tell you about as “spark plug” fishing. The author obviously was placing his negative slant on the type of Fly-Fishing that was being performed. Hopefully, after this article you will see how “spark plug” fishing can really fire up your success.
I really like to fish bead head nymphs. Sometimes to a fault, I will fish them in various colors (mostly black, dark green and yellow) almost exclusively. My dad once told me that when you fish with something you truly believe in you would have more success. This usually holds true to my successes in the water. I started to fish Oak Orchard around the Archery Pool (below the dam) and Irondequiot Creek – my home stream for lake run Salmon in 1996. I used glo-bugs and fished with heavy sinkers. It made casting an ordeal. I found that if you weight the size 6-12 heavy shank (I use Diachi) curved nymph hooks, weight them with .015-.020 lead weight and use tungsten beads (available from the Orvis link on this web site) that I rarely have to use split shot – even in higher water conditions. When fishing for Salmon I found that many lake run Brown Trout (locally called Footballs because they are so fat and round that they actually look like a large football!) in the same pools behind the Salmon waiting, rather opportunistically, for the Salmon to drop their eggs. This creates both good news and bad news. I’ll give you the good part first – the Salmon bring the Brown Trout into the streams. The bad news is the Salmon bring an increase in fishing pressure. The secret to fishing some of the well-known streams such as the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY, the Genesee River in Rochester, NY or Oak Orchard is to fish these streams during the week. The fishing pressure is much lower and your chances of hooking a big brown are much more likely than someone else’s line like on the weekends. Fish the smaller, less known streams such as 18 mile creek in Burt, NY, Sandy Creek in the West Rochester area, Irondequiot Creek in Penfield, NY or Maxwell Creek near Sodus, NY, during the week. You’ll still find fishermen on these streams, but the pressure will be lower.
Bill and Michelle Mingarelle visit Western New York every year during the fall and Bill regularly catches large browns in all water conditions. Bill is one of the best Fly-Fishermen at fishing low water conditions. He uses very small light yellow glo-bugs for his successes. His attitude is if you think you have made your glo-bug small, cut it again and make it smaller. I have seen Bill and Michelle both catch fish when the stream conditions made it more like July rather than late October or early November.
I, as stated earlier, usually use a heavy scud type hook in size 6-12. I put a Tungsten bead on the hook, small side first when threading the bead on the hook. I then wind 10 – 20 wraps of .015-.020 lead weight on the hook. Then I tie in the dubbing material. I really like to use Squirrel Brite, which is like Rabbit fur with strands of Crystal Flash within the material. I whip finish the fly and dab a little cement on the head and that’s it. Honestly, you can tie one in only a couple of minutes. Not quite as easy as the Zebra Midge, but close!
Hopefully you can get a chance to fish for some of Western New York’s fine lake run trout. Remember, the conditions can change in a few hours, so call your local shop for the most up to date conditions. While morning and evening usually are the best times, you can catch fish throughout the day so don’t give up. You may go hours without a strike and then hook up with four fish in an hour – it can really vary.
Finally remember that these footballs will also lay their eggs in the fall. While the Salmon will lay their eggs and die, the Brown Trout will return to the lake to come back again. If you release your catch you will do your part to improve the quality of our fishery.
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