Fishing, Sightseeing & Fun Boat Cruise Adventure for a Windy Florida Day

Speckled Trout Fun near Captiva and Sanibel Islands in Lee County, Florida.

  • Big Boat Comfort and Capability Allows for an Unforgettable Cruise Adventure
  • Enjoy Watching Loggerhead Turtles, Dolphins, Pelicans, Eagles, Osprey and Nature at Work
  • Fishing Fun – Sea Trout, Barracuda, Hammerhead Shark and Stingray
Dolphins followed us out and the ladies enjoyed every second of this personal adventure at sea. Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher

Vacation time in Florida can be such fun! My better half discovered that we were not far from Sanibel and Captiva, the shell treasure chest of the world. So Rose started to search out the adventure trail and found there were charter boats for fishing that would conduct shelling and eco-tour trips too. We had a match! Love that woman.

One phone call later, the date was set and the plan was solid with friends from Michigan to join us aboard Southern Instinct Charters with Captain Ryan Kane (  The plan, according to my better half, was to compromise fishing and touring, weather permitting, but there is not much weather that can hold back the capability and comfort aboard Captain Kane’s 36-foot long Contender.  With triple engines, getting to wherever you want to go is not an issue and it doesn’t take long to get there at about a mile a minute.

The long boat gave the four of us plenty of room to move around and we enjoyed comfy seating while listening to the stereo tunes of golden oldies and country western music. While the boat doesn’t appear to have a rest room, it does! The ladies were thrilled. I thought to myself, “We can do this again and stay longer!”

Remote islands near Sanibel and Captiva offer secret shelling treasure adventures for those that approach by boat. Forrest Fisher Photo

Bob and Shirley Holzhei, from Michigan, met Rose and I at 7:00 a.m. at Port Sanibel Marina. Captain Kane had the ice chest coolers filled with chilled beverages, snacks and plenty of water.  Live bait was in the rear well and we had an access ladder just in case we needed to search the offshore beaches for pirate treasure. This charter boat was perfect in every way, I knew we were in for the time of our life on this day.

One sad thing was that while the sky was clear of storm clouds, the weather report offered that the invisible wind was sending waves five to seven feet on the outdoor gulf waters. It looked like we might be looking at a rescheduled trip. Not for Captain Kane, he said, “OK, let’s go kids! No planning calendar today! We’ll just go out and have some fun. We’ll see how it really looks and if it’s too rough, we’ll tour North Captiva and Cayo Costa islands to be safe. We’ll fish for speckled trout with popping bobbers and live shrimp. We’ll have a great day! We’ll do the deep sea fishing to waters less travelled on another day. Sound ok?” Who could say no?!

Captain Kane was so reassuring, we were thrilled to be heading out of the marina with a cast of pelicans and dolphins that had found their way in there.  But we were not in Disney, this was real. The ladies loved every second. They never stop talking about it, even months later

The three giant outboard engines hummed up from idle speed to flyaway throttle and we were getting somewhere fast. Yikes! This was fun. About 5 miles out (4 minute drive time, we were airborne), Captain Kane said, “Looks like we made a good call, it’s so rough out there.”

I thought, for sure, there was no better way to spend the day with friends and it turned out to be a trip we will never forget.

We toured deserted outer islands and watched dolphins chase the boat, Rose said they were talking to us, but I thought they were playing. We watched loggerhead sea turtles – some were nesting on the isolated beaches, we saw a mother and father eagle feeding their young with fresh fish, watched ospreys capture fish after a 300 foot nose-dive, and we enjoyed a slow ride along areas protected from heavy surf. This was an adventure like none other.

Bobbers and live bait fishing is productive when the Captain knows where to anchor the boat. Forrest Fisher Photo

Not long later, Captain Kane asked about fishing and we were all in. The fishing license is included with Captain Kane’s charter license, so everyone wanted a rod. We anchored in a protected inshore area near a sandy point and deserted natural island where the tide current was holding shrimp and baitfish not far from the boat. Good captains know these gentle weed lines, clam beds and secret spots from years of trial and error.

Using a slip bobber that created a popping sound when pulled with a circle hook just below, offered a live shrimp to a hungry trout attracted by the sound. It did not take long for Captain Kane to have all of our lines in the right place.

A few minutes later, Shirley hollered, “Hey, I think I have one, it’s pulling so hard. Bob, please come help me.” Bob said, “I can’t, I got one too!” Forrest, “I don’t want to lose the rod, can you come back here please, Bob has a fish on too.” I hollered back, “I do too!” Rose was the only one that had just reeled her line in to check the bait and shared, “I’m coming back there to help you Shirley, hang on.” Captain Kane was helping everyone at the same time. Fun?! Are you kidding?! This was incredible. Unforgettable! Not your ordinary fire drill. Memories are made of this. Shirley landed a small hammerhead shark and was ecstatic, and scared too. “I caught a shark! Can you believe it?” Captain Kane was careful, but sure-handed with the small shark and Shirley had a chance to touch the skin. “It feels like sandpaper!” She screamed a bit. I think they were happy tones.

Shirley Holzhei landed a small hammerhead shark and enjoyed the thrill of touching the sandpaper-like skin for the first time. Forrest Fisher Photo

We landed 25 trout in only an hour or so, a shark, caught some wonderful warm sunshine. We also hooked a giant barracuda and lost it, then hooked and landed a giant stingray that took us 45 minutes to bring in. What a battle that was! Bob and I had to switch places a few times and do the anchor dance, under the line, over the line, under the line…stretch, oooohhhh, aaaahhhhh, ouch, roll, turn, don’t lose the rod. Man, what a time! More than 50 pounds in size, we landed the nearly 4-1/2 foot long winged sea creature that resembled a spaceship shape from a TV space show.

Rose Barus caught trout after trout, I think she might have been the hot fishing line in the boat. Forrest Fisher Photo

Captain Kane removed the stinger to make the large critter safe while aboard while we prepared to release back to nature, then gave me the 5-inch long stinger with directions to placed it in a bottle for safe travel home and soak it for 2 days in bleach to sterilize the poison normally found on the stingray barbs. “The stingray will grow it back,” said Captain Kane, “And the stingray is not harmed in any way.”

Captain Kane uses Dan James Fishing Rods in his boat because they are durable, lifetime guaranteed and made locally in Fort Myers ( They are guaranteed for life.

The 7’ lightweight fishing rods we used were so light, so strong and so just right.  I had to ask, what pound test was on that rod? “10 pound braid,” said Captain Kane. “Some of these rods, like the one that you caught that big stingray with, are new fishing rods in the development stage. I use only Dan James Custom Fishing Rods made right here locally in Fort Myers ( They cost more, but they are guaranteed for life, and Dan is a disabled military veteran and close friend, we fish often. You would never know he is disabled, he is an example for all of us who might think we have troubles. We share ideas about how to make fishing better for clients, how to make better boat adventure tours, better fishing rods and how to enjoy every single day we live life with our family and friends. We both share that kind of passion for our families and the outdoors.”

The stingray we landed took 45 minutes to bring aboard. Forest Fisher Photo

Captain Kane added, “Dan tests his rods with me and other charter captains, but in the shop too, you wouldn’t believe some of the abuse he wreaks on these blanks while testing them. He puts his rods together to be light and sensitive, yet uses a strong, high modulus blank so folks don’t get tired using the rods and can fish with confidence even when they hook a big fish like you did with that lightweight rod. You can push the limits with his rods.”

We headed back to the marina and all of us were happy to be on the water with such a knowledgeable captain. We explored and enjoyed some of the best that Southwest Florida has to offer. Captain said, “When you come back during summer, the winds are always lower in the warm months and we can run far without much trouble. We have natural and artificial reefs out here that hold giant gamefish like Tuna, Snapper, Grouper, Wahoo, Cobia, and more. We’ll do an offshore trip to have some fun with these, I’ll call you when it gets good! How’s that sound?”

Like music to my ears Captain Ryan. C’mon summer!

About Fort Myers: Our accommodations were nearby, but there are numerous choices. Visit this link for more info on charter fishing, lodging, beaches, hotels and Islandology ( 

Islandology, a new word for most of us. Very interesting video. Check it out. Click the picture.


Stockton Lake white crappie are large, plentiful, fun to catch and tasty!

  • Answering the Call
  • Learning about Life, Love, Fishermen and Jesus
  • Stone Creek Lodge, Stockton Lake…a Place to Visit
  • Great Fishing Trips, Vacation Fun…Creating a Legacy and Passion for Sharing

By Larry Whiteley

As a young man Kris Nelson loved to go fishing every chance he had.  He fished in all the lakes and streams of southwest Missouri near his hometown of Willard. While other young men were playing sports or doing things they shouldn’t, Kris was fishing.

When he graduated from high school he worked and saved his money, then got into buying houses, fixing them up and selling them for a profit. His success gave him the time and money to go fishing.

In 2008, when the housing market went bust, Kris lost virtually everything and had to go out and find a job. Through it all though he still found a way to go do what he loved. Fishing helped him through the tough times.

While working at a factory job in Springfield, a friend told him, “Kris, what are you doing here? This is not for you. Your heart is in fishing.” Not long after, he found out about a job in Florida as a fishing guide, so he sold his boat and off he went to follow his dream.

In 2011 after a few years of guiding and even being captain of a charter fishing boat, Kris decided it was time to go back home to the Missouri Ozarks.

Stockton Lake walleye can be elusive, but Kris Nelson (guide) says, “There are ways to find them!”

Shortly after getting  back from Florida he was fly fishing for trout below the dam on Lake Taneycomo and having great success, when another fisherman who wasn’t having the same success came up to him. He wanted to know if he would show him how he was catching them. Kris patiently helped and then smiled as the man started reeling in fish.

Crappie fishing is prime time fishing fun at Stone Creek Lodge.

It turned out the man was in Branson with some friends and he asked Kris if he would guide him and his buddy’s the next day, and they would pay him. Since he needed the money, Kris agreed, but he didn’t have a boat, so he rented one from Lilley’s Landing and Resort. The day was a success and the fishermen were happy.

That got Kris to thinking that maybe there were other fishermen willing to pay him for guiding them on Lake Taneycomo. Unable to afford a boat to guide, a good friend named Justin Hayden loaned him his boat and Kris’s guide business was off and running.

He eventually saved enough money to buy his own boat and began expanding his guiding business to Stockton Lake and Pomme de Terre Lake, as well as Lake Taneycomo.  He called his business, “Tandem Fly Outfitters.”

About that time, another very special thing happened in Kris’s life. His cousin set him up on a blind date with a beautiful girl named Amanda and he was totally hooked.

Another chapter in the life of Kris and Amanda began in 2017. He was doing so many guide trips on Stockton, he started renting a room at Stone Creek Lodge. That way, he wouldn’t have to drive back and forth to Branson each day. The owner of the lodge had noticed how Kris’s guide business was thriving and approached him about buying the lodge.

Amanda had to drive back and forth a lot so she could be with Kris when he wasn’t guiding, so the two talked it over and decided to take a big step and buy it. To make it all even more special, three days after writing up a contract on the lodge, they found out Amanda was pregnant and they are now the proud parents of a pretty girl named Lilly.

Today you will find Amanda and Lilly running the lodge, snack shop and tackle store, while Kris is out on the water making sure their customers are having a good time and catching lots of fish. When the day’s work is done, you will usually find Kris walking around their property with one arm around Amanda, holding Lilly in his other arm and smiling.

I have fished both Taneycomo and Pomme de Terre with this young man and, to be honest with you, I have been with guides all over the U.S. and Canada, but I have never had a better fishing guide. He is knowledgeable and wise far beyond his age. You will catch fish and you will catch a lot of them. I would not hesitate in recommending Kris Nelson to anyone wanting to experience a great fishing trip.

God has been good to Kris Nelson and, in his wonderful Ozarks accent, he is quick to give Him all the credit and praise for what has happened in his life. I would just bet his favorite bible verse is Matthew 4:19. Look it up and you will understand what I mean.

After reading this, I think you will probably agree that the amazing life of Kris Nelson, his family and their business, all makes this a really great fish story.

To book a trip with Kris go to his Facebook page @Tandem Fly Outfitters or call the lodge at 417-276-1700.

Amanda, Kris and Lilly Nelson offer top fishing fun and share their joy for life and love with everyone that has ever met them.  Meet these great friends of mine at Stone Creek Lodge on your next outdoor adventure.  Larry Whiteley Photo

Wintertime is Outdoor Show Time, NOW On-Line! ALL FREE

  • On-Line Outdoor Show, FREE Entry. Over 70 booths! Click and Go
  • $50 Free Coupons Just for Entering.  Visit on Lunchtime Wherever you Are!
  • Use Your Handheld Mobil Devices, your iPod, iPad, iPhone, Laptop or Home Computer! 

Feb. 6, 2018 – Kansas City, Mo. – The new North American Sportshow is a welcome change that you knew was coming. It’s a free, virtual on-line outdoor show! Don’t imagine, just click and go ( You can hold this entire show in the palm of your hand, you can visit at high speed.

                                                  Click on the picture above to Enter the Show

The North American Sportshow will accommodate all who might rather stay inside a warm place this winter, especially during the next snow storm. Even the sick or disabled, get a front seat. Forget the freezing wind, blowing snow, long entry lines, parking cost, slippery roads and those 20-minute standing waits to your favorite booth once you finally get inside the outdoor show place.

The North American Sportshow is the new modern outdoor show that is free to enter, free to move about, free to download catalogs, free to purchase outdoor gear goodies at show special discount prices. Newcomers receive an instant $50 worth of free coupons to use just for entering the show.

Visit the Fishing & Marine Hall, the Hunting & Shooting Hall, the Outdoor Travel Hall, the Conservation Hall, and be pleasantly surprised at the Wildlife Art Hall even you are a tough outdoor hombre. The Wildlife Art Hall offers a new and amazing chance to explore what wildlife art is all about.  In each of the halls, visitors will find “comfort info,” with free access to boat-makers, lure companies, stay-warm gear and clothing companies, fishing and hunting guides, video seminars and free drawings for gear.

At Tracker Boats, look over show special fishing boat values – like a qualifying Tracker Grizzly boat package, buy one, receive a $1,000 Bass Pro Shop/Cabela’s gift card!  Imagine that.

At Trout Unlimited, find a Whitlock 5-fly set of essential flies from Rainy Premium Flies, a 4-piece St. Croix Legend Ultra Rod or a Redington Wayfarer fly rod/reel set at rock bottom cost (nearly half price).

Visit over 70 booths! Tackle Warehouse, Booyah Lures, Gamma fish line – better fishing through science, Phantom Lures, Target Walleye, Qwest stainless steel, Patagonia, Ranger Boats, Simms, the Wilderness Society, Sportsmen for Boundary Waters, Sportsman’s Alliance of Alaska and dozens of others.

With our changing modern times toward hand-held electronics, continuous keystroke adventure and a world-wide bond to wireless communication, you can hit the next outdoor show without any hassle, all for free.  Click here: (

The North American Sportshow supports access to public lands and conservation practices.


Show Information Contact: David Gray,; 816-350-9066

Outdoor Media Contact: Dave Barus,; 716-597-4081


How-To: TONY ROACH Ice-Fishes with Jigging Raps for WALLEYE

By Tony Roach and Target Walleye Staff:

Click Picture to sign-up for Target Walleye News.

Target Walleye has talked alot about using Rapala Jigging Raps for open-water ‘eyes, but they also make killer hardwater baits.  Of course there’s more than one way to fish ’em, but here’s Tony Roach’s take:

  • His go-to bait summer and winter…but downsizes to a #5 on ice.
  • Fishes it really aggressive (as fast as he can!) to get fish interested. Darts off to the sides of the hole and covers a much larger area.
  • Slows the bait down as soon as soon as he graphs a fish, but still keeps the bait aggressive and moving.
  • Doesn’t tip it with a minnow head…says it screws up the action.
  • Likes 6-lb mono since it doesn’t hold moisture and freeze up like braid.

More info in this Wired2Fish video where Tony is putting ’em to work on “The Big Pond.” #Money

Click Picture for Video

On clear-water or high-sun days, Tony likes using colors like yellow perch or blue chrome.

In stained water or low-light conditions he uses brighter colors.



Christmas Gift Book Idea…IN THE LAND OF THE BEAR

By Denny Geurink

  • Published by Target Communications Outdoor Books, LLC
  • Danger & Adventure Hunting Brown Bears in Russia’s Forbidding Siberia

IN THE LAND OF THE BEAR, by Denny Geurink, is an inside look at the excitement, mystery, danger and adventure of hunting huge, aggressive brown bears in Siberia and traveling in Russia from 1991 through 2011, a time of political turmoil when the Soviet Union was evolving into Russia.

In addition to hair-raising stories of lethal brown bear attacks on people and livestock, bears digging up coffins in cemeteries, bears invading camps, and brown and grizzly bear hunting in general, IN THE LAND OF THE BEAR contains historical perspective of what was happening politically at that time in Russia, detailing how the Siberian people lived, worked, survived … and how they viewed ordinary Americans — favorably.  Siberia is a long way from Moscow and politics.)

Geurink was the first American guide/outfitter to take clients to Siberia, the brown bear capital of the world. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s brown bear population is in Russia, with much of that in Siberia. Russia is a game rich country; few residents are allowed to own firearms. There is little hunting and game animals get the chance to grow bigger and older…and bring in needed cash flow to local economies.

IN THE LAND OF THE BEAR is an outdoor adventure book. Fascinating stories all, in 23 engrossing chapters, 284 pages, 6” x 9”, paperback, available at  or on Amazon.


  1. Journey to the Evil Empire
  2. Hanging Out with the KGB
  3. Brown Bear Natural History
  4. Bear Attacks: Girl Calls to Say Goodbye as Bear Kills & Eats Her, Bear Drags Off Sleeping Bag and Man, Killer Bears
  5. The People
  6. The Food: Fish Bread, That’s Not Pasta, Moose Meat Surprise, Nothing Goes to Waste
  7. The Culture
  8. Surrounded by Bears
  9. A Lesson on Fear
  10. An Encounter with the WWF
  11. American Hunter Taken to Police Station
  12. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (hunters)
  13. Tales from Grizzly Camp
  14. If It Weren’t for Bad Luck
  15. Russian Bear Stalks U.S. Astronaut
  16. Excitement in Camp: The Russian Way of Dealing with Poachers, Bear in Camp, Bear in the Creek, Baby Snatchers
  17. Big Stags on The Black Sea
  18. Lady and the Bull
  19. The Capercaillie Two-Step
  20. Encounter with Rut-Crazed Bull Moose
  21. Bear Charges Snowmobile
  22. More Tales of Bear Attacks
  23. They’re All Heart and Determination

AUTHOR’S BIO — DENNIS GEURINK: Michigan native Denny Geurink has been a teacher (now retired) and was for several years the Midwest Regional Editor of Field & Stream magazine. He wrote a newspaper weekly outdoor column for nearly 40 years. He guided/outfitted in Siberia from 1992 through 2011, when he sold his outfitting business, then bought it back just recently because he couldn’t stay away.  He missed the adventure, the hunting, and the people he worked with in Siberia.

BACKGROUND INFO: In the early 1990s, the USSR wanted to boost its tourism industry and the revenue it would bring.  Hunters and fishermen usually aren’t at the head of any list of tourist invitees, but in 1991 the Soviet Union, working with a U.S.-based travel agency, looked primarily at the spectacular hunting and fishing opportunities in Siberia and invited Denny Geurink, a Michigan-based outdoor writer, on a moose and brown bear hunt. He had excellent success, but even more, enjoyed learning about and adapting to an unfamiliar culture and existence that he felt more-closely resembled the U. S. Wild West 150 to 175 years ago.

Geurink liked the total experience so much he became a hunting outfitter for Siberian brown bear (the largest, most aggressive in the world), grizzly bear and moose hunts, plus incidental hunts for bighorn/snow sheep, wild Russian boar (the largest in the world), with now and then a grouse or wolf hunt added. 

For nearly 25 years Geurink lived adventure with a capital A, enjoying every minute of the hunts, the people, the culture, the political discussions, the travel throughout Russia … and in the process developing strong attachments to the Siberian people and the land, sometimes staying for 90-day stretches to serve groups of hunting clients.  He has traveled there more than 50 times and continues to hunt Siberia annually.


Children in the Stream Youth Fly Fishing Program

  • Free for Kids 10 to 110 Years of Age
  • No Experience necessary
  • Classes Conducted at State University of NY at Fredonia

The Children in the Stream Youth Fly Fishing Program will be starting its eighteenth year of providing weekly free fly tying and fly fishing classes to youth and adults in the western New York region.  The classes will be presented every Tuesday starting August 29, 2017, from 7-8:30 pm at the Costello Community Room (P84) in the new addition to Rockefeller Arts Center at SUNY Fredonia, in Fredonia, NY.

No prior experience is needed and all classes are free. Classes are appropriate for anyone between 10 and 110.

In 1998, Alberto Rey and Mike Conley attended Sportfishing and Aquatic Resource Educational Programming (S.A.R.E.P.) through the Cornell Cooperative. The seminars provided training for teachers and future instructors who would provide educational conservation experiences to children. Shortly afterwards, S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing Program was founded after a grant was received from Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency.  The program has continued to grow over the years as enrollment has steadily increased and as the program has provided new services to the community. In 2016, S.A.R.E.P. /4H Youth Fly Fishing Program’s name was changed to Children in the Stream/4H Program.

Children in the Stream is an educational program that provides children with information and experiences related to aquatic resources, conservation, ethics, and fly fishing. Fly fishing has a long history of integrating these elements into the core of the sport. The ethics of the program promotes “catch and release” as well as respect for fellow fisherman and the land on which one fishes. It is our goal to protect the species and the land for future generations. Our program closely ties together the importance of understanding nature with the rewarding act of fly fishing.

Children in the Stream is a volunteer organization that relies on the generosity of the fly fishing industry and of public and private donors. It provides programming to the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County and to middle and high schools in the area. Children in the Stream provides workshops to an average of 350 children a year.

Here are the elements of the program: Weekly Fly Tying and Rod Building Sessions Monthly Fly Fishing Field Trips Canadaway Creek Conservation Project Conservation Days Workshops  Brook Trout Restoration Project Children in the Stream Conference: An Interdisciplinary Fly Fishing Conference

For more information on our efforts you can look at this episode by a national television show, Aqua Kids, who documents the Children in the Stream’s Canadaway Creek Conservation Program and Brook Trout Restoration Program. Here’s are also some recent articles and blogs written about the program and the Children in the Stream Conference;

You can also see recent pictures, movies and information from our recent projects in the blog section of this site. For more information about our home waters, check out our our history of Canadaway Creek link.

If you would like more information on the program please contact me Alberto Rey here or at or by calling 716-410-7003.

Smiley Sakakawea Walleye – Fishing a Canyon Reservoir

Captain Jeremy Olsen shares secrets for fast walleye fun on Lake Sakakawea in early July.

  • SLOW-TROLL Tricks are Deadly on Walleye Waters
  • Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota, offers Hands-On Learning
  • Bring a Camera: Canyon Colors and Walleye Go Good Together
Delicious, tasty walleye are a top goal for anglers fishing everywhere, but on Lake Sakakawea, the pristine clean water is chilly all year long and the walleye taste better than most anywhere. Forrest Fisher Photo.

By Forrest Fisher

Wanna catch walleye?  Know the two rules that apply everywhere.  Rule #1: Catching fish is fun.  Rule #2: Fishing with a professional guide that understands fish movement helps to make Rule #1 possible.  You can do it on your own later.

No matter where you go, catching quality walleye as a target species fish is the primary objective for many anglers.  This story is proof that Rule #2 is a good money-saving idea.

Coincidentally, my wife and I were vacationing in North Dakota near Teddy Roosevelt National Park and my better half whispered in my ear, “You should go fishing at least one day while we are here – Lake Sakakawea is just up the road, I’ll go souvenir shopping.” Such a deal.  I could not say no.

So I asked Kelly Sorge what people fish for.  The “always cheerful” proprietor at Indian Hills Resort ( said, “Crappie, northern pike, bass, trout and walleye – we have all those species here, but most folks fish for walleye.  They like to eat them cooked over a campfire here.  The walleye are so pure and so tasty from Sakakawea.”  That settled it.

I rushed for my cellphone to make the call to Liebel’s Guide Service.  Capt. Jeremy Olsen called me back a short while later to set up time and departure to fish this beautiful Little Missouri River reservoir – it is pristine, with millions of years of erosion providing colorful rocky backdrops on the canyon walls.

Capt. Jeremy Olsen is a top fishing guide that will teach you how to have fun catching fish. Imagine catching 17 walleye in less than 90 minutes! Forrest Fisher Photo

Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota was created for flood control on the Missouri River by the Garrison Dam.  The average width of the lake is 2-3 miles, but it is about 14 miles wide at the widest point, heavy with clean, deep water, shallow water, many undulating bay backwaters, drop-offs, flats, and a beautiful view of colorful mountain walls – hundreds of millions of years old, that form the gorge that creates this waterway.  In short, it is breathtaking!

We met at 7 a.m. and when I saw his new boat, I was thrilled, motivated and EAGER to set foot on the 21-foot Lund, 219-Pro-V, with a 350 horsepower Mercury Verado.  Cost: $81,000, I asked.  Cost of my Charter: $350.  A win-win for any angler.  The new Lund Pro-V fishing boats are special: quiet, safe, powerful, live well, many other features.  It’s all there on this boat.

We left the dock at 7:15 a.m., took 15 minutes to motor 10 miles to a chosen fishing spot (it didn’t take long at 62 mph), set up our lines on lightweight Phenix casting rods (  At 7:40 a.m., Capt. Jeremy had the fish figured out and we landed our first walleye.   By 9:15 a.m., we had landed 17 walleye!  Could we call this a great day?  No way, it was an insurmountable day!

It will be a day that I would never forget as a walleye angler.  Indeed, vacations and special fishing moments are about making special memories.   I have no doubt that Capt. Jeremy could do this again.

While I’ll admit, my standards are higher than the average – I expect to catch lots of walleye and often, to beat the usual catch rate, but who would have ever guessed this catch rate of walleye could even occur in wild waters in the middle of summer?  Not me.

Capt. Jeremy is an expert.  He knows the secrets to understanding how fish move, when they move, forage location, wind and eddy current effects, and how to attract fish to invoke a strike.  For this day, he choose Smiley Blade attractors and worms.  The Smiley Blades offer slow rotating action when tied in front of a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader that has two to four beads in front of a single 1/0 hook.  In actual use, this action is death to walleye on Lake Sakakawea.  I discovered after getting home to Lake Erie, it is deadly anywhere else that walleye swim too.  The blades turn with as little as 0.4 mph forward speed because they are made from lightweight Mylar.  Capt. Jeremy buys the blades separate and custom-makes the Smiley Blade rigs with his kids, adding a dash of special magic, I’m sure.

We attached the Smiley Rig leaders to a 1-1/4 ounce wire/bottom-bouncer and set the MinnKota Ulterra bow motor to troll at about 0.6 mph.  Three or four minutes later, presto!  Fish on!  Walleye after walleye came into the boat.  We released all the smaller fish as they were caught.

If you’re out that way, you can contact Capt. Jeremy through Lieber’s Guide Service at  He will travel to many other waters too, including Montana.

Of course, understanding where to drop lines (location), why to drop where we did (bait movement and water clarity), and how fast to go, are among reasons why we ask a charter captain to take us fishing when we go to a new lake.  A charter captain fishes many more times than we do and it is always a learning experience.

This was new water for me, I’m a Lake Erie walleye fisherman, fishing Lake Sakakawea was quite different.  To do it again, I think I’d contact Capt. Jeremy again and leave my boat home.  The trip was safe, fast, affordable and fun.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

To learn more about Smiley Blades, a video with details about rigging, design, styles and colors is here:

Accommodations: You can camp at Indian Hills for just $20/night.  There is a boat launch, convenience store, fish-cleaning station and running potable water at several spots.  If regular tenting is too primitive for you, there is one cabin there called “Peacepipe” that accommodates 6 people with bunks, A/C, sink and kitchen for $90/night.  At Peacepipe, you and your family can camp in comfort, and while this style camping cabin has no shower or toilet inside of it, the conveniences are an easy 200’ walk to the shower house.  There is a built-in, sit-down table that seats four, the kitchen counter includes a 2-burner hot plate, small refrigerator and wash basin (potable water is just outside) with drain.  You only need to provide your own sleeping bag or bedding.  Outside you’ll find a picnic table and fire ring, and exterior electrical outlets.  We stayed here and it was great.  Above that, they offer condo’s and lodge rooms too.  Choices are what life in the outdoor lane is all about.  The degree of “outdoorism” that you choose is available here.  My kind of place (

For additional general information on Lake Sakakawea and other North Dakota sites to see, visit

This may have been one of the most fun, most learning trips I have ever had the pleasure to experience. One last word, I love North Dakota!  My sweetheart of 48 years and I will be back soon.

Summer Walleyes in the Heat of Summer, NO PROBLEM!

Inland Lake walleyes in the mid-west are easy hot-summer fun if you’re fishing guide, Les Jarman.  Read how.  Brent Frazee Photo

By Brent Frazee

Think about the very worst conditions for walleye fishing.

High noon.  A hot sun beating down. Temperatures in the low 90s.  A blue sky, with hardly a cloud in sight.

That about covers it, doesn’t it?

So why was Les Jarman, a longtime guide, so optimistic that he and his friend, Ken White, would soon be catching walleyes in those conditions as they trolled on Stockton Lake in southwest Missouri?

“We’ve caught walleyes in the middle of the day on days that were hotter than this,” Jarman said, as he zig-zagged his boat on a flat near the river channel.  “These walleyes will get out here on these flats in the summer and they’ll suspend.

“If the baitfish are here, the walleyes will be too.  If you put a crankbait in front of them, they’ll hit.”

Staring at his electronics, Jarman saw the perfect scenario setting up.  As he trolled in 20 feet of water not far from the river channel, he watched the screen of his depth finder light up with specks of baitfish.  The occasional mark of a gamefish also showed up.

“The walleyes are scattered right now,” said Jarman, 65, who lives in the town of Stockton and operates the Specialized Guide Service.  “They’re just out here chasing shad.

“That’s why I like to troll.  Instead of sitting on one point, I can cover a lot of water this way.”

Approaching an area where a long point extended into the flat, Jarman felt something jolt the Bandit crankbait he was trolling through the Bic Sac arm of the Ozark reservoir.

When the fish stayed down, Jarman knew he had a walleye.  Moments later, he tossed that keeper into a live well already splashing with fish.

Hot weather, hot fishing.  That’s Jarman’s formula for success.  Though he fishes for walleyes year-around at Stockton, he knows the fishing doesn’t necessarily come to a halt when the heat arrives.

From early June to mid-October, he trolls for walleyes far off shore, and he and his guides clients routinely catch limits.  Jarman himself has caught fish up to 6 pounds trolling.

There is a science to his approach.  He doesn’t merely pull into open water and start trolling. He tries to keep his crankbaits cutting through the water over main-lake structure.

“I’m looking anything where there is a change in the bottom,” he said.  “Main-lake or secondary points, drop-offs, humps – that’s what walleyes will relate to in the summer.”

Jarman likes to troll with 60 to 70 feet of line out.  He uses 10-pound test and trolls at two miles per hour.  He wants to keep his crankbaits 10 to 12 feet down in water that is at least twice that deep.

“Walleyes will always come up to hit a bait,” Jarman said.  “If you troll too deep, you’re not going to catch them.  You have to be in the right zone.”

During the hottest part of summer, Jarman prefers to troll early in the day and in the evening hours.  But he knows that the fish will hit in the middle of the day, too.

He proved it on a recent sultry day in the Ozarks.  He, White and I caught enough walleyes to make a meal.  And there was a bonus.  We also caught about 20 white bass, several big crappies and a couple of keeper largemouth bass.

But such results aren’t unusual.  Jarman and his clients have been catching limits (four walleyes 15 inches or longer) of walleyes regularly in the June heat.

For Jarman, that’s just one more trick in his trade.  After guiding on Stockton since shortly after it opened in 1969, he knows where to find the sharp-toothed gamefish.

He also knows that he is fishing on the right reservoir. Stockton has long been recognized as one of Missouri’s top walleye spots, thanks to regular stockings by the Department of Conservation.

Jarman’s favorite method is to use suspending stickbaits in the early spring. He caught a 10-pound, 4-ounch walleye in March several years ago.

But he doesn’t stop fishing when the weather turns hot and humid.  He knows he can tie on a small crankbait such as a Bandit and stay on the move.

Guide-Fishing Secrets to Catch Chautauqua Lake Walleyes

  • Chautauqua Lake Secret: Work the Weedline
  • Keep Fishing Simple To Succeed Often
  • Spinner/Worm Rigs & Snap-Jigging
Jan Adair (left) landed this nice walleye, her first walleye ever, while fishing Chautauqua Lake, then caught five more walleye before the noon hour while fishing with Captain Frank Schoenacker (right).

By Forrest Fisher with guide, Frank Schoenacker (Infinity Charters)

 When great guides and charter captains talk, honest anglers that don’t always catch fish listen.  So I listen very well.  I’m as honest as they come.  One thing I’ve discovered, when anglers share life through the gift of a fishing charter, good things can happen! 

During a recent Chautauqua Lake fishing trip for one client couple, there came lasting memories and lots of fishing fun. 

The client contacted my friend and local guide, Frank Schoenacker, in December, as she had purchased a charter fish trip as a Christmas gift for her boyfriend.  Frank said, “They both fish, but haven’t done much walleye or musky fishing.  So last week, they had a couple of firsts.  She landed her first ever walleye, which was a nice 17-inch fish, then she followed up with 5 more!  That’s not all, her boyfriend caught his first musky while fishing for walleyes.” 

Frank added, “I teach my clients to fish simple.  It all starts with meeting them at a common place.  At Chautauqua Lake, for many guides and for me too, that place is the Bemus Point boat launch.  The next thing is not overcrowding the action and the people aboard. On Chautauqua, I limit clients to two people maximum and I don’t fish when I have clients.   I provide equipment and have it setup before the trip.” 

When Frank talks, he explains juicy details, “On my boat, I use an 8-horse kicker to troll weed edges at slow speed (1 mph or so), mostly using a very simple, old-fashioned, spinner/worm harness.  Small beads, a small spinner blade and small hooks are essential when fishing Chautauqua.  Lots of reasons why, they have to do with catching your targeted species.  Boat control and using electronics to see the weed edge is critical.  My boat is a tiller steer, so I have direct contact with my motor and boat direction.  I tie my harness with small hooks (size one), then use a small copper or fire-tiger blade (size 2) off a clevis, then I usually add small red beads as attractors – or whatever fish think those are!  They work.”

Schoenacker uses a sliding-sinker for weight on his 6 to 8 lb braid as mainline.  He adds, “Pretty much an old school setup. Normally I’m anywhere from 8 to 14 feet of water depth depending on the weed edge where we fish.  Early in the season when water is cool, I’ll use nightcrawlers (sometimes half-worms are better than whole ones) and I start to use a rubber worm soon after, as white perch get pesky and they won’t touch a plastic worm.” He was smiling with a big grin.

“Starting at the tail end of June, I fish a rubber worm instead of a live worm pretty much all the time.  When the bite slows at mid-morning, I have one client go to a live worm.  Sometimes we can get an extra bite or two. “

What if the fish aren’t biting?  Franks says, “I move around and pre-fish before guided trips so I have a plan based on wind and weather for the day.  Generally, during the early season I’m in the lower lake mostly (south of Route 86 bridge).  This year (2017), the channel in Bemus was good early.” 

Even in summer, it pays to bring an extra jacket when the weather send a chilly breeze at sunrise.

“It’s not as simple as I’m making it sound, you need to adapt and you know when that needs to happen after a few decades of fishing, ”Schoenacker says.  “Weed lines off the creek mouths are good, so I look around Prendergast Bay, Dewittville Bay, Goose Creek, etc.  The fish tend to be active at different places and at different times, so this is where the knowledge of the guide comes in.  Add the varying style of fishing we can do and add the potential to change position, “run and gun,” from spot to spot, we find them most every day we try.” 

If you live on or near the lake, that is a bonus.  He adds, “Pre-fishing helps me have several spots planned.  Any angler that fishes today needs to have pretty good electronics so they can see the fish for as many times as they work the weed line.  I have also seen that when walleyes are active, the white perch are less of a problem.  I’m seeing several good year classes of walleyes in the lake now, lots of 13-14 inch throwbacks, then there are numbers of 17 inchers and then a class of 20 inch-plus fish. “

Anglers are pleased that the walleye population is doing well in the lake and folks are also very pleased that the DEC lowered the walleye minimum size limit to 15-inches in 2017.  Schoenacker adds, “I do some musky trolling, but my primary focus is on fishing for walleyes.”

“I’ll fish the weed lines until the water warms and fish move deeper.  At that point I move to open water trolling and snap-jigging.  Snap-jigging works for me right on through the fall.  I like the weedline and jigging programs best because you hold the rod and feel the fish hit.  Hard to beat that for sure,” says Schoenacker 

Schoenacker adds, “I want to help people have more fun finding and catching fish, so I’m sharing some of my program plan with walleye anglers everywhere that plan to fish Chautauqua Lake sometime soon.  This gives you the background on my simple walleye program, but don’t forget, you can always call me for a hands-on trip.”

Lastly, Schoenacker has two boats, he uses the smaller one (Lund ProV Tiller with 60hp Yamaha and 8hp Yamaha) for that up-front experience on Chautauqua Lake, but he is also a licensed Lake Erie Charter Captain and member of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and National Association of Charter Boat Operators. He will also share his fishcatching secrets while aboard his Pro-Line 25 (powered by Evinrude 225hp ETEC and 9.9hp Yamaha kicker).  You can reach Capt. Frank Schoenacker by phone at 585-406-5764, email:, or on his website at:

You know, we never stop learning when people that know way more than we do are willing to share.  Hat’s off to Captain Frank!

Poached Venison Burgers – so simple, so delicious

We all look for better ways to share in the bounty of fat-free deer meat found on our lands across this great country, here is one easy recipe that will make old, new or tough deer meat, as tasty as can be.  Joe Forma photo

By Fern Fisher

Many of my outdoor guide friends in the mid-west and northeast use this recipe, or a recipe quite similar to this one, to share in the bounty of fat-free deer meat found and harvested on our lands across this great country.  It’s easy, tasty and healthy.


  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs, adjust with addition of water to mix for proper burger forming consistency
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup tomato ketchup
  • 3-4 tsp Olive oil for coating alum foil
  • 1 can Campbell’s mushroom soup
  • 1 large fresh Portabella mushroom
  • 1 fresh sweet pepper, color of your choice
  • Salt, Pepper, ground Chives

Mixing ingredients: Add the beaten egg, garlic, sweet onion, ketchup, a ½ tsp of salt and ½ tsp of black pepper to the ground venison.  Add enough water to make the mix pliable, the ingredients will combine to a delicious flavor.  Add enough Italian bread crumps to keep mixture from becoming too watery.  Form about 4-5 burger patties by hand that are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.

Poaching – Can use Grill or Oven: Cut some aluminum foil large enough to fold around two burgers so a seam can be made on the top for two burger patties. Coat the area where the burgers will be placed with a few drops of olive oil.  Place the burgers.  Add one full tablespoon of undiluted Campbell’s mushroom soup to the top of each burger. Top with slices of Portabella mushroom, top with thin slices of sweet onion and thin slices of red, yellow or green pepper.  Then close up the aluminum foil making it a bag-like compartment, making the foil almost airtight.  Before closing completely, place 3-4 Tbsp. of water inside the folded foil with the burger (for steam).

Place the foiled burger in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes, or on a grill (low) for 20-25 minutes.  The goal is for a finished burger that is done, but not over-done.  Remove from heat just when the water you added has been boiling for 2-3 minutes (you can hear it if you’re on the grill).

The foil keeps all the moisture in and allows the meat to cook in its own juices.  It’s a mini-pressure cooker!  This is easy and if you prepare ahead of time, you can cook 30 – 40 burgers for a small army of visitors all at once.

Add a slice of fresh sweet onion, a fresh leaf of lettuce, a fresh slice of tomato and your favorite topping condiments.  My family simply enjoys the flavor without any additional toppings.  Another option, of course, is to add a slice of your favorite cheese.

Of course, all of this on a hard roll of your choice, unless you’re watching the carbs.

So good, bet you can’t eat just one, enjoy!


Hot Fish Bite in the Rainy Ozarks

  • Bass, Crappie, Trout Turning On
  • Guides and Resort Owners Report GOOD Catches
  • High Water Offers Some Silver Lining

By Brent Frazee

Though Table Rock Lake has dealt with flooding since late April, guides such as Buster Loving and their clients have still enjoyed good bass fishing.

April showers brought more than May flowers in the Ozarks.  They brought near-record flooding and a mess that residents are still trying to clean up.

That’s the bad news.

There’s also plenty of good news.

Though reservoirs such as Truman, Table Rock and Taneycomo are still high, guides and resort owners report that the fishing has been surprisingly good.  If anything, they say, the floods may have helped the fishing.

And then there’s the long-term outlook.  Fisheries biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation say that high-water springs usually result in boom year-classes of fish because of the added cover in which fry can hide from predators.

“We’re certainly not minimizing the hardships the high water has brought for many residents,” said Brian Canaday, chief of fisheries for the Missouri Department of Conservation.  “But some of our largest year-classes of fish have come in these flood years.  So this wasn’t a bad thing as far as the fish were concerned.”

At Table Rock Lake, a 43,100-acre reservoir near Branson, Mo., the water level reached almost the top of flood pool in late April after almost 10 1/2 inches of rain in a three-day period.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing water ever since.

It is now down to 11 feet above normal and some boat ramps are still hard to access.  But those who have been able to get on the lake have found good bass fishing.

Buster Loving, a longtime guide on Table Rock, has guided his customers to some impressive catches throughout May.

 “The bass were in the process of spawning when the high water hit, and they didn’t move,” Loving said. “For the most part, they stayed where they had fanned out their nests.

“I’m fishing the old banks. Those places might have been in 10 to 12 feet before, and they went to 25 to 30 feet after the water came up. But the fish have still been there.”

Loving remembers years when the high water hit before the spawn and the bass would pioneer into newly flooded cover.

“I won back to back tournaments one year when the lake was flooded,” Loving said. “The fish were in flooded campgrounds, around buildings and lantern holders and in green yards.

“But I haven’t seen that as much this spring.”

The huge releases from Table Rock into Lake Taneycomo caused some nervous times for resort owners, residents and fishermen for a time.  But now that release rates have slowed to a fishable rate, trout fishermen are finding excellent fishing. They’re even catching some fish not normally found in the nationally known trout lake that were flushed out of Table Rock.

“I’ve never seen so many smallmouth bass caught,” said Phil Lilley, who owns Lilley’s Landing Resort and Marina in Branson, Mo. “And the trout fishing from the dam to the Lookout area has been really good.”

“We’re seeing lots of 20-inch rainbows and more browns than normal, too.”

Lilley isn’t surprised. Every time high water hits at Taneycomo, an abundance of shad is flushed from Table Rock into Taneycomo and it sets off a feeding spree among the trout.

White jigs, shad flies, drift rigs and spoons have been the most effective lures.

The fishing has also been good at Truman Lake, the 55,600-acre reservoir in west-central Missouri that was hit hard by flooding.  As of May 18, the water level was still 20 feet above normal pool, but guides such as Jeff Faulkenberry are still helping their clients catch limits of crappies.

“The crappie spawn was about over when the water came up,” said Faulkenberry, who runs the Endless Season Guide Service. “The fish just followed the water into the new cover.

“You have to move around to find them; they’re not bunched up in one place.  But if you stay on the move and fish the green bushes, you can catch a limit.  The key is finding the schools of shad and fry.”

The biggest problem at Truman?  Access.  With the lake still high, some of the boat ramps are inaccessible.

But a few are open and others will be as the water continues to fall.  Go to the website for up-to-date information on facilities.



One of Too Few

  • One Man Trout Angler, Fly-Tyer, Wisdom-Provider
  • Roaring River State Park Trout Secrets
  • Tim’s Fly Shop – Fishing Advice for the Day
Beautiful trout are the usual order of the day with the right fly in the right place.

By David Gray

Opening the door to Tim’s Fly Shop, I walked onto “I Tie Flies” Boulevard.

Grinning without knowing it, I somehow felt a new twang of destiny on my side, positive energy and the odor of dry fly silicon or something.

There are times when you know your first time into a place, you made the right turn.

The quiet, the warm glow of the shop, this was going to be a powerful day.  You know the feeling when you are in the right place at the right time.

There was feathers, hackle, dubbing, chenille, thread, hooks and all that, but a guy named Tim Homesley sitting at his fly-tying bench with a fish-catchy grin and asking me if I needed some help.  That sealed the deal.

Some say that fly-fishing mentor Tim Homesley is one of a kind.

Others say Tim is one of too few.  I know that to be true.

Tim’s Fly Shop sits just outside the entrance to Roaring River State Park nestled deep in the Ozark hills of Missouri.

A baby boomer will call his shop “old school” where product selection is excellent, prices are fair and service is genuine.

A millennial will call his shop “trendy” where selection is great and service is awesome.

Tim Homesley is about real, live advice. No CD, no DVD, no memory stick. It’s just Tim’s way with words of wisdom, face to face.

Tim is one of the few.  Many tackle stores and fly shops like Tim’s that were prevalent not so long ago are now mostly gone.  Many have given way to on-line shopping and large retailers.

But what you will find at Tim’s you will never find online or at any big box store.   At Tim’s you will not only find tackle, you will find incredible knowledge that is shared with enthusiasm.

Mr. Tim Homesley is the owner, proprietor, tackle salesman, fly-maker and advice-giver at Tim’s fly shop.

Tim knows a lot about fishing.

His fishing advice is Priceless, Accurate, his fishing advice is a Sacred Vision into your Fish-Catching Future, his fishing advice is worth listening to. High-value wisdom is not found just anywhere.

“Dad probably thought I wanted a fly rod and brought one home for me when I was five,” Tim shared.

That fly rod sparked a 49-year long passion for fishing and learned knowledge about fishing.   Tim reminisced how before he could drive, Mom or Dad would drop him and a friend to the trout stream in the morning and pick them up that evening after they fished all day.  The passion started then.  Tim learned a lot about how to catch trout.

Prior to opening his shop, Tim spent 9 years managing the Roaring River State Park store.  And Tim added even more to his knowledge about trout fishing.

Perfectly perfect flies are the usual fish-catchers from Tim’s Fly Shop.

Then 23 years ago, he opened Tim’s Fly Shop.  That adds up to 49 years of fishing knowledge.

Buy $10 worth of tackle at Tim’s and you will get a couple hundred dollars of fishing knowledge thrown in.  Live advice.  No CD, no DVD, no memory stick. It’s just Tim’s way with words of wisdom, face to face.  Even if you don’t buy anything, you still get a couple of hundred dollars worth of knowledge and tips just by walking around at Tim’s Fly Shop.

Tim and Tim’s Fly Shop is one of too few.   Tim is so informative.

Question:  Other than Roaring River in Missouri where else do you like to fish?

Tim:  I like Montauk Trout area in Missouri.  It is the headwaters of the Current River and not many people know me there so I can just fish and enjoy.  I also like to float Missouri streams to catch and always release smallmouth.

Question:  Where do you like to fish outside Missouri?

Tim:  New Zealand, it is a favorite, beautiful country, friendly people and great trout fishing.

I also like the Western US.  There are some great places in the west.

Question:  What do you enjoy the most about running Tim’s Fly Shop?

Tim:  Helping people learn how to fish and catch trout. The best is teaching younger people how to fly fish and get good at it. I have taught kids to fly fish who are now Dad’s and they now bring their kids in for me to work with and teach.

Tim’s Fly Shop is like going to visit with a friend at your home. I have to stop there every time I drive by.

Question: What is your fondest memory of running Tim’s Fly Shop?

Tim:  I worked with a young man name Trent from Springfield for several years teaching him how to be a very good angler.  He wrote me a full length sincere letter thanking me for that.  It was special to receive that letter.

If you love camping, hiking, trout fishing and nature, Roaring River State Park in Missouri is one very special place to visit.  When you visit, be sure to stop by that special place called Tim’s Fly Shop, it’s located on the lower northwest side of the park on Highway 112.  On Wednesday, the shop is closed and you won’t find Tim.  He may be somewhere with rod in hand accumulating more knowledge about fishing that he will be more than ready to share with you on Thursday.

You can email Tim at, but the best bet is stop in at his store address: Tim’s Fly Shop, 233387 State Hwy 112, Cassville, Missouri, 65625, or call to be sure if you are traveling, call at 417-847-4956.

For lodging, campground and park information for Roaring River State Park, call 417-847-2330

Eastern Lake Erie Fishing Hotline

Erie, Chautauqua & Cattaraugus County Fish Report thru May 5, 2017 – from NYSDEC

  • Perch: Hot Bite between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point
  • Crappie: Chautauqua Lake open water bite slow, canal action is fair
  • Inland Trout: Look for blue-winged olives, stoneflies, Hendrickson hatches
  • Bass: Dunkirk Harbor, Buffalo Harbor, Chautauqua Lake
Lake Erie giant smallmouth bass fishing gear is the order of the day for many anglers heading to enjoy the bonanza of big bass action starting up in eastern Basin Lake Erie. Forrest Fisher Photo

Eastern Lake Erie & New York State Harbors

Anxious Lake Erie boaters have been launching out of some sites, while others launches remain closed. There is limited boat launching at Buffalo Boat Harbor. Launch docks are in at the ramp near the restaurant, but the newly constructed launch ramps remain fenced off. Sturgeon Point is closed until a dredging project removes the sand bar at harbor mouth. At Cattaraugus Creek, Town of Hanover launch is open and launch docks are in. The State launch is also open, but launch docks are not in place. Dunkirk and Barcelona boat launches are open with launch docks in.

Anglers report a good yellow perch bite between Cattaraugus Creek and Sturgeon Point in 52-62 feet of water, with some limit catches. The hot spot has been off Evangola State Park. In other areas, there are reportedly smaller roving perch schools, so being mobile helps. Live emerald shiners are the top perch bait and have been available for dipping around the upper Niagara River.

Cooler water temperatures in Dunkirk Harbor have made for modest catches of smallmouth bass so far. Look for the bass bite to pick up with rising water temps. Some bullhead catches have been reported in Dunkirk Harbor. Yellow perch are still biting well in Buffalo Boat Harbor, but most have been small lately.

Eastern Lake Erie Tributaries

Heavy rains have all Lake Erie tributaries running at very high and muddy levels. Chautauqua County received less rain than the Buffalo area, so look for those creeks to drop back first. Steelhead catches were tapering off prior to the storm event. Look for smallmouth bass numbers in the creeks to be on the rise.

Upper Niagara River

Due to muddy creek outflows, waters are turbid along the upper Niagara River’s east shoreline. This may slow the yellow perch bite which was previously good along City of Buffalo shore sites. Perch have also been biting well in many upper river harbors and marinas. Live emerald shiners are the top perch bait and have been available for dipping in many spots.

Chautauqua Lake

The open water crappie bite has been relatively slow lately. Good sized yellow perch and bluegill have been biting well in the shallow zone, especially near weed beds. Anglers are catching good numbers of bullhead along shorelines. Low light periods are typically best, but anglers are catching them during the day as well. Worms, leeches, raw shrimp or chicken livers fished on the bottom work well for bullhead.

Inland Trout Streams

Inland trout fishing is on hold due to high water conditions, with many creeks over their banks. When creeks drop back to fishable levels, look for hatches of blue-winged olives, stoneflies and Hendrickson’s on the streams that have them. Productive offerings for spinning angers include worms, salted minnows and small inline spinners. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams and Stocked Trout Streams to choose from. In addition, Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region’s best trout streams. Check out the Fishing For Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, equipment and fishing techniques.

Spring Trout Stocking

All of Region 9’s trout stocking waters have been stocked with at least one stocking increment. For County lists of stocked waters check the Spring Trout Stocking 2017 page. Hatchery staff are now delivering additional stocking increments for the larger or more popular waters. The following waters are scheduled an additional stocking between 4/24 and 4/28.

Cattaraugus County: Bone Run (South Valley), Harwood Lake (Farmersville).

Genesee River Angler Diary Program

DEC Region 9 Fisheries Unit will be running an angler diary program for the Genesee River during 2017, and is currently looking for anglers to keep diaries. The diarist program aims to record data for trout and bass fishing trips on the Genesee River from the Pennsylvania line downstream through Letchworth State Park from March 1st through October 31st, 2017. If you fish the Genesee River (even once) and would like to contribute your observations by keeping a diary, please call DEC Fisheries at (716) 379-6372 or email

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.

Outdoors Woman Program – Big Fish in New York

  • 6-hour Guided Fishing Trip with Captain Dave Wilson
  • Catch Salmon, Trout and Steelhead
  • 28′ Baha Cruiser, Boat Has Enclosed Private Bathroom  
  • All Fishing Gear Provided No Fishing Experience Necessary
Ladies can catch King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and/or Steelhead during the 6 hour guided fishing trip.

NYSDECThe Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program is once again teaming up with Captain Dave Wilson to offer some Beyond BOW Women’s Guided Fishing Trips on Lake Ontario.  The women who went fishing year caught fish (see one of the fish on the attached flier, and had fun!

Enjoy a 6 hour guided fishing trip for King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and/or Steelhead with Captain Dave Wilson aboard his 28′ Baha Cruiser. All fishing equipment is provided.  No fishing experience necessary. The boat has an enclosed bathroom with plumbing!  Open to women age 18 or over.

July 9, 2017 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
July 23, 2017 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
July 30, 2017 at 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
August 5, 2017 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
August 6, 2017 5:30 am or 1:30 pm
All depart from Oswego Marina, Oswego, NY

Fee: $125 – $150 per person depending on the number of women on the boat.  What to bring:

Pre-registration is required. Contact Captain Dave Wilson at 315-481-5716 or captaindavewilson@yahoo.comDetails about boat and trip, etc.:

These fishing trips sold out last year, so reserve your spot early.

For more on Women Activities in New York: Visit Becoming an Outdoors-Woman on the web at

Looking for a Fishy Kayak?

New kayaks can be peddled like a bicycle or paddled like a canoe, but one factor to look for is weight capacity and seat comfort. Forrest Fisher Photo

  • How to Choose, Many Makers
  • Things to Consider, Tackle Storage
  • Peddle or Paddle?  Sit or Stand?
New kayaks can be peddled like a bicycle or paddled like a canoe, but one factor to look for is weight capacity and seat comfort. Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher

There is a new wave of fishing access, waterway fun and outdoor adventure that is sweeping our young-minded nation.  The portability and capability of new kayak products are more popular and in greater demand every day.  I searched out many of the kayak lines out there and concluded that when safety and durability are a function of your interest – big water (ocean) or small water (ponds), the Hobie Company has a product that everyone should know more about before purchasing any other kayak product.

There’s never been a better time to take up kayak fishing.  Whatever your game – freshwater bass or trout, saltwater redfish on the flats, or hard-pulling, aggressive fish, like kingfish and yellowtail in the big water offshore – there’s a Hobie kayak built for the job.

Every Hobie kayak comes ready to fish from the factory, but some are more ‘fishy’ than others. The current fleet offers deck plans with space to mount rod holders and electronics, hatches big enough to stash extra tackle, and spacious above-deck cargo areas in the stern, the ideal place for an H-Crate storage system or Hobie Livewell.

The 13- to 16-foot kayak models are at home on the ocean or a large lake, where the length will help glide you safely over swells and tough choppy conditions. Hobie Photo

There are compact boats, deliberately built short. Others are long and slender, or somewhere in between. Hobie’s flagships feature the MirageDrive, an elegantly engineered and time-tested pedal drive that offers numerous advantages.  Hobie also has kayaks to paddle the old-fashioned way.  They also have portable inflatable kayaks and the family-oriented Mirage Islands and trimarans with sails that work together with the MirageDrive.

Variety is good.  There is no one boat that fits everyone or is perfect for each fishery.  Every kayak is a compromise.  The right one for you depends chiefly on two things: your body size and shape and the adventure you plan to put that kayak craft through on the water.

One thing is obvious.  Bigger people need bigger kayaks.  Whether you’re tall or a bit husky, make sure to sit in the cockpit of any kayak you’re considering.  With Hobie, try out the different Vantage seats.  All are comfortable with wide-ranging adjustability.  The ST and XT seats that outfit the Pro Angler series are larger and taller, serious fishermen like these.

Don’t forget to check the capacity of the kayak.  Take your weight, estimate your gear load and add in a few pounds for the fish you’ll catch.  It’ll help you decide whether you need a 400-pound capacity kayak like the Hobie Mirage Outback or a larger 600-pound capacity Mirage Pro Angler 14.  The latter are great for big men who think like boys (like me).

A smaller person will fit in just about any kayak.  A big boat can still be a mismatch and can be too much of a good thing.

Check out the H-Crate storage system from Hobie with the above-board seating on top of this model kayak. The angler is higher for improved visibility when searching out sand bars, shoals and bedding fish. Hobie Photo

The sturdier kayak models are longer, in the 13-16 foot range, and with these, you can feel safe and comfortable on the ocean or a large lake, where the length will help glide you safely over swells and tough choppy conditions.  The Mirage Revolution 16 is one such unit that will fill the bill for safety in tough seas.  The same boat will have a harder time of handling the sharp turns of a narrow, twisting river backwater.  So it’s a good idea to match your kayak to the intended use.

In general, shorter kayaks such as the Hobie Mirage Sport are easier to turn and pivot, but aren’t as efficient for covering long distances.  Longer boats such as the Mirage Revolution 13 hold a straighter course.  Wider boats in the Pro Angler Line feel stable and support more weight, whereas narrower boats glide with less effort.   Here, you need to decide which is best for your intended use.

Every one of the Hobie roto-molded polyethylene models comes with molded-in rod holders.  They are ready to fish straight from the factory, but if you’re a serious angler you’ll love the additional features offered in the Mirage Outback and the Pro Angler series.  There are more places to mount accessories such as rod holders and camera mounts.  The Pro Anglers add horizontal rod holders and long lengths of H-Rail for mounting even more gear.

Kayak fishing has allowed growth of anglers that are bonding to the outdoors with friends and neighbors, fishing in local and regional contests, and enjoying better quality time with their own families. Hobie Photo

If storage space or transportation is an issue, take a look at the Hobie inflatable series.  They feature rugged, PVC-vinyl construction and offer performance that rivals more rigid models.  Set up takes about10-minutes.  Each one comes with an Easy-Load Rolling Travel Bag.  Some are even light enough to bring along as checked airline baggage.

There’s a lot to consider, so put in some research before buying your next kayak,but if you want safety and reliability, my choice would be with a Hobie.  Save your pennies and put them good use for your safe and fun future on the water in your kayak.

To see a Hobie, look for a dealer near you through their on-line Dealer Finder, then drop by any other local kayak hop to take a closer look at their kayaks.  Many offer demos.  Stop by an annual fishing or outdoor show where you’re likely to see kayaks rigged for fishing and can chat with kayak fishing guides for expert advice.  If you want to feel a lot younger, do what I do and get up early to visit a kayak fishing competition – there are numerous events all around the country now.

If you choose your new kayak with some foresight, it will open a thrilling new world of fishing adventure.  Enjoy!

Finding a Florida Fishing Charter

  • You Have 4 hours, You Want to Fish
  • New “Find a Fishing Charter Service”
  • What to Do, Where to Search, I Discovered
Small boats, big boats and even kayaks, complete with tackle, are a part of the fishing fleet and staff that is available to you with one call to this new service (1-844-GOT-TREK). Forrest Fisher Photo
Small boats, big boats and even kayaks, complete with tackle, are a part of the fishing fleet and staff that is available to you with one call to this new service (1-844-GOT-TREK).  Forrest Fisher Photo

By Forrest Fisher

When you travel to Florida for vacation or business, you realize at some point – especially if you are a fisherman, that the deep blue sea is calling and that there may be some time for you to enjoy a charter fishing trip.  Your eternal obligations for responsibility melt away and the thought of a short fishing trip melts away all of your burdens.  Fishing…..Yes!

Even if you unprepared, the nice thing about Florida charter fishing is that the fishing license is considered part of the charter cost and this policy helps to promote the economic impact for the local economy, guides and visitors.  It makes it easy for you and I to take a fishing trip too.

You open the phone book or click on google for the city you’re in and there you are, yep, somewhat confused.  You find so many charter listings and no time to sort through them to find out about reviews and cost and time of arrival and location.  All those things and even more.

While on a Florida fishing charter, you will always find that nature is all around you wherever you fish. Forrest Fisher Photo
While on a Florida fishing charter, you will always find that nature is all around you wherever you fish.  Forrest Fisher Photo

If you are fishing in Florida, especially if you are within an hour or two of Tampa, you won’t need to worry about all those details.  There is a new fishing charter company that has already vetted the available charters and made a list of the good guys (and gals) who are honest charter fishermen willing to give you their time and best effort to catch fish in short order.  That new company is called “itrekkers” and you can quickly find them at  Think of them as sort of the Uber Taxi Service of the fishing world in Florida.

Itrekkers allows you to make a simple search for the convenience of booking a fishing charter with nearly no prep time.  You’re decision-making is reduced to deciding upon the length of your trip.  End of story, you can let the fun begin.

Itrekkers offers several types of trips depending on how much time you have, these include 4-Hour Inshore, 6-Hour Nearshore and 8-Hour Offshore trips.  These types of trips are designed for you and your family or small group of 4-6 people.  If you’re fishing alone, they also offer Share-A-Treks that are designed for 1-2 people who are looking for all the benefits of a charter, but not the full cost.  You can book a single seat and share with friends or let others join you for a fun adventure on the water.

The Share-A-Trek fishing trips permit you to enjoy the charter without being responsible for the full charter cost.  I like this option, especially for business travelers, since the cost can be as little as $150 per person to get out on a boat for half a day with all gas, bait, equipment, licenses, and more, included.

Depending on the trip selected, you’ll fish in different types of water from protected bays and inlets to deep sea offshore waters.  The 8-Hour Offshore deep-sea trips will take the angler 20 to 60 miles offshore to catch the fish you’re after.

This service has long been overdue and if you have ever rented a charter and have come back disappointed, this business takes care of that problem. Your trip is money-back guaranteed.  Not sure any adventure trip can ever be more assured before you leave.  Check these guys out, they’re worth a call if you happen to be in need of fishing fun and services and you’re in Florida.  I found them by accident.

Call 1-844-GOT-TREK or link to  Tight lines everyone!

Destination for Fishing Adventure – the Lower Niagara River

– Monster Salmon, Steelhead and Trout all year long

– Hang on to your Hat!

Chronicles in History is written by Timothy M. Powers and published by Tate Publishing - an exciting book about the reality of American government today from an expert, just in time for the 2016 Presidential election. Visit: (Photo by Jack Savoy)
Photo by Jack Savoy

By Forrest Fisher

If you have ever had the “itch to fish” a world class fishery in a hotspot fishing adventure wonderland, you gotta try dropping a line in the Lower Niagara River at Devil’s Hole from a boat.

The sheer sound of the gurgling water flowing past will bring a pleasant surprise to your hearing senses.  It is so relaxing at first, but only until you hook into a monster salmon or steelhead or brown trout or lake trout, or maybe even a sturgeon, and your drag begins to sing a song that you’ve never heard before.  You know, that pleasing, whining, sound of a continuous rip-off of your fishing line with a fish that you have not seen yet, but you know that fish is heading off somewhere into the horizon.  You want him!  Anglers scream when this happens, some holler, some cheer, some find a new combination of letters that describe a brand new word.  Yes, it’s mystifying and these are among the ultimate moments that sportsmen can call “Incredible Fun!”

The best part? You can fish the Lower Niagara River all year long – summer and winter, as the flowing water changes level and never freezes due to reservoir fill and release cycles from the electric power generation plants located on both shores of the river. There is one in New York, USA, and one in Ontario, Canada.

Photo by Jack Lavoy
Photo by Jack Lavoy

Different fish species become available at different times of the year, but there are always fish to be caught in the lower river.  One of my favorite fishing charter captain friends is Captain Jeff Draper.  He says, “Starting in September, giant King Salmon that get in the 30 lb range move up river to spawn. This great fishery lasts until the end of October. Then in November, some of the finest steelhead angling in North America begins with fish that average 8-10 lbs and get up to 20 lbs.  The Steelhead are followed by Lake Trout and Brown Trout that can get even bigger, 20 lb Lake Trout are not uncommon.  Many of these fish stack up at the mouth of the river and Lake Ontario in an area called the Niagara Bar. This season peaks in spring, in April, with Coho Salmon, Lakers and Browns everywhere feeding on bait.  We drift for all these fish with light tackle using eggs, minnows and lures for bait.”

To say this kind of big fish fishing is simply fun would be a simple understatement.  It is an unforgettable adventure!  The rushing water, the power plants, the boat ride itself is exciting and fun, but the fish straining the rod and line is the best part that will forever etch a location in your memory for all time.

Watch this video and see for yourself, how a 4-hour fishing trip on the Lower Niagara River with Captain Jeff Draper unfolds from start to finish, in this excellent and informative video provided to created by Jack Lavoy:

Most of all, it is hard to believe how all this fishing is so affordable. Check it out:  A whole day on the water for less than the cost of an overnight stay in a nice hotel.  Not sure how Captain Jeff can do it, but you’ll need to call ahead for reservations as his schedule is usually very well booked.

Photo by Jack Lavoy
Photo by Jack Lavoy

Inspiring Musky Wisdom

Chris Kempf landed this 46.25” musky while trolling Lake Erie aboard Mostly Musky Charters with Captain Larry Jones of Buffalo, New York.

-Niagara Musky Association – Catch & Release

-Musky Lures, Secret Musky Logic

-One Musky Champion: Captain Larry Jones

By Forrest Fisher

Chris Kempf landed this 46.25” musky while trolling Lake Erie aboard Mostly Musky Charters with Captain Larry Jones of Buffalo, New York.
Chris Kempf landed this 46.25” musky while trolling Lake Erie aboard Mostly Musky Charters with Captain Larry Jones of Buffalo, New York.

When I was just a little boy in the 1950’s, I would read the Breem’s Forrest outdoor column in the Buffalo Courier Express (New York), noting that “musky fishermen from Chet Bowman’s livery at the foot of Sheridan Drive would score on big muskies off Strawberry Island.”  I was always fascinated by the size of the fish shown in the newspaper pictures – some 50 pounders, so these big fish have always had my personal attention (and fear).

In those days, anglers would brag about the great taste of musky – which was really not all that good, but they were actually bragging more about their big fish catch.  It’s a guy thing, especially post-era WWII, success was hard to find at times.

Anglers did eat many of the musky’s caught back then, many of those anglers were elderly post-depression era fisherman and they knew what it meant to have zero food.  They would not waste anything, especially a big fish that might provide many meals.  It was a different time.

Today, modern-era anglers are educated and know much more about conservation, they understand the fishery for giant fish is limited to preserving and maintaining the smaller fish.  One organization, the Niagara Musky Association (NMA), has many dedicated members and is passing on the master plan of catch and release to everyone when it comes to musky.

As a result, members of this fishing and conservation organization have proven with catch data and record keeping that their view of catch and release is working. They catch a musky monster, handle it carefully, take a photo if possible and release the fish back to nature.  Wall mounts today only need a length, birth and picture to recreate your catch and allow life in the musky world to flourish.

With this program in effect for many years now, decades, big musky are caught all year long, but musky are especially on the mega-feed as we enter November.  Upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor currents attract baitfish in large schools as fall weather turns toward winter months and the muskies know it.  The savvy anglers know it too, anglers like Captain Larry Jones, who is literally booked for every day from October through the end of November.  Why?  Because Jones catches fish and he catches them all the time.  He knows the strategy of baitfish location change and that means big fish for his clients.

Just yesterday, Captain Larry Jones was fishing some of his secret water trolling areas with a client, Chris Kempf from Cheektowaga, New York, and the musky were cooperating despite the 34 degree air temperature.  Kempf reeled in two musky over the few hours of night preceding sunrise, one of them measuring nearly 47 inches.

Jones set up his client trolling a Legend Plow crankbait, a modified $100 lure, with the lure running feet down over 41 feet of water out in lower Lake Erie in front of Buffalo.   Jones says, “We were marking schools of emerald shiners 25 feet down, lots of walleye hooks and a couple bigger muskie hooks. Using lead core line to acquire extra depth, we set our crankbaits at 25 feet and trolled through the baitfish from different directions of approach.  On the 4th pass at 5:30 am we got a hook up and after a short fight into the net went an extra fat 46.25” muskie.  We managed to catch a 2nd fish too, a 38″ muskie closer to the Buffalo Harbor South Gap in 34 feet of water.”

Catching two fish normally defined by anglers as “the fish of a thousand casts” in less than two hours is an incredible feat in itself, but Captain Jones does this all the time largely because he understands the fishery.

Jones adds, “Yes, a lot of the conditions that allow you to catch big muskies before the water temperature drops cool enough to bring in bait fish from deeper waters of Lake Erie are short lived.  The wind-induced water temperature changes with wind direction change and everything is either there or gone just like that.”

While late fall is the best time to hook a real giant, Jones says, “The only other chance you have before the water temp in Buffalo Harbor gets warmer then the deep waters of Lake Erie is strong winds with big waves turning Lake Erie silty grey and water behind the walls is green tint, everything moves to cleaner water, baitfish and predators. Get a North or NW winds and it blows up the Harbor behind the walls replacing warm water with equal lake temperature water and everything disappears again.  So timing to conditions is everything.”  Jones is sharing his secret tactics with words from the wisdom of experience.

I will personally admit to the joy and surprise of landing 12 or 13 of these monsters while fishing for walleye and bass over the years.  Each time I have noticed the eyes of the hooked musky are actually focused and turning to observe the angler with the rod or the net in the boat.  As the fish moves around the boat during the landing process, the eyeballs and pupils of the fish turn with every fish change of movement.

Yes, it is fascinating, but a bit spooky too, especially on Halloween night!  Exciting to be sure!  We have always carefully released them because we value our fingers and because they are such a magnificent, handsome, fish!  They are freshwater sharks, lots of teeth!

Captain Larry Jones has been trophy musky hunting the Niagara River and Lake Erie for nearly three decades and catches many fish near the 50 pound mark on frequent occasions. He also fished the Upper Niagara River and Chautauqua Lake.   In 1996, Jones caught and released 112 muskies of his own to win the Muskies Inc. – Masters Division Championship.  Add that his clients that year caught another 79 muskies from his boat. Wow, this guy is spooky good at musky fishing!

Captain Larry holds a U.S. Coast Guard Masters License and his boat rig is U.S. Coast Guard inspected each year, he is fully insured and well equipped.  His contact info is (716) 833-6739, or on the web, visit:

Respect these magnificent fish if you hook one, release them quickly, and be careful not to damage their gills or fins.

Share life with others, make new friends in the outdoors, lead by example.

When Lake Erie Charter Captains Meet

  • Trolling, Casting?
  • Stickbaits or Live Bait?
  • Depth, Direction, Lure Details and GPS Numbers
Choosing the right lure, the right color, right size are key to success. Charters Captains have a virtual tackle shop aboard their fishing rigs. Forrest Fisher photo

The sky doesn’t fall in when charter captains meet, but secrets may be shared and debated. If you were a fly on the wall, you might want to be there. The knowledge of professional fishing guides and Great Lakes charter captains is one of those fishing resource elements that all who fish yearn to know more about – the guides know so many details.

They understand the important elements of water depth, wind direction, forage location and related changes, fishing line – type and strength, rods – length and action, reels – level wind or spinning, boat gear – safety first, landing nets – handle length and hoop size, cooler efficiency – Orion long-life coolers, live wells, sonar – Hummingbird and Lowrance, GPS, diving planes – Dipsey divers and Pink Lady’s and so many more, downrigger balls and releases – Black’s releases or Cannon or Big Jon or others, leader materials – Fluorocarbon or doesn’t it matter? How many are a gazillion things to know? These guys know all the not-so-little things.

When professional fishing guides and charter captains sit down together for great food and kinship at a 5-star facility such as Peak’N Peak Resort and Spa, do they share fishing secrets? You can ask ‘em! From left to right, Captain Frank Shoenacher – Infinity Charters, Gene Pauszek – Dunkirk Observer News, Captain Joan Erhardt & Captain Lance Erhardt – Sassafras Charters, musky guide – Captain Larry Jones, Captain Dan and Mrs. Korzenski – Hooked-Up Charters, and Captain Roger and Mrs. Corlett – 89 Surprise Charters. Forrest Fisher photo

Charter captains live to fish every day. They understand the pedigree of changes where they fish and believe it or not, most of them that catch fish all the time, share their effective fish-catching details with other trusted charter captains. Why? So that they are all in the winning column when they return to the dock with paying customers. That’s where the final score is decided.

Well-equipped fishing rigs are the standard for professional charter captains and guides where safety and fishing success is the objective every day. Forrest Fisher photo

Winning on the water means return trips in the future, extra tips at the dock and maybe even a Christmas card with a Tim Horton’s gift card in there. Paying customers are those folks that usually have little time to fish – but love to fish, and they have no time at all for learning the fishery and the gear, and all those things that matter so they don’t waste time looking for fish. When they are ready to try their luck, these folks NEED charter captains that know. They are willing to pay extra for that privilege and if you figure it all out, it may be way less expensive to simply fish with a good charter captain than on your own if time and money are a limitation for you.

It costs more to fish on your own, takes longer to learn all the necessary things to know, but its fun doing that too.

My last new boat, motor and trailer was list priced at $48,000. That’s not counting such necessary gear as sonar, rods, reels, line/lures, leaders, snap-swivels, etc. It’s a long and pricey list. At that price, I could take 3 charter trips of $500 each about three times a year, fill my freezer and do that for about 32 years and include a $100 tip at the dock for every good trip. That would result in a happy captain and I would probably get preferred status in the captain’s book when I call to go fishing.   Not a bad way to go right?

Steve Geertsen (Clam Outdoors), with a whopper walleye caught near Dunkirk Harbor, Chautauqua County, New York. Forrest Fisher photo

Where I live, Captain Lance Erhardt and the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (ELECBA) share information among themselves and their clients when it makes sense to do that. All fishermen have secrets, some things are special and some things are top-secret, like where they store the toilet paper when you really need it. The charter captains are always good for a few laughs.

When New York Outdoor News editor, Steve Piatt, fished with Erhardt and first mate, Zen Olow last week Piatt said, “We had such a good time, we laughed, we had lots of hook-ups, caught multiple species – especially walleye, and best of all, when we returned to the dock, we smelled pretty fishy! I think that’s the goal!” Not everybody does.

ELECBA has top captains that are drug tested prior to membership, first mates too, and so clients know things are on the up and up. Clients like that.

When the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association (NYSOWA) met in Chautauqua County (New York) at Peek’N Peak Resort and Spa in mid-September (2016), ELECBA was the organization that provided the large group with the opportunity to learn about Eastern Basin Lake Erie fishing and catching opportunities. They excelled in their task. Camera shutters and video cam’s clicked for several days in a row and it was exciting for these visitors to experience fishing success like they did because they can spread the information across their respective communication links – newspapers, television, radio and website blogs. That means economic impact in a positive manner for the future.

Our fishing/communicator team of Dave Mull (Midwest Outdoors), Steve Geertsen (President of Clam Outdoors) and myself, fished with Captain Roger Corlett aboard his 31-foot Sea Ray, with first mate, Dennis Gullo, to catch seven walleye, a surprise pink salmon, a feisty steelhead, some hard-fighting sheepshead and a few giant silver bass.

All this in less than 4-hours on the water. Photo opportunities! I took 350 pictures! Dave Mull video’d several catches. One of our walleye measured 29-3/4 inches and neared the 10-pound mark, another was 28-1/4 inches and 9 pounds, and the other walleye were not little fish. That’s a freezer full.

Captain Roger Corlett has sore arms from Eastern Lake Erie walleye near Dunkirk Harbor. Forrest Fisher photo

The next day we shared the best problem, sore shoulders, hot coffee and no complaints. Dave Mull was mulling for a while that he lost a giant walleye that could have been a new state record, the fish was a monster – but slipped away. Do we wanna return? We left warm wishes for that with a $100 friendship tip. What fun!

We learned about setting diving planes, multiple line deployment tactics, lure selection options and why, and depths to fish.

The best deal is not when charter captains meet, the best deal is when you meet with the charter captains. Pass the word and get out there to learn more about where you like to fish when you get to fish on your own. Do it the hands on way with a charter captain or guide that is a professional and knows the ropes.

Here are a few of the Great Lakes Charter Captain’s from Dunkirk that I had a chance to meet over the conference, there are many more, and you can contact Captain Lance Erhardt (see below) for a complete list:

Tight lines!

Mercer Wisconsin is a Fishing Destination

Wisconsin Musky Season opens Saturday, May 28, 2016!

Musky are well-known for their stubborn appetite and vicious fight all across North America, but in Mercer, Wisconsin, musky like this one – I can attest, will often follow your lure right to the boat before striking. If you’re lucky, they inhale your offering and will provide you with a rod/reel clutching battle of your lifetime. Mercer Musky Mike Vecchione caught this one!

When folks from across the United States think about easy and fun fishing, most consider they need to head for Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan or other parts of Canada to “get away from it all” and be assured of fish-catching action.  Not so anymore!

Since I live in New York State and have never had a chance to visit northern Wisconsin before, my visit here was an eye-opener, and it is “Made in the USA”.

Iron County is a beautiful wilderness area with a few small towns and villages where fish and wildlife offer countless opportunities for pristine adventure and new experience.  There are fishing guides here that offer year ‘round fishing, on hard water too.

Musky Man, Mike Vecchione, is a licensed Wisconsin Guide from Mercer, Wisconsin, that took some time to show me the ropes and proved that he knows where “X” marks the spot for several secret lunker musky holes in the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.  He is also a guide for many smaller inland lakes (with giant fish) located in Northern Wisconsin, there are over 200 lakes within 30 miles of Mercer.

Mike is inexpensive and effective for half day and full day charters (how can you beat $250!?).  If you like to cast custom-made musky-killer lures that catch big fish, including northern pike, walleye and big bass, just give Mike a call (715-476-0441 or 715-776-0393).

Listen for Common Loons (Gavia Immer)

Just after sunrise and a scrumptious breakfast at the Great Northern Hotel, ( where we could hear two mating loons chitchat with each other, the aroma of the brewed coffee and excitement of fishing conversation just made the day a perfect start.

Coffee in hand, a few water bottles and a few sandwiches from the Mercer Subway in cooler stowage, and only a few lures that Mike had allowed me to view before we left.  The boat rig was a comfy, new Alumacraft with a 4-stroke Mercury engine on the stern and a Minn Kota electric on the bow.  Rods were all stowed and tied down for use as needed, all ready to go.  My heart started pumping a few extra kicks as we headed down the road and talked more about how we would fish – all casting, no trolling.  That’s exciting fishing!  Rod in hand is always exciting.

In less than 15 minutes, we arrived at Murray’s Landing, just five minutes from Highway 51 in Iron County.  While we were in the water in no time, I was impressed that the launch features boat access for trailers, hand launch boats – we saw kayakers there too, and has super-clean restrooms in the parking area.

The Turtle Flambeau Flowage is a pure, clear, sparkling water impoundment that creates a unique reservoir, using the flow from the Turtle River and Flambeau River to create 19,000 acres of waterway for fish, wildlife and semi-remote human adventure, including camping.

Created in 1926, the Turtle Dam provides the Flowage with some 212 miles of winding shoreline, with 95 percent of it publicly owned – that means it is “wild”.

No cabins every 25 yards, no septic system runoff, no leftover garbage from the lawns and backyards that will never be there.  It is pristine.  The dam combines nine lakes, three rivers and several creeks to create a vast and semi captured wilderness solitude zone where fish of many species thrive to become giants, and they are accessible by boats from eight locations.  AND, allowable campsite areas you can rent.  Imagine spending some time with nature here.

We Fished for Musky, Northern Pike, Walleye, Crappie, Bass

mercerwisconsin2As we prepared to cast our first line. Mike showed me with a lesson what he expected from my casting perspective.  I like that.  I like to know what the guide thinks his clients are capable of, it helps the clients jump up a bit to meet the objectives expected.  There is a challenge of sorts.

It wasn’t long after that we discovered chartreuse was the hot color.  Using Mike’s lures, we caught over a dozen fish that included northern pike and smallmouth bass, though we had one musky of about 4-feet in length follow us and turn around when he saw my mustache. Darn sun reflecting of my silver beard.  ARghhhshhcrappppppola!  Or something like that.  Wait a minute, maybe that gargantuan musky saw Mike first?  Ok, I can sleep now.  It’s been a week, finally.  Figured it out.

mercerwisconsin3The trick to success with Mike’s method?  Speed of retrieve and the sonic effect of the custom lure. Mike uses a high speed casting reel or a high speed spinning reel.  Both move the bait back a very brisk pace.

The spinning rig that I used was a Shimano Sienna 2500HD 4BB open-face reel with 30# Power Pro braid (green) and a Shimano Convergence rod, 6’-8”, CVS68MHB medium heavy power with a fast action.

The custom lures are 2-hook rigs that are tuned to perfection with an assortment of Colorado blades and Willow Leaf blades separated by spacers on a heavy wire shaft.  The lure literally sings-a-song-thumping-along during the retrieve in the water.  If you are quiet and don’t talk too much while fishing, you can definitely hear this lure.  So can the fish.  I think the darn thing was talking to me.  “Can you hear me now?”

The lure sonics are a charm, they either drive the fish baddy or they attract the fish, either way, the lures are unique.  The only other options with the lure are size and color.

The lures are called Boonie’s Baits, invented by a family member, Phil Graser, way back in 1978.  Graser caught at least one world record musky on the bait (51-1/2 inches in 1989 on 15# test mono) and was locally known as a musky master.

The hand-made baits are usually available at Turtle River Trading ( in downtown Mercer, when they are not out of stock.  Kurt’s Island Sports is another source in Minoqua, Wisconsin.

Color matters. In 20 minutes of fishing, Mike had changed lures three times and passed me the rod with the undulating Chartreuse wiggle skirt and same color blades.  “Use this one Forrest,” he said.  “This is the color for this morning.  The fish are swinging their tails, following it and once in a while attacking it.”

mercerwisconsin4As we electric motored our way around the islands in the Flowage, I caught six northern pike in the next four hours and a nice smallmouth bass that tipped the scales at just under three pounds.  Mike caught multiple fish and we shared stories of our colorful past fun times.  Fun?  You know it!

Peace, quiet, beautiful nature and the solemn promise of all is well is found here.

We watched eagles soar high overhead and circle our efforts while fishing, they were fishing too.  We only saw three other boats all day long and one of those was a kayak.  Yes, I felt reassured after this day on the water, all is well.

We headed back to clean up and decided to meet for dinner at the Wolf’s Den Restaurant located inside the Great Northern Hotel.  Multiple local tap beers are on the menu here and delicious entrees, as well.  Our other choices were numerous in Mercer too, on previous days, friends and I had savored dinner meals at the Cranberry Inn ( and at Heart of the North (, both were places that had provided scrumptious dinner offerings and on-tap micro brews.  It’s just one week ago and I can still taste that delicious North Country food from Mercer.  I long for it, except I’m 1,100 miles to the east!

One thing for sure, I’m coming back to Mercer with more friends next time!  Maybe for the Can-Yak Fishing Tournament and Festival set for September 2 -4, 2016.  Check it out at

Adirondack Mountain Fishing Guides

Finding Help to Catch Ausable River Brown Trout

Veteran Adirondack fly-fishing guide, Ken Khalil, educated our group on how to fish muddy, fast-rising water in the Ausable under conditions when most anglers would have opted for extra coffee over a long, late breakfast.

A top priority of many baby boomer, wanna-be trout anglers is to keep up with that ever-aging bucket list as we age.  Among my priorities is to fish more with a fly rod and learn about what many fly rod anglers all seem to say and share, “fly fishing is so relaxing- once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back!” So when some fishing friends wanted to make a trip to the Adirondack Mountains to fish the infamous Ausable River for brown trout, I was all ears.

Amidst the majestic mountains and winding roads above the quaint Adirondack Olympic village of Lake Placid, site of the world famous 1980 USA-Russia hockey game known as the “Miracle On Ice”, we met up during an evening rainstorm. Over a few local microbrews, we discussed our hopeful plan to fish the morning.

Since we had never fished here before, hiring a guide was a logical choice for day one and that turned out to be a great decision.  We met with Ken Khalil, a local guide of over 20 years experience and this artist of the stream showed us how to catch brown trout in high muddy water conditions.  This was on a day that all of us thought we would be relishing a late breakfast due to the weather.  Guides that know what they are doing are a pleasure to fish with and learn from.

There were four of us and step one was to go over everyone’s gear and that included the rod, reel, line, leaders, knots, waders, wading staff and fly assortment.  I had brought along a rod that I had made myself some 40 years ago from a yellow-color fiberglass Fenwick FL90-6 blank (90 inches long made for a 6-weight line).  It has a soft action, is limber and is only gently loaded with level 5-weight line and an 8-foot leader.  While most of the world has switched to more modern materials, our guide saw my “different” rod and was immediately attracted to ask some questions about it.

With a humble, inquiring voice, he finally asked if he could try it out.  Of course, I agreed, he could show me how to use it!  We never stop learning.  After 15 minutes or so, explaining to all of us how we would start fishing, he directed us to take a spot on the stream then came over to me to say, “I am so impressed with your rod, I love the action, the delivery, the usability of the rod in general.” I felt like a million bucks!  He explained the difference between some of the very expensive graphite models sold in many stores today and the old action.  Special old-gear moments are priceless and never to be forgotten, especially when on a famous trout stream with a world class guide!

Ausable River brown trout are handsome and beautiful, notice the secret streamer-nymph style fly in the jaw of this fish that fooled so many trout on this day.

With the fast-flowing, muddy water, no one expected to catch anything.  We praised the courage of our guide for even attempting to bring our group to the stream.  Little did we know, Ken Khalil was an expert with fast-rising, off-color (muddy) water on the Ausable.  Between the four of us, we landed and released 11 trout in less than three hours!

When a guide expert shares his techniques and talents during extreme conditions, you tend to remember that fellow for all time.  Khalil is one of those who instructed us individually within our own capable performance, adjusting leaders and fly types and sizes until he fine-tuned all of us to be effective.  Go figure!  All this for less than $200 each.

The lighthearted Khalil provided my skill-set and aging, but never-used fly rod, with a custom-made Matuka fly that he ties up for his guests.  I dubbed it the ruby-throated Khalil Matuka and got him to give us all a very funny laugh in the light rain.  “It’s a pattern some others use too, I didn’t invent the name of the fly, but now you’ve made it unique Forrest!” He replied with a confident grin.

The design he offered allowed the fly to flutter and wiggle as we stripped it back after casting cross-current.  It looked alive and like something between a minnow or other bait fish, such as perhaps, a sculpin, but also, several terrestrial-looking critters too.  It worked well since the fish only got to see this for a quick moment, or there goes lunch!  The fish struck at the fly instinctively and with a ferocious wallop.  What fun we had!

I was instructed to cast about 10 feet upstream of a quickly forming eddy current area and then retrieve in stripping fashion, quickly, across the meddle of the reversing riff.  Wham!  Happened several times.

The secret fly to catching Ausable brown trout in muddy water when most anglers cannot see three inches under the surface and one would consider that the fish would not see it as well. The fish could find this fly!

While fishing on an evening trip, we were fortunate to see much wildlife also found in the area along Route 86.  This included three curious deer who watched me and my attempt at a fly casting demonstration, which admittedly, was not very good.  During the same trip, we were amazed by a large 30-pound beaver that worked on building his dam a bit higher.  We watched a beautiful Osprey soar from high overhead to latch onto a three-pound brown trout, then rise rapidly, screeching his usual call, an eerie sound amidst the gentle trickle sound of the river.  Several good reminders that the Adirondack’s are still a very rugged and wild area that now also enjoy moose and black bear populations on the rise.

For more information on fishing the Ausable River or Sarnac River area of the Adirondacks, contact one of the following folks that we met there:

  1. Jones Outfitters, located right in Lake Placid Village, 2419 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY, contact proprietor Chris Williamson, 518) 523-3468
  2. Expert guide, Ken Kalil, email:, phone (518) 524-2697 or website:

For the latest river conditions and fishing reported a frequently updated link can be found here:  The New York State inland trout fishing season opens April 1, but much of the Ausable is open all year long and is a catch and release stream, so be sure you know where you are.  Check the game syllabus. We released all of our fish.

Lastly, guess what?  They were right!  I’m officially hooked on the fun memory of learning new things about fishing with a fly rod in my hand and the peacefulness we enjoyed on this trip.  None of us can wait to get back there again!

Wishing tight lines to all.

Selecting a Great Lakes Charter Captain


The five Great Lakes – Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior – afford anglers some of the best freshwater fishing in the world.  Finding the fish, though, isn’t always an easy proposition.  Whether you are an occasional angler seeking out new waters, someone with your own boat looking for a short-cut to learn the program for an area, or someone brand new to the fishing scene, hiring a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed charter captain is the way to go.  But, who do you go with?

Charter captains are the true ambassadors to the Great Lakes, carrying the torch to promote the angling resources for an area.  But all captains are not created equal and prospective customers should do their homework before they lay down a deposit for a trip on the water.  Here’s some tips that might be able to help you make that final decision:

  1. Don’t shop by price alone.  With many charter operations, you get what you pay for.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Find out if they are full time or part time; how big is the boat and is there a head (lavatory) that works (if a head is important, such as if there are ladies involved); what other services do they provide (such as fish cleaning).  Is the price for fish cleaning included?
  3. It’s not unusual to ask for references.  Make a call or two to see if the experiences jive with whatever stories you’ve been told.
  4. If you are trolling, ask how many hook-ups or releases you might experience for a particular time of year.  Getting the fish into the boat is your job.
  5. All fishing experiences are different, depending on the species and the time of year.  Find out how they fish and what you might expect on a typical day.  Bottom line, it’s still fishing.
  6. Ask them what you need to bring.  Usually a cooler, camera and rain gear are all good things to have.  Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen.  Bug repellant can also work when there isn’t any wind to help keep gnats away.  Bring some drinks and snacks.
  7. Ask about the weather and what constitutes a blow-off day or cancellation. What happens with the deposit money and how much is it?
  8. Is there a first mate?  Is he included in the charter fee?
  9. Talk to the captain.  See if you are comfortable with him or her.  First impressions can mean a lot.
  10. How long is the trip?  How many hours of fishing time is there and how long do you need to run to a fishing spot?

That should help to get you in the ballpark, and many of these questions will also work for you no matter where you are fishing, even if it’s outside of the Great Lakes Basin.

The most important thing is to have a good time.  You can tell when a skipper is working hard for you and the number of fish you bring to the boat is only a small part of the experience.

Now go out there and chase some fish!

Best Florida Fishing Guides – Easy to Find Now

Time to Drop the Snow Shovels and Head South to Fish


For many of us northern country folks, there comes that one point during our long winter months when it seems like the snow will never stop falling, your back is aching, the forecast is for a 10 degree colder day tomorrow and the wind just gusted at 25 mph to greet the morning darkness. You head for your truck to get to work late – you had to shovel and it won’t start.  Ugh! You mutter a few unmentionable words.  Have you been there?  It’s a treasured moment!  A memorable moment of the wrong kind.

You head back to the house, pick up the phone to call your boss, apologize because you’re going to later getting in than you thought now, the line is busy and it doesn’t switch to the machine.  Ugh #2!  You try to settle down, a nice hot cup of coffee helps.  Mmmm, even the thought of hot coffee has you wiping off the shrug you had.  Then as you pour out the java, like a flash of good fortune, there it is on the table.  Last Sunday’s paper with a half-page color ad: “VISIT FLORIDA, WARM UP YOUR FISHING RODS!” Instantaneous thoughts occur. You smile.  It’s a Machiavellian grin.  You contact your better half, check your piggy bank and, of course, you both agree, why not?  Let’s do it!

A father-son team from Buffalo, New York, cannot say enough about their trip with iTrekkers, check out their video report for yourself at:

Five minutes later, you have called your boss and like it was perfect, now he isn’t in, but his machine come up and you leave a message, “See you in a week!”  Sorry boss.  You’re still smiling, wider now.  You look, there are flights, low cost too, for a round trip   to Florida if you book this instant.  Click. You got ‘em.  Two tickets to paradise for a week. YES!  Next search, google is already up, need a fishing guide for two days.  Wow, there are lots of ‘em.  Which one is a good guide? You read a dozen reviews, some folks are not happy, some are downright feeling cheated, plus they paid hundreds of dollars. AND, no fish. You get discouraged.  Erase that forlorn moment.  This is supposed to be a happy time!

It is a happy time, because today, there is a better way to find a good guide. Simply switch over to a new fishing guide service,, which will work for almost all of Florida if you are heading near a saltwater beach area.  These guys offer veteran charter captains that are bonded, know their stuff, know the waterways, have hi-performance fishing boats, hi-performance tackle, have all of the right baits for your target species and, just in case, they guarantee your money back if not satisfied

They connect anglers with the best fishing captains in Florida. Imagine, here is a charter service that believes when you are purchasing a charter, you shouldn’t have any surprises and should be able to trust the captain you choose.  You can search, compare and book right on their website with a 100% money-back guarantee that you will have an amazing experience on the water.  I took a trip with iTrekkers last week and they made it seem easy to have fun out there, not to mention one of the best fishing days with several bonus ecological photo opportunities I have ever had fishing saltwater.

Some fish made the 20-pound braid scream off the reel, testing the 25-pound test fluorocarbon leader and chemically honed Owner circle hooks that was cast into one of those secret pockets that these vetted captains seem know wherever they take you. It was an awesome half day of fishing!  In all, we hooked up with about 30 fish across seven different species.  It was an education in efficient fishing simplicity and fun on the water.

iTrekkers founder, Tom Mulliez says, “The whole idea started about five years ago after another failed attempt to find a good fishing charter when my family and I were on vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina.  It always amazed me that you never knew what you were going to get. That your only resources were the guide-owned websites and testimonials on review sites that can be bought or manipulated.”  The thirty something Mulliez adds, “Often times, the boat was not as advertised or it was “in the shop,” apologies were made even before leaving the dock.  Then the guide turned out to not as qualified as he made himself seem to be.  There was not a trustworthy solution where the reviews were real, the guides were amazing and I could feel safe and secure that the amount of money being spent would drive the value and experience I was expecting.”

The iTrekkers managemant team is comprised of owner and founder Tom Mulliez (right), veteran charter captain and sales manager, Jason Semeyn (center) and Nick Strite, photojournalist and online specialist. All three are veteran anglers and outdoor conservationists that understand the ecological details of the seaway waters they send their certified staff of over 50 qualified charter captains to fish.

Just bring yourself. No bait is required. No tackle is required. No license is required. It’s all part of the service.  Do bring a cooler, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and your giant smile for some great photographs.  Check ‘em out.