Saturday, March 26, 2016

Spring is just around the corner!

Winter has been particularly mild here in Rochester, NY as you may be aware.  I got the itch to search for some steel and asked new fishing friend Jake if he wanted to as well. He agreed and we were off to Amherst to pick up new fishing friend Jason and we were off to the Catt. Some precipitation the night before worried all of us and checking the gauge didn't calm our fears of high flows and muddied water. 

Nevertheless, Jake drove on and we soon passed over a section of the river which looked glorious! The Catt was a brand new experience for me, so I'm glad Jake and Jason could spend the day and show me around. There was some beautiful looking water and we all got right to it swinging everything we had. Though the flow was up a bit at 680 CFS and the water was 46F, I believe the cold day and turbid water (30 FNU) scuttled our chances at landing some steel. None of us got so much as a sniff of a tug and after a hard few hours of casting in the wind and cold, we had to call it quits.

The day still ended up being a blessing though. I spent some quality time with some new fishing friends and got to practice casting for the trip of a lifetime in September, a 4 day float trip on the Lower Deschutes River!

Till next time, tight lines.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Patagonia's Damnation

It's been a long time for this blogger!  I have a long post coming on some fishing escapades over the last few months, but we finished watching DamNation the other day and I thought I'd write some quick thoughts on it.

As an energy engineer by trade, I have some knowledge of infrastructure required for our society to continue to operate and expand, especially in how energy is generated and distributed.

There are many dams that are obsolete and/or in various stages of disrepair. There are many dams that are completely functional and maintained to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

The tributary to Lake Ontario, right in the heart of our city, has four dams I can think of that are local to our Lower Genesee Valley region.  Of the four, three are hydroelectric dams with a total rated capacity of 56.9 MegaWatts, theoretically supporting the electricity needs of ~22,700 households.

I'll try not to go very far into this boring stuff, but I was trying to get to a couple points the filmmaker seemed to miss just a little.

Exhibit A) Hydroelectric dams provide some power generation redundancy. Every single power generating station has a metric called a Capacity Factor. It's simply the ratio between it's actual generating capacity and it's rated capacity. Hydro power sources tend to be lower than fossil fuel plants due to their "fuel" source (fluctuating renewables). Nationally, hydropower fluctuated between ~50% capacity factor in May 2013 and lulled at ~30% in August 2013, continuing that pattern throughout the year. On the other end of the spectrum, nuclear power fluctuated between ~98% capacity factor and 78% throughout the year. Fossil fuel power has the same fluctuation at a lower percentage, between 40-70%.

What all this is supposed to tell you is that because power generation capacity is cyclic, there has to be built in redundancy. Broken down to regional effects, those three dams usually provide power to between ~7,000-11,000 homes. This means the other ~11,700 homes need power from elsewhere. Our electricity comes from coal, from nuclear, from hydro, and it changes, sometimes every day. There's a reason blackouts are very few and far between.

One last point:

Exhibit B) Flood control. If you've ever visited Letchworth State Park, you've likely seen the Mt. Morris dam. What you may not know is prior to the dam's construction, the City of Rochester was subject to terrible flooding on a seven year cycle from the early 1800's until the dam's completion in 1952. I look at the river's gauge prior to a day's fishing and the maximum discharge of 29,600 CFS always catches my eye. That occurred back in 1972 during Tropical Storm Agnes. The reservoir was filled almost to the brim and the dam operators were forced to flow the maximum volume of water through the gates, producing only minor flooding to points downstream. The dam was estimated to have saved $210 million in damages from that event alone and over $1 billion in its lifetime. The previous maximum discharge occurred in 1865. Take a guess at what that volume was.

54,000 CFS! That is half of what Niagara Falls flows! Some of you have fished below the lower falls in the city. Can you imagine that volume of water? Some of you were alive in 1972 and saw with your own eyes what 30,000 CFS looked like flowing through the river. Double that flow and you begin to realize the economic impact Rochester would have to absorb if we didn't have the Mt. Morris dam.

I'm no pro-dam advocate, neither am I against them. The geologist at the end shares my thought process on dam removal. There should be an impact assessment study associated with the project. If feasibility is justified, proceed. But the fact of the matter is politics and funding come into play along the way with these projects. There are many other public works that our tax payer dollars can be devoted to and money tends to be spread thin. The angler in me loves the premise of the movie, but the engineer in me realizes the economic asset dams can be. It's a tight line to walk on...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May Showers Bring June Flowers?

 My thoughts go out to our Yates County neighbors down in Penn Yan devastated by flooding rains a few weeks ago.  Roadways, homes, and businesses all succumbed to the torrential downpour with some structures reported as total losses.  In addition to the donations normally accepted by the Red Cross for disaster relief, to make a donation that will be directed specifically to the Penn Yan area relief effort, you can call the Development office of the American Red Cross.  The numbers there are 585-241-4421 or 585-241-4420.  More relief effort information can be found at this Leader article.
I got to partake in some spring fed creek action a week ago where I got my first dry fly action of the year and my largest trout ever on that particular stretch.  The couple trout on the surface came courtesy of a size 16 BWO and the 16 incher came on a size 16 BH PT as a dropper off a Hendrickson nymph.  Enjoy the pictures and the holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May Steel?!

Got out to the Genny earlier this evening for some late spring steel.  It was the highest I've ever fished it successfully at a gauge reading of ~2,800 CFS.  I'm not sure I'd visit at much higher flows for swinging as much of the bank disappears and the change in depth of the (now underwater) banks varies too much for my liking.

Turbidity was perfect considering the higher flow at 20 and water temperature was downright balmy at 55F!  Perfect swinging conditions and those chromers responded!  3 hooked and one half landed in the couple hours I had available.  I say half landed because as I went to handle him and remove the hook, he squirmed away and popped the hook on me.  Darn it!

That fish was my first ever Lake Ontario steelie and what battle it had in it!  A quick jolt out of my swinging cadence, 3 runs, and 5 butterfingers later makes me yearn for the next time I get to catch one of these beautiful fish.

A snag in the rocks ended my day but it was one of those days, like that first fish on the fly, that I'll never forget.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

High & Muddy

Really just a note for myself but here it goes.  I got to spend a couple of hours fishing the day after opening day on our local trout streams and unfortunately confirmed what we already knew.  The 6-8" of snow we got only a few days ago, coupled with a warming trend, has blown out most of our area streams.  I-Creek was no different and anglers I chatted with confirmed it was even worse than the day before.

The flow and height gages were ~750 cfm and ~7' respectively, so here's a reminder to me.  Stay home and tie flies or go to a small spring fed creek somewhere!  On the other hand, I got to practice casting heavily weighted systems for a while!

Aloha kakahiaka!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fly Fisher's Workshop 2014

For all you WNY based fisherman, come out to Fly Fisher's Workshop held at the Brighton Twelve Corners Middle School from 9AM to 430PM on Saturday, February 8th.

The premise behind this event is to gather vendors, guides, and other notable individuals within WNY's local fly fishing community to promote the local fly fishing scene as well as present informative content to broaden fly fishing skill.  The general breakdown is there are multiple concurrent presentations every hour throughout the day on various subjects including fly tying, casting/presentation, rod building, tips for our local creeks and rivers, and much more!

Multiple vendors have also showcased their wares in the past including JP Ross Custom Fly Rods, Mad River Dubbing Company, Bill Nesbitt's Custom Fly Rods, and Rob Hess's Fine Art!  The Rochester Orvis store is also a sponsor this year, so I'm sure they'll be showcasing some product as well.

This will be my second year attending and if last year was any indication, I'll be hoping the day doesn't end!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fishin escapades

I've kept myself busy over the past couple weekends getting out and doing some fishin', so I thought I'd update with some notes on the experiences.

The weekend of 11/2 we went out to Syracuse to help out with car related stuff for the old lady's brother, so after that I decided to take a quick drive up to SR for my first time fishing there during lake run season!  Conditions were in the forties with clouds and some drizzle.  A glance at the water flow before I left confirmed that the river was flowing a bit heavy after the few days of rain we had had as it was flowing at ~2200 cfs.  Being my first time there, I didn't really know what to think about the water level, but after finding a handful of cars at the better known spots, I thought what the heck and started having a go.

At least with limited time at Sportsman pool and spots upstream of it, I couldn't find a good position to get good casts in to start working a run.  I did seem to find spots I'd have more room to cast on the North side of the river, but decided to try another spot altogether instead of drive to the other side.

A call to the friendly staff at Whitaker's had me try out the upper fly zone in/near? Altmar.  I now know why they're named "fly zones" at least in reference to the river side features.  A good 1,000 feet of river bank on either side is fairly clear of large obstacles to get a good back cast going if needed and the river edge doesn't drop off too quickly for easier wading if flows allow.

Alas, the water flow skunked many of us fishing from what I saw during the few hours I was there.  I did see one hook up a bit further downstream of the upper fly area on the North side of the river, but that was really it.  I called it a day once it started raining a bit harder but that urge is always there to actually catch a fish, you know?!  Luckily, I got out to try again the next day!

As flows at SR were still high on Sunday, I called it a weekend on trying to catch my first lake runner and did some inland fishing at a small stream near Marcellus.  Unfortunately, the only gear I had was my 9wt!  I thought, "oh what the heck" and went out anyway.  It was much of the same action wise, though I'm sure much of it had to do with the giant 30-20-10 lb leader I had constructed for the big guys.  But I did actually hook up once!  High sticking a run with a small size 20 PT on 6x? tippet I left attached yielded a cutesy of a brown, the only fish of the weekend, but hey, you win some, you lose some :)

This past Sunday featured more inland fishing as I was too lazy to make it out to my favorite spots on "Granular Particles" Creek west of Rochester lol.  Conditions were cloudy in the 40-45F range with 10-20 mph gusts.  This made casting tiny nymphs on light line with my Kabuto 7043 a bit difficult, and after an hour of errant casts, I decided to move on.

Trying a few of my favorite spots at another creek nearby that's tributary to the Genesee River yielded a bit more luck.  Nymphing at this particular stream is still not my forte.  There are many lies that seem like they could be fruitful, but I need to spend many more days on that stream to make those determinations.  I decided to go with some small woolly buggers as a searching pattern and after moving to a couple of different spots, I finally found one that produced some action.  Interestingly I had most of the action at the end of my swing in the few moments the fly was just hanging out below me.  I hooked into two and missed a few more opportunities, but the angle I need to set the hook proved my undoing and I landed no fish on the day.  Not quite as frustrating as the previous weekend, but it beats working!

I recently read an article on Midcurrent and the author wrote about a problem I've been having in my fly tying hobby.  It was that early in his fly tying "career" he would always tie these onesie, twosie type extravagant but unique patterns because he would get bored, then keep moving on to the next one.  Over time, and as he gained experience tying flies, he began to notice the "systematically" tied flies began to yield more success in actual fishing than his one-off type of flies.  At least in his case he realized that his "systematically" tied flies allowed him to approach certain sections of a stream/river he wouldn't necessarily approach with his other flies because he had more of them.  He wasn't afraid of snagging on the bottom or in the trees because he had multiple back ups.  That elimination of timidity allowed him to cover more water, and so his strike percentage increased.

Reading that article really helped me move forward in my fly tying.  In the end, it's still about adding creative touches in patterns here and there, just need to tie more of them at one time!