Blake Elder is a fly fisherman living in Pennsylvania who fishes the Keystone State as well as spends a lot of time fishing New York State for trout and salmon. We caught up with Blake and discussed his fall 2016 fishing and the great success he had including his personal best trout. We also spend some time discussing a short fishing trip he took to Montana with some advice on trout fishing the Yellowstone area. I almost titled this interview “Trout Fishing with Blake…Don’t Step in the Shit”. Keep reading to find out why.
We’re in December now but you caught some beautiful brown trout this fall. What do you love about fall fishing?
The number one thing I love about fall fishing is the aggression the fish have and that fish are more active throughout the day which means more opportunities to get hooked up.
How do your techniques change for the fall compared to other seasons?
During fall I use streamers for the most part. Lately i have been using 4-6 inch articulated streamers in natural colors which has been producing some pretty good results for myself. While using these streamers during the fall season I like to cover lots of water fairly quickly. The fish can see the big streamers super well in the water and if they want it they will almost always hit it within the first few casts. During all the other seasons I’m pretty patient working fish with drys, nymphs and streamers especially during summer.
What are your favorite fall rivers and streams to target?
Well in Northeast Pennsylvania where I live and most streams I fish I look for cover like root balls, deep cuts, boulders, down trees in the river and shade which people sometimes don’t think about. In upstate New York I find salmon, steelies, and brown trout in shade most of the time and they try to stay in it as long as they can. These places are my choice of destination because they simply hold fish pretty steadily and sometimes they can surprise you!
What is your biggest brown trout to date?
My biggest brown was a fifteen pounder that I got out of a super small stream that pours into Lake Ontario in western New York. I actually got it a few weeks ago and I’m still pumped over it!
So my dad, my friend Anthony and myself were going to take a weekend trip to our camper in Altmar, New York on the Salmon River. So we go up to Salmon River outfitters because we know the owner Chris and we were trying to get a report and we had to buy some line. Chris said the river didn’t have too many steelhead yet and the only salmon that were in the river were zombies. So we sat there for a few hours to try to get a plan ready and wait for the sun to come up then my dad’s friend was talking to him and said we should take a ride and hit most of the streams from Pulaski to Rochester so we went.
The first few streams had salmon that were almost dead or were loaded with guys. Then we pull over to this super small stream that was only fifteen or twenty feet wide. We get there and walk over to the bridge pretty discouraged and then see ten browns following three salmon around this tiny stream. So i get my rod and I honestly tried to hook one of those fish for an hour and a half and I couldn’t get one. My dad’s friend and his other buddy left and kept heading west.
I let the water calm down for ten minutes and put on this little purple prince nymph and a the big male smashed it. I got up on the bank to fight the fish and my friend is telling at me to not step on the shit, I looked all around then I saw the toilet paper and just barely missed it. I probably fought the fish for a good ten minutes. When I saw my dad lift that fish out of the water I was super stoked! I know that’s a fish I will never forget.
When you fished Montana, where did you fish? And how did you do?
I flew into Bozeman after doing a three day fishing trip in Alaska. My friend Tyler invited me out there to help him with his house he is building. Sadly I only fished half of my time there because I was helping him with that and we went to a Phish concert in Washington state.
When I was out there I mainly fished a smaller river called the Shields. It was small but had lots of opportunities to work rising fish. But it was also nice because we were the only two people on the river always. The Shields has wonderful Yellowstone cutthroat and also a few browns. I gave Tyler some casting lessons because he hasn’t fly fished in twenty years.
I got him hooked into five inch browns and some pretty decent sized mountain whitefish. Most of the fish I saw and landed in the Shields weren’t bigger than fifteen inches but were active and blast to catch. One day Tyler’s friend took us on his boat down the Yellowstone in Paradise Valley which was beautiful and probably one of the most amazing places I have ever been too. I landed a nice brown, a cutbow and a very nice cutthroat.
What 5 pieces of advice do you have for anyone who is taking a Montana fishing trip for the first time?
My first piece of advice is go with at least one other person because the wildlife and terrain is pretty intense and you never know what could happen next. Another piece of advice is don’t go crazy buying flies out there if you tie your own flies. As long as you try to match the color or size you should still do fairly good. Also don’t be afraid to hit the bigger water Montana has to offer. The bigger rivers have some pigs that live in them and Montana has tons of public access. A big thing to be aware of is always the weather. Storms can roll in very quickly and they can get pretty crazy. My last piece of advice is hire a guide if you don’t feel like you are doing well. There are tons of great guides out there and you can really kill it some days on a boat.
I find it very comical that most of our personal best fishing stories have some unusual funny aspect to them. Thanks Blake for sharing your fishing story with us as well as the rest of the great information you provided. Blake can be followed on Instagram to keep up with his fishing success in 2017.