By Chris Shaffer | 03/01/2013
Kevin Davis isn’t a normal fishing guide. He’s one of the few that doesn’t have to travel to fish, ever. In fact, the launch ramp he uses daily during the fall, snowy winter and early spring rests within minutes of his icy doorsteps. He’s constantly in touch with the steelhead, rainbows and browns that call Upstate NY’s Oswego River home and rarely looses site of which holes they are treading.
Bad days aren’t on the books for Davis. So, when I called him last week to ask what time he wanted me to meet him I drew a typical Davis answer.
“Well, how many fish are you wanting to catch? If you only want to catch a dozen we can go a little later and just fish a few hours, but if you want to catch two dozen we’ll have to go earlier and put more time in,” Davis told me. “We caught 27 a few days ago, but that was right before this cold weather settled in.”
Davis, owner of Catch The Drift Guide Service, might sounds like an exaggerator. He’s not.
I’ve been on his boat for “bad days” when we caught 10 fish. I’ve also been there when we’ve released 30 – in a half-day. Oddly enough, Davis doesn’t realize what a feat that is for someone from the West Coast that may have to cast all day to generate one strike from a steelhead.
“When we only catch a couple I’m kicking stuff,” he said. “People don’t realize that only so many fish come up this river, which is why my clients release 99 percent of the fish we catch. Then, everybody is happy because everyone is catch fish on every trip.”
The fish factory Davis’ drifts on a daily basis from September to April doesn’t disappoint. Crammed with steelhead, rainbows and browns, Davis’ backyard might seem unreal to some, yet it doesn’t dissatisfy, even when lake effect snow, single digit temperatures, high winds and adverse water conditions arise.
Nevertheless, Davis’ success isn’t shared by everyone.
“It might seem like this river is easy to fish, but it’s not. These fish move every few days depending on the water levels,” he told me. “I’m fortunate that I’m on the river daily so I can follow their movements.”
Davis’ credits water temperatures and levels for their migrations. The colder it gets, he says, the fish drop down into the slower, deeper water. Meanwhile, when it warms they’ll move back to the upper section. They don’t necessarily move day by day, but after a few days of cold weather or with water release changes, they’ll move.
While we had several different baits on board. I was happy to be casting on a day when BorX O Fire cured brown trout eggs were the top producer. On the other hand, cured eggs aren’t the entire arsenal. We employed Natural BorX O Fire cured brown trout eggs, salt cured brown trout eggs and skein brown trout eggs.
“Everyday is different. That’s why I have it all with me. The BorX O Fire works best when they are off the bite a little bit, but when they are on the bite the fresh eggs can work well,” Davis explains. “You have to have it all, just in case.”
And, most surprising might be the line we used. Being from Southern California, I’m used to using 4-pound test for 10-inch planted trout. Davis fills his spools with it for big browns and steelhead.
“The clearer the water the lighter you have to go. But when the water is stained I’ll boost up to 8-pound test. With four-pound test though, you have to be careful, because you are fighting current, too.”
For more information on Oswego River steelhead, rainbow and brown trout trips please visit Davis’ Facebook page: