I used to love fishing with my dad and sister from the dock on Keuka Lake or sitting on the bank of the Erie Canal waiting patiently to catch little sunfish. We never caught more than a couple of little guys; it didn’t matter, I liked being outside, hanging out with Paige and Dad waiting for a nibble. There was one time that I caught a (slightly) bigger fish, but in our battle over the bait, the fish won and my pole went sailing into the Canal.
In the last few years, we haven’t fished nearly as often as we used to, so Paige and I thought a fishing charter might be an awesome way to spend an afternoon together with Dad. Brookdog Fishing Co. graciously hosted our novice group (well, Dad knows what he’s doing but Paige and I were a little rusty) for an afternoon on Lake Erie with guide Ryan.
We had low expectations, primed by our years on the Canal, but even if we had way higher expectations, Ryan would have beat them. I was excited about being in the water in the middle of a rare string of 90° days in Buffalo; catching a fish or two would have been icing on the cake.
That, simply, is not Ryan’s style. He’s all about putting his clients where the fish are and making sure we have everything necessary to catch them. We launched into the Niagara River, but crowded waters made the River un-fishable. Instead, we took a quick ride into Lake Erie and fished a few different spots, starting further out in the water and then moving towards the harbor as boaters headed in for the evening.
Brookdog takes care of everything: poles, bait, baiting, unhooking, photos and bottles of water on ice. While we opted for a half-day trip on Lake Erie, Brookdog offers a ton of options, from year-round walk and wade fly fishing to multi-day charters in the region’s bigger bodies of water. Ryan’s boat is gorgeous and a really comfortable place to spend the day.
As we headed out towards the Lake, Ryan let us know what the game plan was. First, we’d find a good spot, and then we’d start fishing and shooting the shit (his words, not mine). This made me a little nervous, because he was talking to three people who are very good at sitting in silence with each other. Mom takes care of all our family’s small talk.
It turns out I was worried for nothing, because Ryan can talk about anything with anyone and he knows so much about fishing, running a small business, doing what you love and the Buffalo Niagara region that he’s willing to share. He’s fished in Buffalo forever, traveled around the world catching fish and is currently on a mission to fly fish every state in the US before turning 50.
Brookdog’s guides (Ryan, as well as his friend and business partner Nate) focus on native species, and the fish we caught in Lake Erie (smallmouth bass and freshwater drum or sheepshead) have been here for thousands of years. We caught a pretty even mix of the two using live bait, and Paige got a gorgeous white bass as well.
We didn’t look as cool as Ryan and Nate do summer fly fishing in the Niagara River and Lake Erie, but we can pretend. Also, what’s a girl gotta do to get one of those Brookdog shirts?
In our five or so hours on the water, Dad won the prize for the most fish, as well as the smallest fish. I took home the prize of the biggest fish. Paige may have only gotten two, but her patience paid off, because they were the two prettiest fish of the day.
I went to bed feeling like I was still bobbing up and down with the lake, and woke up the next morning a little sunburned and sore (those fish are serious fighters), but that’s just the sign of a really good day on the water.
If you’re feeling like booking a trip of your own with Brookdog Fishing Co., and you should, you can do that here: https://www.brookdogfishing.com/book-fishing-trip/.
Ryan guides Buffalonians and tourists of all fishing abilities year-round, so don’t worry if your summer is already packed. He assured us that catching salmon in the fall is also pretty cool.
I received a complimentary trip with Brookdog Fishing Co. in exchange for writing a review on this blog. All opinions are my own.