Looking Back on 2013

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Saltwater, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 3, 2014 by stflyfisher

It’s always helpful to take a look back before moving forward. And while this post is a little late as we near the close of March, for most Southern Tier fly anglers, the traditional fly fishing season has not quite started. So, here’s the way I see 2013 from the fly fishing rear view mirror…

Early season fly fishing for trout in 2013 was very good. I started the season, per tradition, fishing Cayuta Creek with fly fishing friend Dan. The stocked browns never fail on Cayuta and offer a great way to shake off the dust and rust from a long winter. The creek was in great shape and full of that blue-green early season water fly fishers love to see. Particularly noteworthy was catching my first fish on my own fly – in this case a Picket Pin – and an early season favorite.

First fish on one of my own flies...

First fish on one of my own flies…

I also caught what I believe was a hold-over or native brown on a JJ Jigs Picket Pin streamer, a first for me. I once briefly hooked and saw the flash of a very large brown under a downfall and lost another good one in the same spot.

A nice Cayuta brown caught on a picket pin streamer...

A nice Cayuta brown caught on a picket pin streamer…

As was the case in 2012, pre-spawn smallmouth bass did not disappoint. And it was a good thing, because 2013 was one of the worst fishing years for smallmouth in my record books, one that I’ve deemed “the summer of no smallmouth“.

A nice pre-spawn smallmouth...

A nice pre-spawn smallmouth…

Blame high water and lots of it combined with working for a living and not always being able to capitalize on flows settling down to wade-able levels. It seemed there were many weeks when I would drive by the rivers on the way home from work, watch them clearing and dropping, only to watch them rise again with late week or weekend rains. There were a few good outings, including a jaunt on the upper Susquehanna in Windsor where a wooly bugger soft hackle streamer I tied scored some very nice smallmouth.

This early fall smallie took one of JJ-Jig's "home invader" streamers on the swing...

This early fall smallie took one of JJ Jig’s “home invader” streamers on the swing…

Blues off New Jersey were quite simply and truly ‘the blues’ this year. As reported on the Miss Barnegat Light website, it was a weird fishing year with such a lack of bluefish that the boat switched to fluke fishing all summer for the first time in over 20 years. What happened to the blues? The word is that they were far offshore and could be had if one was willing to go for them. One boat reported finding the big guys in abundance offshore where they normally hunt tuna – in this case upwards of 40 miles out of Barnegat Inlet. Based on economics, party boats would rarely venture out that far for bluefish fares. So, aside from one day of tussling with a bunch of big ones in the fall, it was a lousy year for blues.

Getting back to trouting, I was introduced to two great subsurface patterns that really impressed:

I fished a sulfur soft hackle during the sulfur hatch and did quite well. This was not a first for me – I had been introduced to soft hackles way back on a trip to the Bighorn River in Montana – but it was a first on the West Branch of the Delaware. Along with some nice browns, I caught a bunch of dandy rainbows.

A beautiful West Branch rainbow...

A beautiful West Branch rainbow…

I also ran into a nice guy named Tom at the parking access. We got to talking as anglers are apt to do. Tom had not fished Ball Eddy so I offered that I’d be glad to show him around and I was glad I did. Not only was Tom a great fly fisherman, he also introduced me to the caddis sparkle pupa – some he tied up himself. I was fishing a different caddis pupa pattern and not getting nearly the action he was. He threw me a few and as they say, I became a ‘believer’.

The fall streamer bite on the Catskill rivers was so-so for me this year. Conditions were classic when I went in the fall and I did hook up, but it was nothing like I’ve experienced in the past.

A new old rod… I made it a point to cull my ‘stick’ inventory and sold off some in order to purchase a classic Scott rod that I intend to wave above local waters in 2014.

Scott 906/7 BT

Scott 906/7 BT

This Scott 907 BT (“Bass/Trout” rod) was built in the original Scott factory in Berkeley California. The original owner purchased it in 1993 and it has been fished far and wide, including a trip to New Zealand. It’s a “907″ rod with a twist – a 6 weight trout tip and a 7 weight bass tip. I’ve always loved my Scott 907B and look forward to putting many more miles on this rod.

‘Turnover’ in the fall is always an interesting time. The science behind this event is that as the temperatures cool, the surface water of ponds and lakes cools, sinks, and displaces the relatively warmer bottom water. This turnover creates up-welling of the bottom water which continues until water temperatures are consistent, top to bottom. Before this process is complete, the water can turn stained or dirty, but afterwards, it’s clear as can be, and refreshingly so on our pond, which is normally murky and weedy in the summer to early fall. I took my kayak out on the pond in mid-November on an unusually warm day and experienced some incredible streamer fishing. I fished my St Croix 5/6 weight with a sink tip line and short leader tipped with one of my weighted bugger / soft hackle variants and had a blast “sight fishing” to deep-cruising largemouth. It was neat watching them inhale the fly in water as clear as the Caribbean. And many of these bass put quite the bend in the rod.

Stripers were hit and miss this year, as recently posted. I managed 2 pool-winners and caught a total of 6. I missed another big one right at the boat. The bass followed my flutter jig right up to the boat, took a swipe, and then bolted! It’s always exciting to watch big bass in feeding mode!

A great way to end 2013...

A great way to end 2013…

 

 

Stripers…

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2014 by stflyfisher

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If there is any truth to this proverb, I might spend a lot of time on this good earth. It helps when I total up the time I have spent in the last 10 years chasing striped bass. I’ve not gotten a fly in front of them yet; up to this point it’s been purely a hardware thing. But it’s become an important fall ritual to head south to the New Jersey shore, shed fly tackle for a bit, and get up real early in the cold to toss 5 to 7 ounces of metal and end the day with sore arms just from casting and jigging. It’s an act that is akin to a freshwater fly fisherman kicking back and dunking a worm if for nothing else than to return to his roots.

I started fishing for stripers in the mid-2000′s. My first catch was a spring bass – drifting clams on the bottom from a party boat – in this case the Doris Mae out of Barnegat Light, NJ. In 2008 I won the pool on Miss Barnegat Light on a glorious and relatively warm November day…

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…and it was one of “those” days – one of those please don’t let this end types of days. Every angler has at least a few of them. And this one was right up there with the best I’ve ever had. The fishing was as good as it could ever get according to many veterans on the boat. The captain reported a “blacked-out” fish-finder, so thick were the fish. Indeed, it was a battle just getting the jig down to the bass. Big “gator” blues swarmed mid-way in the water column, chomping anything that dared invade their space. I had caught well over 20 blues and two keeper stripers as the day wound to an end, and then hooked something that didn’t move a lot. After a few minutes, it started to move – and this time a lot – and I knew this was a very good fish. The captain kept the boat out after the 2 pm deadline to head back to the dock just to let me bring it to the gaff.

2009 was a bust, 2010 was a miss as I just never got down to the Jersey shore that year, and in 2011, a feisty lady named “Sandy” came up the coast and completely ruined the striper fishing season and also almost sunk Long Beach Island and much of the Jersey shore in the process.

2012 was another miss, so come early fall 2013, I really had an itching for some striper fishing…

My timing was not the best, once again. The season started off hit and miss and remained that way through an early December close. It’s hard to know exactly why, but the reasons the locals offered up included warmer than ideal water at the start of the season. The fish were certainly there – at times many of the party boat captains reported marking lots of fish that just didn’t want to bite. Bait was incredibly plentiful too leading some to surmise that, like a blizzard hatch on a river, there was just too much competition for a few jigs to match. And there were the boats – hundreds of them in some areas – and oft times they can put the fish down.

Despite all of this, I managed to do OK. Conditions were often cold and windy but dressing right and jigging generally kept the cold away. On one trip I was hooking one blue after another, including a giant that ended up being a release at the gaff. The mate knocked the hook off and almost got knocked out himself when 5 ounces of metal came flying up and hit him square in the chest. I decided to take another trip on the following day with #1 son in tow. The brutal wind of the day before had died but the fish didn’t show the entire day, save a small blue caught by another angler and a nice striper that I caught on a flutter jig.

Lonely, pool-winning striper...

Lonely, pool-winning striper…

A few weeks later I went out again with #1 son, hoping we could strike it right and get into the kind of banner day I had experienced in 2008…

#1 son and I as we headed out Barnegat Inlet.

#1 son and I as we headed out Barnegat Inlet.

We got got up way too early in the dark of a bitterly cold morning that barely cracked 20 degrees. My son was a trooper, never complaining once about the weather. We got to the boat and picked a bow spot, then retreated to the warmth of the main cabin, a welcome refuge throughout that cold day. After getting underway at daybreak, the captain spent what seemed like a lot of time searching, and then finally running north to Seaside Heights. There were birds about – in some cases acres of them. They hovered and dove, wheeled and climbed. They are always a good sign of bait and usually the fish are not far below.

Eventually we settled off the Seaside Heights boardwalk and began to fish. The fall jigging game is a matter of getting metal to the bottom and then working the jig up off the bottom. Sometimes an erratic jigging motion is best, other times the fish want it retrieved up as fast as one can reel. The biggest bass are said to be lazy, hanging deep below, sucking up the scraps of bait that drop down from any bluefish feeding above.

The fishing that day was a lot of work and a true test of patience. The bite was very slow to start. Some anglers were hooking dogfish and even a few fluke. The captain continued searching and stripers started to trickle in, most of them “shorts” at first. But as the day went on we started to see some keepers come over the rail.

I found good success, catching 4 nice shorts and finally hooking up solid as we drifted off Manasquan Inlet…

Manasquan Inlet, looking seward...

Manasquan Inlet, looking seaward…

I had picked up the “snap” to my jigging, casting out, letting the jig fall, then retrieving the jig with a quick sweep upward followed by a quick retrieve.  My flutter jig, a local pattern in “sand eel” finish from West Creek Bait and Tackle, was too much for this big fellow to refuse…

Jersey stripes...

Jersey stripes…

I had another bass about as big follow the jig up and take a short swipe at it right at the boat. But that was to be it. The day wound down and soon we were headed in. I felt bad that #1 son had not had any success, but he seemed happy that we came home with fish and pool money. And that one bass made for five good meals for a family and a big pot of delicious chowder.

I’ll continue to make this traditional trip as long as I can stand. I hope to get a shot at a striper with the long rod and fly, but being far away from the salt makes it difficult. One needs to really be in tune with the area, the fish, the weather, and the trends, to be good. I suppose it’s much like the guys from New Jersey who make a few trips on the Delaware for trout. It’s hard to truly figure out the fishing when you’re not a local. But as long as all of that time doesn’t count against my total, it’s all good. There could be worse ways to spend a few hours…

The Salmon River Conversion to Darn Tough Socks

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Gear, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on January 19, 2014 by stflyfisher

In a scene from the movie “Forrest Gump” – a Southern Tier Fly Fisher favorite – Forrest and his good friend Bubba are introduced to Lt. Dan Taylor, their platoon leader. Lt Dan, as he is referred to by Forrest, is a pretty straight-forward type of military leader who instructs his “FNG’s” in a few basic essentials on his way to visit the hooch. Among his words of advice is the following:

“There is one item of G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Socks. Cushioned sole, O.D. green. Try and keep your feet dry. When we’re out humpin’, I want you boys to remember to change your socks whenever we stop. The Mekong will eat a grunt’s feet right off his legs.”

LtDansocks

Most of us anglers have some idea of the importance of Lt Dan’s advice. Socks can make a huge difference to the fly fisherman, particularly in cold weather. For soldiers in combat, proper foot-wear is even more critical. Trench foot may be the best example of what happens when soldiers don’t take care of their feet in the field. Caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions, it can be prevented by keeping the feet clean, warm and dry. Trench foot was first noted during the retreat of Napoleon’s army from Russia but it was the horrid conditions of the trenches in World War I that brought it to the attention of the medical profession. A key preventive measure that was implemented during that time was regular foot inspections by officers. It was also encountered in WWII, and in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Trench foot even made a reappearance in the British Army during the Falklands War of 1982. The causes were the same: cold, wet conditions and insufficiently waterproof boots.

A WWII GI with a bad case of trench foot.

A WWII GI with a bad case of trench foot.

So feet, it turns out, are of high interest to the military to this very day. A work colleague of mine recently told me of his time in the Marine Corps – where he and his platoon would do forced marches and then be told to sit down roadside and remove their boots and socks for a foot check by a navy corpsman…

uncover... feet!

Foot inspections – a preventive measure…

The lesson learned through all of these wars is the same: take care of your feet by wearing good quality socks and change them as often as necessary…

When it comes to good quality socks, there’s a pretty big selection out on the market these days. One could purchase a pair of authentic Vietnam-era socks, the very socks Forrest Gump would have worn in the Mekong Delta, for example.

Straight from ebay...

Straight from Ebay…

The socks pictured above are the real deal – original unissued Vietnam era olive drab green, wool cushion sole socks made of a mixture of wool, nylon & cotton material and available on Ebay for the nostalgic fly fisherman. While wool is a great material for its wicking and drying capabilities, the use of cotton these days is a big no-no. Cotton tends to absorb moisture, saturate quickly, and dry slowly – a perfect recipe for blisters and worse!

Forrest, Bubba, Tex, Cleveland, Phoenix, Detroit, Dallas, and Lt. Dan would have been a whole lot better off with today’s sock which include advanced synthetics and fine grades of wool, such as merino (click here for some good writing on the topic of merino wool and here for the general topic of dressing for cold weather).

So what would I recommend to these men or anyone venturing forth in the cold and damp? Darn Tough is the brand of sock I like. I was sold on them after spending a rather bitter winter afternoon watching my son play hockey up in Pulaski, NY, where the indoor rink temperature seemed colder than it was outside! I stood there in full shiver along with the other hockey parents – all of whom were doing the same – with one exception. Rich, who works as a NYSEG Lineman, seemed unaffected by the arctic air. He watched the game without one shake from the cold. By the end of the first period, stepping out to the concession area for hot coffee, I had to ask…

“I always used to get cold feet” he confided to me  when asked why he appeared Eskimo-like in the midst of Frigidaire conditions. As a lineman, he explained, he was frequently up in the bucket in some pretty bad weather. And he was tired of being miserable because of his feet. He searched a while for a better sock, and found them in Darn Toughs. He added that they were pricey, but the company claimed free replacement for any reason, forever. He’d yet to have to take one back – they were as hardened to wear as their label suggested.

Needless to say, I decided to give these socks a try, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I’ve been a loyal customer ever since, even buying them for my daughter who often tends the playground in Syracuse winters as a teacher’s aide. There are other brands out there, such as SmartWool, Under Armor, and Icebreaker. These are good options, but I happen to like Darn Tough’s just fine. The price tag is on the hefty side for a sock, but it’s nice knowing they’re the only sock you’ll ever need to own. Your feet will surely thank you.

Ever since my Salmon River conversion, I always let my friend Rich know how darn good his Darn Toughs are. He just smiles, asking if I’ve hooked anyone else on the brand. Turns out he finally wore a pair through. “They took them back and replaced them free of charge, just as promised”. Try a pair – they may just be the only pair of socks you’ll ever need.

2014 Goals

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , on January 11, 2014 by stflyfisher

“A goal properly set is halfway reached”

Zig Ziglar

I never met Zig Ziglar during his lifetime on this good earth. Known best for his southern charm, zany quotes, and unending enthusiasm, he became successful as a salesman and then took off on his own as a motivational speaker, spreading the good word of “Zig”. I came to know of him courtesy of a co-worker named Lee back in the days when I worked for Texas Instruments. Lee introduced me to one of Zig’s foundation books, “See You at the Top”, and would often preach Zig’s message on success by quoting him throughout the work day. His sayings sometimes seemed corny, indeed, but they stuck to the point where I can still recite the likes of: “Don’t become a wandering generality, be a meaningful specific”, “You can have anything in your life, if you help others get what they want”, and “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine you altitude”.

zig-ziglar-244x300

It took a while for me to buy the message, to be honest. I was a little on guard – some of it seemed almost too ‘over the top’ and even Ned Flanderesque, but after reading the book and digesting it gradually, I began to like what I read and found that much of it rang true. These days I’m more a student of Dr. Stephen Covey, but Zig still occupies my heart and soul for his good hearted fire. It’s sad to say, but both Zig Ziglar and Dr. Stephen Covey passed away in 2012. They each left indelibly good marks on the world.

Dr. Covey and Zig Ziglar both believed in goals. And I obviously do too. In my last post, I promised the unveiling of my 2014 goals. I finished 2013 on an OK note in terms of goal completion, but vowing, I’ll do better…

And here they are:

1) Become a better nymph fisherman. Study the works of Dave Hughes (author of “Wet Flies”), Sylvester Nemes (author of “Soft Hackled Fly”), and George Daniel (author of “Dynamic Nymphing”). Buy better nymphing tackle.

2) Catch one of the following saltwater game-fish on the fly: a bluefish, striped bass, or weakfish.

3) Improve my fly tying. Focus on perfecting three patterns, with a goal to catch fish with these patterns:

a) Sulphur Soft Hackle

b) Caddis Sparkle Pupa

c) Murray’s Nymph

4) Donate a box of my own tied flies to the Annual Al Hazzard TU Banquet.

5) Float fish the Susquehanna; Campville to Owego.

6) Practice and improve my casting distance and accuracy.  Make perfect casting practice a habit.

7) Fish with friends – enjoy their company and learn new skills and places to fish. 

8) Learn to tie one new fishing knot. 

9) Fish the tributaries.

10) Night fish for trout. 

Absent from the list this year is ‘Catch a Lake Trout on a fly’. I pulled this one off the list as it is a hit or miss goal – a hard one to achieve. Instead, I added ‘Fish the tributaries’, which could result in catching a laker, brown, steelhead, or landlocked salmon. If I do better at fishing the tribs more often, I’m sure to meet Mr. Laker one of these days. I also added “to become a better nymph fisherman” as it is something I love to do, and I met some good success in 2013 focusing on it.

I’ll close by wishing everyone a successful fly fishing year in 2014, however they may define it, and leave with the following ‘Ziggish’ quote of LCDR Harry G Ulrich, III, Executive Officer of my beloved USS Stark (FFG-31), who often exhorted his junior officers with the following:

“Good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best”

2013, going, going, gone…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on January 3, 2014 by stflyfisher

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

Confucius

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/confucius140548.html#2tXJx80siqreKagy.99

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

Confucius

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/confucius140548.html#2tXJx80siqreKagy.99

Last year was not a great writing year, and for that I truly apologize. As we all often do, I started the year with good intentions, but putting pen to internet paper was a struggle in 2013, partly due to another posting obligation on my Examiner.com site, partly due to fishing, and partly due to the added time of my long distance work commute (no, I don’t write for a living just yet…). I promise, with hand placed on the good book, that you’ll see many more posts on my beloved blog in 2014 – certainly more than the woeful eight that I sent out to the blogosphere in 2013.

While my blogging was pretty pathetic, my completion of 2013 goals was at least somewhat better. Most of my followers know I try to start the year setting some fly fishing goals and then end the year with a look back on how well I did. I’m a big believer in goals, not so much to be able to tout achievements, but to make me think about how to improve as a fly fisherman, along the lines of the late President & General Eisenhower, who once said:

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.

Brad_Ike_Patton

Goal-setting, after all, requires planning, and the act of planning, in turn, makes one think about what, where, and how to improve. Having said that, it’s still nice to look back and see if one did improve the way they planned and hoped.

For 2013, I’ll rate myself a 4.5 out of 10 for completion on the goals I posted. Here’s the detail on my accounting:

1) Catch a lake trout on the fly – lake run or from the lake. Never happened.

2) Catch one of the following saltwater game-fish on the fly: a bluefish, striped bass, or weakfish. I did catch blues and stripers, including a few dandies, but not on a fly.

3) Begin fly tying – focus on perfecting three patterns, with a goal to catch fish with these patterns. Here’s a goal I did achieve. I began fly tying in earnest and tied the following patterns:

a) Wooly Bugger – I caught quite a few largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on the bugger patterns I tied. I experimented quite a bit with color and added features such as weight, flash, and even rubber legs.

b) Picket Pin – My first fish of the season, and the first on a fly tied with my own hands, was a fat brown from Cayuga Creek that slammed the fly as it drifted through a nice run. I caught a lot of trout on my own version of this venerable pattern.

c) Maribou Streamer – I LDR’d a nice brown with this classic pattern. I’m feeling generous to myself (shouldn’t we all be, after all?) so I’ll count that as “catching” a fish on the fly…

4) Float fish the Susquehanna; Campville to Owego. I did not float the Susky once, and probably fished it only a half dozen times, at most, due to very high water over much of the summer. I’ll keep this one on the list for 2014.

5) Practice and improve my casting distance and accuracy.  Learn to single haul and double haul. Here’s another goal I achieved. I learned to single and double haul and I’m a better caster overall (sounds like a Dr. Suess rhyme!), but still retain some bad habits. I’ll keep a casting improvement goal on 2014′s goal list.

6) Fish with friends – enjoy their company and learn new skills and places to fish. I’m proud to say I did well with this goal, managing to dedicate 8 outings with friends & family. I also enjoyed meeting and fishing with a few good fishermen while on the water.

7) Learn to tie one new fishing knot. I perfected the non-slip mono knot and came up with a variation of it that works quite well in my opinion.

8) Fish for steelhead. I’ll take 50% credit for trying on this goal. I intended to venture forth twice for steelhead with my good friend Dan, but both times the weather canned the trip. I’ll keep this goal for 2014.

9) Fish Handsome Brook. Nope – this one got away on me…

10) Night fish for trout. Didn’t happen but I’ll keep this for 2014.

I projected last year that if I could accomplish 6 to 7 of these 10 goals, it would be a good year. Accomplishing 4.5 would therefore make it a marginally OK year, but again, it’s not so much about the goals, but the act of becoming a better fisherman in all ways.

I’ll soon be revising my 2014 goals based on the above and possibly add some new areas for growth as a fly fisherman. Stay tuned for that post as well as one on 2013, where I’ll make a ‘year in review’ post…

Grace

Posted in Uncategorized on December 26, 2013 by stflyfisher

It is Christmas morning and outside my study, a frigid 12 degrees F at 5:30 in the morning. The river valley beyond my home’s hilltop perch is dark. The ground out front is the gray white of an aged man’s beard.

The sermon in last night’s Christmas Eve mass was about grace and in particular, the calm and the peace that comes with Christmas. Ever the fly fisherman, the topic carried over into a deep night’s sleep and since way too early this morn, has begged for release.

I am certainly no theologian and don’t intend on exploring the subject in any scholarly way, but to me, grace is early morning on a river, the hope and wonder that greets and implores, the chill that makes me feel alive, the sight of an eagle soaring high overhead, the soothing sounds of rushing water, and ultimately, the wonder that revolves in my head asking the high above, “how could I be so lucky”.

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Just to be on the water is grace – to feel the head-shake of a good fish, the surge of power in a rainbow’s run, the leap for freedom the smallmouth makes with the first feel of the hook…

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… and to wade out of the river with the sun on one’s back, to walk the mile back through the deep woods, to cross fields of soft grass – to end the day in peace – this too, is grace.

This Christmas I pray that I never forget the grace that falls gently on my life.

Summer of no smallies…

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , on September 2, 2013 by stflyfisher

It’s been a frustrating summer if you’re a smallmouth bass angler, particularly, the feather-thrower type. Aside from some great spring pre-spawn fishing and a few choice slots where the rivers were coming down and clearing, the summer has been a bust due to high water and turbidity. Generally, the climate norm for this area is high and heavy flows in Spring followed by low flows and clear water by July. in the last few years, however, the lower-than-normal levels in Spring have made for some terrific pre-spawn fishing at the cost of higher water and turbid conditions in summer.

One of a bunch of pre-spawn smallies caught on the Susquehanna...

One of a bunch of pre-spawn smallies caught on the Susquehanna…

River rats like myself have missed so many aspects of smallmouth fly angling. Among them, nymphing dead drift in the many river riffles, streamer fishing and popper fishing during the evening and early morning “blitzes’, and fishing the great white fly hatch…

Last year was also wet, but I was able to fish some of the white fly hatch...

Last year was also wet, but I was able to fish some of the white fly hatch…

As recently as 2 weeks ago, the Tioughnioga, Chenango, and even the Susquehanna were dropping and clearing. I had some success then but the murk was more than I’d like and I always wonder how that impacts fishing. The smaller rivers are usually the better choice when water levels and flows are up, and even the river braids on the Susquehanna – shallower with a few deep pools than the main river – tend to clear before the main river. Yet even as I write this the rivers are up again. I’m starting to think the fall feeding frenzy is in jeopardy of not being within reach of wading anglers…

What’s not so great for smallmouth anglers has been manna from heaven for trout anglers. The tailwaters, particularly the West Branch of the Delaware have fished well, and the high water events have brought along some great mid-season streamer fishing. In mid-June, heavy rains brought the reservoir up and washed alewives over the dam. The streamer fishing for those anglers with access to a drift boat was reportedly phenomenal.

Alewives can be washed down the tailwater rivers during high water events. Picture courtesy of Delaware River Club.

Alewives can be washed down the tailwater rivers during high water events. Picture courtesy of Delaware River Club.

I’ve done much more fly fishing on the West Branch this year, thanks to all of the rain. Once the smallie rivers get down and fishable, I typically give trout fishing a rest. But this year I was very thankful for a great tailwater so close by.

Yours truly with a nice West Branch rainbow...

Yours truly with a nice West Branch rainbow…

And the abundance of cold water also blessed the trout themselves. While nymphing, I caught quite a few small browns and rainbows. Anglers might not be pleased to catch small fish, but I was grateful to see such a sign that the trout are prospering…

So, global warming, climate change? Will this go on over future years? Is it the “new norm”? I suppose the only thing anglers can do is apply the Marine Corp mantra to their fishing…

Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome

 

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