The week ahead in fly fishing: September 4, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , on September 4, 2017 by stflyfisher

Labor Day, the traditional gateway to Fall and the official “end of summer” is here. Like most of 2017, the weekend weather, with the exception of a gorgeous Labor Day, was odd with very cool temperatures and rain. But rivers and creeks are nonetheless starting to show their bones. Reports that the salmon are starting to enter the tribs continue to roll in – a good sign. And some trees are starting to display hints of fall foliage.

Fly Shop Talk: A tip I learned from Harry Murray, smallmouth bass expert from Virginia and owner of Murray’s Fly Shop, is to always assemble and rig your rod last when arriving at your fishing destination and do the reverse when packing up for the day. Don your waders, set up your vest, etc., before rigging your rod to fish. That assures the least amount of opportunity to break your rod by leaving it leaning up against an open car door, or worse yet, lying on the ground. Do the reverse when wrapping up your fishing by first breaking down your rod and storing it in its protective rod tube. Only after your rod is stored away should you attend to putting your other gear away.

Here’s the week ahead in fly fishing report:

Lake Ontario Tribs: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that the salmon are coming into the Salmon River in greater numbers now. CFS dropped to 335 last night / 419 at Pineville and water temperature is up to 65 F. Fishing has been good to very good. Whitakers reports that the majority of anglers who fished the river reported getting into mostly kings with a few cohos in the mix. The best action has been in the lower end of the river with the majority of anglers fishing at the DSR. The lower end of the river has also been producing action in the Ballpark, Town pool, Staircase/Longbridge and Black Hole. First thing in the morning has produced the best fish movement, especially on bright sunny days, but yesterday we had heavy cloud cover along with rainy conditions so fish continued moving throughout the day.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone provides the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging success varies, ranging from slow to downright superb depending on the day and conditions. Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. Largemouth bass fishing is fair; pickerel action is good.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing should be picking up markedly here. Expect occasional bonus browns, rainbows and bass while jigging.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Lake trout jigging is fair. Plenty of large rockbass and some perch are around.
  • Seneca Lake: Fishing is fair for lakers – a couple fish is a good day. No recent reports from here.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Laker action generally picks up a lot here in October and onwards. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing here has been good. Expect decent tiger musky action.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to rain and cool temps. Following are some local fly shop reports:

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the Catskill rivers are all in good shape and up a little since the rain started Saturday night but the bugs have been the same over the last few weeks. Stilesville on the upper West is now 378 cfs and 52 degrees and down at Hale Eddy we are looking at 507 an 50 degrees. The upper East Branch at Harvard is 170 cfs and 52 degrees and downriver below the Beaverkill at Fishs’ Eddy the flow is now 372 cfs and 57 degrees. The mainstem down at Lordville is currently 981 cfs and 58 degrees. The rain over the last 12 hours hasn’t really dirtied up any parts of the system yet but there has been a slight stain to the West Branch for a while due to the release. The bugs have been the same for a while now with Blue Winged Olives in the 18-24 range, a few Iso’s in size #12 and Cahills in the #14-16 range. Winged ants have been around too and are good flies to have for the next few weeks. The streamer bite today should be very good with the rain and low light, even though there’s not a lot of water or dirty water.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that the release from Cannonsville has been dropped to 400 cfs. The recording hasn’t been updated but we’ll go with that number. Water temperatures are not a problem after the last few nights and the rivers are okay for floating or wading at these levels. The wind was unkind for a good part of yesterday but did finally drop in the evening. Once it dropped the dry fly fishing picked up with olives, cahills, and Heptagenia coming off. We have been fishing olives from size 18 down to 26 so bring the whole box. Some fish aren’t picky while others get stuck on the tiny ones.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that over the last week the cooler weather has had a positive effect on all of our local rivers. At this time the conditions are in transition back to the temperature range where trout will become more aggressive in their feeding habits. This week there are far more options for us fly fishermen. The water of the Beaverkill, Willlowemoc, Lower East Branch and Main Stem are cooling quickly. They are all in a good range now for Trout to be active. Water temperatures may be a bit sensitive if we get a scorching sunny day but for the most part temps. are good. Over the last few days our guides have visited some stretches of river that they have not fished since spring. I have first hand reports now from all of the freestone rivers and here is what you can expect in the coming days. The best action is with nymphs in and around the fastest water. This is where a lot of fish spent the summer and they are still there. The Wild Rainbows will feed aggressively now right through late fall. Every year this time period offers about the best nymph action of the season. The dry fly activity will improve as the days turn colder. Right now the action is well worthwhile. The trico fishing is good every morning. The best areas for tricos are in pools with lots of weed beds in the water. The best locations also have low brush and grass along the banks. The late afternoon has been improving quickly. Some areas have been excellent but there is still some unpredictability in the late day activity. The unpredictability is regarding location. The insect activity is in pockets and an area can be bug soup wile 100 yards upstream or down is void. It pays to pick your evening spots based on insects in the air. If there are bugs there will be fish. In the areas that are hot you can expect to find Olives, Isonychia, Cahills, White Flies, Yellow Drakes, Midges, Caddisflies. There have been some intense spinner flights and all of my recent trips have found fish gorging just before dark time. Fishing Isonychia and Cahill patterns will get you some fish in the faster water. The best bet however is a #16 or #18 hackle spinner. If you are able to fish these on light leaders you will pick off about every riser you find regardless of water type.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – 12 – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

Local creeks: Local creek flows are low and clear. The cooler weather has kept temps decent for fishing but it’s always good to “fish with your thermometer” when the water levels are low. It’s time now to put terrestrials in the vest if they aren’t there already. Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and ants. Don’t forget inchworms also. While fishing with nymphs and dries will produce, look for terrestrials to become a main course item for trout as the hatches begin to dwindle. Hopper fishing can be great where creeks flow by open fields – especially when the wind is blowing.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers have been fishing good to very good. River levels remain excellent for nice wading and good fly fishing. Clarity is excellent. The bass seem to have acclimated to the recent drop in water temps. The rivers are loaded with crayfish and minnows and the white fly hatch continues.

Topwater will continue to produce into fall as the bass begin to put on the feedbag. On a recent trip I fished a slow water area adjacent to a large weedbed and saw quite a bit of movement from bass chasing bait. A few casts with a popper resulted in a very nice bass. When bass are “lit up” you can usually expect aggressive takes on poppers and streamers, particularly when the light is low. During the day, fish big nymphs dead drift or swing large streamers. Experimenting with retrieves will increase your success – sometimes the bass want a slow swing, sometimes they’ll be more apt to jump a fly that has a lot of movement. Besides smallmouth bass, fallfish, channel cats, and walleye have all been on the hunt for a well-fished fly. Walleye, in particular, will begin to feed more aggressively as water temps drop. And remember, where you find one walleye there are usually more about.

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Ponds: Ponds remain a great place to fly fish right now, and with the water cooling, look for action to carry over into daylight more. Largemouth bass are in summer mode and are more than willing to take a fly. In the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: Local fly fishing clubs will begin their fall programs over the next few weeks. Here’s what’s on tap for September thus far:

  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers Chapter of FFI has announced their September meeting: We welcome you to join us on September 11th at 6:30pm, when Scott Feltrinelli will be visiting to talk about fishing the great lakes tributaries for salmon, steelhead and bass. Scott has over 27 years of fly fishing experience in both fresh and saltwater, and is the owner and guide of Ontario Fly Outfitters. Ontario Fly Outfitters is one of New York’s premiere fly fishing guide services specializing in providing a wide variety of fishing experiences for every level of fishing ability. He regularly targets the world class fishery we have within Western New York, on the tributaries of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie from the Salmon River to Steelhead Alley. Scott is an author/photographer for On The Fly Magazine, Cortland Line, Simms and LOOP Tackle Pro Staff. Scott’s talk will cover the techniques he uses to catch salmon, steelhead and bass in the Great Lakes tribs, as well as some of the streams he frequents. If you want to catch more steelhead or smallmouth bass this year in the great lakes tribs, you won’t want to miss this presentation. Unlike past presentations, we will not be starting with a fly tying demo. Instead, Scott’s presentation starts at 6:30 sharp, at the Big Flats Community Center, 476 Maple Street, Big Flats, NY 14814. Please note Sept’s date is shifted from our normal first Monday of the month timing due to Labor Day holiday.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI has announced their first chapter meeting for the Fall. The speaker will be area angler, writer, and fly shop owner, Mike Hogue, who will present: “Biking, Solo Canoes and Float Tubes: Ways to Enhance Your Fly Fishing Experiences.” The meeting is scheduled for Thursday September 21, 2017, Endicott Public Library, 7:00 PM (informal tying demonstration at 6:30). Mike has done all the hard work by evaluating the best ways to combine exercise, fly fishing, and finding low pressure venues, all while enjoying nature’s scenery. Mike will share with us his hard learned fishing strategies and methods for rigging for mobility as well as some of his favorite “solo” fishing locations and experiences. His presentation will explain why he chooses a solo canoe over other watercraft options. He will discuss the vitally important issues of handling, durability, paddles, gear, rod holders, fly patch, gear bag, and will remind you to plan on flipping the watercraft when you devise your setup. He will talk about how to select gear and rig it up for fly fishing from small watercraft. Surprisingly, nothing has been written about this material and Mike’s information is unique. Mike will also be our pre-meeting fly tyer demonstrating an Old Adirondack pattern called The Devil Bug which will be featured in a future Fly Tyer magazine article. Mike is the owner of Badger Creek Fly Tying, a fly fishing shop in Freeville, NY, just outside of Ithaca. He has had articles published in numerous publications, and has served as VP of Conservation for the IFFF North East Council, as well as on the National Conservation Board.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

 

 

We get a brief spell of dry weather before the rain and thunderstorms move in again. Labor Day will be a decent day with mostly sunny skies. We’ll have a breezy southwest wind with warm temperatures. As a cold front approaches, we’ll have showers in the forecast tonight.

We’ll have a better chance of rain and thunderstorms on Tuesday as the cold front comes through. We’ll have rain and thunderstorms, with the potential for strong storm. With an upper level trough setting up over the Great Lakes and Northeast, showers, along with cooler temperatures will be in the forecast for the remainder of the work week.

High pressure and nicer weather arrives for the weekend. We will be cooler with highs in the mid to upper 60s, we’ll have partly cloudy skies. Dry weather continues into Monday with mostly sunny skies and highs in the upper 60s to low 70s.

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Fishing with the ladies…

Posted in Fishing Reports, Saltwater, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on September 2, 2017 by stflyfisher

My connection with Destin, Florida is an interesting story, one to be revealed in a blog post at a later time. For now, let’s just say I have good reason to frequent this sunny Florida panhandle city – part of the beautiful “Emerald Coast”.

I recently wrapped up a week-long visit to Destin, complete with family and “plus ones” in tow. As busy and hectic as the vacation schedule was, I still had time to fish the early hours while the rest of the house snoozed away.

Destin sits on a long peninsula of land between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay – a large saltwater bay, 129 square miles in size, that is fed by the gulf tides and estuary rivers to the north.

destin

An aerial view of Destin. Picture courtesy of flyfishaddiction.blogspot.com.

In addition to an abundance of places to fish in the salt, the area is dotted with ponds and lakes that hold largemouth bass and panfish. So depending on the weather and sea conditions, an angler has a choice of bay fishing, surf fishing, and pond/lake fishing. There’s rarely a time when a line has to sit dry for long.

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Miles and miles of white sandy beach await the early morning fly fisher…

For most of this visit I chose to fish the surf. I had previously fished Destin in the spring and fall, focusing on the bay. I’d heard summertime had a significant “trash fish” bite, but among that rubble was a gem of a fish that had a reputation as a great adversary on the long rod: the ladyfish…

ladyfish

The ladyfish is a ray-finned fish also referred to as skipjacks, jack-rashes, or tenpounders. They are coastal-dwelling and found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world but occasionally venture into more temperate waters. Ladyfish prey on smaller fish and shrimp. They can grow to over 3 feet in length and may reach 20 pounds in weight. More commonly, they are found to range from 12″ to over 20″. The body of the ladyfish is a tapered spindle shape with an oval cross-section. Their eyes are very large as are their mouths. Their incredible aerial acrobatics in combination with a hard mouth allows them to throw a poorly set hook quite easily. They are largely silver and white in color but their backs are a light olive to sand color with a beautiful band of pink where their color transitions to silver.

After arriving at our place and settling in, I rigged my 9 weight fly rod with a full intermediate line and took a quick golf cart ride to the beach. I walked east beyond the swimming area and began casting a size 2 chartreuse and white clouser minnow. It wasn’t long before I was hooked up and witnessing first-hand, the incredible high-jumps of the ladyfish.

ladyfish.jumping.olander.doug

Ladyfish are known as the “poor man’s tarpon” due to their incessant aerobatics, as captured here in this picture courtesy of Doug Olander.

I fished the surf for several days and found varied fishing conditions for these surf-side torpedoes. One day the surf was flat as a mill-pond and I spent much of the day running up and down the beach chasing ladies crashing the beach. Their devastating attacks on glass minnows in the shallows reminded me of bluefish blitzes. On other days the surf was up and the ladies were still biting but were spread out and cruising resulting in a slow but steady bite. One hot afternoon I found them on almost every other cast, though they were not showing themselves as they were on the calmer days.

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I’ll estimate I caught at least a hundred ladyfish over a 4 day period and probably lost another 50 in the process. Ladyfish are built for blitzing bait – a long sleek body, deeply forked tail, big eyes, and a big mouth all make for one terrific gamefish for the saltwater angler.

One group of Mississippi fly fishermen respectfully refer to the ladyfish as the Mississippi tarbone and point out that local anglers can experience much of the thrill of catching tarpon and bonefish without having to leave Mississippi waters.

I found the “ladies” to feed very aggressively and take almost any fly I threw at them. While I didn’t try topwater, I’m sure a large popper thrown into their blitzes would have resulted in regular hook-ups. At times they would feed actively in large schools and could be seen porpoising as they chased bait in the shallows. The most effective flies were shiny, silver, or white. A white clouser with some flash combined with a fast retrieve that imparts plenty of action to the fly is all that is needed to catch these lightening bolts of the salt.

While sometimes difficult to hook, ladyfish will strike again and again on the retrieve. Their mouth is very abrasive; leaders should be checked frequently for fraying. On the advice of the local Orvis fly shop, I used a small bite guard of 30 lb mono as ladyfish are not at all leader shy. And I’d recommend not using expensive or intricate flies because they will get chewed up and stripped to a bare hook in no time! A 1/0 stainless hook tied with a lot of flash and some white hackle or deer hair will do the trick. Don’t spare the glue or epoxy! Simple and bullet-proof will work well.

The fish I caught ranged in size from 12″ to over 24″. Any ladyfish will fight hard but when they get over 18″ you will quickly be grinning ear to ear with their blistering runs and spastic leaps. I caught several larger ones that put a serious bend in my 9 weight and made long reel-screaming runs followed by tarpon-like leaps.

Noreen Galaba ladyfish

A nice-sized ladyfish caught while wading. Photo by Captain Baz Yelverton.

I fished my 9 weight rod because one never knows what will show up in the surf, including redfish, jacks, and sharks, but I could have gone lighter. A 6 – 8 weight rod would work just as well and reduce arm fatigue from casting. A floating line can be used when the fish are in close but I prefer an intermediate or intermediate sink tip to get down in the water column. A simple 30/20 lb mono leader 5 to 8 feet in length is all that is needed on the business end. Flies do not need to be big, but I found that a larger hook helps increase hook-ups.

Ladyfish are sometimes cursed by anglers because they can aggressively interfere with fishing for other species. Redfish anglers, for example, will stalk a flat only to hook up with a ladyfish and spook every red on the flat. But I welcomed the opportunity to waltz with the “ladies”. I could count on them to join me on the floor with every cast. I could delight in their high leaps from the emerald waters of the Gulf straight up to the bright blue Florida sky. And I’ll certainly be back to ask for another dance with them come next summer.

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 28, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on August 30, 2017 by stflyfisher

Put August in the books. Labor Day looms and it won’t be long before we are into Fall and arguably the best fishing of the year, assuming Mother Nature cooperates. Precipitation totals continue to climb for our area but at a slower rate. The warmwater rivers are finally down. The increased precip and cool temperatures have been great for trout fishing. Lastly, there are reports that the salmon are starting to enter the tribs.

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Air temps have been in the normal to cooler than normal over the last month.

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Fly Shop Talk: I’m currently reading the book My Life was This Big, by Lefy Kreh. It’s an interesting read and I’ll be doing a full book review on it when I am finished. One impression I have of Lefty from the book is that he certainly is an unconventional thinker and he applies that way of thinking to almost everything he does, fly fishing included. He believes that fly fishing is paralyzed by tradition, and gives numerous examples, but highlights the way anglers learn to fly cast – the 10 and 2 approach – arguing that for small stream casters it is appropriate but not for anglers fishing big water and windy conditions. Lefty is known for a much longer and more horizontal casting stroke. At 92, Lefty still give casting demonstrations!

Here’s the week ahead in fly fishing report:

Lake Ontario Tribs: To sum it up in a few words, the salmon are starting to trickle in. There are some salmon being landed – with many more brief hook-ups. This is encouraging to see even though the numbers are small so far. Look for things to pickup more after the water release next weekend. Every year is different but so far this looks like it should be a great river season.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone provides the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging remains good. Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. Largemouth bass fishing (with bonus pickerel) is fair to good here.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing should be picking up markedly here. Expect bonus browns, rainbows and bass.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Lake trout jigging is fair. Plenty of large rockbass and some perch are around.
  • Seneca Lake: Fishing is fair for lakers – a couple fish is a good day. No recent reports from here.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: No recent reports from here but with drier conditions the fishing should be good here for bass and tiger muskies.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to rain and cool temps. Following are some local fly shop reports:

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that water levels, bugs and the fishing have been pretty consistent the last few weeks. Stilesville on the upper West Branch is running 526 cfs and down at Hale Eddy we have 637 cfs and 49 degrees, pretty good flows for late-August. The upper East at Harvard is now 268 cfs and 54 degrees and down at Fishs’ Eddy we have 437 cfs and 60 degrees. Down on the main Delaware we have 1,200 cfs and 62 degrees this morning. The mornings have been a good time to hit the water with some Tricos on the Main and East Branch with a few on the lower West Branch. As usual up here the Tricos can be hit or miss and a lot depends on the weather of the day and getting some spinners on the water. The Blue Winged Olives in #18-22 have been pretty reliable this year with some bugs usually showing up early afternoon on. Small Rusty Spinners for the Olives are essential flies to have this time of year. We’ve been seeing some pretty small winged ants in size 24 or smaller and are good flies to have, even if the fish seem to be feeding on mayflies. Terrestrials in general are always good to have this time of year. We have a little stain to the West Branch and it seems to be coming from the release/reservoir, which is usual this time of year, and is not a bad thing for the streamer fishing as we approach fall. It looks to be fairly cool all week with little rain.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting that the olives hatches have been good over the last few weeks. The fish are eating a lot of them just under the surface or in the film so watch the rise forms carefully. Otherwise nymphing or swinging wet flies will be your best shot. There are a lot of small olives on the rivers so keep that in mind while choosing the sizes of your wets and nymphs.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the good fishing continues. With the regular rainfall and cooler weather mother nature has been taking care of our wild trout and insects. Just about every trip that went out this week was very good. All of our guests have had great action on nymphs regardless of the river section chosen. Right now the trout want to eat and if you get a nymph in front of them they will take it. During the last few days our guides have been spread out with boats on both the upper and lower sections of the West Branch and on the East Branch. The majority of the floats have been spent fishing nymph rigs and the fly rods have been bending. There was also a brief period this week where intense local showers caused turbidity. During this brief turbidity the streamer bite turned on pretty good. Guide Matt had an early day trip where they had steady action on streamer flies. The best news this week is that there were a few days where the fish rose pretty steady for a prolonged period. I put my guests into this action on both the East and West branches recently and the action was good for about the last 2 hours before dark. With the cooler afternoons the insect activity has been picking up. Most of the activity has been with olives. They are emerging well most days. There are also Trico’s, Sulfurs, Isonychia, Cahills, Midges and terrestrials in the drift. In addition to these insects there has been the occasional mix of Caddisflies and some brief sightings of giant yellow drakes in places. Overall however there is enough insects on the water to keep the trout interested. On my last float trip we had really steady catching with both Olive Cripples, Olive Klinkhammers and Rusty Spinners. From late afternoon until dark the fish have been looking up. Anglers will find the trout just about everywhere but there have been pods of juvenile and mid size browns feeding heavily in the bubble lines of the eddies and in the tailouts of pools where insects accumulate. These pod feeding trout have had tunnel vision and zero selectivity. When we have found this action it has been a fish on every cast. Anglers planning to fish in the coming days will now finally have some options. There is good Trico Action early day and streamers may tempt a few during this time period as well. The mid day period has been fishing well with nymphs. With the cooler weather anglers will now have some additional areas to nymph as the Beaverkill, Willow, Lower East and Main Stem are back into a decent temperature range. Anglers should start to look for risers in late afternoon. All of the main pools will now have action and in some places they have been going wild. From this point on we can expect the fishing to continue to slowly improve with every cool day. Now is a great time to plan a float trip on one of the Delaware Branches. The Smallmouth Bass action has been hot which is normal for July through mid September. Guide Zach has been putting some time chasing these gamefish. He has been fishing the Delaware below Callicoon regularly and with great success. The next few weeks are a great time to get out for smallies. They will start to feed heavily as the waters start to cool down. This cooling period also coincides with the migration of baby shad dropping back down the river. Every year this event causes heavy feeding blitzes in many of the eddies down river. We will continue to offer smallmouth bass trips through mid September.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – 12 – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

Local creeks: Local creek flows are dropping to summer lows, though storms will continue to periodically revive them. It’s time now to put terrestrials in the vest if they aren’t there already. Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and ants. Don’t forget inchworms also. While fishing with nymphs and dries will produce, look for terrestrials to become a main course item for trout as the hatches begin to dwindle. Hopper fishing can be great where creeks flow by open fields – especially when the wind is blowing.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers have indeed been acting strange, mainly due to the weather. While all of our local rivers are good for nice wading and good fly fishing, water temps are down due to the cooler than normal air temps and recent rains. My personal opinion is that this sudden change in water temp may have put down the bass temporarily. The fishing should come back.

All of the local rivers are in superb shape with excellent clarity. The rivers are loaded with crayfish and minnows and the white fly hatch is most liely now in its later stages. This hatch usually stretches out over 6 weeks beginning in late July and lasting well into August.

Right now topwater should produce as should fishing big nymphs dead drift or swinging large streamers. Focus efforts on low-light conditions or fish the shady areas of the rivers for the best action. Remember to experiment – sometimes the bass want a slow swing, sometimes they’ll be more apt to jump a fly that has a lot of movement. Besides smallmouth bass, fallfish, channel cats, and walleye have all been on the hunt for a well-fished fly.

Ponds: Ponds remain a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are in summer mode and are more than willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: It won’t be long until local fly fishing clubs begin their fall programs. September is usually the start of monthly meetings.

  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers Chapter of FFI has announced their September meeting: We welcome you to join us on September 11th at 6:30pm, when Scott Feltrinelli will be visiting to talk about fishing the great lakes tributaries for salmon, steelhead and bass. Scott has over 27 years of fly fishing experience in both fresh and saltwater, and is the owner and guide of Ontario Fly Outfitters. Ontario Fly Outfitters is one of New York’s premiere fly fishing guide services specializing in providing a wide variety of fishing experiences for every level of fishing ability. He regularly targets the world class fishery we have within Western New York, on the tributaries of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie from the Salmon River to Steelhead Alley. Scott is an author/photographer for On The Fly Magazine, Cortland Line, Simms and LOOP Tackle Pro Staff. Scott’s talk will cover the techniques he uses to catch salmon, steelhead and bass in the Great Lakes tribs, as well as some of the streams he frequents. If you want to catch more steelhead or smallmouth bass this year in the great lakes tribs, you won’t want to miss this presentation. Unlike past presentations, we will not be starting with a fly tying demo. Instead, Scott’s presentation starts at 6:30 sharp, at the Big Flats Community Center, 476 Maple Street, Big Flats, NY 14814. Please note Sept’s date is shifted from our normal first Monday of the month timing due to Labor Day holiday.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

Our weather remains a large body of high pressure over the St. Lawrence River. This will give us mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. We will put a few more clouds in the forecast for Tuesday, but our string of beautiful weather will continue.

We’ll watch a storm working its way up the Atlantic Coast on Wednesday. This will give us more of a glancing blow. We’ll have clouds with a slight chance of scattered showers.

A cold front will move through Thursday giving us mostly cloudy skies with showers and thunderstorms. A quick shot of cool air will follow on Friday with highs in the 60s. We’ll see mostly sunny skies on Friday and into Saturday.

A warm front will approach on Sunday giving us clouds and showers. Temperatures will rebound into the 70s Sunday and Monday with partly cloudy skies on Monday.

WBNG7Day0828

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 14, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 13, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s finally getting a little drier. The wet weather continues to ease and the rivers are showing their bones. We are still in a surplus, rain-wise. There have been a few sightings of salmon up north – possibly just a few curious fish pushing upriver – but certainly not the beginnings of what is due in a few weeks. Or so it seems…

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The Tioughnioga River, shown here, is in perfect shape for wading and fly fishing. Just watch out for alligators! This picture was taken just upriver of the area where two small alligators were sighted and then caught by the DEC.

Fly Shop Talk: It’s nice to finally fish the local warmwater rivers. Trout fishing has been a salvation for us river rats during a record-wet year but as long as the river flows remain where they are now, I’ll be hanging up my trout gear for some long overdue brownlining.

We are truly very lucky to have such fly fishing diversity in our midst. As much bad press as the Southern Tier might get at times, anyone who fly fishes is certainly blessed. Blue ribbon trout rivers, creeks and streams, lakes of all sizes, and the vast warmwater rivers are all very accessible. And all of this water brings with it so many species that can all be caught on the fly. Next time you’re out on the water, take a moment to recognize in your own way, the terrific fly fishing we have at our fingertips.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone provides the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging has been absolutely superb over the past few days! Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. Largemouth bass fishing (with bonus pickerel) is very good here as well.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Lake trout jigging is fair. Plenty of rockbass and some perch are around.
  • Seneca Lake: Fishing is fair for lakers – a couple fish is a good day.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: No recent reports from here.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. Following are some local fly shop reports:

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the weekend rain didn’t impact the West, East, or Mainstem Delaware rivers very much. Stilesville on the upper West Branch is at 518 cfs and 47 degrees and down at Hale Eddy we have 552 cfs with a temp of 50. There may be a slight stain by some creeks entering the river but it won’t last too long. The upper East Branch at Harvard is 258 cfs and 56 degrees while downriver at Fishs’ Eddy we have 620 cfs and 64 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is 1,310 cfs and 64 degrees. The Sulphurs have been getting lighter and lighter upriver and we are seeing more Blue Winged Olives lately. There are a few Cahills and Isoncyhcia around and these have been good bugs to blind cast, especially on the lower West and upper main if the temps are decent. The nymphing on the lower West is a good option as well and you should see some bugs in the afternoon hours.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting that overnight rains only bumped up the river flows slightly. We are already dropping back this morning and the rivers look clear in Hancock. The lower West Branch had some little olives in the evening while the upper West had a mix of some sulphurs and olives. The upper West is your best bet for dry flies. If you want to nymph stay lower due to the algae. The lower Mainstem looks good for smallmouth with decent flows and temperatures in Callicoon.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that there is not much change in overall fishing conditions since the last report. The only real difference is some wet weather moved into the region. This rain was mostly light but some areas got locally heavy downpours. The area most effected is the Beamoc waters. Both rivers more than doubled their flows. This morning they have turbidity which should clear quickly. The Main Delawre also got a quick rise in flow and localized turbidity is present. The Upper East and West branches have only slight changes in flow. Both Trout and Bass fishing is reliable now. Our guests have had good fishing on most every trip.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – 12 – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

Local creeks: Local creek flows are dropping to summer lows, though storms will continue to periodically revive them. It’s time now to put terrestrials in the vest if they aren’t there already. Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and ants. Don’t forget inchworms also. While fishing with nymphs and dries will produce, look for terrestrials to become a main course item for trout as the hatches begin to dwindle. Hopper fishing can be great where creeks flow by open fields – especially when the wind is blowing.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are now in the zone for nice wading and good fly fishing. The smaller rivers – the Tioughnioga, the Chenango, and the Chemung, are in superb shape with excellent clarity. The Susquehanna is also at good wading levels but has a bit of murk to it. This murk is actually a benefit to anglers more apt to fish the sunny daylight hours. Fishing the riffles and deep runs even under bright sun will produce as the murk cuts the light down and the bass feel safe. But if fishing in lower clarity water, choose dark or very bright flies.

The rivers are loaded with crayfish and minnows and the white fly hatch has started. I observed nymph shucks drifting by in large numbers the other evening on the Tioughnioga. As the sun began to drop in the sky, sure enough, the white fly or “white miller” mayflies began to show themselves. This hatch usually stretches out over 6 weeks beginning in late July and lasting well into August, but high water may have delayed it.

Right now topwater will produce as will fishing big nymphs dead drift or swinging large streamers. Focus efforts on low-light conditions or fish the shady areas of the rivers for the best action. Remember to experiment – sometimes the bass want a slow swing, sometimes they’ll be more apt to jump a fly that has a lot of movement. Besides smallmouth bass, fallfish, channel cats, and walleye have all been on the hunt for a well-fished fly.

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The good thing about fishing Southern Tier rivers is that you never know what you are going to catch. This channel catfish hit a large wooly bugger fished on the swing in a deep run.

Ponds: Ponds remain a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are in summer mode and are more than willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: It won’t be long until local fly fishing clubs begin their fall programs. Here is one update on a fishing tripped planned by the TTFR chapter of FFI:

  • Chemung River Fishing Trip Moved Again to August 26 – Due to the water conditions on July 22, the Chemung River float fishing trip was postponed. The trip has been rescheduled for August 26th and is again open to all TTFR International Federation of Fly Fishers members and visitors. We need to know before August 23 if you plan to come. This is usually a productive and popular float for bass and carp. Plan to meet at 9 am in Corning NY at the Cohocton Street launch (behind Pressware) and float 7 miles to Botchers Landing. We will grill out a shoreline lunch halfway through the trip. We expect to be off the river around 5 pm. For lunch, the club will grill burgers with all the fixings. The club will have bottled water and some drinks. There will be plates, napkins, plastic silverware, etc. If you want to bring food to share, that would be great. Chips, cookies, wine, beer, or whatever else you would like. Fishing is for smallmouth bass and carp. An 8 weight outfit is recommended with a floating and maybe an 8 weight with a sink tip line. If you don’t have an 8 wt – bring what you have. If you need to borrow a rod, the club has 6 weights. I think you will find a 7 or 8 is perfect for the size of flies and longer casts. I suggest bringing clouser minnows, foxee minnows, suspendors, twistertails and gurglers. Big wooly buggers are a good bet. Felt sole wading boots are recommended. The rocks are very slippery – so best to avoid tennis shoes or Tevas. Bring a raincoat. You will need a canoe, kayak, driftboat, or inflatable pontoon for the float. If you will have space and would be willing to take along another person in your boat – that would be great! If you would like to come, but do not have a watercraft – we will try to hook you up with someone who has an open spot or you can rent a canoe ($45) or a single person kayak (35$/day). Please let us know your needs and we will make the arrangements with the rental company. Life jackets, paddles, etc will be provided if you rent. Please contact Matt Towner 607-542-0285 ( townermj@corning.com) before August 23 to let us know you plan to attend. You may also contact Kirk Klingensmith ( kklingensmi@stny.rr.com ), but he is out of town until 8/18, so a response may be delayed until he returns. In the case of bad water conditions or severe weather, we will notify folks who are coming by e-mail or cellphone.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

 

A few showers may be lingering around Sunday morning, but as we move into the mid-morning, even though clear the area. Skies then are clearing through the afternoon as high pressure sets up. Temperatures Sunday are below average in the low- to mid-70s.

High pressure sticks around Monday, before a small-scale disturbance looks to move in Tuesday, bringing in the slim chance for showers Tuesday. Temperatures look seasonable for the first half of the week in the upper-70s.

Wednesday looks mainly quiet at this time with a small pocket of high pressure dipping in from the north before another system looks to push in Thursday and hang around through Saturday.

WBNG7Day0813

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 7, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on August 7, 2017 by stflyfisher

Summer seems to be finally here. The wet weather has eased somewhat, though we are still on a record-setting pace. Precipitation totals year to date are greater than 2016. But the rain events have been more sporadic with dry breaks between storms. This is helping drop river levels more quickly. It has also been cooler with daily highs holding in a tight range around the average for this time of year.

A recent hike with my dog along Choconut Creek in Vestal showed the impact of the significant flooding we have had this year. This creek flows from Pennylvania through Vestal and is a tributary to the Susquehanna. normally at this time of year it is low and clear – a trickle in some places. The upper reaches of the creek in PA and some of its tribs, such as “No Name Brook” hold native brookies. This year will be a good year for them!

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Major bank erosion on the Choconut Creek resulted in large tree downfalls in places. This picture, taken on 8/6/17, shows the Choconut flowing fairly full for summer.

Fly Shop Talk: A must-read for every fly fisher is the book, “A River Never Sleeps” by Roderick Haig-Brown. Bob Card, friend, fellow angler, and steelhead enthusiast, recommended the book to me one morning as we drove to the Salmon River. Card highly recommended it – a “couldn’t put it down” recommendation – and he was right. Buried deep in the book’s 352 pages, is a great essay titled, “Why Fish”. The 8 page essay begins with recounting a run-in Haig-Brown’s father – a big man and Army officer – had when a “little Cockney private” came running round a street corner smack into him. The collision prompted the larger man to ask of the smaller man, “why run?” The answer from the Cockney private: “to please myself”. Haig-Brown goes on to explore the many reasons we fish, but principally comes around to “enjoyment” as the main one. He goes on to remark that “fishing” started so many thousands of years ago when a tribe member took off in secrecy to fish long after a hunt had provided all the food the tribe needed.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone provides the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging is back to top-notch form. Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. I expect good largemouth bass fishing on Cayuga Lake.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Lake trout jigging is fair. Plenty of rockbass and some perch are around.
  • Seneca Lake: Fishing is fair for lakers – a couple fish is a good day.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: No recent reports from here.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. Following are some local fly shop reports:

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that today is looking like a great day to be out with a slight drizzle since this morning and cloudy skies all day. The air temps are great and feel more like September than August at 57 currently which is great for the mainstem and East Branch. It looks like we won’t get too much rain today, probably 1/3″ total, not enough to bring it up too much. Currently the upper West Branch is 526 cfs at Stilesvill and 47 degrees. Down at Hale Eddy the flow is 611 cfs and 49 degrees. The East at Harvard is now 225 cfs and 56 degrees and downriver at Fishs’ Eddy the flow is 488 cfs and 62 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is now 1,360 cfs and 62. A great temp going into August and would be a great place to be with the current overcast conditions. If you’ve had enough of the Sulphurs in the no kill try the main with some Blue Winged Olives or blind casting a large Isonychia in likely spots. We should have some good Olives on the West as well. The streamer fishing is also a great option for today with the low light and possibly a little stain from the rain.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that Oquaga Creek was pushing a lot of water into the West Branch over the weekend. The river was a chalky color rather than brown making it decent for throwing streamers. We found mixing up the streamer selection made the difference and finally settled on small, dark patterns. The water was clear enough for fish to rise and there were some eating in the evening when the olives hatched. The Upper West Branch above Oquaga was in fine shape and had the normal hatches of sulphurs and olives. We are coming off a cool night so the water temperatures are starting off a couple of degrees cooler this morning. Today looks good with partly cloudy skies and air temperatures in the low 70’s. Winds should stay in the single digits.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that fishing has been very good for both trout and smallmouth bass. With the cooler weather and mix of sunny and overcast conditions the fish and insects were very active. The steady supply of thunderstorms recently has kept certain stretches of the river running with turbidity. This has been in every local river. Our guests have had periods of exciting action with streamers. There have been a lot of trout on both the East and West branches that are more than willing to chase streamers pretty hard. The trick has been turning the chasers into takers. To accomplish this we have been fishing mostly smaller patterns. Buggers, Urchin Buggers, EP Baitfish and 4″ or smaller articulated patterns. These smaller offerings have been the best at sealing the deal.
    The cooler weather and cooler water has been great for the hatches and the overall activity of the trout. On my trips there were plenty of targets as trout have been feeding steadily to a mix of insects. I have been out both early and late recently and there is action. There is a huge amount of trico’s emerging every morning. As long as the water is slow enough for the trout to feed efficiently they have been on them. Yesterday we had a few nice pods of mature rainbows feeding steadily on these tiny duns. We also had very good nymph fishing during the AM portion of the day.
    The evening rise has been better simply because the insects are more widespread and varied. There are olives, sulfurs, isonychia, cahills, midges. The evening is also a bit easier since the fish have been set up feeding in faster water as well as the pools. Finding a good fish eating larger insects in fast water makes for a much easier presentation. On all of my recent trips I have been able to locate solitary trout in riffles that were blowing up on the occasional Isonychia or cahill that floats by. Most of these trout have found their way to the net. The forecast for the week has daytime highs in the mid 70’s so conditions should be stable for a while. Now is a great time to take a crack at some mid summer dry fly fishing. We have been hitting the bass waters hard and with a good reason. The bass action is hot and it is all surface action! These great game fish have good water temperatures to be super active now. Now is the time where they will feed heavy in anticipation of cooling waters later in the fall. On all of our recent trips we have been able to fish the POPPER from start to finish. The action is good all day but it increases in intensity as the day progresses. On my recent trips the late afternoon has produced non stop action. On all of our recent trips the catch rate has been up. 20 + fish on the fly rod is common now and we have been taking some nice fish. Yesterday we had lots of 14″ to 18″ bass come to net. Right now we are fishing size #2 poppers on 5 weight rods. This combination is perfectly matched for Delaware Smallies. The best action is on brightly colored poppers. Orange has been hot.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – 12 – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

Local creeks: Local creek flows remain in a yo-yo pattern with the variable weather we’ve had. They will continue to rise and fall with the sporadic storms. To many anglers, these high water events are an excuse to fish elsewhere, but to creek-savvy anglers, change is a good word. Fishing after a high water event can be difficult but highly rewarding. Nymphing with big “nymphs” like cranefly larvae, worms, crayfish and hellgrammite patterns, can lure big browns waiting for the washdown of all sorts of food forms. Large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers were on the way down through this past Thursday, but Friday’s rains proved to be a spoiler for the weekend. Flows are again dropping and with a string of dry days in the forecast, should provide good fishing by late in the week. Some anglers have managed to produce by capitalizing on days when flows have dropped. Topwater and subsurface flies will work, with topwater being the choice for when the light is low. Pay attention to the USGS water gages for now.

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The Tioughnioga River was at a nice fishing level up until Friday, when rain had put it back on the rise. This river, along with the Chenango and Chemung, should give anglers hunting for bronze some good fishing access in the week ahead.

Ponds: Ponds remain a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are in summer mode and are more than willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: It won’t be long until local fly fishing clubs begin their fall programs. Here is one update on a fishing tripped planned by the TTFR chapter of FFI:

  • Chemung River Fishing Trip Moved Again to August 26 – Due to the water conditions on July 22, the Chemung River float fishing trip was postponed. The trip has been rescheduled for August 26th and is again open to all TTFR International Federation of Fly Fishers members and visitors. We need to know before August 23 if you plan to come. This is usually a productive and popular float for bass and carp. Plan to meet at 9 am in Corning NY at the Cohocton Street launch (behind Pressware) and float 7 miles to Botchers Landing. We will grill out a shoreline lunch halfway through the trip. We expect to be off the river around 5 pm. For lunch, the club will grill burgers with all the fixings. The club will have bottled water and some drinks. There will be plates, napkins, plastic silverware, etc. If you want to bring food to share, that would be great. Chips, cookies, wine, beer, or whatever else you would like. Fishing is for smallmouth bass and carp. An 8 weight outfit is recommended with a floating and maybe an 8 weight with a sink tip line. If you don’t have an 8 wt – bring what you have. If you need to borrow a rod, the club has 6 weights. I think you will find a 7 or 8 is perfect for the size of flies and longer casts. I suggest bringing clouser minnows, foxee minnows, suspendors, twistertails and gurglers. Big wooly buggers are a good bet. Felt sole wading boots are recommended. The rocks are very slippery – so best to avoid tennis shoes or Tevas. Bring a raincoat. You will need a canoe, kayak, driftboat, or inflatable pontoon for the float. If you will have space and would be willing to take along another person in your boat – that would be great! If you would like to come, but do not have a watercraft – we will try to hook you up with someone who has an open spot or you can rent a canoe ($45) or a single person kayak (35$/day). Please let us know your needs and we will make the arrangements with the rental company. Life jackets, paddles, etc will be provided if you rent. Please contact Matt Towner 607-542-0285 ( townermj@corning.com) before August 23 to let us know you plan to attend. You may also contact Kirk Klingensmith ( kklingensmi@stny.rr.com ), but he is out of town until 8/18, so a response may be delayed until he returns. In the case of bad water conditions or severe weather, we will notify folks who are coming by e-mail or cellphone.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

After a relatively dry weekend, there’s a chance of showers for Monday with temperatures in the low-70s. High pressure then pushes in Tuesday through Thursday afternoon. Temperatures crest in the mid- to upper-70s under sunny skies, before the chance of showers returns late on Thursday and persists through Friday. At this time, Saturday looks to be a mainly quiet day, as a pocket of high pressure moves north through Ontario, perhaps keeping our atmosphere stable enough to prevent any convective rain or storms.

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The week ahead in fly fishing: July 30, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , on August 1, 2017 by stflyfisher

We are finally in the midst of a “drought” window. The past weekend, starting Friday, was dry and it’s looking like that may continue now at least a few days into next week. This dry period may be all we need to allow the warmwater rivers to drop down to the fly fishing range.

We are also closing out July with some warmth. The corn in places now has tassels, pumpkin and squash plants are flowering, and I’ve seen some whitetail bucks with antlers in velvet.

August is on the doorstep – a time of year when the fishing pace slows with warm days and a time of year that serves as a preview for early fall and a return to great fly fishing.

Fly Shop Talk: BC Flyfisher Dennis See recently shared a facebook post from weather.com about Binghamton NY’s weather. The post was titled: This U.S. City Has Seen Some of the Worst Weather This Year and Continues to Shatter Records. It’s an interesting read and does a nice job putting some of our recent weather in perspective. Some highlights follow:

  • Binghamton, New York, is currently on pace to exceed its wettest year on record following the record-snowiest winter.
  • As of Wednesday, 37.08 inches of precipitation have been recorded in the city in 2017 – more than all of last year.
  • An average year in Binghamton features 39.3 inches of precipitation, defined as rainfall and the liquid equivalent of melted snow.

KBGM2017plot

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone provides the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging is back to top-notch form. Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. I expect good largemouth bass fishing on Cayuga Lake.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be good.
  • Seneca Lake: Fishing is fair for lakers – a couple fish is a good day.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part. There is an algae bloom going on here from what I heard.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. I fished the West Branch of the Delaware in the morning and the action was sporadic but good. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right pattern – changing flies when action is slow to nil is always a good idea especially when hatches are sparse. I finally dialed in with a small sulphur nymph and sulphur soft hackle.

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  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that flows are generally excellent in the Catskill river system. Stilesville on the upper West is 525 and 46 degrees and downriver a few miles at Hale Eddy we have 611 cfs and 49 degrees this morning. The upper East Branch at Harvard is now 314 and 57 degrees and down at Fishs’ Eddy we have 706 cfs and 61 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is 1,590 cfs and 63 degrees. The main and East are really getting a break temperature-wise with these cooler temps we’ve been having and aren’t at a bad level for this time of year. We are still getting the same bugs on a regular basis with #18 Sulphurs and #20-24 Olives being the most consistent during the afternoon hours. A few Isonychia are also around in the afternoon.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that the best fishing is on the upper West Branch and upper East Branch. Look for the coldest water. There should be daytime sulphurs and olives in Deposit and Stilesville. Although small flies have been working better carry some Cahills, Isonychias, and Golden Drakes just in case. Areas with mid day shade will also fish better. Yesterday’s bright sun and hot air temperature bumped the water temps up just enough to push most of the mid to lower river hatching to dark. Find the water in the 50’s. Today’s air temperature will be cooler at 80 degrees but the sun is going to shine. The lower East Branch, Mainstem, and lower Beaverkill all warmed up into the high 60’s yesterday. We’re leaving them alone until they cool back down.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that since the last report our guides have fished both trout and smallmouth bass and covered lots of river miles. Overall the fishing is good. The main reason is the cooler nights and recent rainfall. The trout are more active since the water temperatures dropped into a more suitable range. Over the weekend our trout trips had a steady pick of surface feeding trout to keep busy with. We also did really good on our nymph rigs in some places. Yesterday I did 2 floats both for trout – my first trip was a nymphing float where we targeted a couple of big riffle areas. The action was pretty steady and in 4 hours we had 8 fish. We had 2 small ones but most were 15″ to 17″ Wild Rainbows. On this morning float there was also some super heavy activity with Trico’s. The amount of insects in the air and on the water was huge. There was a small amount of surface activity but the river is high and it was very windy. I expect that when the water comes down there will be a good rise of trout to these tiny insects. We also had boats out for evening hatch floats every day recently. There have been fish sporadically rising from when we put in around 5:00 pm. As is normal the action slowly improves as darkness approaches. We have been doing well fishing a combination of small Olives, Sulfurs and Midges. CDC Knock Down Duns and Cripples have been the best. Small rusty spinners and midge patterns are also working well. Below the surface it has been all about size. #18 and #20 nymphs are whats working. I have been fishing 3 fly rigs with descending sizes down to the #20. Every fish has been on the tiny flies. Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails and Midges are working well. The bass fishing hit a bit of a slow down with the recent cold front. Over the weekend water temperatures dropped below 70 degrees just about everywhere. The bass have been a bit sluggish during the morning but get back to feeding after the sun warms them a bit. We had several groups out and all had lots of fun. The biggest difference from last week is that the surface bite has slowed from the cooler water. Last week we were having fast and furious popper action. Right now you have to work at it. The strikes are not as frequent but the fish have been good sized. The best approach at this time for steady, fast action is slow and deep. The hot surface action should return quickly as the temps climb back up.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – 12 – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

Local creeks: Local creek flows have been a yo-yo with the variable weather we’ve had. They will continue to rise and fall with the sporadic storms. To many anglers, these high water events are an excuse to fish elsewhere, but to creek-savvy anglers, change is a good word. Fishing after a high water event can be difficult but highly rewarding. Nymphing with big “nymphs” like cranefly larvae, worms, crayfish and hellgrammite patterns, can lure big browns waiting for the washdown of all sorts of food forms. Large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are starting to drop again due to the string of dry weather we’ve experienced over the weekend. This weather pattern is supposed to hold until Tuesday – let’s hope that dries the ground out enough to let the bigger rivers drop and clear. This is white fly hatch time by the way. The high water may be putting that off though. This monumental hatch can sometimes last through the month of August.

For now, look to the headwaters of the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga, Chenango, and Chemung for the first signs of dropping flows and clearing.

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Ponds: Ponds are a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are in summer mode and are more than willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: Most local fly fishing clubs take a summer break starting with July, so there won’t be any activities or club/chapter meetings to report over the coming weeks. If an event pops up, I’ll try to capture it here.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

A cold front over Ontario and Quebec will sag southward. It will have a hard time making it through, but it will be close enough to give us a few showers. These will be scattered. Tonight we’ll have partly cloudy skies.

We’ll have a similar forecast over the next few days. It will be warm and slightly muggy with scattered showers. The chance of showers will climb through the forecast.

A cold front will come through on Saturday with showers and thunderstorms. We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Sunday. Another low coming through the Great Lakes will give us showers on Monday.

WBNG7Day

 

The fly fisherman and the boxer…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on July 28, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s odd how disparate interests sometimes fire randomly like so many synapses in our brains and connect in new and interesting ways.  Consider, for example, my interest in fly fishing and the sweet science: boxing.  If you’ve read my “about” page, you already know that I’m the lone fisherman in my genetic line, save the possibility of some great uncles on my mother’s side who headed out to Montana in the early 1900’s.  Whether they ever wet a line on the great rivers is unknown, but the thought consoles me in my fly fishing addiction.

Boxing is another story, one that’s a little more understandable in that my maternal grandfather, who passed long before I came into this world, was apparently quite the fan (being Irish descent didn’t hurt either).  My mother told me of his interest only when I revealed my own love for the sport. She recounted his sitting by the radio, listening to the great bouts of Dempsey, Braddock, Louis, Baer, and undoubtedly, Jack Sharkey, the only man to have fought both Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis.

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Joe Louis is sent to a neutral corner after dropping Jack Sharkey. Louis would prevail after knocking Sharkey down 4 times. It was Sharkey’s last fight in the ring – August 18, 1936.

Jack Sharkey was born Joseph Paul Cukoschay on October 26, 1902, in Binghamton New York.  The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Sharkey left the family home in New York when he was a teenager, ending up in Boston. Sources report little of his early life until, at the outset of the First World War, teenaged Joseph repeatedly tried to enlist in the Navy. Turned down because of his age, he was not able to enlist until after the end of the war.

“Every time Louis hit me, he said, ‘Sorry.’ Every time Jack Dempsey hit me, he said, ‘How come you’re not dead yet?’”—Jack Sharkey

Sharkey wasn’t much of a fighter growing up – it wasn’t until he served in the U.S. Navy that Sharkey first stepped into a boxing ring, and that was only because a midshipman told him to substitute in the next fight at a Navy smoker or he wouldn’t get shore leave. Tall and husky, Jack quickly established a reputation as the best boxer aboard any vessel on which he served. Sharkey stood 6′ and had a notable 76″ reach. During his brief returns home to Boston he took part in his first fights for pay, the first on January 24, 1924, against Billy Muldoon, whom he knocked out in the first round. By the time of his honorable discharge just short of a month later, he had won a second fight and was already earning write-ups in the Boston papers.

Interestingly, a promoter declared his Lithuanian name unusable and so Joseph Paul Cukoschay became Jack Sharkey – “Jack” after Jack Dempsey and “Sharkey” from ‘Sailor’ Tom Sharkey, who fought Jim Jeffries to a 25-round decision for the heavyweight title in 1899.

“Who hit me hardest? Dempsey hit me the hardest because Dempsey hit me $211,000 worth while Louis only hit me $36,000 worth…”

Sharkey’s career statistics show an admirable record of 37 wins, 13 defeats, and 3 draws. One of his most noteworthy fights was against his “namesake”, Jack Dempsey, on July 21, 1927 in Yankee Stadium. Despite out-boxing the “Manassas Mauler” for 5 rounds, Sharkey lost the bout in the 6th round.  “I turned to the referee to complain I was getting hit low, and I got hit with a haymaker,” he once recalled. “That was that. I was out on the canvas.” “I came home and I went in the hospital,” Sharkey recounted more than 40 years later, in Peter Heller’s, In This Corner (1973). “I passed blood there for a long time . . . this is never brought out in print, the after-effects of a fight. You dry out like a lightweight, you’re dehydrated, pains that you have, you come home you soak in a tub full of Epsom salts, the pain and the aches. No one knows what a fighter goes through after the fight.”

When asked why he had hit a man who wasn’t looking, Dempsey replied, “What was I supposed to do, mail him a letter?”

Sharkey is remembered less for his title victory over Max Schmeling than for the controversial manner of his defeat to the ‘Ambling Alp’, Primo Carnera, in his first defense in 1933. Carnera, whose enormous size had been caused by a boyhood glandular disorder, was controlled by racketeers and had been built up through fixed fights. Carnera was thought to be an easy mark for Sharkey. But in the sixth round Sharkey went down from a punch which many ringsiders claimed they did not see. For the rest of his life Sharkey would face claims that his loss was rigged.

His final fight was against the up and coming Joe Louis. But this was 1936 and Jack Sharkey didn’t have the same legs, and Louis was a different kind of destroyer entirely. From the start of the fight, Sharkey foolishly waded into Louis’ punching range and found himself on the canvas three times before a combination put him down for the count in round three. Sharkey said to W.A. Hamilton after the fight, “Louis convinced me that I have no business in trying to continue, and now I am relegated with the others before me who tried to cheat time and nature only to be revealed in their true light.” After being knocked out by Joe Louis in the third round Aug. 18, 1936, Sharkey retired from the ring to open a restaurant in Boston and pursue his love of fishing.

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A beaten Jack Sharkey decides to hang up his gloves after losing to Joe Louis.

Sharkey was and has been largely considered second best, however unfair that may be. He was, after all, a fisherman who found himself lacing up a pair of boxing gloves by accident, not a desperate pug who had nowhere else to go. That he made it into the big leagues of boxing is considered by many, incredible.

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Boxer, fly fisherman, family man…

“I started out as a fisherman,” Sharkey told The Ring in 1979. “When I was a kid I used to catch bass with my bare hands and sell them. Old-timers still remember me walking down the street carrying eels on my back.”

Sharkey acquired further fame in retirement from his exploits as a fisherman who could land a fly on a dime. Jack Gartside, noted fly-tier and author of many angling books, said he lived a dry-fly cast away from Fenway Park in the 1950s when Williams and Sharkey were demonstrating fly casting at a sportsman’s show in Boston. “When I was 8 years old, I was at a sportsmen’s show at the old Mechanics Hall in Boston. Ted Williams and Jack Sharkey, the boxer, were conducting fly casting demonstrations,” Gartside said. “After the casting, they both went to a booth to tie flies.”

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Sharkey, pictured left, sits with Jimmie Foxx (center) and Ted Williams (right) at a fly fishing exhibition.

One New Hampshire angler who replied to my request for information on the boxer / fly fisher said Sharkey was a hell of a fly fisherman. This man’s father fished with Jack on occasion and staked out his own spot on the bridge at Alton Bay, but woe betide the flatlander who took Jack’s spot! Sharkey was known to be irascible and cantankerous, particularly in later life.

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Sharkey could tie – no small feat for a guy whose hands went through a lot of abuse in the ring!

Sharkey was Ted Williams’ fishing partner for many years. When asked which he liked better, boxing or fishing, Sharkey replied, “Fishing, it doesn’t pay as much but then the fish don’t hit back.”

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Jack Sharkey had his last “boxing” contest with Max Schmeling decades after leaving the ring. Jack held the record as the oldest living former heavyweight champion, living to the ripe old age of ninety-one, only to be beaten by Schmeling, years later, who lived to be ninety-nine.

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Boxing and fly fishing may seem odd bedfellows, and many might question my sanity as a follower of both sports, but after reading about Jack Sharkey, I’m feeling a bit better about fist and fly. In a sense, Jack Sharkey, our own Southern Tier hometown hero, battled for a living but lived for fly fishing. And isn’t that what most of us do in a figurative sense in our own lives? Sharkey, in my opinion, was a hero for the everyday sportsman – the guy who slogged it out in the trenches, just to marry, raise a family, and maybe, just maybe, eke out a little time with the long rod on a pretty river. Rest in peace, Jack…