The week ahead in fly fishing: September 26th

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , on September 26, 2016 by stflyfisher

Fall is here and the hillsides are starting to show it. Although we still have about two weeks to go for peak colors, some trees are starting to lighten up. Leaves are even falling, no doubt due to the drought that has a lock on the Southern Tier. Nights are getting cooler and cooler days look to follow. This is one of the best times of the year to get out and fly fish. Besides the spectacular scenery and wildlife, many local fish species are starting to prepare for winter in two ways – feeding up and/or heeding mother nature’s call to spawn. In both cases, these fish are either feeding to put on weight before the long winter or are biting out of aggression and competition.

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Most people think of fall in hues of scarlet, orange, and yellow. Fly fishers tend to think of fall in hues of olive and black…

Fly shop talk: The New York State DEC held a public hearing on September 14th. Concerned area residents and i-3 Electronics representatives met at Union-Endicott High School for a public information / public comment session on a draft permit for wastewater discharge for i3, formerly EIT. While some have expressed concerns that the permit allows toxic waste to be dumped into the Susquehanna River, members of the DEC say that part of the reason they hosted the information session was to alert the public that the permit works to protect the Susquehanna. I’ve not thoroughly investigated whether the leachate waste that’s being treated is harmful to our beautiful Susquehanna River, nor have I seen outward signs of damage to fish or other river life. But I am scratching my head over how a state that bans fracking can turn around and allow the transportation and treatment of fracking waste and the subsequent discharge of the treated waste into the Susquehanna. I plan on submitting my concerns to the DEC. While the public comment meeting has passed, any interested person may submit comments in writing to the DEC. According to the DEC, all comments will be considered in making the final decision about issuance of this permit. Written comments about the permit modification and renewal must be RECEIVED BY September 30, 2016 to be considered and should be sent to:

Teresa Diehsner
NYSDEC Headquarters
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
(518)402-9167
DEPPermitting@dec.ny.gov

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that the movement of salmon up the run has slowed recently. There are fish staging in the estuary. Water temp is around 65 degrees and flows are a steady 400 CFS. Fish are being caught but not so much as during last week. Streamers, buggers, and egg patterns will work on salmon.

Catskill rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the release from the West Branch has been lowered once again with current flows in the mid 600’s and temps averaging in the mid 50’s. The water still has a pretty good stain going on with several feet of visibility. The water does clear as you head down the West Branch and onto the mainstem which is just under 1,000 cfs with a temp around 60 degrees. There have been a few Blue Winged Olives in the afternoon hours in size 18-24 throughout the system as well as a few 14-16 Cahills.  There are also still a few tricos around in the mornings. Streamers are still a good bet on the West. The Delaware River Club reports that the cool nights have helped dropped the water temperatures, even on the low water of the East Branch. Olives and Isos have been working well, but make sure your box has flying ants and small dark Caddis. Lower water should make nymphing productive, even with the sun.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 –
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Creeks picked up a little water with recent rains but not much. Cooler nights are helping the warm water but it’s still best to give the creek trout a break for now.

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

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening. Bass and sunfish will remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. The Susquehanna is back to crashing lows for the year and at current levels can be forded in many locations. There are a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles that can be accessed safely.

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Looking upriver on the Susquehanna River

The smallmouth bite is very good to excellent thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. I’m currently measuring water temps as low as the mid 60’s on the Tioughnioga, but in general, water temps will range from the low 60’s to mid 70’s depending on the river and location.

The rivers are loaded with bait and that bait is getting bigger as fall progresses. Water clarity is excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies. And remember on bluebird sky days where the sun is really bright, look for shady areas to fish as bass are light-shy.

In addition to smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter a variety of other warmwater species. Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be caught on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Brian Schroeder, a cool body of Canadian high pressure moving through Ontario and Quebec will keep temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s, with frost possible. A low will move across the Great Lakes early in the week. We’ll start Monday with sunshine, but the clouds will be increasing. There will be a slight chance for some showers late Monday night. The clouds and the chance of showers will continue Tuesday and Tuesday night, but will wind down for Wednesday. High pressure moves in later in the week giving us partly cloudy skies on Friday and mostly sunny skies on Saturday. Temperatures will rebound into the upper 60s and low 70s by Saturday.

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 19th

Posted in Carp, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2016 by stflyfisher

This week marks the official start of fall, September 22nd to be exact. And Mother Nature seems to recognize it. Trees are starting to take on hues of fall – the hillsides are dotted by a few maples that are beginning to show their scarlet colors. Goldenrod in the fields is in full bloom and oaks are starting to drop their acorns. The other day I made my way down to a river, strolling through an adjacent field. I kicked up grasshoppers, enjoying the afternoon warmth, with every stride.

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Looking downriver at dusk on the beautiful Tioughnioga

Fly shop talk: Here’s a little bit more about the autumnal equinox, courtesy of The Weather Channel:

During the autumnal equinox, day and night are balanced to about 12 hours each all over the world. Instead of the Earth tilting away from or toward the sun, its axis of rotation becomes perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the Earth and the sun.

“This change in the tilt causes the change in seasons with the northern hemisphere moving from the warmth of summer to the chill of winter,” said weather.com digital meteorologist Linda Lam. “This process includes a shift in the overall location of the jet stream which plays an important role in weather conditions.”

From that point on, daylight in the Northern Hemisphere gradually becomes shorter up until the winter solstice. This is the opposite of what occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, where daylight won’t grow any longer.

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: It’s time to add this fishing category to my report. Right now the Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting movement of small pods of salmon up the run. These fish are staging in the estuary and are either moving up the river or even turning around, most likely due to the warmer water. River flows are around 400 CFS with a temp in the mid 60’s.

Catskill rivers: 

The West Branch Angler reports that all of the fishermen who haven’t been able to wade the West Branch of the Delaware River will be happy with the new flow. The Cannonsville Reservoir release was cut over the weekend and flows have dropped from well over 1,000 CFS to 500 CFS. We will still have the same bugs and the fish will be a more likely to come to the surface with the lower water. The flying ants in size 18-24 will be around for a while as well as a few Isonychia and Cahills. The Delaware River Club reports recent rains have not done much for river flows. Most people seemed to be throwing streamers over the weekend but there has been a decent mix of olives, cahills, and some isonychias hatching.

 

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 –
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Nothing new here. The low, warm water warns, “stay away.” Give the creek trout a break for now.

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

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: Still not much new to report here as long as warm days and cool nights continue in the forecast. Fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening. Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. At current levels, even the Susquehanna can be forded in many locations and a lot of out-of-the-way pools, runs, and riffles can be accessed safely.

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The Susquehanna River hit a new low for the year – 500 CFS…

The smallmouth bite remains very good thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. I recently recorded temps as low as the upper 60’s on the Tioughnioga, but in general, water temps will range form the upper 60’s to mid 70’s.

The rivers are loaded with bait and water clarity remains excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies.

And while fishing for smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter other warmwater species…

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Channel catfish, like this nice specimen, will aggressively take a fly…

Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be in the mix on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

The rivers can still be wet waded comfortably, but be aware that wet wading in sandy or muddy river bottom areas can expose one to leeches. I was recently reminded of this, finding a rather large one attached to my lower leg! Leeches are generally not harmful – clean the bite area thoroughly with soap and water and hydrogen peroxide and don’t be surprised if the wound bleeds for a while. Leeches will actually secrete an anticoagulant enzyme when they bite. And while getting bitten is not a great thing, the fact that leeches are around should serve as a reminder that the use of a leech pattern fly can be deadly for most warmwater river species. Walleyes, in particular, can’t resist leechy-looking flies in olive, brown, and black.

Fly fishing events: After a summer break, area fly fishing clubs and chapters are getting back to business. Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU will hold their first monthly meeting of the fall on Tuesday, September 20th at 7 pm at the Vestal Library. Speaker, to be announced.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold their first monthly meeting after the summer break on Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm, with a fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Endicott Library. The guest speaker will be Bill Kessler, a devoted Atlantic Salmon fisherman who has fished from a couple hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, to Scotland, Ireland, and his “local” fisheries on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and in New Brunswick.  Bill will describe the Atlantic’s life cycle, habitat, and will describe various methods of fishing for salmon, using both wet and dry flies.  He will discuss the equipment — flies, lines, rods and reels as well as describe both single and double hand casting techniques and when to use them. Bill will bring samples of the equipment and flies and will regale us with stories of his most memorable experiences. As usual, the meeting is open to the general public at no fee.
  • The BC Flyfishers will be auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod, starting with the September 22nd general meeting. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Nathan Hopper, there’s another cold front currently situated in the Upper Midwest and is separate from the front that rolled through over the weekend. After the cold front pushes through, the chance for showers will stick with us on Monday, though things will progressively dry out through Monday. Tuesday looks to be more seasonable with the sun out and the humidity to a more comfortable level. High pressure then takes over and the sun will remain with us through the end of the week, as mostly clear conditions prevail. Temperatures will hang out just above average for the week, with highs in the low- to mid-70s.

Looking out a little longer term, forecasters are saying that cold fronts will be more common across the Northeast through the rest of September. This roller coaster-type weather pattern is typical for autumn months and will only increase in frequency and magnitude through November. However, one can expect warmer temperatures to win out over the cooler temperatures through the rest of the month.

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 12th

Posted in Fishing Reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 12, 2016 by stflyfisher

We are now a little over one week from the official start of fall. It certainly doesn’t feel like that given the toasty and humid end of week weather we’ve recently experienced, however. Trees continue to show signs of turning and there’s no doubt our continued dry and drought-like conditions are causing an early turn. Creeks, streams, and even the larger rivers are all bones these days. One look at the water gauge for the Susquehanna is all you need to convince yourself that it’s been a dry year…

suskysept

And along with the dry weather, the daylight is shortening – another sign of fall. By next week we’ll be even-steven on the ratio of daylight to darkness – and it’s downhill from there. Best to rise early when it’s dark out and get used to it in preparation for late fall steelhead fishing!

Fly shop talk: This week I’d like to recognize the 15 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America. This isn’t fly shop talk, per se, as it doesn’t have much to do with fly fishing – or does it? It goes without saying that the 9/11 attack was by all accounts a truly life changing event for the victims, their families, and the survivors, including the many responders who continue to suffer from the physical and psychological impacts of the attack. But I think it is fair to say, no American can say that their life has not changed as a result. Walk through any airport, go to any major public event, or visit a government facility, and the lasting effects of the attack are clearly visible. We lost a bit of innocence on that day. We are, perhaps, more guarded. We may even bristle at the thought of that day. For freedom is indeed, not free. And this is where fly fishing comes in. Get out and fish this week. Do it, if for nothing else, to remember those who died, who suffered, and who continue to suffer. Remember them and honor them by doing the very thing the evil ones out in the world want so dearly. Exercise the freedom you have and cast. Wade our beautiful rivers. Cherish some serenity. And cast, cast away for them…

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The second tower of the World Trade Center bursts into flames after being hit by a hijacked airplane in New York in this September 11, 2001 photograph. REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek/Files

 

 

 

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Catskill Rivers: 

Releases on the West Branch of the Delaware have been pretty significant lately with a high flow of over 1400 CFS this weekend. Currently flows are dropping but still above 1000 CFS. The West Branch Angler reports that there was a bit of stain to the water over the weekend. Water temps are good throughout the West Branch and the upper mainstem as well with the temp at Lordville is currently 63.  Streamer fishing is going to remain pretty good with the currently high is volume of water. The flying ants in size 18-24 will be around for a while as well as a few Isonychia and Cahills.  We don’t know how long the water will last but high flows will continue until we get a decent amount of rain to help the downstream flows. The Delaware River Club reports Cahills and olives are the main hatches right now but there are still some small sulphurs mixed with isonychias.  There are also a few brown caddis showing up.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 – S. ithaca & canadense
    Golden Drake – #12-2xl – Potomanthus
    Trico – 22 – 26 – Tricorythodes sp.
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Nothing new here. The low, warm water warns, “stay away.” Give the creek trout a break for now.

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

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: Not much new to report here except that the cooler nights will shift the best fishing to later in the day or around dusk. Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers remain low and continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. At current levels, even the Susquehanna can be forded in spots and a lot of out-of-the-way pools, runs, and riffles can be accessed.

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The warmwater rivers are really getting skinny, as shown in this picture of a Susquehanna river braid that is now totally dry…

The smallmouth bite is very good, even “hot” according to some river rats. The river temps are dropping thanks to cooler nights and those cooler nights are also giving the rivers a nice blanket of radiation fog that provides excellent low light fishing well into mid-morning. I recorded a recent temp of 75 degrees on the Susquehanna.

The rivers are loaded with bait and water clarity is good. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies. Also be prepared to encounter different species. I recently found a pod of young walleyes that were taking a large streamer stripped through a pool. It was nice to see younger fish like that – a true indicator that the river is healthy.

Fly fishing events: After a summer break, area fly fishing clubs and chapters are getting back to business. Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold their first monthly meeting after the summer break on Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm, with a fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Endicott Library. The guest speaker will be Bill Kessler, a devoted Atlantic Salmon fisherman who has fished from a couple hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, to Scotland, Ireland, and his “local” fisheries on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and in New Brunswick.  Bill will describe the Atlantic’s life cycle, habitat, and will describe various methods of fishing for salmon, using both wet and dry flies.  He will discuss the equipment — flies, lines, rods and reels as well as describe both single and double hand casting techniques and when to use them. Bill will bring samples of the equipment and flies and will regale us with stories of his most memorable experiences. As usual, the meeting is open to the general public at no fee.
  • The BC Flyfishers will be auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod, starting with the September 22nd general meeting. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The 3rd Partridge Fly Tying Days will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum from 10:00am-4:00pm. The day celebrates the art of fly tying. Partridge Fly Tying Days is a fun, casual format for a fly tying show with the objective to promote fly tying through education. The day is filled with demonstrations, presentations and workshops from some of finest fly tiers in multiple specialties, in the intimate surroundings of the Wulff Gallery.
    Information will be updated frequently. PRESENTATIONS include BCFF member John Shaner speaking about “Tackle and beyond”, Peggy Brenner presenting on “Streamers”, and a presentation to be announced by the Catskill Fly Tying Guild.
    Authors & Demonstrations include Rick Bobrick of Medusa Leaders. Rick will be set up for furled leader and knot tying demonstration throughout the day. There will also be over a dozen fly tyers on hand.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Nathan Hopper, a more seasonable and less humid high pressure system looks to be shifting into our area from the Central Plains. This will limit cloud activity, and keep things more fall-like through Wednesday. On Wednesday, another cold front will come through our area, and thus another chance for some showers and a few thunderstorms. After this cold front pushes through, temperatures will drop off the table with highs being on average or just below average in the mid-60s to low-70s for the remainder of the week.

Looking out a little longer term, forecasters are saying that cold fronts will be more common across the Northeast through the rest of September. This roller coaster-type weather pattern is typical for autumn months and will only increase in frequency and magnitude through November. However, one can expect warmer temperatures to win out over the cooler temperatures through the rest of the month.

How to own a piece of fly fishing history

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , on September 10, 2016 by stflyfisher

“Ever since I started making fly rods, I wanted to make the finest rods available – not just good rods, but the absolute finest rods available. I truly believe that these are the finest graphite and fiberglass fly rods currently in production, and others are starting to agree. I have put all of my creative talents into designing and building these rods, and I think that my efforts are apparent not just in how they perform, but in how they make you feel. Much like holding a rare cane rod or a fine side by side shotgun, a McFarland fly rod possesses that same magic and resulting feel of wonder and amazement. It is just one of those things that you can’t quite explain; that unmistakable ambiance that surrounds only the very finest objects. When you have one in your hands there is no doubt that you are holding something special.”

Mike McFarland – Owner and Rod Designer, McFarland Rods

Fly fishers looking to own a bit of history, beauty, and excellence need not look any further for the opportunity than an upcoming auction to be held by the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF. On the auction block is a custom fly rod specifically built to honor Cortland Line Company’s 100th anniversary in business. The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF was fortunate to receive fly rod #5 of 100 from the Cortland Line Company and will auction it off to some very lucky angler. The auction starts with the chapter’s September 22 general meeting

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BC Flyfishers IFFF chapter President, Nick DiNunzio, receives the 100th Anniversary fly rod from Brooks Robinson of the Cortland Line Company.

The 100th Anniversary rod is the quintessential trout rod as you’d expect any fly rod representing a company that’s an innovator in fly lines to be. It measures out at the standard 9 foot in a 4 piece configuration and it’s rated for a 5 weight line – standard trout fare. Best of all, it’s completely handmade, including the graphite blank, by the McFarland Rod Company located in Bellwood, Pennsylvania.

Mike McFarland, McFarland Rod Company’s founder, likes to feature premium components on his handmade fly rods. The handles on all of his rods are turned from the finest quality cork and the guides are hand wrapped and expertly finished. In the case of the Cortland 100th Anniversary rod, the reel seat is a true nickel silver seat by REC. The wood is California buckeye burl with the Cortland logo engraved in it. While Cortland picked the reel seat, McFarland picked the rod wrap color, using gold to give the rod a bit of a nostalgic look…

cortland-rod2

The finishes on the 100th Anniversary Cortland Line Company fly rod really stand out…

 

Every rod is hand signed with the marking of the 100th anniversary and serialized…

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Note the nickel silver winding check and hook keeper…

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There are only 100 of these very special rods in the whole wide world…

McFarland designed the Cortland 100th Anniversary Fly Rod to embrace the old and new in fly fishing. While it’s built with modern-day graphite, it has a traditional fly rod feel in terms of its medium action. The rod blank was rolled using a unique composite of varying carbon fibers and features a special ferrule design that not only adds strength but also provides a seamless transition of power from butt to tip. Says McFarland; “The taper design of these rods combines a refined progressive taper and classic action with updated materials and resin system.  The result is an extremely smooth casting rod with great line feel and perfect performance with just a few feet of line out the tips as well as at longer distances.” Indeed, at its very heart, this is a trout rod that does its best work at casting distances in the 15′ to 50′ range. It will make a perfect dry fly rod but will also serve the trout angler well fishing nymphs, wet flies, and streamers.

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Mike McFarland began building fly rods in 1991 as a hobby while he was in high school. He continued building rods while in college, selling them for “beer money” as he explained to me while I interviewed him over the phone. After college, Mike started to build the business and as anglers purchased and used his hand-built rods, word got around and the business grew.

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McFarland’s work in graphite – beauty and performance…

He has made a name for himself in that he not only finishes rods, but also manufactures the blanks. In fact, the bigger part of his business is selling blanks to other rod makers. He produces blanks and finished rods in both fiberglass and graphite.

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A McFarland “butterstick” that surely casts as smooth as glass…

So how would a small rod maker afford the high caliber equipment needed to produce top-notch blanks? The answer circles us back to the very fly rod that’s up for auction.

It turns out Cortland Line Company once purchased the Diamondback Rod Company, based in Vermont, but eventually ended up closing the factory and moving fly rod production offshore. In March 2015, Cortland Line Company President Randy Brown announced that they commissioned McFarland to design and build a special, limited edition fly rod to celebrate Cortland’s 100th anniversary. McFarland had struck up a deal with Cortland to build the 100th anniversary rods in exchange for the Diamondback Fly Rod Company’s rod building equipment, a savvy move and a win-win for Cortland, McFarland, and the very lucky angler who will one day grace the water with a rod as beautiful as the very trout it was designed to catch.

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 6th

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Uncategorized, Writing on September 6, 2016 by stflyfisher

September started out summer-like, although the cool mornings hint at fall’s coming. A few trees are already starting to show a bit of fall color. Fields and riverbanks are dry. All of the warmwater rivers continue to drop, making fishing and wading very easy. Hatches on the coldwater rivers are getting stale: the sulphur hatch is pretty much done and Iso’s are kind of sparse, leaving trout the ubiquitous BWO or flying ants. The next few weeks will be a transition – the glorious end of summer and the anticipation of an entirely new season of fly fishing.

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The low, late-summer Susquehanna River…

Fly shop talk: A gentleman was walking his dog as I pulled out of the river the other day. Seeing my fly fishing gear as I moved to my car, he asked; “any luck?” I responded the typical way, indicating I had a good day, but his question made me think about a more appropriate response. While there is some luck to fishing, my response really should have been, “yes, 10% of it.” I say this because fly fishing is 30% knowledge, 25% skill, 20% preparation, 15% execution, and 10% luck, in my opinion. One could argue the numbers but the point is one must be a continuous learner, seek to apply what is learned, prepare thoroughly before hitting the water, and then spend a lot of time on the water to truly master fly fishing. In the words of Ray Croc, founder of McDonald’s; “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” I think that statement applies well to fly fishing.

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler is still happy to have a river full of cold water that extends down to the mainstem with good temps in most areas due to the release and cool nights we’ve been having.  The West Branch at Hale Eddy is flowing at over 1,000 CFS currently due to another recent bump in releases.  The mainstem at Lordville is also flowing over 1,000 CFS.  The bugs have been a bit spotty over the last week or so, which is to be expected this time of year, after the Sulphurs have wrapped up on the upper West.  We are getting some small BWO’s in the 18-24 range on most days, primarily the afternoons and more so on days of clouds and rain.  A few Isonychia in size 12 are still around on most days and are excellent blind-casting bugs in the riffs if nothing is happening.  There are a few #16 Cahills that will be around in the afternoon hours as well.  A few tricos have been around in the morning and the mainstem and upper East are your best spots for those.  The streamer fishing has been decent on the West with the slightly stained water.

The Delaware River Club reports that the release from Cannonsville has been increased to 1,041 CFS.  The increased release is most likely due to meeting the Montague flow target. We had mixed results dry fly fishing over the weekend but most people seemed to find some fish eating throughout the river.  Nymphing was still the best bet during the bright sun.  Cahills and small olives are the most common hatches right now.  If you venture onto the upper Mainstem definitely have a few white flies in your box just in case. Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 – S. ithaca & canadense
    Golden Drake – #12-2xl – Potomanthus
    Trico – 22 – 26 – Tricorythodes sp.
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Nothing new here. The low, warm water warns, “stay away.” Give the creek trout a break for now.

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

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing remains good in general for lake trout, bonus browns, salmon and rainbows, but the bite windows are closing in a bit.  This happens every year in September (the annual “September Slowdown”) as days get shorter and lake trout get closer to the spawn.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action should be good here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should start to pick up.  I will be doing more trips over here shortly.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing remains poor to fair at best – at least in the northern portions of the lake from Sampson to Geneva. Browns, rainbow and salmon action has been fair to good.  I haven’t been here in awhile and likely won’t fish here until I target northern pike later this month or in October.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.  Lake trout action should be fair to good.
  • Otisco Lake:  I will likely be back out here around mid-September. Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: Not much new to report here except that the cooler nights will shift the best fishing to later in the day or around dusk. Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers are low, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. At current levels, even the Susquehanna can be forded in spots and a lot of out-of-the-way pools, runs, and riffles can be accessed. The smallmouth bite continues to pick up. The river temps are dropping thanks to cooler nights and those cooler nights are also giving the rivers a nice blanket of radiation fog that provides excellent low light fishing well into mid-morning.

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Early morning fog like this can make for some extended low light fishing…

The river is loaded with bait and there are some interesting bugs out there, including a lingering white fly hatch, olives, caddis, and a mahogany mayfly of sorts. This mayfly is Isonychia size – easily a #12 or even #10, and I believe the channel cats are slurping them in the early mornings as I observed last year at this same time. Most recently I hooked a nice channel cat as I worked a streamer across a tailout. The cat hit the streamer with authority and soon enough showed me the backing on my reel…

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Mr. Whiskers will readily hit a streamer or large nymph and put up a dogged fight on an 8 weight fly rod…

Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the river. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools and slower water. Also be prepared to encounter different species. Brownlining the rivers is a lot like Forrest Gump’s mantra – “a box of chocolates where you never know what you’re going to get.” Smallmouth bass, fallfish, walleye, channel cats, carp, pike, and musky are just some of the fish that can be taken and often cases, all on the same fly.

Fly fishing events: After a summer break, area fly fishing clubs and chapters are getting back to business. Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold their first monthly meeting after the summer break on Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm, with a fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Endicott Library. The guest speaker will be Bill Kessler, a devoted Atlantic Salmon fisherman who has fished from a couple hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, to Scotland, Ireland, and his “local” fisheries on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and in New Brunswick.  Bill will describe the Atlantic’s life cycle, habitat, and will describe various methods of fishing for salmon, using both wet and dry flies.  He will discuss the equipment — flies, lines, rods and reels as well as describe both single and double hand casting techniques and when to use them. Bill will bring samples of the equipment and flies and will regale us with stories of his most memorable experiences. As usual, the meeting is open to the general public at no fee.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF is hosting a float fishing trip on the Chemung River from Corning to Big Flats. Members and visitors are welcome, but the chapter needs to know before September 7th if you plan to attend. This is usually a very productive and popular float trip for bass and carp. The chapter plans to meet at 9 am in Corning, NY at the Cohocton Street Launch (behind Pressware) and float to Botchers Landing (a 7 mile float). They will first set up the boats and shuttle cars to the destination site. There will be a grill shorelunch at the halfway point of the float. Expect to be off the river around 5 pm. For lunch, the club will grill burgers with all the fixings. There will be bottled water and some drinks, plates napkins, plastic silverware, etc. Anglers planning on attending will need a canoe, kayak, driftboat, or inflatable pontoon boat for the float. If you don’t have a watercraft, the chapter 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). If planning to attend, please contact Matt Towner at 607-542-0285 (mtowner23@gmail.com) or Kirk Klingensmith at 607-346-7189 (kklingensmi@stny.rr.com) before September 7th.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

High pressure has engulfed the eastern half of the country, which caused mostly sunny conditions all up and down the East Coast over the Labor Day weekend. There are some clouds to the southeast that are being pushed off of Post-Tropical Cyclone Hermine, but no rainfall is expected from those high passing clouds. Hermine looks to be weakening within the next 36 hours, and by the middle of the week, she will only be a tropical disturbance that’s hanging around just off the coast of NYC. Temperatures will be increasing into the mid to upper 80s come mid-week, and our dry/sunny trend will come to an end as the chance for showers returns Thursday with an agitated and moist weather pattern that looks to stick around through Monday. The best chance for precipitation comes both Friday and Sunday as two separate systems are expected to roll through the area. These two fronts look to bring some much needed rain to the area, as we have seen only a few drops of rain in the last few weeks. Seasonable temperatures then return for the weekend and the start of next week looks much more fall-like as we wrap up our summer and prepare for fall.

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 29th

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Uncategorized, Writing on August 28, 2016 by stflyfisher

There goes August…  Fall waits anxiously in the shadow of summer now. The cooler mornings still yield to the heat of the day, but you can feel autumn coming. Grasshoppers, crickets, and flying ants are about, adding another dimension to fly fishing. Salmon are starting to trickle into the Great Lakes tribs, creating the usual stir for anglers who look north. And the warmwaters are jumpy with young-of-the-year bait, fleeing hungry smallmouth. Sweet corn is prime – the cornfields bristling with tassles. Yes, fall waits quietly for its time…

Fly shop talk: Finger Lakes guide John Gaulke’s fishing report is posted here as part of my weekly fishing report (with his permission). I have never met John and plan on booking a trip with him to learn about fly fishing our great Finger Lakes at some point but really enjoy his reports as well as his insight on fishing and the environment. John recently posted two interesting items on his website. One was his wisdom on why he fishes. It echoes mine and that is that fishing is all about figuring things out. John says he does not get any big thrill out of heading to Cayuga Lake and seeing how many Lakers he can catch because it’s something he already does very well. His advice is solid: if you want to become a better fisherman, DON’T PRACTICE WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW. And I will add to that, spend time on figuring out what you do not do well. Or even try different angles on a species you pursue. Ultimately, that will make you a better fisherman.

The other point Gaulke makes is his prediction on the salmon fishing in Lake Ontario and the tribs. He feels 2016 is shaping up to be a very interesting year on Lake Ontario in terms of the King Salmon fishing.  In a nutshell, the June – early August fishing was top-notch west of Rochester out to the Oak and beyond. It was spotty east of Rochester.  Earlier than that, it was good from the Niagara Bar east.  Over the past week, the salmon action has moved east in a big way and the fishing has been outstanding from Oswego out to Mexico.  The fish are staging and a few have already showed up in the Salmon River.  Yet the fish out west have more or less disappeared!  They haven’t moved “inside” yet.  And the guys aren’t catching a lot of giants deep.  It may be early, but Gaulke is theorizing that wild fish have a knack for finding the bait.  The wild fish get on the bait while stocked fish tend to be more homebodies.  Gaulke estimates that the wild fish numbers are up there, possibly 50% or more.  Could it be that the Kings that found the best bait, the Chinooks that were chowing all summer west of Rochester were mostly wild Salmon River bred fish?  And now they’ve moved east?   Will the Oak see poor runs and very few “inside fish” this year?  Very interesting…

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A gorgeous fresh king recently caught by Salmon River guide Tony Gulisano. The salmon are starting to show.

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler report that the West Branch has dropped a bit as we haven’t had much rain this week.  The upper West at Stilesville is flowing at 478 cfs with a temp of 48 and down at Hale Eddy the flow is 611 cfs and 51 degrees.  As usual, with these warm nights, you will need to check the temp when fishing any of the other rivers or branches for high water temps.  We are still seeing a few Sulphurs on the upper West as that hatch winds down.  The 18-22 Blue Winged Olives have been pretty consistent, especially on the cloudy days.  A few summer Cahills in the 14-16 range can be seen on most of the river, same goes for the 12 Isonychia.  18-20 Winged Ants have been a good fly to throw at the picky fish in the river and we should start to see some good numbers of flying ants on the water, especially on the lower half of the West as we get closer to September.  We have had some decent streamer activity in the mornings or on days when the water is stained.  As we move towards fall the streamer bite is likely to get better as the surface activity slows and the browns are moving up for the fall spawn.

The Delaware River Club reports that the best dry fly action is still on the upper West Branch above Hale Eddy. We are still seeing a mix of olives, sulphurs, golden drakes, cahills, and a few isonychias.  The hatches have been a bit sporadic and sometimes later in the day but generally patience has paid off.  The lower West Branch has had some activity but mostly when the sun drops in the evening.  The lower West is the place to be if you want to nymph due to the green slime in Deposit.  Nymphing has been best before the sun hits the water but some people are finding productive riffles during the day.  Move around if you’re not getting any action.

  • Hatching:
    Slate Drake – 12-2xl- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 – S. ithaca & canadense
    Golden Drake – #12-2xl – Potomanthus
    Trico – 22 – 26 – Tricorythodes sp.
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Nothing new here. The low, warm water warns, “stay away.” Give the creek trout a break for now.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that Laker action continues to be top-notch this week on Cayuga Lake. Bonus browns, salmon and rainbows are making for good mixed bags. Here’ the lake-by-lake report:.

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing here has been excellent for lake trout. The bite has generally been good throughout the day. Bonus rainbows, browns and salmon are showing up with regularity. Weedmats remain common.  Congrats go out to Greg for his massive 30″ 14lb. 14oz brown trout!  He earned it!
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action should be good here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing remains poor to fair at best – at least in the northern portions of the lake from Sampson to Geneva. Browns, rainbow and salmon action has been fair to good. Weeds and waterfleas are a nuisance, moreso for trollers.  Round gobies have shown up around Peach Orchard Point and are likely throughout the lake. This was expected with the link via the canal system to Lake Ontario.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.  Lake trout action should be fair to good.
  • Otisco Lake:  I will likely be back out here around mid-September. Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions, with low light early or late being the best time for fishing. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to behave nicely, flowing at easily wadeable levels with slightly cooler water temps. The smallmouth bite is definitely picking up. I’ve now seen numerous instances where bass are blitzing bait. I think the fish may be sensing the coming fall due to cooler water temps. And there’s a lot of bait for the bass to chase; shiners, small chubs, dace, mad toms, sculpin, and crayfish, as well as juvenile bass and fallfish. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the river. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools and slower water. Remember that different types of poppers work with different water. “Loud” poppers – those with concave faces – are best in deeper water, where as sliders are best in shallow water. Even aggressive bass will spook if they feel threatened. And keep in mind, as reported last week,  that if a bass misses your fly, throw it back immediately as “hot” fish will often give you a second chance.

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This nice bass could not resist a popper fished along a weed line.

Fly fishing events: Area fly fishing clubs and chapters will be getting back to “business” now that September is around the corner. More to report next week on the month’s activities.

The week ahead weather: WBNG Meteorologist Nathan Hopper is forecasting a change in our weekend weather. After some clouds move in late Sunday / early Monday, things will clear up and temperatures will be in the upper-70s, however, the chance for showers stays with us Wednesday and Thursday as we will have a moist weather pattern with enough energy to support some shower activity. After the disturbance moves out of the Southern Tier on Thursday, expect cooler weather to come through, making things feel much more seasonable and somewhat fall-like for the end of the week. Highs will be around 70 degrees Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The Labor Day weekend may be a good one, weather-wise.

Following up on my comments in last week’s report, be sure to inspect all your gear before the fall fly fishing really starts getting good. There’s still plenty of time to order any supplies or replacement items or to even send gear out for repair. I recently re-studded my boots and was amazed with the difference in traction in the river. 3/8″ sheet metal screws do a pretty decent job and are a lot cheaper than the OEM replacements. .

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 22nd

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2016 by stflyfisher

As I walked my dog this morning I was reminded of the coming of fall. The morning air was much cooler but it was the darkness at 6 am that really did it. Daylight is getting shorter as we move through late summer and towards the autumnal equinox – the time of the year when day and night square up even-steven. After that, we make the slow slide into more dark than day…

Fly shop talk: The latest copy of Fly Fisherman magazine is focused on “fly fishing made easy”. I found it a pretty good read with a lot of articles on fundamentals, although I was not sure what to think of the “fly fishing made easy” theme. The main barrier to getting more blood into the sport is the intimidation many might feel as they try to tackle (no pun intended) the various aspects of fishing with the long rod. I applaud efforts to promote the sport by breaking it down to fundamentals, but it is still not easy.

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

Thomas Paine

One of the most difficult aspects of fly fishing is, of course, casting. And the magazine covered casting with a very good article, including some terrific pictures of Lefty Kreh demonstrating the art. Perhaps the most important part of the article was left to the last 4 paragraphs on practice: “if you want to become proficient at golf, you go to a driving range. You also practice your putting aside from the regular time you spend golfing. If you bow hunt, you cannot be proficient unless you spend adequate time hitting a target. Fly fishing is no different. To improve, you must practice outside of a real fishing situation.” The article goes on recommending 15 minutes of practice every day over the course of a summer or fall. Practice on the lawn is free of the distractions one faces on the water, like seeing rising fish, or watching fish chase bait. So take 15 minutes on a nice summer evening and practice casting. As the guide’s lament goes, “if only they could cast.”

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The absent-minded maestro was racing up New York’s Seventh Avenue to a rehearsal, when a stranger stopped him. “Pardon me,” he said, “can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” “Yes,” answered the maestro breathlessly. “Practice!”

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Catskill Rivers: Most of the Catskill Rivers got at least a bit of a bump in flows, thanks to the weekend rains. The West Branch of the Delaware spiked the most with flows clearing the 900 CFS mark by Sunday night. All the rivers are dropping and clearing now, and quite quickly at that. The West Branch Angler reports that they are still seeing decent flurries of Sulphurs in the upper West, around Deposit.  The Olives are also pretty solid bugs to have and even on the sunny days you’ll see them mixed in with the Sulphurs.  Isos are also good bugs to have, even if you aren’t seeing any on the water.  A few summer Cahills are also around on most of the river.  It’s trico time on the lower West, upper East and the upper Main if temps are ok, should be a good week for them as the daytime and night temps are going to cool a bit.  Don’t forget a few terrestrials for the picky fish that just won’t take your Sulphur. The Delaware River Club reports that the clarity is good on the West Branch as of today.  The flows are already dropping back to normal and the upper West Branch is in decent wading shape. The lower West is 834 cfs this morning so it is definitely wadeable too and is dropping quickly. There are a lot of tricos in the air this morning but we haven’t seen any on the water yet. The upper West is still seeing a good mix of sulphurs, olives, and golden drakes. Throw in a few isonychias and that should cover the hatches. The rain and cool night have dropped the water temperature a couple of degrees. The lower East Branch and Mainstem will still be too warm to fish but it’s nice to see the temp drop. We will see cooler air temperatures and sunshine over the next few days. Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 – S. ithaca & canadense
    Golden Drake – #12-2xl – Potomanthus
    Trico – 22 – 26 – Tricorythodes sp.
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Most local creeks got another much needed shot of water from Sunday’s rains. They are still very skinny, though. Leave these waters alone as long as dry conditions prevail.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that Laker action continues to be top-notch on Cayuga Lake. Owasco Lake should be offering some very good fishing now as well.  Here’s the lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing here has been excellent for lake trout. The bite has generally been good throughout the day. Bonus rainbows, browns and salmon are showing up with regularity. Weedmats remain common.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action should be good here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing was slow the last time I was there. Browns, rainbow and salmon action has been fair to good. Weeds and waterfleas are a nuisance, moreso for trollers.  I will be back out here for more torture soon😉
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing should be good to excellent.  Lake trout action should be fair to good.
  • Otisco Lake:  I will likely be back out here around mid-September. Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: Ponds got another recharge from the weekend rains. Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under these conditions, and low light early or late is the best time for fishing. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weedlines and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: All of the warmwater rivers were at great levels with cooler water and it looks like Sunday’s rains gave them another boost. Look for the lower Susquehanna to rise a decent amount and color up a bit early this week. Direct fishing time on the Tioughnioga and Chenango later in the week. Currently even these smaller rivers are on the rise but will crest first and drop long before the Susquehanna. Another option is the Chemung River which remains on the low side.

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The Susquehanna River is on the rise due to Sunday’s rain. Above 3,000 CFS wading can get iffy, so fish other waters unless you have access to a boat.

I was out on the Susquehanna on Saturday evening and was impressed with some pretty decent bait busting action at one pool tailout. I cast a popper above the tailout, worked it across with a few pops, and had a very large bass come completely out of the water for my offering. The bass missed my fly but I immediately threw back to where it had risen and was rewarded with another take. I had the fish on a mere 10 seconds before it pulled free but my experience should be a reminder that: 1) it’s a good time to fish surface or near surface during low light conditions, and 2) if a fish boils your popper and misses, throw it back as quickly as you can as “hot” fish will often give you a second chance. With some exceptions, most fish that feel the hook will not take again, however.

Fly fishing events: Area fly fishing clubs and chapters take the months of July and August off so there is nothing to report here at the moment.

The week ahead weather: A cold front passed through the Southern Tier over the weekend bringing with it much needed precipitation. In fact Binghamton received a record-setting 1.20″ of rainfall. Behind that front has come higher pressure, cooler temps, wind, and lower humidity. This front will bless our area with sunny skies and milder temps for Tuesday and Wednesday. Highs will reach the low 80’s with lows in the lower 60’s. Another cold front will approach late Thursday and into Friday. Expect cloudy conditions for Thursday with a slight chance of some afternoon showers and thunderstorms. There will be a better chance of showers and thunderstorms on Friday. Quiet weather will return this weekend with partly cloudy skies on Saturday and Sunday.

The shortening days and cooler temps should remind all anglers to start prepping for fall / winter fly fishing. It’s a good time to check / repair waders and boots. If you use studded boots, don’t forget to check for missing studs and replace them as necessary. Don’t overlook the laces as well. If not already in use, check your wading staff and do an inventory of fall and winter clothing.