The week ahead in fly fishing: June 19, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on June 20, 2017 by stflyfisher

This week is the week of the summer solstice. The official start of summer is Wednesday, June 21st. And while the day of maximum sunlight approaches, it seems like clouds and rain will prevail as they have much of this spring. Water, water, everywhere is getting a bit repetitious. What’s great for trout is not so great for river rats. And what a contrast from last year at this time…

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A large fallfish nest lies exposed on the Susquehanna River in Vestal in this picture taken in late June 2016. What a difference a year makes – the Susquehanna River is currently flowing at around 5,000 CFS+. Flows at the time of this picture were sub-1,000 CFS.

Fly Shop Talk: The summer solstice is the date when the earth’s position in relation to the sun, in combination with the orientation of the earth’s rotational axis, provides the maximum amount of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. From that date on, daylight gradually decreases until the autmnal equinox, when daylight and darkness are equal.

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Diagram of the Earth‘s seasons as seen from the north. Far left: summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere. Front right: summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. Courtesy of: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tau%CA%BBolunga

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports decent fishing on the Finger Lakes. Here’s his lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging slowed down a bit this past weekend with the formation of the thermocline. I expect fishing to get back up to pace shortly.  Bass season is underway. Pickerel fishing is fair to good.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout should be good here. Work at Emerson Park has been completed and launching is easy.  I expect fair to good bass and pike fishing here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth fishing is fair. Fish are likely spawning, so if that’s your thing you should be able to do well.  Rock bass and perch are bonus fish.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow.  Expect fair pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing has been good here according to reports I received from Angling Zone friend Al.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing is the usual slow to good depending on the day. Bass action has been good with spawning winding down.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps, however, most fly fishing reports are warning that water temps may start rising, so “fish with your thermometer”, particularly on the freestones.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that Stilesville on the upper West Branch is flowing at 392 cfs and 46 degrees and Hale Eddy is 585 cfs and 50 degrees. The upper East at Harvard is now 200 cfs and 57 degrees and down below the Beaverkill we are looking at 751 cfs and 63 degrees at Fishs’ Eddy. Lordville on the mainstem is 1,460 cfs and 64 degrees. The West Branch is going to be the best water to be on for a while and you will have to check the temps on the East and mainstem as they are going to heat up and when they reach upper 60’s it’s time to head somewhere else. We are getting some Sulphurs in #14-16, mainly in the evening, as we are in that time period where we are waiting on the mid-day summer Sulphurs on the upper West. With the summer-like temps the mid-day fishing can be slow on the surface before we get those more consistent Sulphurs. There have been quite a few spinners right at dark. We are also seeing a few Cahills in the #16 range and Blue Winged Olives on the cloudy days.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that anglers are doing well nymphing throughout the day despite sunshine. There were fish rising early before the sun hit the water and again in the evening with Olives and Caddis mixed in with a few Cahills. We are seeing Isonychias hatch so if you don’t want to nymph blind casting riffles with a bigger dry fly can be productive. If you are fishing the lower Beaverkill, lower East Branch, or lower Mainstem in the afternoon check the water temperature with a thermometer.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that as we head into summer, the trout fishing in the Upper Delaware normally falls into a steady reliable routine. Most days there is some surface activity during the early morning hours. The majority of the activity occurs in late afternoon and evening. Sulfurs and Blue Wing Olives will be the main food items now. Isonychia and Cahills will be the larger insects that will be available at times. Overall, however, changes to conditions will be far less important than during the spring period which brings change on an almost daily basis. This weekend continued with great fishing in some places while other areas have crapped out a bit. First the bad, the Upper East has gone from hot to not. The help from mother nature expired this week as dry weather stopped the reservoir from spilling over and we witnessed the reality of the DRBC’s paltry release plan. The water is low and the big fish have scattered to the areas with depth. Hatches are decent near dark. There is also a brief afternoon sulfur emergence in some areas. At this time most of the trout rising here are juvenile as the big boys are full from the drake activity. This is normal for this river and we see this happen every summer. Just about everywhere else is fishing well. I was on the Main Stem most days last week and can report incredible nymph fishing.  My guests have been easily averaging about a dozen fish per person on our nymph rigs. Some of fish have been pretty impressive mature wild rainbows that are out of control once you come tight on them. The dry fly activity has been a pick during the day. If you look hard you can find some action. You need to look hard along the banks and anywhere that food funnels into a smaller lane. There are a lot of these areas on the Big “D” and most hold a fish that slowly eats all day long.

    As is normal here the river starts to show signs of feeding activity in the last hour before dark. The peak of activity always center around the time where most of us find it difficult to see. Isonychias are on the water and some Cahills are about near dark. I have been getting some action blind fishing the Iso during the day but the action pales next to the instant results on the nymph rigs. It is however a productive method for those who don’t care to nymph. Anglers should also be aware that any trip to the Delaware at this time is going to include shad. The run this year was heavy and there are thousands of the ocean run fish about. Most every pool is full of them at this time. In their current post spawn condition they are eating everything. Small dry flies and nymphs are being taken by shad and in most cases before the trout can get near your fly. At this time the shad are dominating most of the huge slow pools and eddies. We have been targeting them each day especially when we have guests who have never taken them on the fly. These shad are hard fighters and are great sport on 5 weight rods. On the surface small spinners work best. Sub surface we remove our strike indicators and strip our nymph rigs quickly just below the surface. Most bead head nymphs will work as long as they are small. A #16 is about right.  It is easy to sight fish them as they are swimming around with their fins out of the water. The Beaverkill and Lower East are also fishing well with both nymphs and dry flies at the appropriate times. The action is around the fast water for both and some great fish have been feeding. There have been good amounts of Isonychia here and the fish love these flies.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Brown Drakes #10-2xl – Ephemera simulans
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Pale Evening Dun / Pink Lady – #14 – Epeorus vitreus
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Light BWO – #14 – Drunella cornuta (previously Ephemerella cornuta)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Blue Sedge – #14 – Psilotreta spp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

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This West Branch brown couldn’t resist a March Brown soft hackle, like several others along with a WB rainbow. You won’t see March Browns on the hatch charts right now, but when the hatch charts aren’t working, something a little different can often drum up business.

Local creeks: Local creeks have been up and down with the rain but they are settling and clearing faster now because the ground is not quite as saturated as it was earlier in spring. In general, flows are excellent, the water is cool, and hatches have been very good. Where flows are high and murky, streamers will be effective in the early hours of the morning. After that, nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies will work well. Hatches of caddis and mid to late-season mayflies are on, particularly on the warmer days. Never fish when thunderstorms are about but keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

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Owego Creek is running high and muddy due to recent rains.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are back to running high and murky for the most part. As of this past weekend, the Chemung River was running in the fishable range with good clarity but that is reversing as a result of heavy rains on Sunday night. For now, fishing heavy water is best done from a boat with a full sinking or sink tip line, fairly short leader, and big dark or very bright flies. Check the USGS water gage charts for flows and focus efforts on the headwaters where the water will clear and drop first.

Ponds: Ponds are warming up and so is the fly fishing. Largemouth bass are finishing spawning as are sunfish. You will still see some occupying beds. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially towards evening. Remember the key in largemouth bass fishing is often to slow down. If you’re stripping a streamer, slow it down – let it sink. Vary the retrieve. With poppers, let them sit until the last ring has disappeared. Often times a bass cannot stand the anticipation. A good pop will ring the dinner bell, but be careful not to spook fish in shallower water.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities:

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU will be holding its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 20 at 7 pm in the public meeting room of the Vestal Library. Guest speaker will be Ed Veaudry! This should be a very enjoyable presentation and the chapter leadership looks forward to showing him our support! Please grab a friend and join us!
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI will hold its last general meeting before the traditional summer break on Thursday June 22, 2017, at the Endicott Public Library, at 7:00 PM with an informal tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. Chapter member Bob Bruns, a dedicated warm water river rat, will talk about fly fishing our warm water rivers for smallmouth bass. His presentation, “Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass”, will cover how to fish for the “gentleman game fish of the warm water species” with detailed information on tackle, tactics, and methods that he has learned from small-mouth bass masters and has applied to his fishing of the local rivers over the last 20 years. Bob will characterize our area’s warm water rivers and profile the seasons of the small-mouth bass. His presentation will also cover the diverse “by catch” that comes to those who fish for bronze backs – a nice bonus to anyone who fly fishes “brown water”.
  • The Chenango Valley Chapter of TU Annual Dinner will be held on Thursday, June 22 at Taylor’s Country House Rt 320 – North end of Norwich. The agenda includes: Cash Bar and Appetizers @ 6 pm, Dinner @ 7 pm, with entrée choices of steak, chicken piccata, or haddock (fried or broiled). The cost of the event is $25 and that includes tip. Please pay at the door. Contact Sam Scafidi if you are interested at (607) 334 – 3197 or sscafidi@roadrunner.com

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

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A cold front will come today with showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could bring heavy rain and gusty winds. Some showers will continue tonight.

This will be followed by a trough on Tuesday and Wednesday. The chance of rain will decrease, but there could still be scattered showers and thunderstorms. Skies will become partly cloudy Tuesday night. We’ll have another round of showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday.

Skies will be partly cloudy on Thursday. Another cold front will move through on Friday with showers and thunderstorms. We’ll be dry on Saturday. Another low will approach on Sunday and Monday with showers and thunderstorms.

A stick for Jeff…

Posted in Gear, Rod Building, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on June 16, 2017 by stflyfisher

My son brought the box in and its long triangular shape immediately gave it away. It was, of course, “the rod”. As I opened the box I thought about what this fly rod symbolized: a payback to my brother-in-law.

Packaged neatly inside the box was a long clear sleeve with four glossy deep green sticks, a bag of rod guides in pewter grey, and a third bag that contained a cork grip and a rosewood reel seat. I was immediately smitten with the materials at hand.

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My mind raced back in time to my first fly fishing experience. My brother-in-law, Jeff, took me fly fishing at my wife’s urging. I did not – could not have – realized the enormity of the event. That early morning the river was entombed in thick fog, the result of the warm early summer air over the very cold water of the tailwater. Jeff set me up with his new, expensive, Winston 3 weight, in nymphing mode – an indicator, 2 nymphs, and some weight, and instructed me how to fish the rig through a nice piece of riffle water. Then he headed downriver and vanished in the river fog.

You can probably guess what comes next – beginner angler’s luck – as if destined from the fly fishing gods. After a number of repeated lob casts, my indicator rocketed to the bottom and all it took was a lift of the rod and that wonderful butter brown flash. I landed the fish, much to the applaud of a couple of veteran anglers – a fat 18″ brown. But it was I who was truly hooked that day. So there it began, on the fabled West Branch of the Delaware River…

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Looking downstream just above the Gentleman’s Pool – where it all started…

Fast forward many years, miles of wading, and a lot of fly fishing. Jeff returned to the West Coast for work, and though our distance made fishing together a once a year thing at best, we have remained close fly fishing brothers. We’ve done a few trips together – the San Juan River, the Bighorn. We’ve fished local Southern Tier rivers on occasion as well. Jeff is an excellent fly fisher, especially skilled with the dry fly. And since that epic day fishing with him, I have benefited from his advice and guidance and have improved my game from that first “angler’s luck” experience.

And then came along the start of our local FFI chapter – the BC Flyfishers. Joe Swam, featured in posts here before, is a very experienced bamboo rod maker who volunteered to teach a rod building class for the chapter. I signed up as a way to expand my fly fishing experience, learn more about how fly rods are made, and build a fly rod of my own.

The class was a success for the BCFF chapter and a great experience for me. I learned first hand from a master rod maker and completed the class with a really nice 8 weight fly rod I could use on local warmwater rivers as well as the salt.

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My first fly rod served me well on the local warmwater rivers. Built with saltwater grade components, it now resides in Destin, Florida where it will live the rest of its life chasing saltwater trout, redfish, and jacks, among other saltie species.

Late in 2016, Jeff set up a guided trip to the Bighorn river in southeastern Montana. He typically spends a week on that river every year: I’ve only gone with him once but it was an incredible fishing experience and well worth a do-over. This would be a very special trip – one celebrating his 60th birthday – so unlike past years, I jumped at the chance to go.

With the birthday Bighorn trip in mind and the BC Flyfisher’s second annual rodbuilding clinic looming in 2017, I began to search for a fly rod I could build for Jeff as a 60th birthday present. I already had one rod under my belt – I could only get better with this rod, especially under the tutelage of Joe Swam.

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Master rod maker, Joe Swam, does practice wraps and demonstrates the effect color preserver has on wrap color. BCFF chapter member Dennis See looks on.

And so the process began – first with searching for the right rod blank / kit. Jeff’s preference in a fly rod is for moderate action – what used to be referred to as a “dry fly” action. I chose the TFO Finesse rod – an 8 foot 9″ blank of moderate action with a sweet zone made for casting at “presentation” distances. Next came choosing the thread wrap color. I wanted a wrap color that matched the rich rosewood reel seat, and a pewter gray metallic thread for accent wraps. The red wrap color I chose came out perfectly – but note to neophyte rod builders out there – even color preservative will always alter the original color of the thread. In my case, my prediction that the brighter red thread would darken to a red wine color was spot on. Finding a metallic thread that would match the pewter guides and reel seat hardware was another matter. My initial choice of a pewter color was off, and the good folks at flyrodbuildingkits.com suggested I used a gunmetal grey thread which ended up an exact match. I’ll note that they sent the replacement thread free of charge: great customer service. And finally, I had to decide on the finish I’d use for the wraps. On my first rod, I used McCloskey’s marine spar varnish, provided by Joe Swam. I was very pleased with how my wraps came out. For this build, I decided to try Epifanes marine spar varnish. Originating in Holland, a nation with a strong maritime tradition, the name Epifanes, a Greek variation of EPIPHANY, denotes an appearance, a manifestation, a resplendence, or a moment of insight. I was very impressed with the result, and felt a company headquartered in Holland can’t be all wrong when it comes to maritime weather-proof varnish.

Then came the building. The winter snow hit the Southern Tier hard this year – we narrowly beat out Syracuse as the snowiest NY city with over 135″.

2017 snow

March, 2017 and a record 35″ of snow in 24 hours. In between shoveling, a rod was being made…

That made rod building a perfect winter activity, better in my opinion than working at the vise, though that too is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon with the white stuff flying cloaked in bitter cold…

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Jeff’s stick on the rod wrapper. Saranac Legacy IPA, deep winter snow, and a warm fire make for beautiful guide and ferrule wraps.

I took my time with the build – the goal to ship the rod in time for Jeff’s July birthday. Every weekend, the winter through, I added to what started as graphite, cork, and a forms of metal. Measure twice, cut once, was the theme. Along the way a Lamson Waterworks fly reel was ordered, backing, a Scientific Angler’s Mastery Trout fly line, rod sock and a powder coated aluminum tube.

The wraps looked good, secured with color preservative, but it was the varnish that gave the rod that final touch. Every building coat deepened the luster…

And then came the finishing touch – that last coat of Epifanes over the measuring wraps on either side of a rainbow trout decal…

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On either side of that rainbow trout decal, are 17″ and 20″ measuring wraps, soon to be broken by some Bighorn ‘bows on the dry fly…

Of course, glossy green graphite sticks, a rosewood reel seat, snake guides, wrapping thread, and the rich scent of spar varnish will never come close to the gift Jeff gave me – the gift of fly fishing. Even the feeling of satisfaction when a rod made with your own hands, carefully joined, and given that fly shop wiggle will never approach it. But perhaps building a fly rod is one of those things that continues the cycle of giving. Maybe that same rod will fall into the hands of another – a grandchild, a neighbor, or even a disabled veteran or cancer survivor. Lee Wulff once said, “The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you just caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?” While Lee Wulff is credited for having started the catch and release initiative and greatly improved conservation efforts as a result, I’d argue that before the fish comes the creation of the fisherman and what better way to pay back or forward, than by building a fly rod and passing it on.

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Deep bends, Jeff…

The week ahead in fly fishing: June 12, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s getting closer to “official” summer. And fly fishing is moving nicely into it’s late spring / early summer phase. Creeks are now looking good and are flowing full and cool. The warmwater rivers are too high, though. At this time last year, even the Susquehanna was low and very fishable for wading anglers. This year has certainly been good for the fishies – maybe not so good for anglers chasing them.

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Air temps remain in the normal range, on average, but precipitation for the year is 60% above normal through June 11th.

Fly Shop Talk: The talk of the town this past week was the sighting of several lake sturgeon congregating near the Lake Avenue Bridge. When I first saw a video of these fish, courtesy of Ithaca fly fisher Mike Lenetsky, I was amazed. These were big fish powering up through riffles – could it be? DEC fisheries biologist Emily Zollweg-Horan visited Fall Creek and saw several of the 5 to 6 foot lake sturgeon congregating near the Lake Avenue Bridge. The NY DEC has been periodically stocking sturgeon fingerlings into Cayuga Lake since 1995 in an attempt to re-establish a population there. This is the first time staff have detected sturgeon in Fall Creek, and these fish may have been helped by the unusually high water this year. Zollweg-Hornan’s visit followed reports by local anglers observing spawning sturgeon there. The lake sturgeon is a NY State threatened species and fishing for them is prohibited.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that lake trout action has been at or near peak form on Cayuga Lake.  I expect good pike fishing on Owasco Lake.

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is very good to excellent with large fish (27″ range) common.  Pickerel fishing is good to excellent.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here. Work is currently being done near the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Expect good to excellent smallmouth bass fishing here with rock bass, lake trout and perch in the mix.  Lake level is high.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing was fair to good here. No recent reports.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing is the usual slow to good depending on the day. Bass action is top-notch as well with most fish spawning.

Catskill Rivers:  

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that all of the Catskill rivers are continuing to drop slowly. The upper West Branch at Stilesville is now 1,590 cfs and is currently 53 degrees. Down at Hale Eddy the flow is 1,920 cfs and 50 degrees. The East Branch at Harvard is 698 cfs and 52 degrees and down at Fishs’ Eddy the flow is 1,570 and 60 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is 3,860 cfs and 57 degrees. With the high sun and heat, the mid-day fishing has been a bit slow but the evening fishing has offered a lot of bugs for the last few hours of light. With the current conditions the West Branch is likely to fish the best before the later hours of the day. The bugs remain the same with some #14-16 Sulphurs, #14 Grey Fox, #20-22 Blue Winged Olives and some Drakes (green and brown) where they live, mainly the East Branch and mainstem. The streamer fishing on the West Branch has been good, especially in the early morning hours. We are lucky to have the higher water with these very warm air temps but be a responsible angler and check water temps as the day goes on and watch out for water above 68.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting flows have dropped nicely over the last few days and things are looking good. The Beaverkill is in great shape for wading and the East Branch is looking better each day. The West Branch is still running high but it is mostly release at this point. That’s great news for the water temperatures on the West Branch and Upper Mainstem while we deal with the hot air temperatures and sunshine. Coffin flies have been giving us some decent fishing in the evening mixed with the sulphurs and cahills. The sunshine should make the caddis a bit more active and we may see some of the Cornutas offering some mid morning action.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that higher than normal water continues to be present around the system. The Beaverkill, Willowemoc and Upper East Branch will have wading options at this time. Be careful, wade shallow, and don’t make any river crossings at this time. With the large insects you can find plenty of rising fish right along the banks. The dry fly action  is the main attraction but there are other options. We have had great streamer success since the current high water period started. The waters are at a good temperature for the trout to be aggressive. We have had some periods where the action has been red hot.  Right now fishing right at daybreak will provide you with a few hours of steady chases. Smaller streamers are best right now. Our smaller Baitfish imitations and our Baxter House Buggers are killing it. For all of the nymphing folks, the water remains a bit high. Under the current flows it is pretty difficult to move around and target the correct water types. A few more days and favorable nymphing conditions will return. The big bugs will be the attraction for the next few days. Green and Brown Drakes are emerging well. March Browns, Sulfurs, Isonychia and Golden Stones are also in the mix. Spinner activity has been heavy. The smaller spinners associated with the sulfurs have been returning in heavy numbers. The huge Coffin fly, March Brown and Brown Drake spinners are on the water as well. In the areas where these huge insects have been coming down intense feeding has occurred.

Hatching:

Sulphur – #16 – 18 – Ephemerella dorothea
Green Drake – #8-2xl – Ephemera guttulata
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.
Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

Local creeks: Local creeks are settling back down and clearing after some mid-week rain. Flows are excellent, the water is cool, and hatches have been very good. I’ve read good reports about Cayuta Creek but don’t forget the more marginal waters. Where flows are high and murky, streamers will be effective in the early hours of the morning. After that, nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies will work well. Hatches of caddis and mid-season mayflies are on, particularly on the warmer days. Stocking is done, but many of the stocked streams are underfished as many fishermen focus on other bigger waters. Never fish when thunderstorms are about but keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

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Owego Creek, like most local creeks, has finally dropped to easy flows.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are dropping and clearing in the wake of last week’s heavy rains, but it’s slow going. Most of the rivers are still too high for wading fly fishing. As of this past weekend, even the lower section of the Tioughnioga was  flowing pretty fast with dirty water conditions. A recent foray on the Tioughnioga confirmed that the spawn is at least partly done. I fished around the mouth of a trib creek where the creek entered a river braid. There I saw a half dozen spawning beds. One of them had a nice smallmouth on it – it spooked immediately. The rest of the beds were empty. For now, fishing heavy water is best done with a sink tip line, fairly short leader, and big dark or very bright flies. Another method is to dead drift large dark nymphs. Short of that, check the USGS water gage charts for flows and focus efforts on the headwaters where the water will clear and drop first.

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This tributary creek mouth provides excellent spawning habitat for smallmouth bass. The mouth is relatively deep, there’s plenty of gravel, and flows of cool water are good. It also provides shelter from the stronger flows of the river braid it feeds.

Ponds: Ponds are warming up and so is the fly fishing. Largemouth bass are part-way through spawning as are sunfish. You will still see some occupying beds. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective. As the water warms, the best activity will shift to early morning or towards evening. Evening will also be the best time to try topwater. Remember the key in largemouth bass fishing is often to slow down. If you’re stripping a streamer, slow it down – let it sink. Vary the retrieve. With poppers, let them sit until the last ring has disappeared. Often times a bass cannot stand the anticipation. A good pop will often ring the dinner bell, but be careful not to spook fish in shallower water.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI will be conducting its 3rd Annual Fly Casting Clinic on Saturday, June 17th. Read more about this great event here.
  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU will be holding its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 20 at 7 pm in the public meeting room of the Vestal Library.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI will hold its last general meeting before the traditional summer break on Thursday June 22, 2017, at the Endicott Public Library, at 7:00 PM with an informal tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. Chapter member Bob Bruns, a dedicated warm water river rat, will talk about fly fishing our warm water rivers for smallmouth bass. His presentation, “Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass”, will cover how to fish for the “gentleman game fish of the warm water species” with detailed information on tackle, tactics, and methods that he has learned from small-mouth bass masters and has applied to his fishing of the local rivers over the last 20 years. Bob will characterize our area’s warm water rivers and profile the seasons of the small-mouth bass. His presentation will also cover the diverse “by catch” that comes to those who fish for bronze backs – a nice bonus to anyone who fly fishes “brown water”.

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

We’ll have mostly sunny skies Monday. This will be the hot day in the forecast with a high near 90. It will be another hot and muggy day Tuesday with highs in the upper 80s and low 90s. We have moved our chance of showers and thunderstorms up with some rain expected Tuesday.

Showers and thunderstorms will be in the remainder of the forecast. The showers will be caused by a front wavering across NY and PA. Temperatures will be running a few degrees above average, in the mid to upper 70s and low 80s.

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Cast away at BCFF’s 3rd Annual Fly Casting Clinic

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on June 8, 2017 by stflyfisher

The BC Fly Fishers (BCFF) will be holding its 3rd Annual Fly Casting Clinic on Saturday, June 17, from 9 am to 1 pm. The chapter includes casting instruction as a critical part of its teaching program, just like its parent organization, Fly Fishers International (FFI), known for its Casting Instructor Certification Program (CICP) – a highly esteemed credential for any angler.

The BCFF chapter conducted its first casting clinic in June of 2015. Well attended, the event took roots and a second casting clinic was held the following year.

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Fly casting outfits are shown here, ready for use in the BCFF’s first casting clinic.

This third clinic will be even better than the previous two and will include:

  • Beginner casting instruction (pick up and lay down, false casting)
  • Intermediate to advanced casting instruction (double hauling, wiggle cast, curve casting, roll casting)
  • Casting games including accuracy casting. The top three accuracy casters will get a prize.
  • Knot tying.
  • Video recording of your casting stroke for review and critique (please bring a memory stick for download or a phone or camcorder).
  • Two certified FFI casting instructors on hand along with several other very good casters to support casting practice.
  • Refreshments.
  • Catch & release fly fishing for bass and sunfish after the casting clinic (barbless hooks only).
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Joe Swam, chapter member and rod maker, teaches a young angler the roll cast.

This clinic is perfect for any angler – as a tune-up for casting as well as for someone who has yet to put a fly rod in their hands. It’s also a great event for youth. With Father’s Day just around the corner, what better way to spend a few hours than for a father and son or daughter (or family) to learn to cast?

What to prepare, what to bring?

  • Wear casual, relaxed clothing. A casting shirt that is open and free moving is ideal.
  • Sunglasses
  • Fly rod outfit – participants are encouraged to bring their own fly casting outfit but full fly casting setups are also available for use.
  • Clean and stretch your fly line, stretch your leader

The cost of the clinic is the same as last year: $20 for adults, $15 for youth and college students. Interested? Sign up using PayPal at BCFLYFISHERS or by check or cash to BC Flyfishers (mail to John Trainor, 144 West Hill Rd., Vestal, NY 13850).

Rain date for the event is Saturday, June 24. The location is the same as in the past two years: 144 West Hill Road, Vestal, NY. To get there, take Rt. 26 South, turn right in Vestal Center onto West Hill Road – just after Powersports X. It’s a long hill to the top – turn left onto a dirt driveway opposite a RED mailbox on right hand side of road labeled 144.

The week ahead in fly fishing: June 5, 2017

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

We are now wading into June, the month of Father’s Day, Flag Day, and the Summer Solstice. The mayflowers are adorning roadsides and stream banks alike with their white and purple, mayflies and caddis are now hatching with the regularity that anglers can count on, pastures are getting the first cutting of hay, and if you look closely enough, corn is starting to break out of the ground in places. And fly fishing is gently moving into it’s late spring / early summer phase.

Fly Shop Talk: Mike Hogue will be holding his 10th Annual Open House this coming Saturday, as detailed below in the “events” section of this post. Mike’s Open House is an excellent one and while writing about it, I was reminded that Badger Creek Fly Shop is truly a survivor in the ever-changing landscape of fly fishing retail. The Southern Tier certainly has had its history of fly shop casualties, including Timber Creek Sportsman, Cortland Line Factory Store, Gander Mountain (not sure where this retailer stands now), and probably some others I can’t think of at the moment. The small guys just don’t have the economy of scale that the big box retailers – like Bass Pro and Orvis – have, but what they may lack in scale they can certainly make up for in solid local fly fishing intel, customer service, and products that work for the Southern Tier.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: It’s time to close the reporting on the GL / FL tribs. Generally speaking, the spring runs are over / the steelhead have dropped back to the lakes. Fishing can still be good for all sorts of species that will run up and back in the tribs – smallmouth bass, brown trout, and carp, so these can be great waters to fish in solitude in the off season.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that lake trout action has been at or near peak form on Cayuga Lake.  He expects good pike fishing on Owasco Lake. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake run-down:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is very good to excellent with large fish (27″ range) common.  Fish are all over – shallow to deep. Salmon are scattered all over the lake including some over deep water.  Pickerel fishing is good to excellent.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here. Work is currently being done near the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Expect good to excellent smallmouth bass fishing here with rock bass, lake trout and perch in the mix.  Lake level is high.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing is the usual slow to good depending on the day. Bass action is top-notch as well with most fish spawning.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers have been in good shape for fishing. Hatches and bug activity has also been very good: 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the Catskill rivers are in great shape for wading and floating. The upper West at Stilesville is currently 600 cfs and 53 degrees, starting out fairly warm due to the spill over the reservoir. Downriver at Hale Eddy the flow is 773 cfs and 51 degrees. The upper East is down a bit to 237 cfs and 51 degrees and below the Beaverkill at Fishs’ Eddy we have 873 cfs and 55 degrees. The main at Lordville is 1,890 cfs and 57 degrees. With all of the rivers in great shape we’ve been very lucky this spring with cool air temps which have really helped to keep the water temps down and fishable this late in the spring. It looks like next week is going to be a rainy one most days so we may have some higher water coming soon. On the West Branch we are still seeing a few March Browns and Grey Fox, Blue Winged Olives, Tan caddis and the 14-16 Sulphurs have been pretty good in the afternoons into the evening. The main and East are getting some good Sulphur activity as well and the drakes have been around for a week or so now so be on the lookout for spinners.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that it’s still bug soup on the rivers with lots of olives, sulphurs, cahills, march browns, gray fox, green drakes, and just about every caddis you can imagine. They have been finding fish eating earlier along wind protected banks and other quiet areas and expect to start seeing more march brown spinners and coffin flies over the next few days.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that river conditions are about perfect. There is good access for wade fishermen and drift boat anglers. The water temperatures are in the perfect range for our wild trout to be active and aggressive. There will be plenty of March Browns and Green Drakes around now. These are the big hatches right now and the fish have been feeding on them heavily. There are also huge hatches of Sulfurs and Blue Sedge right at dark. These insects have been covering the water at times. Over the last few nights there has been heavy spinner activity associated with the smaller sulfur species. These are best imitated by a #16 spinner. There are also patches of activity with the giant Coffinflies and March Brown Spinners but this activity has not yet become widespread. The flight of the giant spinners is due any day now. With the big bugs you should remember to have a 2x or 3x leader for the evening. The big patterns quickly spin and destroy the light leaders that many use for daytime fishing. The Beaverkill, Lower East Branch and Main Stem are still having the most diverse hatches. The Beaverkill is my top choice. This river has the bugs and over the last few days the action has been world class.

Hatching:

Sulphur – #16 – Ephemerella dorothea
Green Drake – #8-2xl – Ephemera guttulata
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.
Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

 

Local creeks: Local creeks have been in prime condition with nice cool flows, but that’s about to end with the rain in the forecast. Generally speaking, fishing has shifted to nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies. Hatches of caddis and mid-season mayflies are on, particularly on the warmer days. Stocking is tailing off, but some streams and creeks will receive stockings in the next week or two. Keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

owego

Owego Creek’s flows will reverse course to high levels if the heavy rains hit as forecast this week.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers have remained hit or miss with regards to levels and flows for wading. Whereas the Susquehanna has been high to very high, the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga, upper Chenango, and the Chemung have been fishable. It’s been hard to get a good read on spawning activity for smallmouth bass but by now they are most certainly on the beds. As with largemouth bass, some anglers target smallies on the beds. They can be spooky at times or very aggressive but personally, I don’t like to fish them at spawning time where they are on the beds. With the significant rain in the forecast, rivers will once again be high for the next few days. As rivers crest and recede, head upriver for the best fishing conditions.

Ponds: Ponds are in full gear for fly fishing. Largemouth bass are actively spawning now. Bluegills and sunfish are doing the same. There are many local ponds to fish – public and private. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective. Some anglers will fish the nests – bass will typically hit most anything that invades – but there is a bit of an ethical question there. It’s also time to try topwater, especially in the shallow areas and around structure in the morning and at dusk.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities:

The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of FFI June Program will be holding a Casting Clinic and Practice, led by Chas Elliott, FFI Certified Casting Instructor, on June 5th. This meeting will be held outside on the lawn in back of the Big Flats Community Center, starting at 6:30 pm. There will be casting challenges and contests for those that want to take part, and Chas Elliott and several others will be available to help casters advance their casting form further. This is a great opportunity, whether you are a beginner or looking to improve your casting, this is a meeting you won’t want to miss. Visitors, as always, are welcome. In the case of inclement weather, we have planned an interesting program inside. The June meeting will conclude with election of Club Officers for the coming program year.

Badger Creek Fly Tying and Fly Shop will be holding its 10th Annual Open House on Saturday June 10th, from 9 am to 4 pm, at the fly shop located at 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY. Special guests will include John Shaner from Hardy / Fenwick North America, local fly angler and author Joe Cambridge, giving free fly tying demos, and Joe’s wife, Carol Farouk Cambridge, giving free fly casting lessons. Special guest fly tier Clayton Maybee will also be on hand. Free drinks and snacks will be provided and there will be a drawing for door prizes and a fly rod for those who attend. Bring a friend and register again for the door prize! For more info contact : Mike Hogue 607-347-4946, email: mike@eflytyer.com.

badger creek

The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI will hold its last general meeting before the traditional summer break on Thursday June 22, 2017, at the Endicott Public Library, at 7:00 PM with an informal tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. Chapter member Bob Bruns, a dedicated warm water river rat, will talk about fly fishing our warm water rivers for smallmouth bass. His presentation, “Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass”, will cover how to fish for the “gentleman game fish of the warm water species” with detailed information on tackle, tactics, and methods that he has learned from small-mouth bass masters and has applied to his fishing of the local rivers over the last 20 years. Bob will characterize our area’s warm water rivers and profile the seasons of the small-mouth bass. His presentation will also cover the diverse “by catch” that comes to those who fish for bronze backs – a nice bonus to anyone who fly fishes “brown water”.

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

Seems like the early part of the week will be another one that is water-logged. Clouds increase Sunday morning ahead of some showers and storms that look to affect us through the day. Some of these storms could be strong to severe, with gusty winds as the main threat at this time. Some small hail and heavy rainfall are also possible in any storm on Sunday. The storms Sunday will be caused by a slow-moving low-pressure system, which looks to keep the chance of showers in our forecast for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week. The chance of showers decreases Thursday after the low gets kicked out of the area, but the small chance for some pop-up showers or storms remains on Thursday. Friday dries out under a large pocket of high pressure, before the chance for showers returns for Saturday. Temperatures do look to return to near seasonable in the low-70s by the end of the week.

WBNG7Day

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: May 29, 2017

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

Memorial Day weekend, the traditional gateway to summer, is now past and gone. It’s the first three day weekend in the New Year for many anglers, and a chance to hit the water, for at least a few hours if not a day or two. Hopefully most anglers got out to enjoy our beautiful local waters and while doing so, remembered those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy. After all, freedom isn’t free.

tio brown1

Southern tier anglers are blessed with great fly fishing opportunities. On this Memorial Day, remember the price paid by those who served and died. It is because of their selflessness that we are able to enjoy the freedom to pursue happiness.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River have been dropped again, now to the 300 CFS level. While there may still be some dropback steelhead in the lower river, the fishing is now pretty much all about smallmouth bass.

Whitakers Sports Store and Motel is reporting that the river is now running at the summer base flow of 185cfs.  The majority of steelhead have dropped back to Lake Ontario but you may still find the occasional drop back in the lower end of the river. With the rise in water temperature the smallmouth bass fishing in the lower end of the river has been excellent with woolly buggers producing the best results.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that on the bigger lakes like Seneca and Cayuga, fishing is about 2 weeks behind “normal”.  Water temps are in the low 50s in the main lake areas with upper 40s not far below the surface.  Salmon and browns are still inshore and in casting range in a lot of areas.  It’s been a prime year for the nearshore trout/salmon fanatics! Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is very good to excellent with large fish (27″ range) common.  Salmon are scattered all over the lake along with brown trout;  I think we’ll see fair to good casting for them for a couple more weeks but it’s a bit more hit/miss.  Pickerel and perch are hitting well on the north end of the lake.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good. I expect good pike and rainbow trout fishing here this year.  Work is currently being done near the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Overall fishing here remains in peak form. Water temperatures are conducive to trout, salmon, bass and perch all being in the nearshore mix.  Lake level is high.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging continues to be slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing here was very good last week.  Bass action should be top-notch as well.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers are high and largely unwadable. Fishing from a drift boat is the best way to fish the river system. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting good fishing conditions. BLue winged olives have been producing well with rainy conditions as have March Browns and Grey Fox.  The #14-16 Sulphurs are going pretty good on the main and lower East and West.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that anglers are catching fish on March Browns both by finding fish eating them and using them as searching patterns.  The sulphurs have been an evening hatch and keeping us on the water late.  Caddis have still been the mainstay on the river with a lot of different species hatching.  There’s a healthy mix of bugs out there.  Nymphing has improved in the lower flows with small flies working best.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that water levels are perfect for all and the big insect hatches are underway. The overall fishing is good just about everywhere but there are a lot of options. The tailwater and freestone rivers are offering a vastly different fishing experience from one another. The tailwaters are decent but not the best choice at this time. They are the lowest water at this time which always makes the fishing a challenge. The early heavy hatches are waning and  the fish are getting pretty snotty about their feeding habits. These rivers are in need of a hatch change to perk things up again. The March Brown, Drake and Sulfur activity has not yet begun. The Freestone Rivers, Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Lower East and Main Stem have the bugs right now. March Browns are emerging slowly each day. There is a building hatch  of larger Sulfurs in the afternoon. Near dark the smaller sulfurs have been profuse. There are also lots of Caddis about and the fish are taking them whenever they actually get on the water. There are also spinners in the drift just about 24 hours a day at this time. The super Bugs like the Drakes and Big Stoneflies are a possibility on these rivers at any time now. Blind fishing large March Brown patterns in the fast water is highly recommended right now along with nymph fishing the riffles. This is the non hatch period approach. In many cases we will blind fish a riff and then go back over the same water with nymph rigs. Overall there is a definite pattern of the nymphing being better when it is bright and the dry fly fishing being better under overcast skies. During the 2 brief periods this week where the sun hit the water our guests killed it on nymph rigs. We had hookups one after another. Additionally this was widespread as all of our guides reported similar action over 6 or 7 entirely different river locations around the system. If you want to make a good day into a great day make sure to stay into dark. The sulfurs are blanketing the water at dark and the fish have been gorging. The other times of day it is a slow steady pick.

Hatching:
Sulphur – #16 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Hendrickson – #16 – Ephemerella X- (a few still around the West Branch)
March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.Little, Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

Local creeks: Local creeks are in prime condition with nice cool flows. Fishing has shifted to nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies. Hatches of caddis and mid-season mayflies are starting to really turn on, particularly as the weather warms. Stocking is tailing off now, but some streams and creeks will receive stockings into early June.

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2 year old stocked browns, like this one, can provide excellent action on light fly tackle.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers are dropping nicely but the Susquehanna is still too high for safe wading (but is good for fishing from a boat). The smaller rivers, like the Tioughnioga, Chemung, and Chenango are in good shape for wading and have decent water clarity. It’s been hard to judge the prespawn with water levels and temps so variable but this week’s warmer weather is sure to kick it into high gear. Fish water adjacent to shallow bays, tributary mouths, eddies, and shoreline structure. When the pre-spawn bite is on, large streamers will work well – smallies are typically aggressive and feeding up for two reasons – 1) their metabolism is picking up as water temps rise, and 2) they need to store up for the rigors of spawning.

Ponds: Ponds are warming, cattails are sprouting up, and aquatic weeds are growing. As water temps rise, largemouth bass are actively staging for spawning and in some cases are already on beds. Bluegills and sunfish are doing the same. Fishing will only get better from here on in. There are many local ponds to fish – public and private. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should be effective. Some anglers will fish the nests – bass will typically hit most anything that invades – but there is a bit of an ethical question there.

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

High pressure looks to build in tonight, eliminating the chance for rain, but some fog/mist in the early morning hours Tuesday will be possible. A nearly stationary low-pressure system will then set up in the Northern Great Lakes, sending shortwave troughs through our area Tuesday and Wednesday. With each of these shortwaves comes the chance for showers and thunderstorms, with any storm possibly being strong to severe.

High pressure finally kicks that stubborn low-pressure system out of the area on Thursday, meaning Thursday looks to be the most dry day of the week at this time.

A disorganized low-pressure system then slides in from Winnipeg toward the end of the week. It looks to interact with a 30knot mid-level atmospheric jet stream following a path clockwise around an upper-level high pressure system centered in South Carolina, it will drag mid-level moisture up from the Yucatan Peninsula and put the chance of showers back in the forecast for Friday and Saturday.

A large body of high pressure then becomes dominant Sunday and Monday. However, the chance for pop-up rain showers or storms stays with us mainly in the PM hours Sunday and Monday.

WBNG7Day (1)

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: May 15, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on May 16, 2017 by stflyfisher

Mother’s Day is upon us. For the male anglers out there, this was not the weekend to hit the water, perhaps, at best, a few hours. For the female anglers, of course, it is just like Father’s Day – hang up the sign – “Gone Fishing” and the day is yours.

Fields are plowed and the hills are greening up. Turkey season is now half over, or half begun, depending on your view.  The rainbows are mostly done spawning, and bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – have begun their amorous ways.

Water remains the theme in the Southern Tier. There’s been a lot of it, as last reported. Creeks, streams, and rivers are showing the excess. Here’s the latest data:

KBGM2017plot

Fly shop talk: Many of us have at least one person to thank for being in the wonderful sport of fly fishing. in many cases it’s a family member or close friend. And when it is someone close, the bond formed from that sharing can enrich the lives of both the teacher and student. Once given, the gift of angling never really goes away. In my case, my brother-in-law, whom I barely knew at the time, passed on this great gift. he took me to the famed West Branch of the Delaware on a July morning and on my own, using his tackle, landed a bright butter yellow 18″ brown. Call it beginner’s luck – that fish hooked me more than I hooked (and released) him. I’ve thanked Jeff ever since and this year built him a fly rod as a 60th birthday present. And while I learned things building the rod, perhaps the best part of it is that like teaching angling, that rod will also keep giving; to grandchildren, and on down the line. So what about you? have you thanked the person who got you into fly fishing?

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River have dropped and the fishing reports have been pretty good.

pineville514

Water temps are in the upper 40’s to low 50’s. The DSR is reporting some nice-sized Atlantics, along with steelhead, browns, smallmouth bass, and even walleye being landed. The fishing remains mixed, as are the methods, but there are some nice fish coming into the river as well as some steelhead dropping back.

Whitakers Sports Store and Motel is reporting that the water level dropped again over the weekend and finally a stretch of mild conditions is expected for later in the week. We still have a few drop backs hanging around and the lower end of the river has been producing the best action. Areas such as the Town Pool, Longbridge/Staircase and Black Hole has produced the best action early in the morning and later in the day. Depending on the day anglers who fished the DSR have reported getting into a mix of drop backs, Atlantic Salmon or smallmouth bass. For those anglers who are fly fishing, swinging streamers with sinking leaders has been most productive.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that some stability with the weather is helping the Finger Lakes fishing.  Debris has settled out and water clarity has improved markedly.

  • Cayuga Lake:  Salmon and brown trout are distributed around the whole lake now for the most part.  Expect the same with browns and rainbows. Water temperatures are warming up and fish are moving out and deeper, though good numbers can be found in certain places shallow – but they are clearly scattering (which isn’t a bad thing). Lake trout jigging is good to very good.  Pickerel and perch are hitting well on the north end of the lake.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging had been slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good. I expect good pike and rainbow trout fishing here this year.  Work is currently being done on the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Yellow perch fishing is in full swing. Bonus bass, salmon and lakers are in the mix. I expect top-notch mixed bag fishing here now.  Smallmouth and rockbass should be starting to move up in large numbers.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers are high and largely unwadable. Fishing from a drift boat is the best way to fish the river system. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that all rivers are still very clear after a weekend of some off and on rain. There are still some pretty prolific Blue Quill hatches on the West Branch and the Hendricksons slowed down a little bit this weekend but should pick back up as the temps creep up.  There are lots of caddis around lately too with some pretty good numbers of Apple caddis throughout the system. The streamer fishing has remained pretty good lately with the high volume of water currently in the system.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that the hendricksons are hatching well and the fish have been eating them. The water levels continue to drop and more wading opportunities are opening up. March browns are moving up the system and hopefully the caddis become more active in the sunshine.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the action right now is very good in most places. Anglers can expect to find action with Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers. The Dry Fly is steady and reliable and most days from 3:00 until dark the trout are feeding heavily. There are some funnel points in the river that are so full of fish that it has been crazy. Hendrickson Duns and Spinners are on the menu on the tailwaters while March Browns and Caddisflies are happening on the freestones. Sulfurs should also join the mix any day now. There are also lots of Caddis on the water at this time. There are still Apple Caddis along with many others in various sizes. As far as location goes, the fish are totally spread out due to the heavy influx of mayflies. We are getting streamer strikes in every water type at this time.
  • Hatching:
    Hendrickson – #12 – 14 – Ephemerella subvaria
    Hendrickson – #16 – Ephemerella X
    Blue Quill – #16 – Paraleptophlebia. adaptiva
    March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
    Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
    Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
    Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
    Apple Green Caddis #16 – 20 – Light Brachycentrus sp.
    Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

Local creeks: Local creeks got another god plug of water but are dropping and clearing as of this report. Streamers will be the best bet as long as flows and water clarity are off, but certainly by later this week, fishing should be back to normal. The warmer weather could provide some solid dry fly action. Fishing with nymphs and wets will always be productive as well.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers are still too high for wading but are OK for fishing from a boat. The smaller rivers, like the Tioughnioga, will be first to clear and drop. It’s been hard to judge the prespawn with water levels and temps so variable but this week’s warmer weather is sure to kick it into high gear. Smaller rivers with lower flows will be the best bet for now, unless fishing from a boat. Fish water adjacent to shallow bays, tributary mouths, eddies, and shoreline structure. When the pre-spawn bite is on, large streamers will work well – smallies are typically aggressive and feeding up for two reasons – 1) their metabolism is picking up as water temps rise, and 2) they need to store up for the rigors of spawning.

Ponds: Ponds continue to warm and the largemouth bass are actively staging for spawning and in some cases may actually be on beds. Fishing will begin to pick up with warmer weather and this week’s climb into the 80’s will certainly help energizing the fish. Panfish will also be active. While it’s not popper time just yet, cruising fish could be tempted with large dry flies or a terrestrial pattern.

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Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of upcoming events:

The BC Flyfshers chapter FFI is featuring return speaker, Bruce Pencek for the May chapter meeting on Thursday, May 18 at the Endicott Public Library at 7:00 PM (informal tying demonstration at 6:30). The topic will be “American Tenkara Fishing”. Bruce Pencek returns from Virginia (via Hancock) to talk about American Tenkara – the translation of no-reel/fixed-line fly-fishing tackle and techniques from the mountain streams of Japan to the diverse waters and fish of North America. He will talk about selecting and rigging tenkara tackle and give his thoughts about how fixed-line rods have improved his success with western techniques – dry flies, Euro-style nymphing, even streamers – for trout, smallmouth, and carp. (With luck, he might have some illustrated tales about his fixed-line fishing in the Southern Tier in the days leading up to the talk.) He’ll provide some handouts with his recommendations for information sources and vendors. Before the talk, he’ll tie some of the flies he uses regularly.

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

The low that gave us the showers and thunderstorms on Mother’s Day is spinning off the coast of Maine. This gave us some early clouds and showers. Skies will become partly cloudy, but it will be a cool and windy day. Winds diminish tonight and skies will be mostly clear. We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Tuesday with highs climbing into the 70s. We’ll be even warmer on Wednesday with highs in the 80s. With the warm, and slightly muggy weather, there could be a few scattered showers or thunderstorms. Showers and thunderstorms will be in the forecast for Thursday as a cold front comes through. Highs once again will be in the 80s. We’ll have partly cloudy skies with highs in the low 70s on Friday, with mostly sunny skies on Saturday. As a low moves in, we’ll have clouds and showers on Sunday and Monday with highs in the upper 60s to low 70s.

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