Maybe the good old days were not so good after all?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1, 2016 by stflyfisher

Every once in a while, the great “net” of the blogosphere lands a “good one.” Such was the case when I received an email from a long lost Southern Tier Fly Fisher by the name of Paul Brown. Somehow he had stumbled upon this blog and began reading my posts and viewing some of the pictures of our local warmwater rivers. What he saw and read impressed him enough to write to me with a question: Had the health of the rivers and the environment really improved that much in the 30 years since he’d left?

That question led to a string of emails and a story unfolded: that mother nature can take care of herself with a little clean-up and care on our part.

Paul began his fishing career as a bait fisher, but gradually shifted to lures and eventually catch and release fly fishing by the age of 13, courtesy of a high school friend. The two primarily fished for smallmouth bass, but occasionally fished the upper reaches of the Tioughnioga and Genegantlet for trout. Brown recounted a 4 day raft trip down the Tioughnioga, where they caught a few rainbow trout and some nice browns up to 17″. The trout in the Genny were comparatively small, but, even then, he remembered it as a beautiful little creek.

Brown’s fly of choice on our local warmwater rivers was a brown and orange Montana pattern, tied by a gentleman in Chenango Forks whose name escapes him. The man tied flies out of his home and Brown recalled riding his bicycle six miles just to buy his wonderful creations. This fly out-fished every other pattern two to one. It seems this pattern, similar to a Bitch Creek nymph with a shorter body, isn’t too commonly used these days.

Brown claims a locally-tied version of this nymph outfished all others for smallmouth bass back in the day…

According to Brown, the rivers of the Southern Tier in the 70’s were suffering from various levels of pollution and he added in one note that most of the fish he caught had a distinct petrochemical smell.

Graduation gift: Brown cradles a very nice Northern Pike for the Press & Sun Bulletin

Brown recalled; “I regularly caught 12 to 18 inch smallmouth in the Chenango and Susquehanna. Walleye were spotty, but I caught several from Chenango Bridge upstream. Rock bass were also a favorite and willing quarry. I once caught a 1 pound, 14 ounce fish near Chenango Bridge that I had weighed at the Red and White grocery store in town. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that this would have been a state record at the time!”

Brown’s review of my assessment of the state of our local rivers drew an encouraging response. “It sounds like the region is much healthier than I remember from the late 60’s and 70’s. I’m particularly encouraged to hear of the return of osprey and bald eagles. By the 70’s these birds had been virtually wiped out. Even the more common hawks were scarce.”

The following article in the Ithaca Journal, dated May 1, 2015, backs up Paul’s observations at the time and gives a little perspective to how far we’ve come:

The national icon was nearing extinction 40 years ago, largely due to the presence of the now-banned insecticide DDT ingested by the parents, which weakened the eagles’ eggshells. In 1976, the only bald eagles in New York were a pair of 25-year-old birds nesting at Hemlock Lake south of Rochester. The pair’s eggs were too fragile to bear their parent’s weight.

MARY PERHAM, Correspondent 7 p.m. EDT May 1, 2015

As most who now fish our local waterways know, bald eagles are a relatively common sight these days. The DEC now claims over 170 nesting pairs in NY state. And ospreys are right up there along with a lot of other birds of prey.

Brown commented further in another email: “…it sounds like the wildlife has really rebounded too. Ducks and geese were uncommon in the 70s, but there were a few great blue heron around. I recall only ever seeing one egret. I had no idea what it was at the time, and had to go to the library for a bird guide to identify it!”

He went on: “I realize now how little I understood the environment in Broome County back then. I remember some vague concerns about mercury and heavy metals, but I don’t recall any State recommendations about limiting consumption of fish. We know so much more today. Fortunately I ate very few fish back then, but I do remember enjoying a couple of very nice walleye. Fishing regulations were much simpler then too. I remember my first New York State fishing license had all the fishing regulations for the entire state printed on the back! I think our fisheries are much more wisely managed these days.”

Paul left Chenango Bridge at the age of eighteen when his family moved to California. He went on to earn a degree in park management and worked as a park ranger in California and Oregon for a number of years before becoming a technical illustrator. He now lives in Oregon, where he doesn’t fish as much as he’d like.

“After moving from Chenango Bridge I lived in California for several years. Some of my first jobs as a ranger put me in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I worked as a park ranger in Sierra National Forest for two years and got pretty spoiled by the fishing there in my back yard. A high mountain lake I used to fish almost every weekend (Courtright Reservoir) contained a brown trout that was easily 25 pounds and three feet long. Over the course of one summer I cast everything I had at that fish. The water was gin clear and it soon became pretty obvious that that trout had seen every lure ever made. One day it bumped a large carpenter ant pattern behind an indicator (and I thought I was going to have heart failure) but it never took. Just as well, that fish deserved to remain unhooked!”

Brown was diagnosed with a serious hereditary medical condition as a child and unfortunately now struggles with pancreatic and liver issues and a lot of pain. He left the Forest Service and shifted his career to illustration work as his health deteriorated. He tries to keep active with daily hikes in the woods in the Grants Pass area. He is, in his own words, “a tree geek” and is credited for finding a couple of trees that turned out to be the largest of the species for the state. It’s discoveries like this that keep him moving despite the health issues he faces.

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Paul Brown stands next to his national champion Knobcone Pine, located in the Cathedral Hills Trail System south of Grants Pass, Oregon.

Brown has not returned to NY in many years but was very glad to hear the old stomping grounds are doing so well. And for me, his recollections of the state of the environment back in the “good old days” made me feel good about where we are, environmentally. Yet as I write this, there are still real and potential threats to our rivers. Fracking loomed but was banned by New York state. How long that ban remains in effect is anyone’s guess. And even though fracking is banned, a local business, i3 (formerly EIT and before that, IBM) is currently treating landfill leachate from a landfill in New York state that somehow accepts fracking waste from Pennsylvania. This waste is being treated by i3 under a DEC permit and is being dumped into the Susquehanna River at a rate as high as 80,000 gallons a day. While the NY DEC is required to monitor this waste treatment, many in the community have expressed concern that the river and local drinking water is not being protected adequately.

The lesson here is that Mother Nature does her best to persist even in the face of all the bad we humans can throw at her. But give her just a bit of help and she rewards with life resplendent. And as a bit of added motivation to always look out for her, we must not forget how things were back in “the good old days”…

The week ahead in fly fishing: October 31st

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2016 by stflyfisher

Goodbye October, hello November. We start this week with Haloween and then move into November, another transition month for Southern Tier fly anglers. This is a tipping point month where some of the warmwater species start to slow down and coldwater species heat up. It’s also the time where the salmon run matures and ends and lake-run species begin to dominate the fly fishing scene. We’ve already had our first snow and the hillsides are now bare of the red and orange of maple foliage. Oaks are beginning to turn their hues of red, rust, and brown, and aspens are turning gold. Most rivers, streams, and creeks have finally shrugged off the drought with recent rains.

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Welcome, November…

Fly shop talk: As I drove to explore a new stretch of water recently, I thought about my life and proximity to my 60th year on this good earth. As we age we are rewarded with wisdom, but many bemoan that the vigor and virility of youth begins to ebb. We tend to slow down, energy escapes us, and physical ailments begin to impede our activity. We all will some day fight the relentless tide of aging, but I notice that fly fishing is one activity where all of the woes of age seem to vanish. When I am on the water with long rod in hand, all worry and anxiety empty from my conscience. Any aches, pains, or ailments seem to be forgotten. In fact, I don’t even see myself as a 57 year old man – I regain the spirit, focus, and vision of youth. Fly fishing seems to turn back time for me making me wonder if days on the water even count against whatever time I’ve been given to live…

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting slower than normal fishing as of late. There are some steelhead and browns being caught and a few kings, though the lower river salmon bite appears to be slowing. The river is flowing at a steady 730 CFS at Pineville with a water temperature in the mid-to upper 40’s. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel reports that the upper end of the river is producing the most action for those anglers looking for kings. Anglers fishing the Upper & Lower Fly Zone reported getting into mostly kings and the occasional steelhead. The majority of anglers fishing the lower end of the river are looking for steelhead. Anglers who are working hard and covering water in the lower end of the river have picked up a steelhead here and there in the Ballpark, Town, Longbridge/Staircase, Black Hole and DSR. The anglers we spoke with who fished some of the smaller local tributaries reported getting into mostly kings.

 

Suggested Patterns:

  • Sucker spawn in white, cream, peach, blue. size 8
  • Estaz eggs in chart, pink, white, blue. size 10
  • Glo-Bugs in pink, chart, orange. size 8
  • Steelie omelet in chart, peach. size 8
  • Steelhead stone in red, purple, orange. size 6
  • Steelhead bugger in size 6.
  • Flesh fly in size 6.
  • Black egg sucking leech in size 6.
  • Purple egg sucking leech in size 6.

Note that The DEC recently lifted the ban on fly fishing in the Lower Fly Zone!

Catskill Rivers: The Delaware River Club reports that the recent wave of warmer weather should help the hatching.  There were some olives and a few isonychias out but streamers and nymphs are definitely more productive.  The West Branch, lower East Branch, and Mainstem are all in decent shape for floating and wading.

Hatching:

  • Slate Drake – #12 – 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Olive Sulphur – #18 – 20– Heptagenia hebe
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.

Remember that fly fishing for trout is closed with the exception of areas covered by special regs, such as the border waters.

Local streams and creeks: Creeks finally picked up some water, location dependent. Where the water is dirty or stained, streamers will be the best bet, especially for aggressive spawning browns. It still makes sense to tread carefully when fishing the little waters. The trout that have survived the drought deserve to fight another day. “Champion stock”, in the words of local guide Eric Mastroberti, should be released quickly, or better yet, left alone, depending on the water being fished. Remember that fly fishing for trout is closed with the exception of areas covered by special regs. Check the regs if fishing one of the area streams or creeks for trout.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting that the Finger Lakes has received plenty of rain! Water temps throughout the region are dropping quickly and are optimal for northern pike fishing. Following is his lake-by-lake report:

  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action here is fair to good overall but was slow for us last Sunday, mainly due to the weather conditions.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Action for pike, perch and bass is picking up.
  • Seneca Lake: Expect good pike fishing here. Perch action should only get better.
  • Cayuga Lake: Lake trout fishing is fair to good. Action on chain pickerel and largemouth bass on the lake’s north end is good to excellent. Yellow perch fishing is picking up. Pike action should be underway.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Expect good nearshore rainbow trout fishing here. Bass, lake trout, perch and landlocked salmon fishing should be good here as well.
  • Otisco Lake:  Expect decent Tiger Musky action as well as some bass and walleye.

Ponds: No real changes here. Colder temps will continue to slow things down on local ponds. If you are fishing ponds, focus on the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. Best flies will be streamers and nymphs but make sure to fish them deeper and slower. The best fishing will be on warmer days.

Warmwater rivers: Some of the local warmwater rivers have come down and cleared a bit but the Susquehanna remains too high for wading but is fishable from a boat.

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The Tioughnioga is dropping and clearing and would be a good choice for those anglers who still want to fish the warmwater rivers. 

Clarity is still an issue, however. Also, rivers temps are crossing below the magic 50 degree mark. Smallmouth bass usually begin to drop back to wintering holes as water temps drop below this mark. If you want to chase smallies and other brownwater species, it’s best to focus on the river tribs and the headwaters of the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga. The Chemung river, to our west, also appears to be getting back to wadeable levels. Focus efforts at the end of the day and fish warmer days. Dark or very bright large streamers will give you the best chance of hooking up. Remember too, the walleye bite is turning on with the colder weather.

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.
  • Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of the International Federation of Fly Fishers is also conducting a fly rod raffle – with tickets available on our website via Paypal. The TiCrX 7wt Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) fly rod that’s being auctioned was a gift from the John Rominger estate. The model retails for $280. The drawing will be held at the TTFR Leadership Meeting on December 19, 2016, just in time for Christmas.
    You do not need to be present to win. You can buy tickets on-line here.

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

According to WBNG’s Nathaniel Hopper, a low pressure system that is currently situated north of Toronto has a cold front stretching to the southwest. This cold front looks to stroll through the Southern Tier on Sunday bringing rain showers and cooler temperatures in its wake. Highs on Sunday will be around 50 degrees while the low temperature Sunday night will be in the mid-30s. Monday will then be cooler as a cooler pocket of air looks to hang about through the overnight on Monday. Tuesday things will toast right back up to the mid-50s and small chance of isolated showers sticks with us through Wednesday. A better chance of showers comes to us on Thursday. Temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday will be around 60 degrees. As we wrap up the end of the week, temperatures will hang out around seasonal norms in the low-50s.

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: October 24th

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23, 2016 by stflyfisher

We are now about one third of the way into autumn. Colors have peaked and the “leaf hatch” is on. That means leaf raking for anglers with yards and irritating conditions at times hooking “leaf fish”. The weather has been very nice until the cold front and lots of rain crossed the Southern Tier late last week / early on the weekend. We desperately needed the rain but with it has come much colder weather and even the first snow of the year. Such is fall…

Fly shop talk: On a saltwater fishing this fall I noticed an angler fishing completely different than everyone else on the party boat. Most anglers were fishing chunk bait in a chum slick for blues and a few more were jigging for them but this guy was fishing with only a medium action spinning rod, fairly light line, and very small metal diamond jigs. What’s more, he was casting not very far from the boat and jigging very quickly and erratically. I asked him what he was doing and his answer was fishing for albacore. Albacore can be taken on the fly and are known for their blistering runs, but they have keen eyesight and unless in a feeding frenzy, can be somewhat selective. This angler fished a long time but his persistence paid off. Every time the bluefish bite mellowed, the albacore came into the slick. He landed several of these magnificent speedsters. While it is important to change up when fly fishing, there’s also something to be said about sticking to your guns. This angler knew his methods would pay off. If you have confidence in a fly, a rig, a method, or even a location, be persistent and fish confidently!

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run reports it has been closed to fishing through Sunday, Oct 23, 2016 due to current high water conditions. If you have purchased DSR Online fishing passes for Sunday, Oct 23, 2016, please call the Ticket Booth (315-298-6672) to discuss options for receiving a voucher or rescheduling fishing passes for a later date. Please be sure to leave a message if you are not able to get thru, we will be sure to call you back. Office staff will be here for regular hours regardless of fishing closures for the weekend. With the increase in flows, more fish are sure to move into the river. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel reports the river is high and we’re still getting runoff from the recent rain. No question the water level is high, but anglers are still fishing and making the most of conditions.  The best visibility was in the upper section of river between the Trestle and Altmar. We did speak with some anglers who landed some kings in the diversions and side channels of the main river as well as the Ellis cove area and the Upper Fly Zone.

Suggested patterns:

  • Estaz eggs in blue, red, pink, chart. size 6-10.
  • Glo-bugs in chart, orange, pink, oregon cheese. size 6-8
  • Black egg sucking leeches in size 2-6.
  • Black flashback nymph in size 6.
  • Bunny leeches in black or olive. size 6
  • Woolly buggers in grizzly, black or olive. size 4-8.

Note that The DEC recently lifted the ban on fly fishing in the Lower Fly Zone!

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that with the higher flows of due to recent rains, the streamer fishing should continue to be a productive, especially on the still-stained water of the West Branch. There should be some BWO’s and the 16 Dark Tan Caddis around in good numbers, particularly on the rainy or overcast days. The Delaware River Club reports that the rivers came up a little bit from the runoff of the recent rains but the releases have been increased to meet the downstream flow targets. Due to the colder air temps, the water temperatures have dropped back throughout the system.  The best bet right now is streamers fished slow.  Nymphing could pay off since the color of the rivers is getting better.  The forecast is calling for winds around 14 mph which is much better than the amount originally predicted. This will throw some more leaves in the river but yesterday’s wind did a pretty good job of clearing a lot of them.

Remember that fly fishing for trout is closed with the exception of areas covered by special regs, such as the border waters.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – #12 – 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Olive Sulphur – #18 – 20– Heptagenia hebe
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Creeks finally picked up some water, location dependent. Where the water is dirty or stained, streamers will be the best bet, especially for aggressive spawning browns. It still makes sense to tread carefully when fishing the little waters. The trout that have survived the drought deserve to fight another day. “Champion stock”, in the words of local guide Eric Mastroberti, should be released quickly, or better yet, left alone, depending on the water being fished. Remember that fly fishing for trout is closed with the exception of areas covered by special regs. Check the regs if fishing one of the area streams or creeks for trout.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting that the Finger Lakes received plenty of rain!  Water temps throughout the region are optimal for northern pike fishing. Following is his lake-by-lake report:

  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action here is fair to good.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Action for pike, perch and bass is picking up.
  • Seneca Lake: The Watkins Glen pier is producing small smallmouth bass, rock bass and there are perch around too.  Expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.  Trout and salmon fishing should be fair to good in the lower portions of the lake.
  • Cayuga Lake: Lake levels are actually HIGH here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good. Action on chain pickerel and largemouth bass on the lake’s north end should be good to excellent. Yellow perch fishing is picking up.  Bonus salmon, rainbows and browns are around for laker jiggers.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good.  Expect good action on yellow perch and the usual rockbass.  Rainbow trout should be showing up in nearshore angler catches soon.
  • Otisco Lake:  Expect decent Tiger Musky action as well as some bass and walleye.

Ponds: The recent cold weather will start to have an impact on pond fishing. If you are fishing ponds, focus on the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. Bass and sunfish will still be biting but forget about topwater and fish streamers and nymphs. The best fishing will be on warmer days.

Warmwater rivers: All local warmwater rivers are high and dirty right now, thanks to recent heavy rains.

susky-10_23

The Susquehanna crested at just under 8,000 CFS. If you want to chase smallies and other brownwater species, it’s best to focus on the river tribs and the headwaters of the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga. Dark or very bright large streamers will give you the best chance of hooking up. Wading is out of the question for the bigger waters but boat angling will provide good access to holding water. Remember too, the walleye bite is turning on with the colder weather, AND, channel cats typically get aggressive when water has risen. A big bugger type streamer in dark colors can work on cats.

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The rivers are up, but that typically puts channel cats into feeding mode. Dirty water makes fly fishing challenging, but fishing BIG and dark bugger patterns with a sink-tip or sinking line, might just tempt a catfish to eat, like this nice one.

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

According to WBNG’s Nathaniel Hopper, as we move through the evening Sunday, the chance for showers returns and stays with us through the morning hours Monday, as some showers may be lingering around. Tuesday and Wednesday will dry out with temperatures in the low 40s. The sun will make a return to the Southern Tier on Wednesday. Thursday clouds will increase as will the chance for showers. A slight chance of showers will then hang around as we wrap up the work week.

 

 

Bill Kessler shares his fly fishing adventures for Atlantic Salmon

Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2016 by stflyfisher

The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF got off to a great start on Thursday, September 22nd, with its fall / winter monthly meeting program. Fresh off the summer break, the chapter enlisted local Atlantic Salmon fly fisher, Bill Kessler, as guest speaker. The white-maned Kessler gave a presentation to the chapter on his adventures chasing “the king of game fish”, and it was a dandy, replete with high quality pictures and terrific video clips featuring the acrobatics of the freshwater “silver king.”

Kessler started his presentation by emphasizing his total obsession with Atlantic Salmon fishing. He travels widely to catch Salmo Salar, from his “local” home waters on the Gaspé Peninsula and New Brunswick, to Scotland, Ireland, and the remote fisheries just a couple hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia.

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The Kola Penninsula in Russia – home to the Atlantic Salmon Reserve, powerful rivers, and wild Atlantic Salmon…

The Miramichi watershed in New Brunswick and the famed salmon rivers of the Gaspe Peninsula in Canada are closest to the Southern Tier of NY and provide outstanding angling experiences, but Kessler also makes it a point to fish other places, more remote and wild, with the Kola Peninsula being the ultimate in terms of the big strong wild Atlantic Salmon that call it home.

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Bill Kessler shows why he is “properly obsessed” with Atlantic Salmon. (Picture courtesy of Bill Kessler)

 

 

 

 

The Atlantic Salmon is a unique Atlantic-based strain of salmonoid that has a relatively complex life history that includes spawning, juvenile rearing in rivers, and extensive feeding migrations on the high seas. Atlantic salmon go through several distinct phases that can be identified by specific changes in behavior, physiology, and habitat requirements. Kessler talked about this in some detail during the presentation, noting, for example, that while mature fish will leave the sea and migrate up their natal rivers to spawn in late fall to early winter, juvenile male salmon can become sexually mature before going to sea and can actually spawn with a mature hen.

Young salmon spend one to four years in their natal river. When they are large enough (c. 15 centimetres (5.9 in)), they smoltify, changing camouflage from stream-adapted with large, gray spots to sea-adapted with shiny sides. They also undergo some endocrinological changes to adapt to osmotic differences between fresh water and seawater habitat. When smoltification is complete, the parr (young fish) begin to swim with the current instead of against it. With this behavioral change, the fish are now referred to as smolt. When the smolt reach the sea, they follow sea surface currents and feed on plankton or fry from other fish species such as herring. During their time at sea, they can sense the change in the Earth magnetic field through iron in their lateral line.

When the smolt have had a year of good growth, they will move to the sea surface currents that transport them back to their natal river. When they reach their natal river they find it by smell.

As the adults prepare for spawning, the head of the male undergoes an incredible transformation. The head elongates and the lower jaw becomes enlarged and hooked at the tip, forming a kype. The nesting site is chosen by the female, usually a gravel-bottom riffle area above or below a pool. While the male drives off other males and intruders, the female, on her side, uses her caudal fin like a paddle and excavates a nesting depression (the redd). Adult female salmon can deposit from 600 – 800 eggs per pound of body weight. The eggs are usually a pale orange in color and measure 5 – 7 mm in diameter.

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Atlantic Salmon travel many miles at sea to feed and mature, only to return time after time to their natal coastal rivers to spawn. Unlike Pacific Salmon, Atlantics survive spawning and may spawn multiple times over their lifespan…

Fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon involves a lot of casting. In fact, Kessler refers to it as a casting game, with the caveat, “…that you might be rewarded.” One can catch fish on some trips or go an entire week without a pull. But Kessler’s terrific video clips made it clear how hard it must be to feel the tug from one – and not want more…

Kessler fishes topwater and subsurface for the king of freshwater gamefish. Each approach is unique. Dry fly fishing is done with big flies such as the bomber dry fly using a floating line and a 12 foot leader.

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A “bomber” – picture courtesy of http://www.miramichi-salmon-fishing-canada.ca

Waking flies are also used, including a method referred to as the riffling hitch. Fishing for salmon with a dry fly is one of the most popular and successful means of catching salmon.

Kessler also fishes subsurface using wet flies and streamers, preferably tube flies. His tube flies feature small hooks that he says hold better than larger ones because they are harder for the fish to throw. The method is to cast and take a step down-river and repeat over and over, fishing wets and streamers with a 45 degree downriver presentation and certain nuances depending on the river conditions and the fly being used.

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Swinging the fly…

The fly rods that Bill recommends for salmon duty are a singlehanded 7 to 9 weight, 9 foot fly rod for dries and skaters, a switch rod in 6 – 8 weight and 10.5 – 11.5 feet, and a doublehanded spey rod, 7 – 10 weight, and 12 – 16′ in length. Kessler chooses to use an older Sage RPL 10′ 8 weight for dries and waking flies and really loves his Burkheimer 13’4″ 7 weight spey rod for subsurface work.

But in addition to the technical aspects of the presentation, the beautiful pictures, and the spectacular videography, were the stories…

Kessler told one tale of a salmon that was missed several times on hook-sets but was hooked at last only after waiting longer than usual to strike. The reason? – the fish was a male with a huge kype.

In another story Kessler was fishing a pool on top with no luck, but he and the members of his fishing party were seeing plenty of salmon. After a frustrating day with no hook-ups, he returned to the same section of the river and fished a sinking line, and soon connected, and connected, and connected – with 9 salmon! The lesson learned – sometimes the fish want the fly deep.

And then there was the tail-slap story…

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Kessler talked about a salmon that tormented him with teasing moves towards his dry fly. It started with the slow rise of the fish and the refusal. It progressed over closer rises to actually bumping the fly, nosing the fly and finally actually slapping the fly with its broad tail! But Kessler’s persistence won out in the end. Just when he thought it was time to move on, the fish rose and ate on his last drift.

Bill Kessler certainly informed and entertained at the BC Flyfishers chapter meeting. In his obsession for chasing the Atlantic Salmon, Kessler exemplifies a strategy to fly fishing excellence that some anglers choose on the path to becoming a master angler. That is, rather than fly fishing for a variety of species, pick one and become really, really good at fly fishing for your species of choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most water is private

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transition to saltwater, heads to sea tailfirst

 

Magnetic particles in lateral line, detect chemical signature of natal rivers, may to October

 

Wet flies, 45 degree downstream

 

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: October 17th

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17, 2016 by stflyfisher

Now is the time to get out and wet a line! Fall is arguably one of the best seasons to fly fish. And the icing on the cake: anglers get to experience relatively warm days and the glorious autumn colors.

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The Susquehanna River taking on a bit of fall color…

Fly shop talk: The general trout season is now closed so it’s wise to read up on the DEC angling regulations going forward if venturing out for trout. There are some rivers, like the West Branch of the Delaware, where special regulations are in place to allow angling past the normal close on defined areas of the river. There are also some creeks, like Owego Creek, where angling is open anywhere on the creek all year under certain conditions. Having said that, it’s wise to follow the advice of Eric Mastroberti, Ithaca-area guide, who recently posted the following report on his fly fishing website:

This has been one seriously dry year! Streams are still disconcertingly low for mid-October, although with chilly nights and our first frost behind us, at least stream temperatures are in the 50’s generally.

There are only a few streams I’m willing to guide on currently, and those will not be a walk in the park. Expect to work for every fish caught. And every one that has made it through the summer is a champion!

I rather like Eric’s views on; 1) restricting fishing to streams that can still support the pressure, given the drought, and 2) deeming those fish that have survived the summer as champion stock.

All fish should be respected by anglers in the same way that Native American Indians respected the fish and game they killed. There are times when I see anglers act in very disrespectful ways towards our beautiful local fish species. We are, after all, their keepers, yet despite some of the environmental atrocities we have put them through, they persist to live and even thrive.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that fishing has been excellent to fantastic with anglers catching King salmon and Atlantic salmon. There are also reports of some big Steelhead moving in, thanks to an increase in flows…

pulaski-10_17

With the increase in flows, more fish have been moving into the river.

Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel reports that anglers staying with them who fished the lower end of the river have been having very good fishing. Anglers who fished the Black Hole, Staircase, Town Pool, Ballpark and Papermill got into mostly kings along with a few cohos. The anglers we spoke with who fished the DSR reported having a great day with a steady movement of kings along with a few cohos and steelhead mixed in. They have also had good reports from anglers who fished the Upper Fly Zone with anglers landing a mix of kings and cohos.

Suggested patterns:

  • Estaz eggs in blue, red, pink, chart. size 6-10.
  • Glo-bugs in chart, orange, pink, oregon cheese. size 6-8
  • Black egg sucking leeches in size 2-6.
  • Black flashback nymph in size 6.
  • Bunny leeches in black or olive. size 6
  • Woolly buggers in grizzly, black or olive. size 4-8.

Remember that the DEC that the Lower Fly Zone is closed to fishing until further notice.

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the West Branch is still flowing high at 1,200 cfs at Hale Eddy.  Fishing has been pretty good for those who are out throwing streamers.  A few fish have been rising but nothing too exciting on top with the higher flows.  We would expect the release to go down the next day or so but the flow downriver at Montegue is 950 cfs, about half of the minimum required flow down there.  The much needed rain for all of the northeast seems to be avoiding us.  The West Branch is going to be wadeable in some spots at these flows and the mainstem is going to be even more wadeable.  The East Branch is 177 at Fishs’ Eddy which is on the low side but it is very clear and wadeable and the Olives and caddis have been pretty good over there lately.  The Delaware River Club reports that the release from Cannonsville is 1,140 cfs.  The East Branch is still low.  Water temperatures are up a bit on the West Branch.  The release is now coming from a warmer level in the reservoir and we are coming off a much warmer night.  Temps still look good overall throughout the system.  The fish were eating streamers well yesterday.  There is that chalky color to the West Branch from the release that makes the fish feel more comfortable during the daylight.  We are in for quite a warm up over the next few days with air temperatures in the 70’s.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – #12 – 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Olive Sulphur – #18 – 20– Heptagenia hebe
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Creeks are still very very low. Cooler nights are making it better for trout that have survived the drought but it’s still best to give the creek trout a break for now.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting that water levels are an issue throughout the region. Water temperatures should drop close to a degree a day over the next couple of days.  John expects low-60s by next weekend on the lakes.  Smaller lakes’ surface temperatures should drop even more. Here’s the lake-by-lake report:

  • Owasco Lake:  The water level here is low but launchable without problems thus far. Lake trout action here is good to very good.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Action for pike, perch and bass is picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  The water level here is low.  Launching could be a problem in areas. The Watkins Glen pier is producing small smallmouth bass, rock bass and there are perch around too.  Expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.  Trout and salmon fishing should be fair to good in the lower portions of the lake.
  • Cayuga Lake: Lake trout fishing here should be fair to good.  I expect good to excellent action on chain pickerel and largemouth bass on the lake’s north end.  Yellow perch fishing should be picking up.  Bonus salmon, rainbows and browns should be around for laker jiggers.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.  The water level is very low here but launching at the State Launch is not a problem.
  • Otisco Lake:  Launching is still possible here from what I’ve heard.  Expect decent Tiger Musky action as well as some bass and walleye.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see surface temps here in the upper 50s before long.

Ponds: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. 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: Like most local rivers, streams, and creeks, the warmwater rivers are at new lows for the year. The wading is easy, making for great fly fishing and easy access to a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles.

The smallmouth bite remains exceptional and even the smaller bass are sporting guts indicative of the “fall feedbag”. Like river flows, water temps are also testing new lows with temps ranging from the high 50’s to the low 60’s, and water clarity is excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers but as the water continues to cool, activity will shift more to when the water is warmest, so don’t rule out early afternoons especially when the skies are cloudy. Streamers, crayfish patterns, and large nymphs in natural colors will work well and now is the time where it often pays to go up in fly size. I prefer natural colors with olive being my go-to color under current water conditions, but black, brown, and dark red/rust are also good choices. Sometimes white and bright colors like yellow or chartreuse can work well.

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This smallmouth has evidently been gorging on the abundant bait in the river, but couldn’t help but take just one more bite…

In addition to smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter a variety of other warmwater species. Now that we have had a few frosts, the walleye bite will only get better. If you hook a walleye remember that these are schooling fish and there will likely be more in the immediate area being fished. 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, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be caught on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

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Channel catfish will aggressively take big streamers and nymphs. This one hit a #2 olive bugger variant I have dubbed “Presley’s Cat Killer” in honor of Ron Presley, editor of Catfish NOW digital magazine. Cats are hard “down & dirty” fighters, even on stout fly tackle…

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

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold its next monthly meeting on Thursday, October 20th and will feature Joe Cambridge, local Finger Lakes angler, fly tyer, and author. Joe has presented to the chapter before and makes an excellent and intriguing presentation. Joe will talk about patterns and techniques that have traditionally worked well for the fall fishing in the tributaries of the Finger Lakes. Browns and a late run of rainbows supplement the Landlocked (Atlantic) Salmon fishing here, and some of the browns are very impressive. Joe is a member of IFFF and has authored articles in Fly Fisherman and Fly Tyer and has developed some deadly fly patterns. Join us when Joe shares with us his tips on where and how to fish for these fish in the Ithaca area tributaries. If water flow continues to be low, he will recommend strategies to still get hooked up with these exciting fish! Joe has developed several fly patterns unique to the fishery and will acquaint us with a few of his favorite patterns with pass around flies and a tying demonstration beginning at 6:30 PM. Joe advises that these patterns are easy to tie and work very well not only in the Cayuga Tribs, but also up north in the Salmon River and in other streams near Rochester and Buffalo. The meeting will be held, as always, at the Endicott Public Library.
  • 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 Al Hazzard Chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold its October general chapter meeting on Tuesday, October 18th from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Vestal Public Library. Speaker to be announced.

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

According to WBNG’s Brian Schroeder, a cold front is going to sag in from the north on Monday, giving us a few showers. This same front will lift northward. Since the front stalls, and then lifts northward, we aren’t going to get a cool down. In fact, we’re in for some warm, fall weather. We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Tuesday with the chance for some late day showers. More importantly, we’ll reach a high in the upper 70s, possibly low 80s. The chance of showers will continue Tuesday night. Not necessarily a wet forecast, but we will have the chance of showers and light rain from Wednesday and into the weekend. A slow moving front will sit over the Appalachians, giving us the precipitation. Temperatures will start out in the 70s, but by the weekend, they will become more seasonable with temperatures in the 50s.

 

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: October 10th

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2016 by stflyfisher

Fall is putting on it’s colors as we move to peak. And the silver maples that line the river are turning gold. Feed corn is being harvested and the Canada geese are flocking to them for the leftovers. The salmon run on the Great Lakes tribs is underway. And trucks are now parked on the road in the early morning and at dusk – bowhunters are taking to the woods in search of fall deer. We’re now well into Fall…

Fly shop talk: Observation is a critical skill for all anglers, including fly fishers. I recently took a saltwater fishing trip on a party boat out of Belmar, NJ. We were fishing with jigs and bait, so this is not a direct fly fishing experience, but the lesson does have meaning for feather-throwers. We headed offshore to fish for big bluefish and the fish were there. But fishing is never a sure thing. Some anglers on the boat did very well, but there were also some who went fishless, including a gentleman who started off fishing next to me. This angler had the right equipment and was experienced, but either refused to observe or was ignorant to what was going on around him. The current and drift favored the opposite side of the boat – a large 100 foot boat. And he did not notice that anglers with the most hookups were fishing with just a split-shot for weight as opposed to the 2 ounce egg sinker he was using. He also didn’t notice the anglers doing well were using larger chunks of bait in the chum slick. Jigs were hit and miss. At the end of the trip many anglers caught 10+ big blues, while this angler went empty-handed. Sometimes anglers refuse to observe what is working when fishing. It may be out of stubbornness, arrogance, or just plain ignorance, but my experience on the salt reminded me how important keeping your eyes and ears open is to fishing success.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting great fishing for Kings, Cohos, and even Steelhead. Clients have been rating the fishing a grade “A”. Water flow is still pretty low with release at the Dam at 185 CFS. Water temperature is 58 degrees. Whitakers Sports Store and Motel also reports angler success with Kings and Cohos at RT2A, Papermill, Ballpark, Town Pool, Staircase and Black Hole. Anglers who fished the upper section of the river reported fish holding in and around the deep holes such as Sportsman, Trestle and Schoolhouse.

Suggested patterns:

  • Estaz eggs in blue, red, pink, chart. size 6-10.
  • Glo-bugs in chart, orange, pink, oregon cheese. size 6-8
  • Black egg sucking leeches in size 2-6.
  • Black flashback nymph in size 6.
  • Bunny leeches in black or olive. size 6
  • Woolly buggers in grizzly, black or olive. size 4-8.

Remember that the DEC that the Lower Fly Zone is closed to fishing until further notice.

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the water has come up a bit bringing Hale Eddy to 373 cfs with a temp of 55 degrees after a flow of 263 at Stilesville.  The mainstem at Lordville is flowing 631 cfs and 59 degrees.  The lower East Branch at Harvard is 112 cfs and 53 degrees.  The flows have obviously been a little up and down over the last two weeks as the city is trying to meet the downstream flow at Montegue and conserve what they can in Cannonsville reservoir.  The anglers fishing the last few days have had decent luck with a few dries but primarily nymphing and dropper rigs.  The whole system is limited to wading for the time being as floating is going to be next to impossible with any watercraft.  Small Blue Winged Olives and their nymphs are good choices to pack for the day and #12 Isonychia for blind casting and running droppers. The Delaware River Club reports that the low water is leaving massive amounts of exposed river bed on the Mainstem.  Water temperatures are fine and if you do fish down there you certainly do not need chest waders.  It’s pretty damn sad that we cannot get a small amount of water released to cover the river bottom.  In the Spring DEP put out a press release about being “Good Neighbors” to the downstream users.  We’re going to delve into that one over the winter. Nymphs and wet flies still provided the most action over the weekend.  There have been some fish rising but most fish are feeding underneath.  Smaller flies are working better right now for both nymphs and dries.  There are some isonychias around but the majority of insects were seeing are small olives, heptagenia, and small caddis.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – #12 – 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Olive Sulphur – #18 – 20– Heptagenia hebe
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    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 are back down to summer lows although . 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 is reporting that water temperatures remain in the upper 60s in the main portions of the large Finger Lakes and gives the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing for lake trout is fair to good. Some fish are still feeding heavily. Bonus salmonids are occasionally in the mix.
  • Owasco Lake:  The water level here is low but launchable without problems thus far. Lake trout action here is good to very good.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Action for pike, perch and bass is picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  The water level here is low. Launching could be a problem in areas. The Watkins Glen pier is producing small smallmouth bass, rock bass and there are perch around too.  Expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.  Trout and salmon fishing should be fair to good in the lower portions of the lake.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.  The water level is very low here but launching at the State Launch is not a problem.
  • Otisco Lake:  Launching is still possible here from what I’ve heard.  Expect decent Tiger Musky action as well as some bass and walleye.

Ponds: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. 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 are back to dropping again to possible new lows for the year. The wading is easy, making for great fly fishing. These river levels are allowing a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles to be accessed safely.

The smallmouth bite remains excellent. Water temps are as low as the low 60’s and water clarity is excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers but as the water continues to cool, activity will shift more to when the water is warmest, so don’t rule out early afternoons especially when the skies are cloudy.

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A nice fall smallmouth from a few years ago that nailed a large home invader streamer. Fall is the time to fish big flies…

In addition to smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter a variety of other warmwater species. The walleye bite, in particular, will get better now that we are having chilly overnight frosts. If you hook a walleye remember that these are schooling fish and there will likely be more in the immediate area being fished. 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, 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 will hold its next monthly meeting on Thursday, October 20th and will feature Joe Cambridge, local Finger Lakes angler, fly tyer, and author. Joe has presented to the chapter before and makes an excellent and intriguing presentation. Joe will talk about patterns and techniques that have traditionally worked well for the fall fishing in the tributaries of the Finger Lakes. Browns and a late run of rainbows supplement the Landlocked (Atlantic) Salmon fishing here, and some of the browns are very impressive. Joe is a member of IFFF and has authored articles in Fly Fisherman and Fly Tyer and has developed some deadly fly patterns. Join us when Joe shares with us his tips on where and how to fish for these fish in the Ithaca area tributaries. If water flow continues to be low, he will recommend strategies to still get hooked up with these exciting fish! Joe has developed several fly patterns unique to the fishery and will acquaint us with a few of his favorite patterns with pass around flies and a tying demonstration beginning at 6:30 PM. Joe advises that these patterns are easy to tie and work very well not only in the Cayuga Tribs, but also up north in the Salmon River and in other streams near Rochester and Buffalo. The meeting will be held, as always, at the Endicott Public Library.
  • 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 week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Brian Schroeder, we will have a cold start to the week with mostly sunny skies and a light south breeze, temperatures will climb into the 60s with lows in the upper 30s and low 40s. Skies will be mostly sunny on Wednesday with highs in the mid 60s. A cold front will come through on Thursday. We’ll have mostly cloudy skies with showers. High temperatures will once again drop into the 50s with lows in the 30s. We’ll have some early clouds Friday with skies becoming mostly sunny in the afternoon. It looks like a pleasant weekend with mostly sunny skies on Saturday and highs in the upper 50s. Party cloudy skies will become mostly cloudy on Sunday, but we’ll be a few degrees warmer with highs in the low 60s. A body of low pressure just to our north will give us clouds and showers on Monday and Tuesday. Highs will be in the mid 60s.

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: October 3rd

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 2, 2016 by stflyfisher

The colors are beginning to fill in the hillsides. And the silver maples that line the river are turning to gold. This upcoming week will only get brighter in terms of the colors as we move towards peak. Meanwhile, the rains over late last week and the weekend served to at least add a little to our woefully deprived creeks. The fact that the Susquehanna bumped up a bit is a good sign but we still have a ways to go.

susky-oct

This week we wade into October and the great fall fly fishing transition. Get out and wet a line now while conditions are still good for a broad swath of the species covered here. Remember too that the general trout season closes in two weeks, so the trouty types should get their fill while the getting’s good.

Fly shop talk: Many of us start off fishing with some idea on where we want to go and what we want to do. We may arrange to fish a river or stream with a friend or we may decide to fish alone. Whatever the case, how many of us have a well thought-out plan? Especially for those who work, time is precious, and time on the water even more so. Our fly fishing hours are precious, after all, and any fly fishing outing deserves a plan of some sort. I like to develop a Plan A and a back-up plan, Plan B. Plan A is developed after checking the weather, the USGS water gauge for the areas of interest, and fishing reports. Timing, access and egress, stretches of the water to be fished are all reviewed in advance. Plan B develops along the same lines but is a back-up plan with a twist. I always have a Plan B whenever I go fishing thanks to Mike Hogue, a well-known Ithaca area angler and owner of Badger Creek Fly Tying. Mike writes a lot about “exploring” fishing trips, and so my Plan B is always fishing new water. That way, if Plan A is a bust because the fish aren’t cooperating, I always end the day on a high note by feeling like I made the best of it and took time to explore new water. One never knows when new water ends up being favorite water, too.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries:  The DEC recently announced that it’s closed the Lower Fly Zone to fishing until further notice. This announcement came in conjunction with a cut in the release for the river. The release cut was apparently made to conserve reservoir water in case the current drought persists. It’s being done to protect the spawning salmon, according to the DEC. It’s anyone’s guess what impact this lower release will have on the salmon run. Some believe lower water hinders the run, while others believe the salmon will run to spawn, regardless of conditions. The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that there’s currently a very light trickle of fish into lower part of the river (“3s and 4s”), and throughout the DSR section of the river. Anglers are catching fish but the best action seems to be in the early hours of the morning. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel is reporting that the fish have adjusted to the low water and have mostly been holding in the deep holes during the day and moving from hole to hole at night. With increased fishing pressure the best action has been first thing in the morning and later in the day once the crowd thins out. Anglers who have had the most success stayed in and around the deeper holes.  The low water pushes the fish to the deeper holes because it’s the only place they can hide and have cover. Because these areas can be crowded and the water is low and clear, the fish may be skittish or more line shy then normal. Using fluorocarbon, adjusting leader/tippet, and using more natural colors instead of big bright flashy stuff can all make a difference under the current conditions.

Catskill rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the area got some rain this weekend but not enough to make much difference to the river but they did increase the release overnight bringing Stilesville up to 642 cfs and just under 800 cfs at Hale Eddy. The river still has a decent amount of stain, especially on the West due to the release this time of year.  We’ve had rain the last few days and the streamer fishing has been decent for most. We have had some Blue Winged Olives and Cahills but the dry fly fishing has been spotty at best overall.  The temps are in the low to mid 50’s on the West and upper 50’s on the mainstem.  The water is a bit cleaner down on the mainstem as the silt drops as you head down river.  Nymph fishermen are doing well now that the rivers aren’t too high due to releases. The Delaware River Club reports that the recent release from Cannonsville Reservoir is 696 cfs. This leaves the West Branch is decent shape for both floating and wading. The Mainstem will rise a little but will also remain good for wading and floating. The East Branch temperatures are decent and the river is in good shape for wading. We have been hearing some reports of fish being landed on the lower stretches. Wet flies and caddis pupa have been working for the nymphers while small dark streamers are taking some fish. We are seeing some isonychias in spots. They still seem a little spotty but some people are finding decent numbers of them.  Most of the dry fly action has been on small olives in the afternoon.

 

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 for lake trout is fair to good. Bonus salmonids are occasionally in the mix.  Crews are replacing the intake screen at AES.  There are a couple barges out there.
  • Owasco Lake:  The water level here is low but launchable without problems thus far. Lake trout action here has been fair to good.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good.  Perch and pike fishing should pick up.
  • Seneca Lake:  The water level here is very low.  Launching could be a problem in areas. Expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.  The southern third of the lake should offer some fair fishing for browns, lake trout and salmon, but it’s still a crapshoot.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.  The water level is very low here but launching at the State Launch is not a problem.

Ponds: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. 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 were dropping to new lows but got a little recharge due to the recent rains. Still, they are easily waded, making for great fly fishing. These river levels are allowing a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles to be accessed safely.

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The Susquehanna, like all of the warmwater rivers, is seen here “baring its shoulders”, evidence of a very dry year…

The smallmouth bite remains excellent thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. Water temps are as low as the mid 60’s.

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 Nathan Hopper, the cut-off low pressure system is still hanging around the Great Lakes just as we thought it would because it’s separated from the main jet stream. We don’t expect it to move very far from that area, which means that clouds and showers will be possible up through Monday here in the Southern Tier. High pressure then looks to kick that cut-off low back into the main jet stream and move it toward the northeast early in the week. Once that high pressure takes hold in the central plains, we’ll start to see a clearing trend and drier conditions will work their way in by mid-week. Thursday will be sunny under that high pressure, and temperatures will be comfortable as they work toward the 70-degree mark. 70 degrees is about 8 degrees above average for the first week in October. The next weather-maker looks to come in Friday and affect Saturday, as well, with a 30% chance of showers on Saturday.