The week ahead in fly fishing: August 22nd

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2016 by stflyfisher

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

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

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

Thomas Paine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 15th

Posted in Uncategorized on August 15, 2016 by stflyfisher

August is rolling along hot and lazy. Though thunderstorms over the last week have helped to somewhat ameliorate the drought, the attendant humidity has not been welcome nor has the oppressive heat. Some of the smaller brooks, creeks, and streams could still use more water and it looks like we may get help for them this week…

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Tiny “no-name brook” as I refer to it, is showing its bones through this dry summer. This picture was taken Sunday, 8/14.

Fly shop talk: Summer is flying by and with it the smallmouth bass fishing. As I fished the Chenango River with another angler I know, we talked about the fishery. He agreed with me that every bass we’ve caught without exception has been very healthy – well fed to even stout with beautiful coloring and classic smallie fight. I’ve caught a lot of smaller to mid-sized fish this year, a good sign that the fishery is healthy and that spawning is going well. Of course nature has its cycles so one never knows what next year brings, but I’m grateful for our rivers and looking forward to fall when the bass put on the feedbag.

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

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the West Branch has cleared up pretty significantly over the last 24 hours down at Hale Edddy and is even clearer up top around Deposit.  The current flow at Hale Eddy is 675 and 54 degrees with plenty of visibility for all types of fishing.  Look for Sulphurs starting around noon on the upper West and with cloud cover expect a few BWO’s in size 18-22.  The streamer fishing will be decent with the slight stain. The Delaware River Club reports that the rivers are still dropping and are clearing up nicely.  The water temperatures are higher than we’ve seen in the mornings due to the sunny days, warmer nights, and warm runoff.  The Upper West Branch around Hale Eddy is fine and the Upper Eat Branch above Harvard is okay.  If you fish below those points check the water temperatures with a thermometer.  The West Branch in Hancock peaked over 70 degrees yesterday afternoon.  The temperature should drop back a little as the ratio of warm runoff to cold release changes but we are starting off higher than normal down here.  The lower East Branch and Mainstem are both starting off over 70 degrees this morning. The sulphurs and olives hatched like normal on the upper river but the fished seemed put off by the quick change in flow.  There were some fish eating but not as many as we expected.  Hatches are the following:

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

Local streams and creeks: Most local creeks got at least a shot of water from the recent thunderstorm activity we’ve experienced. However, the effects of the drought we’ve been through has meant a lot of our smaller waters are already dropping and clearing. Leave the smaller skinny water alone for now and as long as the heat and dry conditions prevail.

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Very skinny waters…

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports Laker action remains solid on Cayuga Lake.  No word on Owasco Lake lately but fishing there generally gets better throughout the summer.  Here’s the lake-by-lake report:

Cayuga Lake:  Fishing here ranges from good to excellent for lake trout. There are good numbers of sizeable lakers throughout the lake and they bite on and off throughout the day. Bonus rainbows, browns and salmon are showing up with regularity.

  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action should be good here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths.  Smallmouth bass fishing should be good.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing is poor.  Browns should be fair to good.  Tremendous amounts of baitfish are virtually everywhere.  Weeds and waterfleas are a nuisance, moreso for trollers.  I will be back out here for more torture soon😉
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing should be good to excellent.  Lake trout action should be fair to good.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing was slow for us on 7/27.  Part of it was the weather pattern.  Expect action to pick up as waters cool (hopefully) in September and onwards.

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

Warmwater rivers: All of the warmwater rivers are up due to the recent rains. Increased flows have been spotty due to where heavy rain hit but now all of the warmwater tribs are heading north. With more rain in the forecast, it may be another week before fishing levels and clarity are good again. Anglers looking to get back into fishing for Mr. Bronzeback and his accomplices should look to the headwaters of the smaller rivers first.

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With the high water, this could be the end of the white fly hatch. It can run through the end of August, however, so keep an eye out as evening comes to the rivers. And finally, it’s time to start preparing for fall fly fishing. I usually gear up bigger for the aggressive bite. Big flies such as deceivers, half & halfs, and big clousers are often great for rousting out big bass. I’m talking about flies I’d normally use for blues and stripers. I’m always amazed how aggressive the bass can get. Josh Filter of the Leon Chandler chapter of TU once stated, “no fly is to big for a smallmouth.” I believe him.

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Here’s a nice bass I caught last fall on a 4″+ white deceiver – proof that big is better in fall!

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

The week ahead weather: The warmer weather we’ve had will continue in the week ahead along with humidity and the potential for a lot of rain. Look for highs to moderate a bit down to the low to mid 80’s but for lows to range in the low to upper 60’s. Following storms from the weekend, we’ll have a break from periodic thunderstorms and hot humid weather but that won’t last long as another batch of drenching rain and storms will surge north and east on Tuesday into Wednesday. A slow-moving front will pull plenty of tropical moisture northward from the Gulf Coast early in the week according to the AccuWeather Long-Range forecast.

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As the front exits the region later in the week, the frequency of storms is expected to lessen. The end of the week into the weekend should be much drier.

Remember that this is the time of year to be extra vigilant with regards to sun protection. Cover up with protective clothing or lather up with sun screen, and wear a hat and sunglasses. The eyes can suffer on bright days and a good pair of polarized sunglasses will definitely help in spotting fish. Also, hydrate before heading out and have water handy. Heat exhaustion is nothing to mess with and will ruin a day on the water, or worse.

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 8th

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2016 by stflyfisher

We are easing into August and the first first week was not a bad one. We received some much needed precipitation and enjoyed decent temperatures. While the effects of a dry July remain with us, some bodies of water did get a boost from recent rain.

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The upper Susquehanna River in Windsor is running a little murky and a good 5 degrees cooler than the Tioughnioga and Chenango, thanks to recent rains.

Cooler evenings have also helped, particularly for the coldwater species. Sweet corn is now being locally picked, hoppers are about, and herons and egrets are feasting in the rivers, lakes, and ponds. Ospreys and eagles are no doubt doing pretty well too. I’ve seen quite a few out on my forays to local waters.

Fly shop talk: Starting next week, I’ll use this section of the week ahead fly fishing post to record what I hear on the water and journal my own observations on fly fishing, tackle, the environment, and other musings.

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

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the rivers are all still in good shape and have dropped a little bit. The West Branch at Hale Eddy is flowing at 606 cfs currently with a temp of 50 degrees.  The upper East at Harvard is just under 200 cfs and 59 degrees. As not much as changed your best bet for rising fish during the mid-day hours is going to be upriver around Deposit. Subsurface fishing on the lower half of the West can be productive with small nymphs for the Sulphurs and Olives and the Iso nymph can be very productive as well. The Delaware River Club reports normal hatching on the upper West Branch. It does seem that the mid-day hatches are coming in waves with the main hatch coming off almost into the evening. Nymphing has been best in the morning before the fog burns off the water. Hatches are the following: 

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

Local streams and creeks: Low and slow – that’s about all one can say about area creeks. The recent rain we did receive did little to revive many waters. Leave the smaller water alone for now and as long as the heat and dry conditions prevail.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that laker action is top-notch on Cayuga and Owasco Lakes. Cayuga will likely provide some excellent fishing over the next 5 weeks at the very least. Here’s his lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing here ranges from very good to excellent for lake trout. There are good numbers of sizeable lakers throughout the lake.  Bonus rainbows, browns and salmon are showing up with regularity.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action should be good here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths.  Smallmouth bass fishing should be good.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing is poor.  Browns should be fair to good.  Tremendous amounts of baitfish are virtually everywhere.  Weeds and waterfleas are a nuisance, moreso for trollers.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing should be good to excellent.  Lake trout action should be fair to good.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing was slow for us on 7/27.  Part of it was the weather pattern.

Ponds: Ponds are definitely dropping and warming. Bass and sunfish are very active and willing partners to fly fishermen under these conditions, but low light early or late is best. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weedlines and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers experienced a divergence in flows in the past week. While the Tioughnioga and Chenango are running lower and clear after last week’s rains, the Susquehanna is running higher and murky at the moment. Water temps are in the 75 – 80+ degree range and somewhat cooler on the Susquehanna. Wading is safe to easy depending on where you go. The murk in the Susquehanna is fishable in the upper river but less so in the lower river around Vestal. It might be another week before the Susky clears up. The smallmouth bass fishing has been solid but reports indicate it can be hit or miss. Keep a focus on weeds and structure during the mornings and evenings where bait likes to hide but don’t forget the tailouts of pools. On one after-work outing I found fishing the riffles and deep runs to be less productive than the slower pool below. What I would normally consider marginal water was a steady pick of decent bass. It always pays to move around and experiment with color and the depths being fished.

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This smallie is no monster, but is in excellent condition and primed for the fall feedbag.

It also pays to keep an eye out for feeding fish. Fleeing minnows are always a sign of something stirring the pot below. I recently witnessed a bass chasing a sizeable minnow in very fast water, upstream no less. One swing of a streamer through that water was an instant hook-up. When the bass are lit up, it is important to throw a fly in their direction very quickly. Carp are pretty active all day long in the weedy pools and tailouts. They can be caught with buggy-looking nymphs and crayfish imitations. Sight-fishing can be especially effective to mudding fish. Finally, the white fly hatch has started but seems quite spotty. Look for the hatch to start around 8 pm and proceed into dark. There have been reports of ridiculously heavy hatches along with sparse ones or none at all.

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

The week ahead weather: We certainly enjoyed a few days of warm and pleasantly dry weather but it looks like that will end by mid-week. Temps will creep up on Tuesday but dew point temperatures will be on the rise. A cold front will approach our area on Tuesday night and with it, a chance of showers and T-storms. There’s a good chance, according to local forecasters, that the cold front will pass through and stall to our south. That will give us showers and T-storms for much of the extended forecast. So expect warm and muggy weather from Wednesday on with highs in the mid 80’s and lows in the 60’s. The overcast skies and potential for precipitation could be a good thing for fly fishing and for the fish. This is the time of year to be extra vigilant with regards to sun protection. And just because it is cloudy doesn’t mean you can’t get a sunburn. Cover up with protective clothing or lather up with sun screen. And don’t forget a hat and sunglasses. The eyes can suffer on bright days and a good pair of polarized sunglasses will definitely help in spotting fish.

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 1st

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2016 by stflyfisher

It’s hard to believe that it’s August already. It won’t be long before fly fishing rolls over to autumn – fall spawning runs and warmwater species putting on the feedbag. But for now it’s all about fishing around the heat and dry spell. Although we had a little rain over the weekend and there’s some rain still in the forecast, we are in very poor shape at the moment. Even our bigger rivers are at drought lows.

But the great thing about Mother Nature is that she perseveres nonetheless. Nature’s drive to live is amazing. Just today I took a jaunt through the 500 acre wood that is known as Jones Park in Vestal. A little brook runs through there that holds native brookies, some quite large for a brook one can leap across in spots. Right now it is largely dried up, yet springs infuse a little water here and there – enough to maintain small pools the size of a large kitchen sink. And in those potholes of water, I saw brookies, some quite large, hanging in there. You gotta love Mother Nature…

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

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the rivers have pretty much returned to their previous levels after some heavy rains a couple days ago and the thermal release we had over the weekend.  The West at Hale Eddy is still at 561 cfs and 48 degrees and running very clear.  The upper East is 153 and 60 and 280 down on the lower East at Fishs’ Eddy and the Mainstem is 934.  All of the rivers are very clear and will require long leaders and all the stealth you can bring.  We are still seeing the small, 18-20 Sulphurs starting in the early afternoon hours on the upper West Branch and continuing until evening.  You will likely see a few Olives mixed in with the Sulphurs, even on the bright and sunny days.  Terrestrials like ants and beetles have been working well, especially if you have a tough fish eating Sulphurs but isn’t liking your offerings.  There are a few Light Chills in the 14-16 range and their spinners throughout the system as well as some Isonychia.  The recent rains did clear a bit of the algae from the upper river, making nymphing a bit easier and the lower half of the river it isn’t much of a factor.

Local streams and creeks: Nothing new here – the creeks and small streams in our area are very low, clear, and warm. It’s reported that even Owego Creek is dried up in spots. Leave the smaller water alone for now and as long as the heat and dry conditions prevail.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that laker action is top-notch on Cayuga and Owasco Lakes. Cayuga will likely provide some excellent fishing over the next 5 weeks at the very least. Here’s the lake-by-lake report:

  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action is top notch here from what I could tell.  Angling Zone friend/client Rick nabbed an 11lb brown here late last week.  It was a 28″er! Bass fishing is decent.  There’s no shortage of bait on this lake.
  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing here ranges from very good to excellent for lake trout. There are good numbers of sizeable lakers throughout the lake.  Bonus rainbows, browns and salmon are showing up with regularity.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be fair to good.  Plenty of weeds are floating around.  Angling Zone Friend/Client Andrew nailed a giant brown here recently.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing should be good to excellent.  Lake trout action should be fair to good.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing was slow for us on 7/27.  Part of it was the weather pattern.

Ponds: Ponds are definitely dropping and warming. Bass and sunfish are very active and willing partners to fly fishermen under these conditions, but low light early or late is best. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weedlines and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to run skinny – clear, low and warm. Water temps are in the 75 – 80+ degree range and wading is very easy with the low flows. The smallmouth bass are there but you have to look for them. Try hunting around the weeds and structure during the mornings and evenings where bait likes to hide. You’ll also find them hanging in the tailouts of pools chasing bait, sometimes in very skinny water, but mainly when the light is low. During the day, the bass will be deep and in the riffles and runs. Hellgrammite and crayfish imitations fished like a nymph will work well. Channel catfish and fallfish will also be found in the mix. And carp are now pretty active all day long in the weedy pools and tailouts. They can be caught with buggy-looking nymphs and crayfish imitations. Sight-fishing can be especially effective to mudding fish. The white fly hatch has started. Look for the hatch to start around 8 pm and then really get going around dusk. Once the hatch gets going, be prepared for terrific topwater flyfishing. It’s normally best not to compete with the thousands of flies that can be about. Try a small popper or white streamer to be different and provoke strikes.

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A nice Susquehanna smallmouth that nailed a hellgrammite nymph in a deep run…

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

The week ahead weather: After a mainly wet weekend, and hopefully one that adds to local creek, stream, and river flows, the weather for the week ahead will be relatively dry and warm, with some chance for thunderstorms almost every day. Highs will gradually increase to the upper 80’s by the end of the week with lows in the low to mid 60’s. This is the time of year to be extra vigilant with regards to sun protection. Cover up with protective clothing or lather up with sun screen. And don’t forget a hat and sunglasses. The eyes can suffer on bright days and a good pair of polarized sunglasses will definitely help in spotting fish.

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 25

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on July 24, 2016 by stflyfisher

This is the first “week ahead” fly fishing report on Southern Tier Fly Fisher. As explained in a previous post, my weekly reports and other fly fishing articles will reside here until I have a new improved site in place.

It’s hot out there, and I should start my report by saying these are tough times for trout, particularly for the resident fish that inhabit local creeks. A recent stop at an access on the West Branch of Owego Creek was enough to remind me that this is not the time to stress coldwater species. My recommendation is to focus on warmwater stuff – brownlining as I sometimes refer to it. Take time to explore the many great warmwater fisheries we have and leave the high octane guys alone for a while.

Summer heat is here although we’ve had a string of cool nights to check the oppressive daytime temps. In our neck of the woods, watering corn fields is pretty much unheard of but I recently observed it in action for some newly sprouted corn. That says something. Some areas are harder hit than others – lawns are a good barometer.

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

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that after several days with very warm air temps it was nice to wake up today to a river with some more cold water running through it. The West Branch at Hale Eddy is flowing a nice 822 this morning, a great little cold water bump that will help keep more downriver sections cooler during this heat wave. The increased release is always a good thing, giving the slower moving sections of water a bit more texture throughout the river. The Sulphurs are still coming off consistently starting in the early afternoon hours up around Deposit. Even though it doesn’t look like much cloud cover over the next few days you will likely see a few BWO’s in the 18-22 range as well as some 14-16 Cahills. The Isonychia are still around in small numbers. Terrestrials are always safe bets this time of year so don’t forget the ants and beetles. Nymphing on the upper West has been pretty tough due to the algae in the water but the extra flow should help clear it out a bit. Downriver, say on the lower half of the West, the algae isn’t nearly as bad and nymphing is much easier.

Local streams and creeks: The creeks and small streams in our area are incredibly low, clear, and on the warm side right now. It’s best to leave these waters alone as long as the heat and dry conditions prevail. If you do fish, fish early or late and try to land and release fish quickly.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that Lake Trout action is top-notch on Cayuga and Owasco Lakes. Cayuga will likely provide some excellent fishing over the next 6 weeks at the very least. Cayuga Lake is usually good for all day action in August. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action is top notch. Angling Zone friend/client Rick nabbed an 11lb brown here late last week.  It was a 28″er! Bass fishing is decent. There’s no shortage of bait on this lake.
  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing here ranges from very good to excellent for lake trout. There are good numbers of sizeable lakers throughout the lake.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be fair to good. Plenty of weeds are floating around. Angling Zone Friend/Client Andrew nailed a giant brown here recently.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing should be good to excellent. Lake trout action should be fair to good.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing had been good with some very large fish around. Bass fishing should be good.

Ponds: Ponds are definitely dropping and warming. Bass and sunfish are very active and willing partners to fly fishermen under these conditions, but low light early or late is best. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weedlines and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: All of the warmwater rivers are running clear, low and warm. Water temps are in the 75 – 80 degree range and wading is very easy with the low flows. Reports have been mixed. Smallmouth bass can be found hunting around the weeds and structure during the mornings and evenings. You’ll also find them hanging in the tailouts of pools chasing bait, sometimes in very skinny water, but mainly when the light is low. During the day, the bass will be deep and in the riffles and runs. Hellgrammite and crayfish imitations fished like a nymph will work well. Channel catfish and fallfish will also be found in the mix. And carp are now pretty active all day long in the weedy pools and tailouts. They can be caught with buggy-looking nymphs and crayfish imitations. Sight-fishing can be especially effective to mudding fish. The white fly hatch is due to start any time now. I’ve seen a few white flies coming off towards evening but nothing of significance yet. Once the hatch gets going, be prepared for terrific topwater flyfishing.

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The Susquehanna River, shown here, is flowing low and clear. Flows recently dropped below 1,000 CFS, making for great wet wading on these hot summer days.

Fly fishing events: Area fly fishing clubs and chapters take the months of July and August off so there is nothing to report here. However, one noteworthy announcement is the following press release concerning the work that Gary Romanic, VP of the BC Flyfishers has done to secure a large donation to reach out to veterans in our area and offer fly fishing opportunities and instruction:

Binghamton, NY – Broome County Executive Debbie Preston, Broome County Legislators, and Director of Veteran Services Brian Vojtisek joined the Broome County Veterans Fly Fishing Program to discuss details of a recent donation to help the program. Broome County recently gave $10,000 to the program to help offset costs for travel to fly fishing destinations to facilitate fly fishing instruction.

“As you know, veterans hold a very special place in my heart and I’m willing to help them out in any way that I can,” says Broome County Executive Debbie Preston.  “Fly fishing is a wonderful activity and I’m on board with anything we can do to help our local veterans live the best possible life they can after sacrificing a part of their life for this Country.”

The mission of the Binghamton Veteran Fly Fishers is to lift the morale and support the welfare of Broome County veterans. “We want to thank the County Executive and Brian Vojtisek in the Veterans Services Office for this wonderful donation,” says Gary Romanic, vice president of the Broome County Veterans Fly Fishing program.  “This money will go a long way in not only getting the veterans to prime fly fishing areas, but also to provide instruction to those who have never fished before.”

“When we were approached for a donation last year, we were delighted to help,” says Director of Veteran Services Brian Vojtisek.  “This program fits into our mission of helping veterans financially, and in adjusting to a return to civilian life.”This is a one-time donation.

The week ahead weather: The weather for the week ahead will be mainly summer sizzle with the usual thunderstorm potential on Monday and Friday and if you can believe it, showers on Sunday at the end of the week. Highs will range in the upper 80’s to low 90’s with lows in the low 60’s. There will be relief at the end of the week with highs dropping to the high 70’s / low 80’s. Tuesday and Wednesday will have bright sun. And speaking of sun, this is the time of year to be extra vigilant with regards to sun protection. Cover up with protective clothing or lather up with sun screen. And don’t forget a hat and sunglasses. The eyes can suffer on bright days and a good pair of polarized sunglasses will definitely help in spotting fish.

 

 

 

 

For the times they are a-changin’

Posted in Fishing Reports, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on July 23, 2016 by stflyfisher

If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s lyrics about change are not lost on the dizzying pace of life in the 21st century. They came to mind as I read a recent email from Examiner.com – the site I wrote for under the title, “Binghamton Fly Fishing Examiner”.

The email politely stated that while “Examiner.com” had been a good ride with billions of content views, media consumption on the internet had changed to the point where the Examiner.com’s business was apparently no longer viable. I have to admit that it seemed site hits were trending lower for me over the last year or so. Initially I blamed myself and my writing for the drop, but perhaps there were other forces at work. Who knows…

Writing for Examiner.com was a big part of my literary life. Over 6 years I published some 530 articles that ranged from how-to articles to weekly fly fishing reports for the Southern Tier. Though I have always loved to write, it wasn’t easy holding down a full time job, tending to family, fly fishing, and writing. Examiner.com staff were pretty up front that no one should quit their day job while writing for them and I considered the compensation “fishing money”. Writing for Examiner.com did help me develop my writing muscle and I learned a lot from the experience, but most of all, the site allowed me to make a lot of fly fishing connections and some of the people I met through it turned into good friends and mentors.

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Captain Ron Presley, fellow Examiner and a writing mentor for sure…

Examiner.com opened doors, broadened my horizons, and got the word out on my take of a sport I dearly love. For that I am very very thankful.

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Joe Laney, from the Big Apple, fishes a stretch of the Otselic River with me.

In any case, I am now without a platform for writing weekly fishing reports and informational articles on fly fishing in the Southern Tier. This blog, you see, was developed to write about fly fishing related themes – my friendships with other fly fishermen, fly fishing history, musings on the sport – everything but the actual fly fishing itself. Southern Tier Fly Fisher is hosted by the wordpress.com blog site – perfect for my original writing needs but not customizable. In its basic form it’s not capable of displaying video, slideshows, or even hosting an online store, for example.

So, over the next few months I will be working on an entirely new home for Southern Tier Fly Fisher with a goal to have a new site up and running by the start of 2017. The new site will include regular fly fishing reports for our area along with plenty of local fly fishing pictures and videos and an online store featuring local flies and tackle. Peppered in with fly fishing reports and how-to articles will be other writing on our great sport and everything connected with it.

Stay tuned…

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Father fallfish

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2016 by stflyfisher

I went fly fishing on Father’s Day, as I normally do, but this year I fished a new stretch of river with another fly fishing father and, befitting the day, learned to appreciate on an entirely new level, what dads bring to this world.

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Father river – the lower Otselic…

Father’s Day honors fathers and for us fly fishing fathers, it’s a day to fish without that nagging guilt that the lawn needs mowing, the front door needs painting, or the honey-do list needs some attention. Us father fly fishers should recognize on “our” day that there are other fathers among us – fathers of the fishy kind. Some are not known for their fatherly qualities, while others are role models for all species, the human kind included.

If you’ve fished any of the warmwater rivers of the Southern Tier or even some of our coldwater rivers and streams – the Salmon River included – you might have noticed large piles of stones of the same size that stood high and possibly even dry above low summer flows.

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A fallfish nest this size means there’s a big male around…

You also may have wondered how these stones came to be piled in one spot. The answer is as old as the Native Americans of the Hudson Bay region who called this interesting fish, “Awadosi” or “stone carriers.”

fallfish

When caught, these fish are often called chubs or suckers. But upon hook-up, this feisty member of the minnow family puts on a show reminiscent of a nice brown trout or smallmouth bass. Black-backed, silver-sided, and streamlined, these flowing water dwellers put a good bend in a fly rod and can be taken on streamers, wet flies, nymphs, and even dry flies. They can attain sizes of over 18″. In fact, the New York state record is a 19″ fish that weighed over 3 lbs and was caught in the Susquehanna River.

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Nice fallfish = happy angler…

Besides the piss and vinegar the fallfish displays on the line, this species has a unique fatherly devotion to its offspring like no other.

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A dandy of a fallfish that hit a streamer with gusto on the swing. This could be a female, ripe with eggs as evidenced by her pronounced belly…

Every spring, fallfish feel cupid’s arrow and spawn. Water temperatures and seasonal light patterns provoke changes to mature male fallfish. The head area of the males will turn a beautiful red grape color and develop small breeding tubercles, also called “horns”. These horns actually shed after the spring spawn. The horns possibly play a role in nest defense and stimulation of mates.

Fallfish close up

The fallfish spawning ritual consists of the male moving over a pit or trough he has excavated and by trembling in place, sending sexual signals to the female. The female swims to the side of the male and deposits her eggs, releasing between 1,000 to 12,000 eggs. Timing is critical because fertilization occurs externally in flowing water. But it’s after spawning that the male fallfish truly comes to the fore of fatherhood.

When spawning is complete, the male selects and totes stones with his mouth and stacks the stones back into the pit over a two- to four-day period. The mound created may contain thousands of similar-sized stones. Big fallfish move larger stones and make huge mounds. The somewhat-circular mound of a large fallfish can measure up to six feet in diameter and three feet in height. The male covers the pit and eggs with stones presumably to prevent predation of eggs and suffocation of the eggs by silt.

Sometimes you’ll find a series of these nests spaced apart in a row in line with the current flow. During my trip to the Otselic River, I saw several areas with 3 – 5 nests in a row. It’s a pretty amazing sight to see, particularly in regards to the size of the larger nests, remembering they are built one stone at a time by a minnow that must swim in current while doing it.

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The work of daddy fallfish…

Fathers are part of the whole in the human dimension: dads wouldn’t exist without moms and vice versa. In the fish world, there are fathers that simply broadcast, others that help, but the fallfish, like a truly good father, builds and protects. Next time you’re out on one of our local streams or rivers, look for that pile of stones. And if it’s a big pile, be sure to work a nymph or streamer through the faster water, runs, and pools. One never knows where the next state record might be. But be gentle. That big fallfish has many more stones to move and progeny to shelter…

 

 

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