Archive for July, 2016

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.

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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…