The week ahead in fly fishing: August 1st

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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