The week ahead in fly fishing: August 8th

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.


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.


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.


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