The week ahead in fly fishing: August 15th

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…


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:

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




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