The week ahead in fly fishing: September 6th

September started out summer-like, although the cool mornings hint at fall’s coming. A few trees are already starting to show a bit of fall color. Fields and riverbanks are dry. All of the warmwater rivers continue to drop, making fishing and wading very easy. Hatches on the coldwater rivers are getting stale: the sulphur hatch is pretty much done and Iso’s are kind of sparse, leaving trout the ubiquitous BWO or flying ants. The next few weeks will be a transition – the glorious end of summer and the anticipation of an entirely new season of fly fishing.

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The low, late-summer Susquehanna River…

Fly shop talk: A gentleman was walking his dog as I pulled out of the river the other day. Seeing my fly fishing gear as I moved to my car, he asked; “any luck?” I responded the typical way, indicating I had a good day, but his question made me think about a more appropriate response. While there is some luck to fishing, my response really should have been, “yes, 10% of it.” I say this because fly fishing is 30% knowledge, 25% skill, 20% preparation, 15% execution, and 10% luck, in my opinion. One could argue the numbers but the point is one must be a continuous learner, seek to apply what is learned, prepare thoroughly before hitting the water, and then spend a lot of time on the water to truly master fly fishing. In the words of Ray Croc, founder of McDonald’s; “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” I think that statement applies well to fly fishing.

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

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler is still happy to have a river full of cold water that extends down to the mainstem with good temps in most areas due to the release and cool nights we’ve been having.  The West Branch at Hale Eddy is flowing at over 1,000 CFS currently due to another recent bump in releases.  The mainstem at Lordville is also flowing over 1,000 CFS.  The bugs have been a bit spotty over the last week or so, which is to be expected this time of year, after the Sulphurs have wrapped up on the upper West.  We are getting some small BWO’s in the 18-24 range on most days, primarily the afternoons and more so on days of clouds and rain.  A few Isonychia in size 12 are still around on most days and are excellent blind-casting bugs in the riffs if nothing is happening.  There are a few #16 Cahills that will be around in the afternoon hours as well.  A few tricos have been around in the morning and the mainstem and upper East are your best spots for those.  The streamer fishing has been decent on the West with the slightly stained water.

The Delaware River Club reports that the release from Cannonsville has been increased to 1,041 CFS.  The increased release is most likely due to meeting the Montague flow target. We had mixed results dry fly fishing over the weekend but most people seemed to find some fish eating throughout the river.  Nymphing was still the best bet during the bright sun.  Cahills and small olives are the most common hatches right now.  If you venture onto the upper Mainstem definitely have a few white flies in your box just in case. 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: Nothing new here. The low, warm water warns, “stay away.” Give the creek trout a break for now.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone gives the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing remains good in general for lake trout, bonus browns, salmon and rainbows, but the bite windows are closing in a bit.  This happens every year in September (the annual “September Slowdown”) as days get shorter and lake trout get closer to the spawn.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action should be good here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should start to pick up.  I will be doing more trips over here shortly.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing remains poor to fair at best – at least in the northern portions of the lake from Sampson to Geneva. Browns, rainbow and salmon action has been fair to good.  I haven’t been here in awhile and likely won’t fish here until I target northern pike later this month or in October.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.  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: Not much new to report here except that the cooler nights will shift the best fishing to later in the day or around dusk. Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers are low, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. At current levels, even the Susquehanna can be forded in spots and a lot of out-of-the-way pools, runs, and riffles can be accessed. The smallmouth bite continues to pick up. The river temps are dropping thanks to cooler nights and those cooler nights are also giving the rivers a nice blanket of radiation fog that provides excellent low light fishing well into mid-morning.

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Early morning fog like this can make for some extended low light fishing…

The river is loaded with bait and there are some interesting bugs out there, including a lingering white fly hatch, olives, caddis, and a mahogany mayfly of sorts. This mayfly is Isonychia size – easily a #12 or even #10, and I believe the channel cats are slurping them in the early mornings as I observed last year at this same time. Most recently I hooked a nice channel cat as I worked a streamer across a tailout. The cat hit the streamer with authority and soon enough showed me the backing on my reel…

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Mr. Whiskers will readily hit a streamer or large nymph and put up a dogged fight on an 8 weight fly rod…

Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the river. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools and slower water. Also be prepared to encounter different species. Brownlining the rivers is a lot like Forrest Gump’s mantra – “a box of chocolates where you never know what you’re going to get.” Smallmouth bass, fallfish, walleye, channel cats, carp, pike, and musky are just some of the fish that can be taken and often cases, all on the same fly.

Fly fishing events: After a summer break, area fly fishing clubs and chapters are getting back to business. Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold their first monthly meeting after the summer break on Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm, with a fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Endicott Library. The guest speaker will be Bill Kessler, a devoted Atlantic Salmon fisherman who has fished from a couple hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, to Scotland, Ireland, and his “local” fisheries on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and in New Brunswick.  Bill will describe the Atlantic’s life cycle, habitat, and will describe various methods of fishing for salmon, using both wet and dry flies.  He will discuss the equipment — flies, lines, rods and reels as well as describe both single and double hand casting techniques and when to use them. Bill will bring samples of the equipment and flies and will regale us with stories of his most memorable experiences. As usual, the meeting is open to the general public at no fee.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF is hosting a float fishing trip on the Chemung River from Corning to Big Flats. Members and visitors are welcome, but the chapter needs to know before September 7th if you plan to attend. This is usually a very productive and popular float trip for bass and carp. The chapter plans to meet at 9 am in Corning, NY at the Cohocton Street Launch (behind Pressware) and float to Botchers Landing (a 7 mile float). They will first set up the boats and shuttle cars to the destination site. There will be a grill shorelunch at the halfway point of the float. Expect to be off the river around 5 pm. For lunch, the club will grill burgers with all the fixings. There will be bottled water and some drinks, plates napkins, plastic silverware, etc. Anglers planning on attending will need a canoe, kayak, driftboat, or inflatable pontoon boat for the float. If you don’t have a watercraft, the chapter will try to hook you up with someone who has an open spot or you can rent a canoe ($45) or a single person kayak ($35). If planning to attend, please contact Matt Towner at 607-542-0285 (mtowner23@gmail.com) or Kirk Klingensmith at 607-346-7189 (kklingensmi@stny.rr.com) before September 7th.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

High pressure has engulfed the eastern half of the country, which caused mostly sunny conditions all up and down the East Coast over the Labor Day weekend. There are some clouds to the southeast that are being pushed off of Post-Tropical Cyclone Hermine, but no rainfall is expected from those high passing clouds. Hermine looks to be weakening within the next 36 hours, and by the middle of the week, she will only be a tropical disturbance that’s hanging around just off the coast of NYC. Temperatures will be increasing into the mid to upper 80s come mid-week, and our dry/sunny trend will come to an end as the chance for showers returns Thursday with an agitated and moist weather pattern that looks to stick around through Monday. The best chance for precipitation comes both Friday and Sunday as two separate systems are expected to roll through the area. These two fronts look to bring some much needed rain to the area, as we have seen only a few drops of rain in the last few weeks. Seasonable temperatures then return for the weekend and the start of next week looks much more fall-like as we wrap up our summer and prepare for fall.

 

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