The week ahead in fly fishing: September 12th

We are now a little over one week from the official start of fall. It certainly doesn’t feel like that given the toasty and humid end of week weather we’ve recently experienced, however. Trees continue to show signs of turning and there’s no doubt our continued dry and drought-like conditions are causing an early turn. Creeks, streams, and even the larger rivers are all bones these days. One look at the water gauge for the Susquehanna is all you need to convince yourself that it’s been a dry year…


And along with the dry weather, the daylight is shortening – another sign of fall. By next week we’ll be even-steven on the ratio of daylight to darkness – and it’s downhill from there. Best to rise early when it’s dark out and get used to it in preparation for late fall steelhead fishing!

Fly shop talk: This week I’d like to recognize the 15 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America. This isn’t fly shop talk, per se, as it doesn’t have much to do with fly fishing – or does it? It goes without saying that the 9/11 attack was by all accounts a truly life changing event for the victims, their families, and the survivors, including the many responders who continue to suffer from the physical and psychological impacts of the attack. But I think it is fair to say, no American can say that their life has not changed as a result. Walk through any airport, go to any major public event, or visit a government facility, and the lasting effects of the attack are clearly visible. We lost a bit of innocence on that day. We are, perhaps, more guarded. We may even bristle at the thought of that day. For freedom is indeed, not free. And this is where fly fishing comes in. Get out and fish this week. Do it, if for nothing else, to remember those who died, who suffered, and who continue to suffer. Remember them and honor them by doing the very thing the evil ones out in the world want so dearly. Exercise the freedom you have and cast. Wade our beautiful rivers. Cherish some serenity. And cast, cast away for them…


The second tower of the World Trade Center bursts into flames after being hit by a hijacked airplane in New York in this September 11, 2001 photograph. REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek/Files




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

Catskill Rivers: 

Releases on the West Branch of the Delaware have been pretty significant lately with a high flow of over 1400 CFS this weekend. Currently flows are dropping but still above 1000 CFS. The West Branch Angler reports that there was a bit of stain to the water over the weekend. Water temps are good throughout the West Branch and the upper mainstem as well with the temp at Lordville is currently 63.  Streamer fishing is going to remain pretty good with the currently high is volume of water. The flying ants in size 18-24 will be around for a while as well as a few Isonychia and Cahills.  We don’t know how long the water will last but high flows will continue until we get a decent amount of rain to help the downstream flows. The Delaware River Club reports Cahills and olives are the main hatches right now but there are still some small sulphurs mixed with isonychias.  There are also a few brown caddis showing up.

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 continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: 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 remain low and continue to drop, 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 warmwater rivers are really getting skinny, as shown in this picture of a Susquehanna river braid that is now totally dry…

The smallmouth bite is very good, even “hot” according to some river rats. 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. I recorded a recent temp of 75 degrees on the Susquehanna.

The rivers are loaded with bait and water clarity is good. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. 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, slower water, and eddies. Also be prepared to encounter different species. I recently found a pod of young walleyes that were taking a large streamer stripped through a pool. It was nice to see younger fish like that – a true indicator that the river is healthy.

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 BC Flyfishers will be auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod, starting with the September 22nd general meeting. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The 3rd Partridge Fly Tying Days will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum from 10:00am-4:00pm. The day celebrates the art of fly tying. Partridge Fly Tying Days is a fun, casual format for a fly tying show with the objective to promote fly tying through education. The day is filled with demonstrations, presentations and workshops from some of finest fly tiers in multiple specialties, in the intimate surroundings of the Wulff Gallery.
    Information will be updated frequently. PRESENTATIONS include BCFF member John Shaner speaking about “Tackle and beyond”, Peggy Brenner presenting on “Streamers”, and a presentation to be announced by the Catskill Fly Tying Guild.
    Authors & Demonstrations include Rick Bobrick of Medusa Leaders. Rick will be set up for furled leader and knot tying demonstration throughout the day. There will also be over a dozen fly tyers on hand.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

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

According to WBNG’s Nathan Hopper, a more seasonable and less humid high pressure system looks to be shifting into our area from the Central Plains. This will limit cloud activity, and keep things more fall-like through Wednesday. On Wednesday, another cold front will come through our area, and thus another chance for some showers and a few thunderstorms. After this cold front pushes through, temperatures will drop off the table with highs being on average or just below average in the mid-60s to low-70s for the remainder of the week.

Looking out a little longer term, forecasters are saying that cold fronts will be more common across the Northeast through the rest of September. This roller coaster-type weather pattern is typical for autumn months and will only increase in frequency and magnitude through November. However, one can expect warmer temperatures to win out over the cooler temperatures through the rest of the month.


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