The week ahead in fly fishing: October 10th

Fall is putting on it’s colors as we move to peak. And the silver maples that line the river are turning gold. Feed corn is being harvested and the Canada geese are flocking to them for the leftovers. The salmon run on the Great Lakes tribs is underway. And trucks are now parked on the road in the early morning and at dusk – bowhunters are taking to the woods in search of fall deer. We’re now well into Fall…

Fly shop talk: Observation is a critical skill for all anglers, including fly fishers. I recently took a saltwater fishing trip on a party boat out of Belmar, NJ. We were fishing with jigs and bait, so this is not a direct fly fishing experience, but the lesson does have meaning for feather-throwers. We headed offshore to fish for big bluefish and the fish were there. But fishing is never a sure thing. Some anglers on the boat did very well, but there were also some who went fishless, including a gentleman who started off fishing next to me. This angler had the right equipment and was experienced, but either refused to observe or was ignorant to what was going on around him. The current and drift favored the opposite side of the boat – a large 100 foot boat. And he did not notice that anglers with the most hookups were fishing with just a split-shot for weight as opposed to the 2 ounce egg sinker he was using. He also didn’t notice the anglers doing well were using larger chunks of bait in the chum slick. Jigs were hit and miss. At the end of the trip many anglers caught 10+ big blues, while this angler went empty-handed. Sometimes anglers refuse to observe what is working when fishing. It may be out of stubbornness, arrogance, or just plain ignorance, but my experience on the salt reminded me how important keeping your eyes and ears open is to fishing success.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting great fishing for Kings, Cohos, and even Steelhead. Clients have been rating the fishing a grade “A”. Water flow is still pretty low with release at the Dam at 185 CFS. Water temperature is 58 degrees. Whitakers Sports Store and Motel also reports angler success with Kings and Cohos at RT2A, Papermill, Ballpark, Town Pool, Staircase and Black Hole. Anglers who fished the upper section of the river reported fish holding in and around the deep holes such as Sportsman, Trestle and Schoolhouse.

Suggested patterns:

  • Estaz eggs in blue, red, pink, chart. size 6-10.
  • Glo-bugs in chart, orange, pink, oregon cheese. size 6-8
  • Black egg sucking leeches in size 2-6.
  • Black flashback nymph in size 6.
  • Bunny leeches in black or olive. size 6
  • Woolly buggers in grizzly, black or olive. size 4-8.

Remember that the DEC that the Lower Fly Zone is closed to fishing until further notice.

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the water has come up a bit bringing Hale Eddy to 373 cfs with a temp of 55 degrees after a flow of 263 at Stilesville.  The mainstem at Lordville is flowing 631 cfs and 59 degrees.  The lower East Branch at Harvard is 112 cfs and 53 degrees.  The flows have obviously been a little up and down over the last two weeks as the city is trying to meet the downstream flow at Montegue and conserve what they can in Cannonsville reservoir.  The anglers fishing the last few days have had decent luck with a few dries but primarily nymphing and dropper rigs.  The whole system is limited to wading for the time being as floating is going to be next to impossible with any watercraft.  Small Blue Winged Olives and their nymphs are good choices to pack for the day and #12 Isonychia for blind casting and running droppers. The Delaware River Club reports that the low water is leaving massive amounts of exposed river bed on the Mainstem.  Water temperatures are fine and if you do fish down there you certainly do not need chest waders.  It’s pretty damn sad that we cannot get a small amount of water released to cover the river bottom.  In the Spring DEP put out a press release about being “Good Neighbors” to the downstream users.  We’re going to delve into that one over the winter. Nymphs and wet flies still provided the most action over the weekend.  There have been some fish rising but most fish are feeding underneath.  Smaller flies are working better right now for both nymphs and dries.  There are some isonychias around but the majority of insects were seeing are small olives, heptagenia, and small caddis.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – #12 – 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Olive Sulphur – #18 – 20– Heptagenia hebe
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    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: Creeks are back down to summer lows although . Cooler nights are helping the warm water but it’s still best to give the creek trout a break for now.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting that water temperatures remain in the upper 60s in the main portions of the large Finger Lakes and gives the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing for lake trout is fair to good. Some fish are still feeding heavily. Bonus salmonids are occasionally in the mix.
  • Owasco Lake:  The water level here is low but launchable without problems thus far. Lake trout action here is good to very good.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Action for pike, perch and bass is picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  The water level here is low. Launching could be a problem in areas. The Watkins Glen pier is producing small smallmouth bass, rock bass and there are perch around too.  Expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.  Trout and salmon fishing should be fair to good in the lower portions of the lake.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.  The water level is very low here but launching at the State Launch is not a problem.
  • Otisco Lake:  Launching is still possible here from what I’ve heard.  Expect decent Tiger Musky action as well as some bass and walleye.

Ponds: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. Bass and sunfish will 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 back to dropping again to possible new lows for the year. The wading is easy, making for great fly fishing. These river levels are allowing a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles to be accessed safely.

The smallmouth bite remains excellent. Water temps are as low as the low 60’s and water clarity is excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers but as the water continues to cool, activity will shift more to when the water is warmest, so don’t rule out early afternoons especially when the skies are cloudy.


A nice fall smallmouth from a few years ago that nailed a large home invader streamer. Fall is the time to fish big flies…

In addition to smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter a variety of other warmwater species. The walleye bite, in particular, will get better now that we are having chilly overnight frosts. If you hook a walleye remember that these are schooling fish and there will likely be more in the immediate area being fished. Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be caught on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold its next monthly meeting on Thursday, October 20th and will feature Joe Cambridge, local Finger Lakes angler, fly tyer, and author. Joe has presented to the chapter before and makes an excellent and intriguing presentation. Joe will talk about patterns and techniques that have traditionally worked well for the fall fishing in the tributaries of the Finger Lakes. Browns and a late run of rainbows supplement the Landlocked (Atlantic) Salmon fishing here, and some of the browns are very impressive. Joe is a member of IFFF and has authored articles in Fly Fisherman and Fly Tyer and has developed some deadly fly patterns. Join us when Joe shares with us his tips on where and how to fish for these fish in the Ithaca area tributaries. If water flow continues to be low, he will recommend strategies to still get hooked up with these exciting fish! Joe has developed several fly patterns unique to the fishery and will acquaint us with a few of his favorite patterns with pass around flies and a tying demonstration beginning at 6:30 PM. Joe advises that these patterns are easy to tie and work very well not only in the Cayuga Tribs, but also up north in the Salmon River and in other streams near Rochester and Buffalo. The meeting will be held, as always, at the Endicott Public Library.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.

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

According to WBNG’s Brian Schroeder, we will have a cold start to the week with mostly sunny skies and a light south breeze, temperatures will climb into the 60s with lows in the upper 30s and low 40s. Skies will be mostly sunny on Wednesday with highs in the mid 60s. A cold front will come through on Thursday. We’ll have mostly cloudy skies with showers. High temperatures will once again drop into the 50s with lows in the 30s. We’ll have some early clouds Friday with skies becoming mostly sunny in the afternoon. It looks like a pleasant weekend with mostly sunny skies on Saturday and highs in the upper 50s. Party cloudy skies will become mostly cloudy on Sunday, but we’ll be a few degrees warmer with highs in the low 60s. A body of low pressure just to our north will give us clouds and showers on Monday and Tuesday. Highs will be in the mid 60s.



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