The week ahead in fly fishing: October 24th

We are now about one third of the way into autumn. Colors have peaked and the “leaf hatch” is on. That means leaf raking for anglers with yards and irritating conditions at times hooking “leaf fish”. The weather has been very nice until the cold front and lots of rain crossed the Southern Tier late last week / early on the weekend. We desperately needed the rain but with it has come much colder weather and even the first snow of the year. Such is fall…

Fly shop talk: On a saltwater fishing this fall I noticed an angler fishing completely different than everyone else on the party boat. Most anglers were fishing chunk bait in a chum slick for blues and a few more were jigging for them but this guy was fishing with only a medium action spinning rod, fairly light line, and very small metal diamond jigs. What’s more, he was casting not very far from the boat and jigging very quickly and erratically. I asked him what he was doing and his answer was fishing for albacore. Albacore can be taken on the fly and are known for their blistering runs, but they have keen eyesight and unless in a feeding frenzy, can be somewhat selective. This angler fished a long time but his persistence paid off. Every time the bluefish bite mellowed, the albacore came into the slick. He landed several of these magnificent speedsters. While it is important to change up when fly fishing, there’s also something to be said about sticking to your guns. This angler knew his methods would pay off. If you have confidence in a fly, a rig, a method, or even a location, be persistent and fish confidently!

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run reports it has been closed to fishing through Sunday, Oct 23, 2016 due to current high water conditions. If you have purchased DSR Online fishing passes for Sunday, Oct 23, 2016, please call the Ticket Booth (315-298-6672) to discuss options for receiving a voucher or rescheduling fishing passes for a later date. Please be sure to leave a message if you are not able to get thru, we will be sure to call you back. Office staff will be here for regular hours regardless of fishing closures for the weekend. With the increase in flows, more fish are sure to move into the river. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel reports the river is high and we’re still getting runoff from the recent rain. No question the water level is high, but anglers are still fishing and making the most of conditions.  The best visibility was in the upper section of river between the Trestle and Altmar. We did speak with some anglers who landed some kings in the diversions and side channels of the main river as well as the Ellis cove area and the Upper Fly Zone.

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.

Note that The DEC recently lifted the ban on fly fishing in the Lower Fly Zone!

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that with the higher flows of due to recent rains, the streamer fishing should continue to be a productive, especially on the still-stained water of the West Branch. There should be some BWO’s and the 16 Dark Tan Caddis around in good numbers, particularly on the rainy or overcast days. The Delaware River Club reports that the rivers came up a little bit from the runoff of the recent rains but the releases have been increased to meet the downstream flow targets. Due to the colder air temps, the water temperatures have dropped back throughout the system.  The best bet right now is streamers fished slow.  Nymphing could pay off since the color of the rivers is getting better.  The forecast is calling for winds around 14 mph which is much better than the amount originally predicted. This will throw some more leaves in the river but yesterday’s wind did a pretty good job of clearing a lot of them.

Remember that fly fishing for trout is closed with the exception of areas covered by special regs, such as the border waters.

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
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Creeks finally picked up some water, location dependent. Where the water is dirty or stained, streamers will be the best bet, especially for aggressive spawning browns. It still makes sense to tread carefully when fishing the little waters. The trout that have survived the drought deserve to fight another day. “Champion stock”, in the words of local guide Eric Mastroberti, should be released quickly, or better yet, left alone, depending on the water being fished. Remember that fly fishing for trout is closed with the exception of areas covered by special regs. Check the regs if fishing one of the area streams or creeks for trout.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting that the Finger Lakes received plenty of rain!  Water temps throughout the region are optimal for northern pike fishing. Following is his lake-by-lake report:

  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action here is fair to good.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Action for pike, perch and bass is picking up.
  • Seneca Lake: 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.
  • Cayuga Lake: Lake levels are actually HIGH here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good. Action on chain pickerel and largemouth bass on the lake’s north end should be good to excellent. Yellow perch fishing is picking up.  Bonus salmon, rainbows and browns are around for laker jiggers.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good.  Expect good action on yellow perch and the usual rockbass.  Rainbow trout should be showing up in nearshore angler catches soon.
  • Otisco Lake:  Expect decent Tiger Musky action as well as some bass and walleye.

Ponds: The recent cold weather will start to have an impact on pond fishing. If you are fishing ponds, focus on the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. Bass and sunfish will still be biting but forget about topwater and fish streamers and nymphs. The best fishing will be on warmer days.

Warmwater rivers: All local warmwater rivers are high and dirty right now, thanks to recent heavy rains.


The Susquehanna crested at just under 8,000 CFS. If you want to chase smallies and other brownwater species, it’s best to focus on the river tribs and the headwaters of the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga. Dark or very bright large streamers will give you the best chance of hooking up. Wading is out of the question for the bigger waters but boat angling will provide good access to holding water. Remember too, the walleye bite is turning on with the colder weather, AND, channel cats typically get aggressive when water has risen. A big bugger type streamer in dark colors can work on cats.


The rivers are up, but that typically puts channel cats into feeding mode. Dirty water makes fly fishing challenging, but fishing BIG and dark bugger patterns with a sink-tip or sinking line, might just tempt a catfish to eat, like this nice one.

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

  • 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 Nathaniel Hopper, as we move through the evening Sunday, the chance for showers returns and stays with us through the morning hours Monday, as some showers may be lingering around. Tuesday and Wednesday will dry out with temperatures in the low 40s. The sun will make a return to the Southern Tier on Wednesday. Thursday clouds will increase as will the chance for showers. A slight chance of showers will then hang around as we wrap up the work week.




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