The week ahead in fly fishing: October 31st

Goodbye October, hello November. We start this week with Haloween and then move into November, another transition month for Southern Tier fly anglers. This is a tipping point month where some of the warmwater species start to slow down and coldwater species heat up. It’s also the time where the salmon run matures and ends and lake-run species begin to dominate the fly fishing scene. We’ve already had our first snow and the hillsides are now bare of the red and orange of maple foliage. Oaks are beginning to turn their hues of red, rust, and brown, and aspens are turning gold. Most rivers, streams, and creeks have finally shrugged off the drought with recent rains.


Welcome, November…

Fly shop talk: As I drove to explore a new stretch of water recently, I thought about my life and proximity to my 60th year on this good earth. As we age we are rewarded with wisdom, but many bemoan that the vigor and virility of youth begins to ebb. We tend to slow down, energy escapes us, and physical ailments begin to impede our activity. We all will some day fight the relentless tide of aging, but I notice that fly fishing is one activity where all of the woes of age seem to vanish. When I am on the water with long rod in hand, all worry and anxiety empty from my conscience. Any aches, pains, or ailments seem to be forgotten. In fact, I don’t even see myself as a 57 year old man – I regain the spirit, focus, and vision of youth. Fly fishing seems to turn back time for me making me wonder if days on the water even count against whatever time I’ve been given to live…

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting slower than normal fishing as of late. There are some steelhead and browns being caught and a few kings, though the lower river salmon bite appears to be slowing. The river is flowing at a steady 730 CFS at Pineville with a water temperature in the mid-to upper 40’s. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel reports that the upper end of the river is producing the most action for those anglers looking for kings. Anglers fishing the Upper & Lower Fly Zone reported getting into mostly kings and the occasional steelhead. The majority of anglers fishing the lower end of the river are looking for steelhead. Anglers who are working hard and covering water in the lower end of the river have picked up a steelhead here and there in the Ballpark, Town, Longbridge/Staircase, Black Hole and DSR. The anglers we spoke with who fished some of the smaller local tributaries reported getting into mostly kings.


Suggested Patterns:

  • Sucker spawn in white, cream, peach, blue. size 8
  • Estaz eggs in chart, pink, white, blue. size 10
  • Glo-Bugs in pink, chart, orange. size 8
  • Steelie omelet in chart, peach. size 8
  • Steelhead stone in red, purple, orange. size 6
  • Steelhead bugger in size 6.
  • Flesh fly in size 6.
  • Black egg sucking leech in size 6.
  • Purple egg sucking leech in size 6.

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

Catskill Rivers: The Delaware River Club reports that the recent wave of warmer weather should help the hatching.  There were some olives and a few isonychias out but streamers and nymphs are definitely more productive.  The West Branch, lower East Branch, and Mainstem are all in decent shape for floating and wading.


  • Slate Drake – #12 – 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Olive Sulphur – #18 – 20– Heptagenia hebe
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.

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

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 has received plenty of rain! Water temps throughout the region are dropping quickly and are optimal for northern pike fishing. Following is his lake-by-lake report:

  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action here is fair to good overall but was slow for us last Sunday, mainly due to the weather conditions.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Action for pike, perch and bass is picking up.
  • Seneca Lake: Expect good pike fishing here. Perch action should only get better.
  • Cayuga Lake: Lake trout fishing is fair to good. Action on chain pickerel and largemouth bass on the lake’s north end is good to excellent. Yellow perch fishing is picking up. Pike action should be underway.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Expect good nearshore rainbow trout fishing here. Bass, lake trout, perch and landlocked salmon fishing should be good here as well.
  • Otisco Lake:  Expect decent Tiger Musky action as well as some bass and walleye.

Ponds: No real changes here. Colder temps will continue to slow things down on local ponds. If you are fishing ponds, focus on the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. Best flies will be streamers and nymphs but make sure to fish them deeper and slower. The best fishing will be on warmer days.

Warmwater rivers: Some of the local warmwater rivers have come down and cleared a bit but the Susquehanna remains too high for wading but is fishable from a boat.


The Tioughnioga is dropping and clearing and would be a good choice for those anglers who still want to fish the warmwater rivers. 

Clarity is still an issue, however. Also, rivers temps are crossing below the magic 50 degree mark. Smallmouth bass usually begin to drop back to wintering holes as water temps drop below this mark. 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. The Chemung river, to our west, also appears to be getting back to wadeable levels. Focus efforts at the end of the day and fish warmer days. Dark or very bright large streamers will give you the best chance of hooking up. Remember too, the walleye bite is turning on with the colder weather.

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.
  • Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of the International Federation of Fly Fishers is also conducting a fly rod raffle – with tickets available on our website via Paypal. The TiCrX 7wt Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) fly rod that’s being auctioned was a gift from the John Rominger estate. The model retails for $280. The drawing will be held at the TTFR Leadership Meeting on December 19, 2016, just in time for Christmas.
    You do not need to be present to win. You can buy tickets on-line here.

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

According to WBNG’s Nathaniel Hopper, a low pressure system that is currently situated north of Toronto has a cold front stretching to the southwest. This cold front looks to stroll through the Southern Tier on Sunday bringing rain showers and cooler temperatures in its wake. Highs on Sunday will be around 50 degrees while the low temperature Sunday night will be in the mid-30s. Monday will then be cooler as a cooler pocket of air looks to hang about through the overnight on Monday. Tuesday things will toast right back up to the mid-50s and small chance of isolated showers sticks with us through Wednesday. A better chance of showers comes to us on Thursday. Temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday will be around 60 degrees. As we wrap up the end of the week, temperatures will hang out around seasonal norms in the low-50s.



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