The week ahead in fly fishing: April 3, 2107

The traditional opening of trout fishing was pretty much a blow-out for most local creeks and streams. Earlier last week it looked like it was shaping up to be a nice opener but that was not to be, thanks to the already mid to high flow levels and then more snow melt and a long soaking rain on Friday. So it is with early season fly fishing. Be thankful that there’s a lot of water in the hills to last us hopefully through spring and into early summer.

Fly shop talk: Before wading into the 2017 fishing season, anglers should remember the law of good karma – that good intent and good deeds can contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and future suffering. Another version of this is the Golden Rule; to do unto others as you would have done to you. I was reminded of this while watching the tuna fishing reality show, Wicked Tuna. In it, a reputably “bad boy” captain with a greedy reputation in previous episodes seemed to change his ways. Playing a big bluefin tuna around anchored fishing boats can be tricky and the big tuna he had wrapped the line around an anchor line for another boat. The captain of the anchored boat saw what was happening and released his boat from the anchor line so that “bad boy” captain could untangle his tuna line and regain control of the fish. Even though the fish was eventually lost, the “bad boy” captain later admitted in the old days he’d simply cut the other boat’s anchor line. Turns out, his boat, The Pinwheel, is leading in the series standings. Of course that payback doesn’t always happen, but then again payback shouldn’t be expected. The point is the root of true happiness is all about giving and not taking.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run reports mixed results with some anglers hooking up and others not. Some of the best steelhead fishing will soon be at hand as water temps begin to warm and the fish spawn and then begin to drop back. Spring is also a great time to mix it up with pre-spawn smallmouth bass, that enter the river to also spawn.

Whitakers is reporting that some steelhead are being taken in the Upper Fly Zone, however, high water is making for difficult conditions.

pineville usgs 40217

Nymphs and egg patterns are producing the best results for fly anglers. Some steelhead are being taken around the Ellis Cove area with egg sacs producing the best results. With the high water the fish have been holding along the inside seams and softer water along the edges of the deeper holes and runs. The fish have also been holding in and around the deep water adjacent to the gravel areas. For those anglers who are not comfortable with the high water, some of the smaller local tributaries are another option. On Friday, the DEC started the steelhead egg collection at the hatchery.

Suggested patterns:

  • Wiggle stone in blue, peacock, chart, pink. size 10
  • Steelhead stone in purple, red, orange. size 8
  • Rusher nymph in blue, purple, chart, red. size 10
  • Steelhead hammer in blue, black, red, chart. size 10
  • Steak-n-eggs in chart, pink, orange. size 10
  • Black flashback nymph in size 8.
  • Sucker spawn in cream, white, peach, blue. size 8
  • Glo-Bugs in chart, oregon cheese, steelhead orange, egg. size 10

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that it’s starting to feel a lot like spring outside. The heavy rain we received has the Finger Lake tribs running high.  Lake levels are rising and most launches should not provide too many problems.  Expect all lakes to be at full pool or very close by then.

Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fly-fishing and casting with gear has been very good for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers.  Lake trout jigging is also good and should be lakewide.  Perch fishing should be very good.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  I would expect good lake trout jigging here as well as good perch fishing.  I should have a report soon.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout and yellow perch fishing should be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here.  Perch fishing is very good. Lake level is about a foot below full pool.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.  The State Launch is finally open and docks are in.

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler is reporting that there are high water levels throughout the Catskill rivers system. Despite the higher water all of the rivers are in good to great shape with a nice green tint to them. The release from Cannonsville is going to continue into this coming week to keep a void in the reservoir to collect spring rains.  Streamer fishing is the best bet with this volume of water and fishing slowly and thoroughly in likely-looking sections of slower water is a good game plan.  The runoff and feeder streams will continue to drop as long as it stays dry.

The Delaware River Club is warning anglers to not wade until the river levels drop.  It’s possible to throw streamers from a boat or shore right now and that fishing should improve over the next week as the water temperatures rise along with the air temperatures.  It won’t take long to get going.

Air temperatures should be in the 50’s a couple of days this week and will make fishing much more comfortable.  There are a few stoneflies around but dry fly action is a distant long shot until the flow drops a bit and the water temperatures rise.  If you fish your best bet will be to slow strip, swing, or jig streamers in quieter, deep eddys.

Tiny Black Stonefly – #18
Early Brown and Black Stoneflies – #14 – 16


“Home Pool” on the West Branch of the Delaware River on Opening Day morning. All Catskill rivers were high and generally unwadeable. Picture courtesy of the Delaware River Club.

Local creeks: Local creeks were looking very good just two days prior to the opener but Fridays steady rains on top of saturated ground put an end to that. Stocking has been hit and miss – some waters were stocked later than normal due to the high flows earlier in the week. Best bet will be streamers and small stonefly nymphs or worm imitations.

Ponds: Ponds are finally ice-free for the most part. Fishing will be very slow until we have some warmer sunny days and nightly lows consistently climb above freezing.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of upcoming events:

  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will be holding their April meeting tonight, April 3 at 7 pm at the Big Flats Community Center, 476 Maple Street, Big Flats. Dave Rothrock will talk about “Trout Hatches and Their Imitations.” Dave is one of the co-authors on the new Keystone Fly Fishing book. He is a well-known speaker and writer on all things fly fishing and has written for Fly Fisherman magazine and other fly fishing related publications. Prior to his talk, Dave will be tying one of his fly patterns. Dave’s presentations are always interesting and thought provoking, and his fly patterns are ones that you’ll want to have in your box.
  • It’s still not too late to sign up for the Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF’s Fly Fishing Academy, scheduled for Saturday, April 8, 2017, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. This year marks the TT5R’s 10th anniversary for the Annual Fly Fishing Academy. The event will be held at the Campbell-Savona High School in Campbell, NY. This is a high quality fly fishing course, open to Adults and to Youth 11 yrs old and over. 
    This full day class is designed for beginner and intermediate fly fishers to develop and expand techniques and skills. The day includes three casting sessions led by a Certified Casting Instructor. Learning sessions throughout the day are taught by fly fishers with vast experience and include fly fishing strategy, knot tying, gear selection, fly selection, getting started with trout and bass, and more. Nymph, dry fly and streamer techniques are demonstrated in a full-scale model stream. Lunch and snacks are provided. No equipment is necessary. Class fee is $85 for Adults (ages 16 and over); $40 for Youth (ages 11-15, accompanied by a registered Adult). TTFR Members are also eligible for a $10 discount. Space is limited and filled last year, so you are encouraged to register early. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Contact Steve Harris 607-377-4956 or Kirk Klingensmith 607-346-7189
  • The BC Flyfishers will be holding their next monthly chapter meeting on Thursday, April 20, at 7:00 pm. A fly tying demo by chapter member Mike Thornton will start at 6:30 pm. The general meeting presentation will be given by chapter members Tim Barrett and Mike Norton who will introduce you to the world of Competitive Fly Angling. As will be seen in their presentation, competitive angling participants must not only demonstrate their fly angling prowess on streams but also in lakes using three fly rigs. Competitive fly angling is controversial among fly anglers – most either love it or hate it – and few are impartial. Tim Barrett, NYS guide, and Mike Norton will be discussing what goes into competitive fly fishing and what things we use today in our own style of fly fishing that are commonly used in competitive fly angling. Both Tim and Mike have participated in several competitive events, from the smaller AuSable Two-fly Challenge in Wilmington, NY to several regional qualifiers for the US team. They will discuss the format of a competition, common rules, equipment, techniques, and conservation efforts.
  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

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

Dry weather for Sunday and Monday has given local creeks, streams, and rivers time to catch up and recede below minor flood stage in all areas. They will continue to recede through Monday night. High pressure will continue its reign over the area for a majority of the day Monday, though clouds will be on the increase ahead of our next low-pressure system, which is set to enter the area after sunset on Monday. Showers, and a few rumbles of thunder, are then possible on Tuesday as that rain-maker strolls through.

Between 0.50″ and 1.25″ of total rainfall is possible once the showers exit the area Tuesday night. With this said, we will continue to keep our eyes on rising rivers, as they are expect to rise again after receding on Sunday and Monday. Some low-end moderate flooding is possible come midweek, but there continues to be no indication of any major flooding at any location in our area.

High pressure moves through briefly Wednesday, putting a dry period between weather-makers, as another low-pressure system rolls through for the end of the work week, with some thunder again being possible.



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