The week ahead in fly fishing: May 8, 2107

Water, water, everywhere. That seems to be the theme in the Southern Tier most recently. For the fish it’s great, but for us land-born fly fishers, not so good. To date, Binghamton has recorded 20.33″ of precipitation, closing on almost double the historical norm.


While temps have been within historical norms, precipitation is significantly high for the Southern Tier, year-to-date.

The rain and wind last week brought power outages, flooding, and turned the groud so saturated that trees are having a hard time standing upright.

Fly shop talk: I recently received a Cabelas “spring fly fishing” catalog – I get a lot of these types of catalogs from the big box retailers and peruse them and recycle them quickly. This one hung around for some reason, so I went through it more thoroughly one evening while waiting for dinner to cook. Paging through the fly rod section, I was both pleased and disappointed. I was pleased that there is so much choice, for one, and two, pleased in the excellent selection of fly rods that are easily affordable to those wishing to enter the sport on a budget. But I was troubled by the sheer volume of choice. For a beginning angler in particular, it must be overwhelming. There’s so much product differentiation out there – rod lengths, number of sections, actions, species, grade of components. It’s getting as bewildering as the choice of line type and reel types. Yeah for low cost and relatively high quality and performance for all but the cheapest of fly rods, but booo for the complexity, in my book.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River in combination with the weather have had a negative impact on the fishing up north.


Some fish are being caught but wading is hazardous at this level.



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 generally good fishing conditions, as follows:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Salmon and brown trout are distributed around the whole lake now for the most part.  Expect the same with browns and rainbows.  I would expect lake trout jigging to be fairly slow with vast areas of muddy/murky water around. Pickerel, perch and some pike should be hitting well on the north end of the lake.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing should be fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging had been slow.  No recent reports from here.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good. I expect good pike and rainbow trout fishing here this year.  Work is currently being done on the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Yellow perch fishing is in full swing. Bonus bass and lakers are in the mix. Now’s a great time for rainbow trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon on the fly or on jigs.  Smallmouth and rockbass should be starting to move up.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers are high and largely unwadable. Fishing from a drift boat is the best way to fish the river system. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting the upper West Branch at Stilesville is currently 2,290 cfs and 51 degrees with some stain but it did clear some from weekend rains. Down at Hale Eddy the flow is 3,840 cfs and 49 degrees and quite a bit clearer than the weekend. The upper East at Harvard is flowing at 2,140 cfs and 48 degrees and is still a little clearer than the East below the Beaverkill at Fishs’ Eddy where the flow is 3,400 cfs and 49 degrees.  Water temps are pretty good now as is bug activity with fish rising in the afternoon hours in slack water sections on most of the branches.  Most anglers who have been catching fish and in some cases some big fish.  There are pretty good Blue Quills, Hendricksons and BWO’s and their spinners in the afternoon hours and in the right water the fish are feeding on top.  The upcoming week looks like we will get some reprieve from the rains and water levels can change quickly, especially if the reservoir quits spilling.

west branch hale eddy

  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that water levels are dropping but the East Branch drainage is dropping faster than the West.  Hendricksons, blue quills, and caddis are hatching but dry fly anglers will have to hunt to find the slower pools and tailouts where the fish will rise.  Streamers may be a good option while the water temps try to come up. Expect a warming trend to begin but staying cooler than the norm.  The water and cool air temperatures should keep the hatches going longer and carry over with cold water and decent flows through at least next week.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that fishing has been getting better, with a string of a few days in a row of great fishing. Tutalo reports that guests have been “crushing it.” The streamer bite is in high gear now and in the areas where Baxter House guides have been floating, you do not go very far without a big mature brown charging out at a properly fished baitfish imitation. The dry fly action has also been great especially late in the day. Over the last 4 days the Hendrickson’s have been blanketing the water. At times there have been so many insects accumulated that pods of fish have been crammed into small feeding lanes gorging themselves. Tutalo is reporting some big fish – lots of 20″+ fish with the best being just under 23 inches. With the clearing water, Tutalo feels it’s time to feed the beasts. Bite sized bait fish patterns are the way to go right now. The action with the 6″ plus streamers has slowed down considerably as the trout are moving back to their normal lairs. Most recently, 4″ bait fish stripped very erratically moved the most. Hendrickson duns are emerging in mass now from the tailwaters. Sunshine and light winds could produce the mother load of spinners to descend on the rivers.
  • Hatching:
    Hendrickson – #12 – 14 – Ephemerella subvaria
    Blue Quill – #16 – Paraleptophlebia. adaptiva
    Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
    Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.
    Tiny Black Stonefly – #18 – Capniidae sp.
    Early Brown and Black Stoneflies – #14 – 16 – Taeniopteryx spp.

Local creeks: Local creeks are very high and chocolate brown to murky due to late week and weekend rains. If fishing the little waters, head upstream where the water clears and drops first. Streamers will be the best bet as long as the weather remains wet and cool to cold.


The East Branch of Owego Creek is just starting to drop and clear after very high flows over the past weekend.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers are, for the most part, too high for wading and marginal for fishing from a boat. The smallmouth bass in some areas were reported to be staging around spawning habitat but with the river temps dropping now to the low 50’s due to recent cold weather, it’s likely the spawn is still off. Smaller rivers with lower flows may be fishable soon.

Ponds: Ponds are warming at a slower rate given the recent colder weather but until recently, the largemouth bass were beginning to stage for spawning.  Fishing will remain slow until we have a good string of warmer sunny days in conjunction with climbing nightly lows.

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

The BC Flyfshers chapter FFI is featuring return speaker, Bruce Pencek for the May chapter meeting on Thursday, May 18 at the Endicott Public Library at 7:00 PM (informal tying demonstration at 6:30). The topic will be “American Tenkara Fishing”. Bruce Pencek returns from Virginia (via Hancock) to talk about American Tenkara – the translation of no-reel/fixed-line fly-fishing tackle and techniques from the mountain streams of Japan to the diverse waters and fish of North America. He will talk about selecting and rigging tenkara tackle and give his thoughts about how fixed-line rods have improved his success with western techniques – dry flies, Euro-style nymphing, even streamers – for trout, smallmouth, and carp. (With luck, he might have some illustrated tales about his fixed-line fishing in the Southern Tier in the days leading up to the talk.) He’ll provide some handouts with his recommendations for information sources and vendors. Before the talk, he’ll tie some of the flies he uses regularly.

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

Expect cold conditions to prevail for most of the week with the following day-by-day breakdown:

  • MONDAY: Mostly cloudy with showers, snow showers are possible. 0-.10″ rain, 0-T” snow 40% High 46 (44-48) Wind NW 10-15 G25 mph
  • MONDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy with rain and snow showers. 0-.05″ rain, 0-T” snow Low 32 (30-34) Wind W 3-8 mph
  • TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy with rain and snow showers. 0-.05″ rain, 0-T” snow 30% High 48 (45-50) Wind NW 3-8 mph
  • TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy. Low: 34 Wind L&V
  • WEDNESDAY: Partly cloudy. High 54 Low 36
  • THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy with showers. 20% High 58 Low 42
  • FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy with showers. 30% High 60 Low 44
  • SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy with showers. 30% High 58 Low 44
  • SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy with showers. 30% High 58 Low 42



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