The week ahead in fly fishing: June 19, 2017

This week is the week of the summer solstice. The official start of summer is Wednesday, June 21st. And while the day of maximum sunlight approaches, it seems like clouds and rain will prevail as they have much of this spring. Water, water, everywhere is getting a bit repetitious. What’s great for trout is not so great for river rats. And what a contrast from last year at this time…

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A large fallfish nest lies exposed on the Susquehanna River in Vestal in this picture taken in late June 2016. What a difference a year makes – the Susquehanna River is currently flowing at around 5,000 CFS+. Flows at the time of this picture were sub-1,000 CFS.

Fly Shop Talk: The summer solstice is the date when the earth’s position in relation to the sun, in combination with the orientation of the earth’s rotational axis, provides the maximum amount of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. From that date on, daylight gradually decreases until the autmnal equinox, when daylight and darkness are equal.

North_season

Diagram of the Earth‘s seasons as seen from the north. Far left: summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere. Front right: summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. Courtesy of: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tau%CA%BBolunga

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports decent fishing on the Finger Lakes. Here’s his lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging slowed down a bit this past weekend with the formation of the thermocline. I expect fishing to get back up to pace shortly.  Bass season is underway. Pickerel fishing is fair to good.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout should be good here. Work at Emerson Park has been completed and launching is easy.  I expect fair to good bass and pike fishing here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth fishing is fair. Fish are likely spawning, so if that’s your thing you should be able to do well.  Rock bass and perch are bonus fish.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow.  Expect fair pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing has been good here according to reports I received from Angling Zone friend Al.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing is the usual slow to good depending on the day. Bass action has been good with spawning winding down.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps, however, most fly fishing reports are warning that water temps may start rising, so “fish with your thermometer”, particularly on the freestones.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that Stilesville on the upper West Branch is flowing at 392 cfs and 46 degrees and Hale Eddy is 585 cfs and 50 degrees. The upper East at Harvard is now 200 cfs and 57 degrees and down below the Beaverkill we are looking at 751 cfs and 63 degrees at Fishs’ Eddy. Lordville on the mainstem is 1,460 cfs and 64 degrees. The West Branch is going to be the best water to be on for a while and you will have to check the temps on the East and mainstem as they are going to heat up and when they reach upper 60’s it’s time to head somewhere else. We are getting some Sulphurs in #14-16, mainly in the evening, as we are in that time period where we are waiting on the mid-day summer Sulphurs on the upper West. With the summer-like temps the mid-day fishing can be slow on the surface before we get those more consistent Sulphurs. There have been quite a few spinners right at dark. We are also seeing a few Cahills in the #16 range and Blue Winged Olives on the cloudy days.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that anglers are doing well nymphing throughout the day despite sunshine. There were fish rising early before the sun hit the water and again in the evening with Olives and Caddis mixed in with a few Cahills. We are seeing Isonychias hatch so if you don’t want to nymph blind casting riffles with a bigger dry fly can be productive. If you are fishing the lower Beaverkill, lower East Branch, or lower Mainstem in the afternoon check the water temperature with a thermometer.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that as we head into summer, the trout fishing in the Upper Delaware normally falls into a steady reliable routine. Most days there is some surface activity during the early morning hours. The majority of the activity occurs in late afternoon and evening. Sulfurs and Blue Wing Olives will be the main food items now. Isonychia and Cahills will be the larger insects that will be available at times. Overall, however, changes to conditions will be far less important than during the spring period which brings change on an almost daily basis. This weekend continued with great fishing in some places while other areas have crapped out a bit. First the bad, the Upper East has gone from hot to not. The help from mother nature expired this week as dry weather stopped the reservoir from spilling over and we witnessed the reality of the DRBC’s paltry release plan. The water is low and the big fish have scattered to the areas with depth. Hatches are decent near dark. There is also a brief afternoon sulfur emergence in some areas. At this time most of the trout rising here are juvenile as the big boys are full from the drake activity. This is normal for this river and we see this happen every summer. Just about everywhere else is fishing well. I was on the Main Stem most days last week and can report incredible nymph fishing.  My guests have been easily averaging about a dozen fish per person on our nymph rigs. Some of fish have been pretty impressive mature wild rainbows that are out of control once you come tight on them. The dry fly activity has been a pick during the day. If you look hard you can find some action. You need to look hard along the banks and anywhere that food funnels into a smaller lane. There are a lot of these areas on the Big “D” and most hold a fish that slowly eats all day long.

    As is normal here the river starts to show signs of feeding activity in the last hour before dark. The peak of activity always center around the time where most of us find it difficult to see. Isonychias are on the water and some Cahills are about near dark. I have been getting some action blind fishing the Iso during the day but the action pales next to the instant results on the nymph rigs. It is however a productive method for those who don’t care to nymph. Anglers should also be aware that any trip to the Delaware at this time is going to include shad. The run this year was heavy and there are thousands of the ocean run fish about. Most every pool is full of them at this time. In their current post spawn condition they are eating everything. Small dry flies and nymphs are being taken by shad and in most cases before the trout can get near your fly. At this time the shad are dominating most of the huge slow pools and eddies. We have been targeting them each day especially when we have guests who have never taken them on the fly. These shad are hard fighters and are great sport on 5 weight rods. On the surface small spinners work best. Sub surface we remove our strike indicators and strip our nymph rigs quickly just below the surface. Most bead head nymphs will work as long as they are small. A #16 is about right.  It is easy to sight fish them as they are swimming around with their fins out of the water. The Beaverkill and Lower East are also fishing well with both nymphs and dry flies at the appropriate times. The action is around the fast water for both and some great fish have been feeding. There have been good amounts of Isonychia here and the fish love these flies.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Brown Drakes #10-2xl – Ephemera simulans
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Pale Evening Dun / Pink Lady – #14 – Epeorus vitreus
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Light BWO – #14 – Drunella cornuta (previously Ephemerella cornuta)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Blue Sedge – #14 – Psilotreta spp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

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This West Branch brown couldn’t resist a March Brown soft hackle, like several others along with a WB rainbow. You won’t see March Browns on the hatch charts right now, but when the hatch charts aren’t working, something a little different can often drum up business.

Local creeks: Local creeks have been up and down with the rain but they are settling and clearing faster now because the ground is not quite as saturated as it was earlier in spring. In general, flows are excellent, the water is cool, and hatches have been very good. Where flows are high and murky, streamers will be effective in the early hours of the morning. After that, nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies will work well. Hatches of caddis and mid to late-season mayflies are on, particularly on the warmer days. Never fish when thunderstorms are about but keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

owego crk 619

Owego Creek is running high and muddy due to recent rains.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are back to running high and murky for the most part. As of this past weekend, the Chemung River was running in the fishable range with good clarity but that is reversing as a result of heavy rains on Sunday night. For now, fishing heavy water is best done from a boat with a full sinking or sink tip line, fairly short leader, and big dark or very bright flies. Check the USGS water gage charts for flows and focus efforts on the headwaters where the water will clear and drop first.

Ponds: Ponds are warming up and so is the fly fishing. Largemouth bass are finishing spawning as are sunfish. You will still see some occupying beds. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially towards evening. Remember the key in largemouth bass fishing is often to slow down. If you’re stripping a streamer, slow it down – let it sink. Vary the retrieve. With poppers, let them sit until the last ring has disappeared. Often times a bass cannot stand the anticipation. A good pop will ring the dinner bell, but be careful not to spook fish in shallower water.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities:

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU will be holding its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 20 at 7 pm in the public meeting room of the Vestal Library. Guest speaker will be Ed Veaudry! This should be a very enjoyable presentation and the chapter leadership looks forward to showing him our support! Please grab a friend and join us!
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI will hold its last general meeting before the traditional summer break on Thursday June 22, 2017, at the Endicott Public Library, at 7:00 PM with an informal tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. Chapter member Bob Bruns, a dedicated warm water river rat, will talk about fly fishing our warm water rivers for smallmouth bass. His presentation, “Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass”, will cover how to fish for the “gentleman game fish of the warm water species” with detailed information on tackle, tactics, and methods that he has learned from small-mouth bass masters and has applied to his fishing of the local rivers over the last 20 years. Bob will characterize our area’s warm water rivers and profile the seasons of the small-mouth bass. His presentation will also cover the diverse “by catch” that comes to those who fish for bronze backs – a nice bonus to anyone who fly fishes “brown water”.
  • The Chenango Valley Chapter of TU Annual Dinner will be held on Thursday, June 22 at Taylor’s Country House Rt 320 – North end of Norwich. The agenda includes: Cash Bar and Appetizers @ 6 pm, Dinner @ 7 pm, with entrée choices of steak, chicken piccata, or haddock (fried or broiled). The cost of the event is $25 and that includes tip. Please pay at the door. Contact Sam Scafidi if you are interested at (607) 334 – 3197 or sscafidi@roadrunner.com

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

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A cold front will come today with showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could bring heavy rain and gusty winds. Some showers will continue tonight.

This will be followed by a trough on Tuesday and Wednesday. The chance of rain will decrease, but there could still be scattered showers and thunderstorms. Skies will become partly cloudy Tuesday night. We’ll have another round of showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday.

Skies will be partly cloudy on Thursday. Another cold front will move through on Friday with showers and thunderstorms. We’ll be dry on Saturday. Another low will approach on Sunday and Monday with showers and thunderstorms.

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