The week ahead in fly fishing: June 26, 2017

July 4th weekend looms large in the week ahead. It’s a 4 day weekend for some that spells opportunity to enjoy summer warmth and sunshine on the water.

Hatches are slowing from their spring-time intensity, although there are still some good ones left. Flows in the river systems are finally dropping which should open up warmwater river fishing. The hills are in full green and corn in some places is knee-high already. Just yesterday I saw my first fawn of the year, struggling to keep up with Mom as she crossed a country road ahead of me.

Fly Shop Talk: Rain continues to stuff the precipitation coffers for our area. As seen in the climate chart below, we are running a significant surplus for the year. It’s been wet, for sure. But to put this surplus in perspective, we had a record 68.05″ of precipitation in 2011 – so we are not even 50% of the way to how truly wet it can be!

KBGM2017plot (2)

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 is back to fine form. Fish have ranged from around 40′ out to 110′ – and likely deeper. A few salmon have been showing up for us in the same areas. Bass season is underway. Pickerel fishing is fair to good.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good here with a lot of fish still shallow. Lake trout fishing is fair to good (not on a par with Cayuga by any means.) Perch are everywhere shallow. Pike are available.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Rockbass and perch are in the mix.
  • Seneca Lake: Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow. Expect fair pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing continues to be good around the Bluff area according to reports I have received from Angling Zone friend Al. DEC is contemplating the re-introduction of ciscoes and possible lake whitefish to this lake. I have never caught a cisco or whitefish and would be impressed if these species took hold.
  • Otisco Lake: Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part. 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 the rivers are still slowly dropping but the bugs and fishing haven’t changed much over the last week or so.  We do still have decent Sulphurs in the #16 range from afternoon on.  We have been seeing quite a few small Olives in 20-24 range in the afternoon, even on the sunny days.  Yesterday there were quite a few Cahills in the 14-16 range and their spinners as well.  There has been some consistent Isonychia activity with most bugs around size 10.  And as usual, the Isos are great bugs for blind casting in the faster water.  The upper West Branch at Stilesville is 386 cfs and 45 degreees and down at Hale Eddy we are looking at 507 and 51 degrees.  The upper East at Harvard is 235 and 65 degrees and Fishs’ Eddy is now 810 cfs and 66 degrees.  You could fish early on the East but it’s going to get warm quickly and you’d be better off on the West as far as the quality of the fishing and for the sake of the trout.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that nymphing during low light periods has been decent.  This week looks great with most of the days overcast with a chance of small storms and very cool nights.  Daytime temperatures have dropped back around 80 degrees too with today’s high only around 70 degrees.  Olives, caddis, cahills, sulphurs, and isonychias are being spotted on the water at various times.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the Sulfurs remain the most reliable and abundant insect around the system. Olives are also abundant both in the morning and evenings. In overcast rainy weather olives have been abundant. These tiny mayflies almost always bring the trout to the surface.

    The bigger insects available are Isonychia and Cahills. These are mostly a night time event but occasionally the Iso’s are about at odd times. Currently there is decent action blind fishing big Isonychia patterns. On recent floats our guides have been having our guests spray the water with our big Iso Cripple with good results.

    Nymphing is very good right now. During all of my trips this week my guests were running the numbers up with nymph rigs. Currently when fishing from the drift boat I am rigging 2 nymph rods for my guests. One in our traditional fashion with 3 flies fished about 3 feet below an indicator. During summer I always add a second rig. This is the setup that is hot right now. The set up is quite different. This setup starts with a dry fly type leader about 10′ with 2 very tiny nymphs. #16 – #20. I put a very small indicator 8″ to 12″ above the nymphs and blind fish it exactly like a dry fly in all water types. This setup will take fish from every water type but really excels in very shallow runs and riffles.  I will also run this rig by any stubborn dry fly eater that we have trouble with. It is amazing sometimes how easy fish become when presented with a nymph just under the surface.

    As for locations, there are good options. Just about everywhere in the system has good flows and decent water temperatures. Under the current conditions the Beaverkill and Willowemoc during the non hatch periods can’t be beaat. The riffles and pocket water sections are full of willing trout and the nymph action is great. The Main Stem has been exceptional but a lot of the good nymph spots are a bit under high water at this time.

    At hatch time the East and West branches have some fast and furious activity right near dark. The near dark period is very reliable. This magic hour activity should remain steady now all summer. The action on the Tailwaters is mostly with the sulfurs and Olives. If you want to float some larger flies look to start for late day on the Beamoc water or the Main Stem. This is where you will find the Iso’s, Cahills and various other insects. These type of bugs thrive in the areas with larger rocks, faster water and slightly higher water temperatures. It is also important to mention that spinner activity is a daily thing now. Spinners are available at all times but as expected with the big numbers coming back at dark. Big spinners are working well near dark. I have had luck with #10 patterns most nights. During the day and if your vision is good the #16 is about the most useful size at this time. Currently most of the tough fish can be taken with the #16 hackle wing rusty spinner.


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.

Local creeks: Local creeks have settled, cleared, and held at decent flows recently. Nymphing, fishing wet flies on the swing, and dry flies will all work well. Hatches of caddis and 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. We are not yet at terrestrial time but sometimes something a little different will get a take when conditions are tough.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are finally dropping down into fishable and wadeable flows. And the spawn is essentially done. In some cases, smallmouth may be feeding up after recuperating from the spawn, but be aware that all of the rivers will fish differently due to water temps and the timing of the spawn. Right now the smaller rivers – the Tioughnioga, the Chenango, and the Chemung are the places to try, with two caveats: keep an eye on the USGS water gauges as this season of heavy localized rain can change a river’s flows on a dime, and prepare for murkier conditions as the rivers are less than ideal in terms of water clarity. You’ll want to bring intermediate to sinking, sink tip lines, heavier flies, and patterns in dark and very bright colors, along with lighter lines and flies. For now, focus efforts on the headwaters where the water will be the clearest and most fishable. A great rule for clarity is that if you can see your wading boots when in knee-to-thigh deep water, you’ve got decent fishing conditions.


The Chenango River is getting in the zone for fly fishing with flows less than 2,000 CFS. The best smallmouth fishing right now will be on rivers like the Chenango, the Tioughnioga, and the Chemung.


A decent Chenango River bronzeback from this time, 2016, when river flows were very low…

Ponds: Largemouth bass are done spawning and so are sunfish. You may still see some males guarding beds, however. 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 and experiment with retrieve. With poppers, let them sit until the last ring has disappeared. Often times a bass cannot stand the wait. A good pop will ring the dinner bell, but be careful not to spook fish in shallower water.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: Most local fly fishing clubs take a summer break starting with July, so there won’t be any activities or club/chapter meetings to report over the coming weeks. If an event pops up

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


An upper level trough will give us showers and thunderstorms today. Some of this will be heat driven, so we’ll have to wait until the afternoon for these to develop. Some showers will linger into the evening.

We’ll see a similar forecast on Tuesday with showers and thunderstorms. We do get a break on Wednesday with partly cloudy skies.

A low over the central Great Lakes will bring a warm front in on Thursday. We’ll have partly cloudy skies with showers and thunderstorms. We’ll see this forecast for the next few days. As the low tracks to our north and a cold front moves in. This will be our weekend forecast, with rain and thunderstorms. High pressure will give us dry weather by Monday.


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