Archive for July, 2017

The fly fisherman and the boxer…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on July 28, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s odd how disparate interests sometimes fire randomly like so many synapses in our brains and connect in new and interesting ways.  Consider, for example, my interest in fly fishing and the sweet science: boxing.  If you’ve read my “about” page, you already know that I’m the lone fisherman in my genetic line, save the possibility of some great uncles on my mother’s side who headed out to Montana in the early 1900’s.  Whether they ever wet a line on the great rivers is unknown, but the thought consoles me in my fly fishing addiction.

Boxing is another story, one that’s a little more understandable in that my maternal grandfather, who passed long before I came into this world, was apparently quite the fan (being Irish descent didn’t hurt either).  My mother told me of his interest only when I revealed my own love for the sport. She recounted his sitting by the radio, listening to the great bouts of Dempsey, Braddock, Louis, Baer, and undoubtedly, Jack Sharkey, the only man to have fought both Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis.

Sharkey-8

Joe Louis is sent to a neutral corner after dropping Jack Sharkey. Louis would prevail after knocking Sharkey down 4 times. It was Sharkey’s last fight in the ring – August 18, 1936.

Jack Sharkey was born Joseph Paul Cukoschay on October 26, 1902, in Binghamton New York.  The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Sharkey left the family home in New York when he was a teenager, ending up in Boston. Sources report little of his early life until, at the outset of the First World War, teenaged Joseph repeatedly tried to enlist in the Navy. Turned down because of his age, he was not able to enlist until after the end of the war.

“Every time Louis hit me, he said, ‘Sorry.’ Every time Jack Dempsey hit me, he said, ‘How come you’re not dead yet?’”—Jack Sharkey

Sharkey wasn’t much of a fighter growing up – it wasn’t until he served in the U.S. Navy that Sharkey first stepped into a boxing ring, and that was only because a midshipman told him to substitute in the next fight at a Navy smoker or he wouldn’t get shore leave. Tall and husky, Jack quickly established a reputation as the best boxer aboard any vessel on which he served. Sharkey stood 6′ and had a notable 76″ reach. During his brief returns home to Boston he took part in his first fights for pay, the first on January 24, 1924, against Billy Muldoon, whom he knocked out in the first round. By the time of his honorable discharge just short of a month later, he had won a second fight and was already earning write-ups in the Boston papers.

Interestingly, a promoter declared his Lithuanian name unusable and so Joseph Paul Cukoschay became Jack Sharkey – “Jack” after Jack Dempsey and “Sharkey” from ‘Sailor’ Tom Sharkey, who fought Jim Jeffries to a 25-round decision for the heavyweight title in 1899.

“Who hit me hardest? Dempsey hit me the hardest because Dempsey hit me $211,000 worth while Louis only hit me $36,000 worth…”

Sharkey’s career statistics show an admirable record of 37 wins, 13 defeats, and 3 draws. One of his most noteworthy fights was against his “namesake”, Jack Dempsey, on July 21, 1927 in Yankee Stadium. Despite out-boxing the “Manassas Mauler” for 5 rounds, Sharkey lost the bout in the 6th round.  “I turned to the referee to complain I was getting hit low, and I got hit with a haymaker,” he once recalled. “That was that. I was out on the canvas.” “I came home and I went in the hospital,” Sharkey recounted more than 40 years later, in Peter Heller’s, In This Corner (1973). “I passed blood there for a long time . . . this is never brought out in print, the after-effects of a fight. You dry out like a lightweight, you’re dehydrated, pains that you have, you come home you soak in a tub full of Epsom salts, the pain and the aches. No one knows what a fighter goes through after the fight.”

When asked why he had hit a man who wasn’t looking, Dempsey replied, “What was I supposed to do, mail him a letter?”

Sharkey is remembered less for his title victory over Max Schmeling than for the controversial manner of his defeat to the ‘Ambling Alp’, Primo Carnera, in his first defense in 1933. Carnera, whose enormous size had been caused by a boyhood glandular disorder, was controlled by racketeers and had been built up through fixed fights. Carnera was thought to be an easy mark for Sharkey. But in the sixth round Sharkey went down from a punch which many ringsiders claimed they did not see. For the rest of his life Sharkey would face claims that his loss was rigged.

His final fight was against the up and coming Joe Louis. But this was 1936 and Jack Sharkey didn’t have the same legs, and Louis was a different kind of destroyer entirely. From the start of the fight, Sharkey foolishly waded into Louis’ punching range and found himself on the canvas three times before a combination put him down for the count in round three. Sharkey said to W.A. Hamilton after the fight, “Louis convinced me that I have no business in trying to continue, and now I am relegated with the others before me who tried to cheat time and nature only to be revealed in their true light.” After being knocked out by Joe Louis in the third round Aug. 18, 1936, Sharkey retired from the ring to open a restaurant in Boston and pursue his love of fishing.

2wclbht

A beaten Jack Sharkey decides to hang up his gloves after losing to Joe Louis.

Sharkey was and has been largely considered second best, however unfair that may be. He was, after all, a fisherman who found himself lacing up a pair of boxing gloves by accident, not a desperate pug who had nowhere else to go. That he made it into the big leagues of boxing is considered by many, incredible.

family-and-Sharkey

Boxer, fly fisherman, family man…

“I started out as a fisherman,” Sharkey told The Ring in 1979. “When I was a kid I used to catch bass with my bare hands and sell them. Old-timers still remember me walking down the street carrying eels on my back.”

Sharkey acquired further fame in retirement from his exploits as a fisherman who could land a fly on a dime. Jack Gartside, noted fly-tier and author of many angling books, said he lived a dry-fly cast away from Fenway Park in the 1950s when Williams and Sharkey were demonstrating fly casting at a sportsman’s show in Boston. “When I was 8 years old, I was at a sportsmen’s show at the old Mechanics Hall in Boston. Ted Williams and Jack Sharkey, the boxer, were conducting fly casting demonstrations,” Gartside said. “After the casting, they both went to a booth to tie flies.”

jack-sharkey-jimmie-foxx-ted-williams

Sharkey, pictured left, sits with Jimmie Foxx (center) and Ted Williams (right) at a fly fishing exhibition.

One New Hampshire angler who replied to my request for information on the boxer / fly fisher said Sharkey was a hell of a fly fisherman. This man’s father fished with Jack on occasion and staked out his own spot on the bridge at Alton Bay, but woe betide the flatlander who took Jack’s spot! Sharkey was known to be irascible and cantankerous, particularly in later life.

DSCN1814_zps04vlhc2c

Sharkey could tie – no small feat for a guy whose hands went through a lot of abuse in the ring!

Sharkey was Ted Williams’ fishing partner for many years. When asked which he liked better, boxing or fishing, Sharkey replied, “Fishing, it doesn’t pay as much but then the fish don’t hit back.”

12796

Jack Sharkey had his last “boxing” contest with Max Schmeling decades after leaving the ring. Jack held the record as the oldest living former heavyweight champion, living to the ripe old age of ninety-one, only to be beaten by Schmeling, years later, who lived to be ninety-nine.

Juozas_Žukauskas

Boxing and fly fishing may seem odd bedfellows, and many might question my sanity as a follower of both sports, but after reading about Jack Sharkey, I’m feeling a bit better about fist and fly. In a sense, Jack Sharkey, our own Southern Tier hometown hero, battled for a living but lived for fly fishing. And isn’t that what most of us do in a figurative sense in our own lives? Sharkey, in my opinion, was a hero for the everyday sportsman – the guy who slogged it out in the trenches, just to marry, raise a family, and maybe, just maybe, eke out a little time with the long rod on a pretty river. Rest in peace, Jack…

 

Advertisements

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 23, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on July 25, 2017 by stflyfisher

The lead paragraph on this weekly fly fishing report is beginning to sound like a broken record. The past week started out looking like it might be dry but ended up with some heavy localized downpours that sent some creeks, streams, and rivers into heavy turbid flows. Maybe it’s time to pray for dry weather?

Climate records for the Southern Tier continue to tell the same story: moderate to cool temps and lots of precipitation:

KBGM2017plot

Fly Shop Talk: In his book, My Life Was This Big, Lefty Kreh talks about his stint in the US Army during WWII. While he was proud of his service (he fought in the Battle of the Bulge), Kreh and the US Army did not get along. “I hated the Army. Despised it. It ran counter to my lifelong instinct to make things better. I am an inveterate tinkerer and self-described inventor.” While the Army might not have appreciated Kreh’s inventiveness, the fishing world certainly did. Below is a picture of just one of Kreh’s nifty way of making fishing better. His first fly reel, a Pflueger Medalist purchased in 1947, was improved with a finger insert as a means of applying drag to the spool.

lefty reel

 

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone provides the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Lake trout jigging is slow with occasional moments of good fishing. Bass season is underway. I expect jigging to pick up once this algae bloom clears up. When that happens is anyone’s guess.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is fair here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is generally good. Rockbass and large perch remain in the mix. Water here is still relatively cold.
  • Seneca Lake: Laker jigging has shown some signs of improvement since the Memorial Weekend Derby. Fishing is fair.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good from what I’ve heard.
  • Otisco Lake: Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part. This lake muddies up easily and can be tough after heavy rains. There is an algae bloom going on here from what I heard.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. If fishing the freestones, however, “fish with your thermometer”.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the weekend’s rains left some dirty water on most of the rivers but there still are a few spots that the storms avoided. Down at Hale Eddy it’s pretty dirty but dropping with a current flow of 938 cfs and 56 degrees. Up at Stilesville the flow is 374 cfs and 46 degrees and will be your best spot to fish down to Oquaga creek which is pumping in a decent amount of dirty water. The West could clear up enough by tonight to offer some decent opportunity. The East got hit pretty good with a flow of 2,360 and rising at Harvard and down at Fishs’ Eddy we have 2,410 cfs and 64 degrees. The main is going to be dirty as well with a flow of 3,310 and rising at 300+ cfs per hour. We should have some good streamer fishing on the West as the water drops over the next couple days.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that all the rivers in the system are up and off color. It looks like the rain is tapering off so the West Branch should drop and look a lot better tomorrow morning. The flow didn’t move much at Stilesville so the West Branch above Oquaga Creek should be in decent shape. If you go up there you should see some afternoon sulphurs and olives. It is still perfect for wading up there. Below Oquaga Creek it looks like a streamer from the boat kind of day. If the river drops quickly enough there is a slight chance of finding a few fish on top in the big pools so carry a dry fly rod too, but count on throwing streamers for the most part. Try dark streamers first in the off colored water.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that HOT, HOT HOT has been the weather pattern lately. Summer has it’s grip on the Upper Delaware region at this time. There is no better place to spend a hot day than out on the river so here are your options for fishing. Trout fishermen who plan on fishing in the coming days should be aware that a lot of the system has very warm water. The options for chasing trout at this time are the Upper East Branch, the West branch and the headwaters of the Beaverkill and Willowemoc. The best action is very early morning and again from near dark until after dark. Our guides have been on the water on both the Upper West and Upper East branches and they are getting some nice fish for our guests. The fishing is very technical now. As is always the case in summer you need to be proficient with long leaders, making accurate casts and floating drag free. This is what we teach and now is the time where conditions will demand near perfection. The insects will not change now. Sulfurs, Olives, Tricos, Midges and terrestrials. Small is the key on the waters that see the most pressure. (this is the entire West Branch). Isonychia and Cahills are about late day and you can take some of the more exuberant fish with these larger patterns. Nymphing has always been our go to approach for getting some numbers on the tailwaters and recently this is where the success has been best. You will still need perfect floats and long leaders. You will also need to be comfortable fishing the tiny stuff. All of my nymphs at this time are #18 or smaller on both 5X and 6X tippet. On a recent trip my guests had very good action fishing the pressured water and put about a dozen fish in the net. There is also a small population of anglers who head to the water after dark at this time of year. These are the hunters who fish mice, frogs, boppers, gurglers and huge streamers. These guys are doing well. Our guides have been taking some monster browns after dark some of which measure 25″ to 30″. If you think you want to give this a try call us today.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – 12 – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

Local creeks: Local creek flows have been a yo-yo with the variable weather we’ve had. They will continue to rise and fall with the sporadic storms. To many anglers, these high water events are an excuse to fish elsewhere, but to creek-savvy anglers, change is a good word. Fishing after a high water event can be difficult but highly rewarding. Nymphing with big “nymphs” like cranefly larvae, worms, crayfish and hellgrammite patterns, can lure big browns waiting for the washdown of all sorts of food forms. Large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

Warmwater Rivers: As discussed last week, forget about the warmwater rivers for now. I fished the lower Tioughnioga this past weekend and was surprised how full, fast, and turbid it was. The USGS gage chart looked decent, but the river was another story. With the squirrely weather we’ve been having, look to the headwaters of the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga, Chenango, and Chemung for the first signs of dropping flows and clearing. But dropping gage charts don’t always mean the river is fishable.

susky 724

The Susquehanna River continues to tease…

Ponds: Ponds are a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are in summer mode and are more than willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

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, I’ll try to capture it here.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

We have a slow moving front to our south. With lows moving along this front we had rain and thunderstorms last night, leading to flash flooding. We will have a similar forecast today with rain and thunderstorms. The rain will taper to showers tonight.

A slight chance of showers on Tuesday as high pressure begins to move in. Nice weather on Wednesday with partly cloudy skies.

Another front will approach on Thursday with another round of rain and thunderstorms. A few showers could linger into Friday.

Nice weather for the weekend with partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures.

WBNG7Day (2)

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 16, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 18, 2017 by stflyfisher

Water, water everywhere continues to be the theme for 2017. The past week was another turbulent one, weather-wise. Although the heavy rains seemed to hit some locations and bypass others, the effect local creeks, streams, and rivers was pronounced.

fernando llosa

This amazing picture of Taughannock Falls is a testament to recent heavy rains. Photo courtesy of Fernando Llosa

Fly Shop Talk: Last week’s severe rain events and their effects on local watersheds were a case in point on why it pays to know at least a little about hydrology. As I drove to work in Ithaca, it was interesting to see that Nanticoke Creek was running low and clear while Owego Creek, one valley to the west, was high and turbid. Choconut Creek, a creek close to my home, was also seemingly unaffected by the weather. Fortunately, a number of weather and climate-related sites on the internet make it very easy to get a good read on what moving waters are doing without having to travel and make a local assessment. Weather radar can show just where weather events are occurring and the USGS water gage can help an angler piece together where water is rising or falling. But use of the USGS water gage requires some relative idea of what gage levels and flows, i.e., what are the best condition for fishing, for example. So some familiarity with the moving water is needed to make use of the data.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that Cayuga Lake is muddy and came up at least a foot. I cancelled/postponed my weekend trips. Let’s hope conditions settle out soon. Just chant “No more rain…no more rain…no more rain…” Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Lake trout jigging was very tough this weekend from what I heard. Bass season is underway. Pickerel fishing is fair to good.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is fair here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good (not on a par with Cayuga by any means.)
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is generally good. Rock bass and large perch remain in the mix. Water here is still relatively cold.
  • Seneca Lake: Laker jigging has shown some signs of improvement since the Memorial Weekend Derby. Fishing is fair. Expect tough conditions this weekend with the heavy rains.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good from what I’ve heard.
  • Otisco Lake: Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part. This lake muddies up easily and can be tough after heavy rains.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. If fishing the freestones, however, “fish with your thermometer”.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the rivers have cleared up quite a bit after the weekend’s rain and the West is currently in great shape with only a slight stain.  The upper West at Stilesville is currently 370 cfs and 46 degrees and Hale Eddy is running 606  and  52 degrees with minor stain to the water.  The upper East at Harvard is running 322 cfs and 57 degrees and downriver at Fishs’ Eddy the flow is 1,060 cfs and 63 degrees.  We should continue to have some good Sulphur activity, especially on the upper half of the West Branch.  The last two days were a bit slower with the bugs, likely due to the stained water and increased flow.  Other than being a bit higher than mid-week the West is back to good clarity and should start to fish better this week.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting good fishing in the Catskill system. Nymphing has definitely been a good choice until the sun drops behind the hills.  There have been some mid-day sulphurs on the upper West West but everything definitely picks up towards evening.  We did see more cahills and isonychias over the weekend so those hatches should improve.  Little olives and sulphurs are making up the bulk of the food right now so definitely carry those patterns.  Small olive spinners have worked really well lately.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the last week brought the Upper Delaware some unpredictable weather. Small cold fronts passed through the region almost every day bringing us fast passing but heavy thunder storms. This weather has changed the river conditions but there is a pretty big difference from section to section. The most stable and predictable at this time is the Main Stem. It has been on the rise and much higher than last week. This will continue as long as the storms persist simply because all water here goes to the Main Delaware.  The water temperatures have dropped a bit which is a good change for the lower river. The Beamoc Water and the Upper East and West are where the flows have been swinging. They have been rising quickly and falling quickly right along the storm paths. Areas where rain has been locally heavy have had turbidity which clears up in about 24 hours or less. Overall temperatures have dropped but anglers should always check the water temperature  before fishing the freestone rivers in July and August. There have been several days recently where I have stayed dry while watching heavy rain upstream There have also been times where I have been on the wet end of the same situation. It is always a good idea to have a light rain jacket during summer in the mountains. In most instances the rains have been 10 to 15 minutes in duration. The Fishing remains good for both Trout and Bass. The Trout action is now pure summertime activity. Super fussy fish are the rule. Long leaders, light tippet and long casts are a must. Tiny Sulfurs, Olives, Trico’s, Midges and terrestrials are your daytime choices. Isonychia and Cahills will take some fish towards dark. The best trout activity remains in the Upper East, Upper West and the Upper Main Stem Delaware. With the heavy downpours you may find a good streamer bite in areas of turbidity. Recently we have been adding some nice trout to our daily catch on streamers worked along the edges of the dirty water.  The Smallmouth Bass activity is now steady and reliable. We have been hitting it with both Fly and Spin tackle and our guests have been having great trips. Fly guys will want to go deep in the sunny portion of the day. Baitfish, Buggers, Crayfish and other buggy creation will take some fish as long as they are slow and deep. When the light fades the action has been great on top. I have been rigging Poppers, Divers and Gurglers and all have been working well. There is also good match the hatch smallie action if you want to stay on the water until right at dark. The fish are eating Isonychia, Cahills and White Flies. They are not fussy so a big white wulff almost always does the trick.

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.

Local creeks: Local creek flows have been a yo-yo with the variable weather we’ve had. They were settling down again, only to be roaring again as of this writing. To many anglers, these high water events are an excuse to fish elsewhere, but to creek-savvy anglers, change is a good word. Fishing after a high water event can be difficult but highly rewarding. Nymphing with big “nymphs” like cranefly larvae, worms, crayfish and hellgrammite patterns, can lure big browns waiting for the washdown of all sorts of food forms. Large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

owego creek

Warmwater Rivers: Forget about the warmwater rivers. They were again on the way down but last week’s rains and Monday’s storms put a fork in them over the short term. For now, look to the headwaters of the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga, Chenango, and Chemung for the first signs of dropping flows and clearing. The drier weather in the week ahead may allow us to finally wet a line for bronzebacks!

susky

The Susquehanna River at Vestal tells the story – the watershed that feeds our rivers are soaked and pouring out of the hills, making our rivers too high and turbid for good fishing.

Ponds: Ponds are a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are done spawning and so are sunfish and they are beyond the brief period where they’re recuperating from the rigors of spawning. This makes then willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

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, I’ll try to capture it here.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny, a few scattered showers and thunderstorms. 0-.05″ Less than 20% High 84 (82-86) Wind NW 3-8 mph

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, scattered showers and thunderstorms. 0-.10″ Low 64 Wind L&V

THURSDAY: Partly cloudy with a few scattered showers. 20% High 84 Low 64

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy with PM showers and thunderstorms. 30% High 84 Low 62

SATURDAY: Partly cloudy with showers and thunderstorms. 20% High 80 Low 64

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy with rain and thunderstorms. 40% High 82 Low 62

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy with showers and thunderstorm. 30% High 82 Low 60

TUESDAY: Partly cloudy. High 80 Low 58

WBNG7Day (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 9, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 10, 2017 by stflyfisher

We are solidly in summer, now. Corn is getting higher in the fields and this year’s fawns are growing by the day and soon will lose their spots. The warmwater rivers are finally coming down. For smallmouth bass fishermen, its been a long agonizing wait to hit the rivers. Hatches are transitioning to summer bugs and soon terrestrials will also be on the menu.

KBGMcurrent2

Daily temperatures have been on the cooler side lately.

KBGM2017plot

Cumulative precipitation is now roughly 50% greater than historical norms for this time of year but the rate of precipitation is slowing.

Fly Shop Talk: It may be a little early for most anglers, but now is the time to prep for fall fly fishing. Did I say prep for fall? Yes, I’ve always tried to be tying up and prepping one season ahead, tying trout flies and getting trout gear organized in early winter, tying smallmouth bass flies and prepping for brownwater fishing in late winter, and gearing up for steelhead and fall fishing in early summer. Late August is less than two months away for those who like to catch the Great Lakes tribs salmon run. Now’s the time to go through cold weather gear, tackle, boots and waders and repair or replace as needed.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that the lakes in the area are clearing up and bouncing back into shape.  Lake levels are high on Skaneateles and possibly other Finger Lakes. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is returning back to form.  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.  Many fish are still spawning. Rockbass and large perch are in the mix.  Water here is still relatively cold.
  • Seneca Lake:  No recent word on lake trout jigging.
  • 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. If fishing the freestones, however, “fish with your thermometer”.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that they started to release a bit more water from Cannonsville last night and currently Stilesville and Hale Eddy are both reading 704 cfs and 46 up top and 48 at Hale Eddy. These are great flows for mid July and offer great wading as well as floating. The fishing has been pretty good with some consistent bugs on the West Branch. We are still seeing some larger, #16 Sulphurs as well as more of the #18’s. The small Olives in 18-24 have been good also, even in the bright sun. The Isonychia have also been around in normal numbers and have been working well, especially in the fast water. We have been getting some good spinner falls on these nice nights we’ve been having with lots of Sulphur and Olive spinners.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting that the release from Cannonsville has been increased to 699 cfs this morning.  Water temperatures are in good shape on the entire West Branch and Upper East Branch.  There were some fish rising in yesterday’s sun but things picked up after the clouds rolled in and the sun dropped a bit in the evening.  Sulphurs and little olives were the main bugs with a few isonychias and cahills here and there.  Nymphing deeper drop offs has been productive during the day.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the Upper Delaware has gone through some major changes in the last week. Summer has it’s grip on the region now and the regular rainfall that was present all spring has disappeared. Currently most of the river system is warm with a few exceptions.

    For Trout fishing the only areas that are fishing well are the West Branch and Upper Main Stem.  The Upper East has good temperature but the fishing is highly technical. The headwaters of the Beaverkill and Willowemoc are also cold. The Upper Main and West branch remain the best bet. Over the last week releases from Cannonsville have fluctuated between 500 cfs. and 700 cfs. This range is keeping the insects and trout active. At the current flow rates there are fish feeding most of the time. On all of our floats we can always find sporadic risers to challenge your casting ability. The periods of high activity remain 2:00 to 5:00 pm and again near dark. Sulfurs and blue wing olives are the dominant insect hatches but isonychia, cahills and some caddisflies are about. Midges are also a factor during summer. tricos and other tiny insects are about most mornings with fish feeding only in certain areas. Overall the fishing at this time can be classified as reliable but technical. We are now rigging several dry fly and nymph rods for our guests. I have a heavy rod with the isonychia and a light rod with light tippet. This lighter rod gets changed between the tiny patterns that we are hoping the fussy trout will eat. These are mostly Olives, Sulfur and midge patterns. My nymph rods are rigged with a triple rig that is our standard for all year long. This is only used in the deeper faster runs. The other nymph rod is rigged more like a dry fly setup with two #18 nymphs and a float only 12″ above the flies. This is the best rig for most of the water at this time. All of the rigs must be presented totally drag free to have any chance at all. At this time the Trout are at the top of their game and your presentation has to be perfect. We are also hitting the Smallmouth water now.

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.

Local creeks: Local creeks are finally settled, very clear, and running like they should for early summer. While this makes fishing easier to some degree, it makes it harder in other ways. Fish, by nature, are light shy. So under clear low water conditions and particularly on sunny days, some degree of stealth is needed on skinny water, along with lighter, longer leaders. Nymphing, fishing wet flies on the swing, and dry flies will all work well right now. Hatches are typical of early summer and it’s time to consider at least packing terrestrial patterns. 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.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are getting back down to wadeable fishable flows, but they are still generally on the high side. There have been some reports of smallies coming to hand by wading anglers but current conditions still dictate larger dark or bright flies and sinking type fly lines. The Susquehanna River in Vestal is on a long slow slide down but at 4,000 CFS is still too high for safe wading and the river is still murky. Provided we continue under dry conditions, the best shot at fishing will be the Tioughnioga and the Chemung Rivers, although these are now essentially flatlined and not falling more. For the river rats out there, now’s the time to tie up some flies and prep for brownlining while waiting for just a little more improvement in flows.

susky

The Susquehanna River in Vestal is gradually falling but won’t be wade fishable until flows drop below 3,000 CFS. Anglers with boats can fish the river, but might need to wait a bit for the river to clear more.

Ponds: Ponds are a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are done spawning and so are sunfish and they are beyond the brief period where they’re recuperating from the rigors of spawning. This makes then willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cattails, though found in shallower water, can provide good cover for bass during the day. A popper thrown at the edge of cattails can often induce bass-in-hiding to come out and play.

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, I’ll try to capture it here.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

High pressure will linger over New York and Pennsylvania today. A body of low pressure will move into the Great Lakes. We’ll have mostly sunny skies with increasing clouds. There will be some late day showers and thunderstorms.

As the cold front moves through on Tuesday, we’ll keep showers and thunderstorms in the forecast. After some early showers and thunderstorms, these will end Tuesday night.

I have the front stalling just to our south. With a low riding along this front, showers and thunderstorms will be in the forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

We’ll have partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

WBNG7Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 2, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on July 4, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s July 4th – the celebration of independence for our beloved country. This weekend is the traditional hallmark of summer – vacations start in earnest. It’s also normally the start of dry weather, lower water, easy wading, and terrestrials. But such is not the case this year…

KBGM2017plot

Tiger lilies, daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, cornflowers and other summer wildflowers are coming to the fore. Mayflowers are gone. The hills and valleys are shady cool on even the warm days, and this year’s rains has even brooks that trickle running high and cool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This little brook runs through a 500 acre park in Vestal. It’s normally just a trickle at this time of year, but most recently, it’s more like a trout creek. It will be a very good year for the native brook trout that inhabit the deeper holes and plunge pools.

Fly Shop Talk: 

“Well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?”

Ben Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

The response above is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation from the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.

Franklin, along with 55 other signers of the Declaration of Independence are considered by many to be our Founding Fathers. They decided it was ultimately time to break with Great Britain, permanently, to forge a new nation. They pledged to give “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” in order to live in freedom and throw off the oppression that was being forced on them. And when they put pen to paper, they knew there would be a bounty on their heads. If ever captured, they could be hung for treason.

So whether you’re going fishing today, hanging out with friends, grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers, or watching fireworks, remember that the men who founded our country and gained our independence were not doing the same after signing their lives away. Freedom isn’t free…

Declaration_of_Independence_(1819),_by_John_Trumbull

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that lakes were hammered with upwards of 3″ of rain on Saturday. Lake trout fishing has slowed down on Cayuga Lake. The amount of debris in the lake on Sunday and early today (Monday) was staggering around the Myers/Taughannock/AES area. Things are settling out. Even Skaneateles Lake was muddy, which is rare! Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging ranged from good to excellent before the heavy rains.   A few salmon/brown trout 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.  Many fish are still spawning. Rockbass and large perch are in the mix.  Water here is still relatively cold.
  • Seneca Lake:  No recent word on lake trout jigging.
  • 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. If fishing the freestones, however, “fish with your thermometer”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This West Branch Delaware rainbow couldn’t resist a #18 sulphur nymph fished in fast water. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the release for the West branch of the Delaware River was cut back to 600 up at  Stilesville and 791 at Hale Eddy.  The upper East at Harvard is 213 and 66 degrees and the lower East at Fishs’ Eddy is 865 and 71 degrees.  The mainstem at Lordville is 1,770 cfs and 61 degrees.  Be sure to check the temps down on the main and East to ensure you’re not harming the trout. We are still getting the same bugs with some good Sulphur hatches and spinner falls.  The afternoon Blue Winged Olives have been consistent as well.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that yesterday’s sun made the fish wary. Look in the shaded areas for rising fish and use stealth when approaching them. Blind casting in the riffles and along the seams can produce fish. Check your sub-surface flies often for algae if you’re fishing higher up in the system. Today’s weather looks like a carbon copy of yesterday’s with sun and light winds. We’re seeing the same mix of sulphurs, olives, cahills, and isonychias out there with some hatching earlier in the day.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports over the last week summer has slowly been getting a grip on our local water. With every passing day our freestone rivers are getting a bit warmer and the trout are falling into a more laid back summer way of going about their business. At the same time the warmer water temperatures are starting to increase the activity of the always aggressive smallmouth population. As we continue the warming trend this great game fish will continue to dominate the marginal waters and the lower reaches of the Main Stem Delaware. With the warming waters and the forecast for 80 degree weather our freestone rivers will become warm quickly. The best time for the Beaverkill and Willowemoc will be in the morning hours of the day. During the afternoon anglers should check temps. as the lower reaches of the rivers will be around 70 degrees. The East and West branches are icy cold at this time. This week the release from Cannonsville Reservoir was increased to 600 cfs. which has a pretty big plume of icy water heading down river. The entire West Branch and a big portion of the Upper Main Stem are in great condition for trout fishing and this is the best place to target. This is where our guides have been and this is where the photos are from.
    The insects are pretty stable and unchanged from earlier reports. Sulfurs and Olives are the main staple on the water. Good afternoon hatches on the Upper East and Upper West branches. There is a dead spot between around 5:00 to 8:00 before the insects kick in again. At this time it is smaller sulfurs, Olives, Isonychia, Cahills and Caddisflies. Spinners are also about in big numbers near dark. Early day activity is still a crap shoot. There are some Cornuta Olives about. Tricos and Caenis are on the water but still spotty. With all of these morning hatches there are definite, specific areas where they thrive and lots of areas where they never get on the water in large enough numbers to draw fish to the surface. In many instances the activity from these tiny insects remains confines to single pools or small sections. The best areas have lots of grass along the banks and some aquatic vegetation in the water. They also like water that has warmed up a bit so don’t look close to the dams. Another thing to remember is that in the Catskills the trico activity is later than in many other river systems. Sometimes the activity starts as late as 9:00 am. If you are planning to fish the Upper East or West branches now is the time for long and lighter leaders. Our guides are now constructing leaders of at least 15 feet that taper to 5X or 6X when fishing the tiny Sulfurs, Olives and Spinners. Trico and Caenis should be fished on similar rigs. All Upper Delaware rivers are low, gin clear and offering total access at this time. Now is the time for long precise casts, impeccable line control and perfect line feeding skills.

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.

Local creeks: Despite the heavy rains from the weekend, local creeks have settled, and are running from a bit stained to clear. Nymphing, fishing wet flies on the swing, and dry flies will all work well right now. Hatches are typical of early summer and it’s almost time to consider fishing a terrestrial pattern. 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.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers were getting down there but the recent heavy rains but the brakes on that trend, unfortunately. The Susquehanna River in Vestal crested at 12,000 CFS and is on the way down. Provided we continue under dry conditions, the best shot at fishing will be the Tioughnioga and the Chemung Rivers. Both of these rivers are coming down relatively fast and should be in good shape by the weekend, if not sooner. For the river rats out there, now’s the time to tie up some flies and prep for brownlining!

Ponds: Ponds are in the throes of summer. Largemouth bass are done spawning and so are sunfish. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening. 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, I’ll try to capture it here.

The Week Ahead Weather: WBNG’s forecast is as follows:

 

 

With high pressure moving in from the northwest, The Fourth is looking great. We’ll have partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures. Skies will be mostly clear Tuesday night. The beautiful weather continues into Wednesday with mostly sunny skies.

We’ll watch two separate fronts for Thursday and Friday. The front that came through Monday, has stalled to our south near the PA/MD border. We’ll also have a front coming in from the west. These will give us showers and thunderstorms.

We could see a few lingering showers on Saturday, but the chance of that is low. High pressure on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday gives us mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies.

WBNG7Day