The week ahead in fly fishing: July 2, 2017

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…


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.


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…


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”.


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.


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.



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