The week ahead in fly fishing: July 9, 2017

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.


Daily temperatures have been on the cooler side lately.


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.


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.


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.


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.










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