The week ahead in fly fishing: July 30, 2017

We are finally in the midst of a “drought” window. The past weekend, starting Friday, was dry and it’s looking like that may continue now at least a few days into next week. This dry period may be all we need to allow the warmwater rivers to drop down to the fly fishing range.

We are also closing out July with some warmth. The corn in places now has tassels, pumpkin and squash plants are flowering, and I’ve seen some whitetail bucks with antlers in velvet.

August is on the doorstep – a time of year when the fishing pace slows with warm days and a time of year that serves as a preview for early fall and a return to great fly fishing.

Fly Shop Talk: BC Flyfisher Dennis See recently shared a facebook post from about Binghamton NY’s weather. The post was titled: This U.S. City Has Seen Some of the Worst Weather This Year and Continues to Shatter Records. It’s an interesting read and does a nice job putting some of our recent weather in perspective. Some highlights follow:

  • Binghamton, New York, is currently on pace to exceed its wettest year on record following the record-snowiest winter.
  • As of Wednesday, 37.08 inches of precipitation have been recorded in the city in 2017 – more than all of last year.
  • An average year in Binghamton features 39.3 inches of precipitation, defined as rainfall and the liquid equivalent of melted snow.


Here’s the week ahead report:

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

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging is back to top-notch form. Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. I expect good largemouth bass fishing on Cayuga Lake.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be good.
  • Seneca Lake: Fishing is fair for lakers – a couple fish is a good day.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part. 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. I fished the West Branch of the Delaware in the morning and the action was sporadic but good. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right pattern – changing flies when action is slow to nil is always a good idea especially when hatches are sparse. I finally dialed in with a small sulphur nymph and sulphur soft hackle.


  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that flows are generally excellent in the Catskill river system. Stilesville on the upper West is 525 and 46 degrees and downriver a few miles at Hale Eddy we have 611 cfs and 49 degrees this morning. The upper East Branch at Harvard is now 314 and 57 degrees and down at Fishs’ Eddy we have 706 cfs and 61 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is 1,590 cfs and 63 degrees. The main and East are really getting a break temperature-wise with these cooler temps we’ve been having and aren’t at a bad level for this time of year. We are still getting the same bugs on a regular basis with #18 Sulphurs and #20-24 Olives being the most consistent during the afternoon hours. A few Isonychia are also around in the afternoon.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that the best fishing is on the upper West Branch and upper East Branch. Look for the coldest water. There should be daytime sulphurs and olives in Deposit and Stilesville. Although small flies have been working better carry some Cahills, Isonychias, and Golden Drakes just in case. Areas with mid day shade will also fish better. Yesterday’s bright sun and hot air temperature bumped the water temps up just enough to push most of the mid to lower river hatching to dark. Find the water in the 50’s. Today’s air temperature will be cooler at 80 degrees but the sun is going to shine. The lower East Branch, Mainstem, and lower Beaverkill all warmed up into the high 60’s yesterday. We’re leaving them alone until they cool back down.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that since the last report our guides have fished both trout and smallmouth bass and covered lots of river miles. Overall the fishing is good. The main reason is the cooler nights and recent rainfall. The trout are more active since the water temperatures dropped into a more suitable range. Over the weekend our trout trips had a steady pick of surface feeding trout to keep busy with. We also did really good on our nymph rigs in some places. Yesterday I did 2 floats both for trout – my first trip was a nymphing float where we targeted a couple of big riffle areas. The action was pretty steady and in 4 hours we had 8 fish. We had 2 small ones but most were 15″ to 17″ Wild Rainbows. On this morning float there was also some super heavy activity with Trico’s. The amount of insects in the air and on the water was huge. There was a small amount of surface activity but the river is high and it was very windy. I expect that when the water comes down there will be a good rise of trout to these tiny insects. We also had boats out for evening hatch floats every day recently. There have been fish sporadically rising from when we put in around 5:00 pm. As is normal the action slowly improves as darkness approaches. We have been doing well fishing a combination of small Olives, Sulfurs and Midges. CDC Knock Down Duns and Cripples have been the best. Small rusty spinners and midge patterns are also working well. Below the surface it has been all about size. #18 and #20 nymphs are whats working. I have been fishing 3 fly rigs with descending sizes down to the #20. Every fish has been on the tiny flies. Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails and Midges are working well. The bass fishing hit a bit of a slow down with the recent cold front. Over the weekend water temperatures dropped below 70 degrees just about everywhere. The bass have been a bit sluggish during the morning but get back to feeding after the sun warms them a bit. We had several groups out and all had lots of fun. The biggest difference from last week is that the surface bite has slowed from the cooler water. Last week we were having fast and furious popper action. Right now you have to work at it. The strikes are not as frequent but the fish have been good sized. The best approach at this time for steady, fast action is slow and deep. The hot surface action should return quickly as the temps climb back up.


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: The warmwater rivers are starting to drop again due to the string of dry weather we’ve experienced over the weekend. This weather pattern is supposed to hold until Tuesday – let’s hope that dries the ground out enough to let the bigger rivers drop and clear. This is white fly hatch time by the way. The high water may be putting that off though. This monumental hatch can sometimes last through the month of August.

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.

tio 731

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:

A cold front over Ontario and Quebec will sag southward. It will have a hard time making it through, but it will be close enough to give us a few showers. These will be scattered. Tonight we’ll have partly cloudy skies.

We’ll have a similar forecast over the next few days. It will be warm and slightly muggy with scattered showers. The chance of showers will climb through the forecast.

A cold front will come through on Saturday with showers and thunderstorms. We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Sunday. Another low coming through the Great Lakes will give us showers on Monday.




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