The week ahead in fly fishing: August 7, 2017

Summer seems to be finally here. The wet weather has eased somewhat, though we are still on a record-setting pace. Precipitation totals year to date are greater than 2016. But the rain events have been more sporadic with dry breaks between storms. This is helping drop river levels more quickly. It has also been cooler with daily highs holding in a tight range around the average for this time of year.

A recent hike with my dog along Choconut Creek in Vestal showed the impact of the significant flooding we have had this year. This creek flows from Pennylvania through Vestal and is a tributary to the Susquehanna. normally at this time of year it is low and clear – a trickle in some places. The upper reaches of the creek in PA and some of its tribs, such as “No Name Brook” hold native brookies. This year will be a good year for them!

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Major bank erosion on the Choconut Creek resulted in large tree downfalls in places. This picture, taken on 8/6/17, shows the Choconut flowing fairly full for summer.

Fly Shop Talk: A must-read for every fly fisher is the book, “A River Never Sleeps” by Roderick Haig-Brown. Bob Card, friend, fellow angler, and steelhead enthusiast, recommended the book to me one morning as we drove to the Salmon River. Card highly recommended it – a “couldn’t put it down” recommendation – and he was right. Buried deep in the book’s 352 pages, is a great essay titled, “Why Fish”. The 8 page essay begins with recounting a run-in Haig-Brown’s father – a big man and Army officer – had when a “little Cockney private” came running round a street corner smack into him. The collision prompted the larger man to ask of the smaller man, “why run?” The answer from the Cockney private: “to please myself”. Haig-Brown goes on to explore the many reasons we fish, but principally comes around to “enjoyment” as the main one. He goes on to remark that “fishing” started so many thousands of years ago when a tribe member took off in secrecy to fish long after a hunt had provided all the food the tribe needed.

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 is good. Lake trout jigging is fair. Plenty of rockbass and some perch are around.
  • 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: No recent reports from here.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. Following are some local fly shop reports:

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that today is looking like a great day to be out with a slight drizzle since this morning and cloudy skies all day. The air temps are great and feel more like September than August at 57 currently which is great for the mainstem and East Branch. It looks like we won’t get too much rain today, probably 1/3″ total, not enough to bring it up too much. Currently the upper West Branch is 526 cfs at Stilesvill and 47 degrees. Down at Hale Eddy the flow is 611 cfs and 49 degrees. The East at Harvard is now 225 cfs and 56 degrees and downriver at Fishs’ Eddy the flow is 488 cfs and 62 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is now 1,360 cfs and 62. A great temp going into August and would be a great place to be with the current overcast conditions. If you’ve had enough of the Sulphurs in the no kill try the main with some Blue Winged Olives or blind casting a large Isonychia in likely spots. We should have some good Olives on the West as well. The streamer fishing is also a great option for today with the low light and possibly a little stain from the rain.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that Oquaga Creek was pushing a lot of water into the West Branch over the weekend. The river was a chalky color rather than brown making it decent for throwing streamers. We found mixing up the streamer selection made the difference and finally settled on small, dark patterns. The water was clear enough for fish to rise and there were some eating in the evening when the olives hatched. The Upper West Branch above Oquaga was in fine shape and had the normal hatches of sulphurs and olives. We are coming off a cool night so the water temperatures are starting off a couple of degrees cooler this morning. Today looks good with partly cloudy skies and air temperatures in the low 70’s. Winds should stay in the single digits.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that fishing has been very good for both trout and smallmouth bass. With the cooler weather and mix of sunny and overcast conditions the fish and insects were very active. The steady supply of thunderstorms recently has kept certain stretches of the river running with turbidity. This has been in every local river. Our guests have had periods of exciting action with streamers. There have been a lot of trout on both the East and West branches that are more than willing to chase streamers pretty hard. The trick has been turning the chasers into takers. To accomplish this we have been fishing mostly smaller patterns. Buggers, Urchin Buggers, EP Baitfish and 4″ or smaller articulated patterns. These smaller offerings have been the best at sealing the deal.
    The cooler weather and cooler water has been great for the hatches and the overall activity of the trout. On my trips there were plenty of targets as trout have been feeding steadily to a mix of insects. I have been out both early and late recently and there is action. There is a huge amount of trico’s emerging every morning. As long as the water is slow enough for the trout to feed efficiently they have been on them. Yesterday we had a few nice pods of mature rainbows feeding steadily on these tiny duns. We also had very good nymph fishing during the AM portion of the day.
    The evening rise has been better simply because the insects are more widespread and varied. There are olives, sulfurs, isonychia, cahills, midges. The evening is also a bit easier since the fish have been set up feeding in faster water as well as the pools. Finding a good fish eating larger insects in fast water makes for a much easier presentation. On all of my recent trips I have been able to locate solitary trout in riffles that were blowing up on the occasional Isonychia or cahill that floats by. Most of these trout have found their way to the net. The forecast for the week has daytime highs in the mid 70’s so conditions should be stable for a while. Now is a great time to take a crack at some mid summer dry fly fishing. We have been hitting the bass waters hard and with a good reason. The bass action is hot and it is all surface action! These great game fish have good water temperatures to be super active now. Now is the time where they will feed heavy in anticipation of cooling waters later in the fall. On all of our recent trips we have been able to fish the POPPER from start to finish. The action is good all day but it increases in intensity as the day progresses. On my recent trips the late afternoon has produced non stop action. On all of our recent trips the catch rate has been up. 20 + fish on the fly rod is common now and we have been taking some nice fish. Yesterday we had lots of 14″ to 18″ bass come to net. Right now we are fishing size #2 poppers on 5 weight rods. This combination is perfectly matched for Delaware Smallies. The best action is on brightly colored poppers. Orange has been hot.

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 remain in a yo-yo pattern 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 were on the way down through this past Thursday, but Friday’s rains proved to be a spoiler for the weekend. Flows are again dropping and with a string of dry days in the forecast, should provide good fishing by late in the week. Some anglers have managed to produce by capitalizing on days when flows have dropped. Topwater and subsurface flies will work, with topwater being the choice for when the light is low. Pay attention to the USGS water gages for now.

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The Tioughnioga River was at a nice fishing level up until Friday, when rain had put it back on the rise. This river, along with the Chenango and Chemung, should give anglers hunting for bronze some good fishing access in the week ahead.

Ponds: Ponds remain 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: It won’t be long until local fly fishing clubs begin their fall programs. Here is one update on a fishing tripped planned by the TTFR chapter of FFI:

  • Chemung River Fishing Trip Moved Again to August 26 – Due to the water conditions on July 22, the Chemung River float fishing trip was postponed. The trip has been rescheduled for August 26th and is again open to all TTFR International Federation of Fly Fishers members and visitors. We need to know before August 23 if you plan to come. This is usually a productive and popular float for bass and carp. Plan to meet at 9 am in Corning NY at the Cohocton Street launch (behind Pressware) and float 7 miles to Botchers Landing. We will grill out a shoreline lunch halfway through the trip. We expect to be off the river around 5 pm. For lunch, the club will grill burgers with all the fixings. The club will have bottled water and some drinks. There will be plates, napkins, plastic silverware, etc. If you want to bring food to share, that would be great. Chips, cookies, wine, beer, or whatever else you would like. Fishing is for smallmouth bass and carp. An 8 weight outfit is recommended with a floating and maybe an 8 weight with a sink tip line. If you don’t have an 8 wt – bring what you have. If you need to borrow a rod, the club has 6 weights. I think you will find a 7 or 8 is perfect for the size of flies and longer casts. I suggest bringing clouser minnows, foxee minnows, suspendors, twistertails and gurglers. Big wooly buggers are a good bet. Felt sole wading boots are recommended. The rocks are very slippery – so best to avoid tennis shoes or Tevas. Bring a raincoat. You will need a canoe, kayak, driftboat, or inflatable pontoon for the float. If you will have space and would be willing to take along another person in your boat – that would be great! If you would like to come, but do not have a watercraft – we will try to hook you up with someone who has an open spot or you can rent a canoe ($45) or a single person kayak (35$/day). Please let us know your needs and we will make the arrangements with the rental company. Life jackets, paddles, etc will be provided if you rent. Please contact Matt Towner 607-542-0285 ( townermj@corning.com) before August 23 to let us know you plan to attend. You may also contact Kirk Klingensmith ( kklingensmi@stny.rr.com ), but he is out of town until 8/18, so a response may be delayed until he returns. In the case of bad water conditions or severe weather, we will notify folks who are coming by e-mail or cellphone.

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

After a relatively dry weekend, there’s a chance of showers for Monday with temperatures in the low-70s. High pressure then pushes in Tuesday through Thursday afternoon. Temperatures crest in the mid- to upper-70s under sunny skies, before the chance of showers returns late on Thursday and persists through Friday. At this time, Saturday looks to be a mainly quiet day, as a pocket of high pressure moves north through Ontario, perhaps keeping our atmosphere stable enough to prevent any convective rain or storms.

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3 Responses to “The week ahead in fly fishing: August 7, 2017”

  1. I loved all of those “No Name Brook”(s) back in the late 1960’s. You could always count on a Brookie or two in those little streams flowing into the Choconut. And a lot of them had a waterfall or two to surprise the wandering angler. Glad to hear there are still some brook trout living in them. Thanks for posting a note about them.

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