Archive for September, 2017

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 4, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , on September 4, 2017 by stflyfisher

Labor Day, the traditional gateway to Fall and the official “end of summer” is here. Like most of 2017, the weekend weather, with the exception of a gorgeous Labor Day, was odd with very cool temperatures and rain. But rivers and creeks are nonetheless starting to show their bones. Reports that the salmon are starting to enter the tribs continue to roll in – a good sign. And some trees are starting to display hints of fall foliage.

Fly Shop Talk: A tip I learned from Harry Murray, smallmouth bass expert from Virginia and owner of Murray’s Fly Shop, is to always assemble and rig your rod last when arriving at your fishing destination and do the reverse when packing up for the day. Don your waders, set up your vest, etc., before rigging your rod to fish. That assures the least amount of opportunity to break your rod by leaving it leaning up against an open car door, or worse yet, lying on the ground. Do the reverse when wrapping up your fishing by first breaking down your rod and storing it in its protective rod tube. Only after your rod is stored away should you attend to putting your other gear away.

Here’s the week ahead in fly fishing report:

Lake Ontario Tribs: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that the salmon are coming into the Salmon River in greater numbers now. CFS dropped to 335 last night / 419 at Pineville and water temperature is up to 65 F. Fishing has been good to very good. Whitakers reports that the majority of anglers who fished the river reported getting into mostly kings with a few cohos in the mix. The best action has been in the lower end of the river with the majority of anglers fishing at the DSR. The lower end of the river has also been producing action in the Ballpark, Town pool, Staircase/Longbridge and Black Hole. First thing in the morning has produced the best fish movement, especially on bright sunny days, but yesterday we had heavy cloud cover along with rainy conditions so fish continued moving throughout the day.

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

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging success varies, ranging from slow to downright superb depending on the day and conditions. Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. Largemouth bass fishing is fair; pickerel action is good.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing should be picking up markedly here. Expect occasional bonus browns, rainbows and bass while jigging.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Lake trout jigging is fair. Plenty of large rockbass and some perch are around.
  • Seneca Lake: Fishing is fair for lakers – a couple fish is a good day. No recent reports from here.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Laker action generally picks up a lot here in October and onwards. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing here has been good. Expect decent tiger musky action.

Catskill Rivers:  

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

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the Catskill rivers are all in good shape and up a little since the rain started Saturday night but the bugs have been the same over the last few weeks. Stilesville on the upper West is now 378 cfs and 52 degrees and down at Hale Eddy we are looking at 507 an 50 degrees. The upper East Branch at Harvard is 170 cfs and 52 degrees and downriver below the Beaverkill at Fishs’ Eddy the flow is now 372 cfs and 57 degrees. The mainstem down at Lordville is currently 981 cfs and 58 degrees. The rain over the last 12 hours hasn’t really dirtied up any parts of the system yet but there has been a slight stain to the West Branch for a while due to the release. The bugs have been the same for a while now with Blue Winged Olives in the 18-24 range, a few Iso’s in size #12 and Cahills in the #14-16 range. Winged ants have been around too and are good flies to have for the next few weeks. The streamer bite today should be very good with the rain and low light, even though there’s not a lot of water or dirty water.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that the release from Cannonsville has been dropped to 400 cfs. The recording hasn’t been updated but we’ll go with that number. Water temperatures are not a problem after the last few nights and the rivers are okay for floating or wading at these levels. The wind was unkind for a good part of yesterday but did finally drop in the evening. Once it dropped the dry fly fishing picked up with olives, cahills, and Heptagenia coming off. We have been fishing olives from size 18 down to 26 so bring the whole box. Some fish aren’t picky while others get stuck on the tiny ones.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that over the last week the cooler weather has had a positive effect on all of our local rivers. At this time the conditions are in transition back to the temperature range where trout will become more aggressive in their feeding habits. This week there are far more options for us fly fishermen. The water of the Beaverkill, Willlowemoc, Lower East Branch and Main Stem are cooling quickly. They are all in a good range now for Trout to be active. Water temperatures may be a bit sensitive if we get a scorching sunny day but for the most part temps. are good. Over the last few days our guides have visited some stretches of river that they have not fished since spring. I have first hand reports now from all of the freestone rivers and here is what you can expect in the coming days. The best action is with nymphs in and around the fastest water. This is where a lot of fish spent the summer and they are still there. The Wild Rainbows will feed aggressively now right through late fall. Every year this time period offers about the best nymph action of the season. The dry fly activity will improve as the days turn colder. Right now the action is well worthwhile. The trico fishing is good every morning. The best areas for tricos are in pools with lots of weed beds in the water. The best locations also have low brush and grass along the banks. The late afternoon has been improving quickly. Some areas have been excellent but there is still some unpredictability in the late day activity. The unpredictability is regarding location. The insect activity is in pockets and an area can be bug soup wile 100 yards upstream or down is void. It pays to pick your evening spots based on insects in the air. If there are bugs there will be fish. In the areas that are hot you can expect to find Olives, Isonychia, Cahills, White Flies, Yellow Drakes, Midges, Caddisflies. There have been some intense spinner flights and all of my recent trips have found fish gorging just before dark time. Fishing Isonychia and Cahill patterns will get you some fish in the faster water. The best bet however is a #16 or #18 hackle spinner. If you are able to fish these on light leaders you will pick off about every riser you find regardless of water type.

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 are low and clear. The cooler weather has kept temps decent for fishing but it’s always good to “fish with your thermometer” when the water levels are low. It’s time now to put terrestrials in the vest if they aren’t there already. Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and ants. Don’t forget inchworms also. While fishing with nymphs and dries will produce, look for terrestrials to become a main course item for trout as the hatches begin to dwindle. Hopper fishing can be great where creeks flow by open fields – especially when the wind is blowing.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers have been fishing good to very good. River levels remain excellent for nice wading and good fly fishing. Clarity is excellent. The bass seem to have acclimated to the recent drop in water temps. The rivers are loaded with crayfish and minnows and the white fly hatch continues.

Topwater will continue to produce into fall as the bass begin to put on the feedbag. On a recent trip I fished a slow water area adjacent to a large weedbed and saw quite a bit of movement from bass chasing bait. A few casts with a popper resulted in a very nice bass. When bass are “lit up” you can usually expect aggressive takes on poppers and streamers, particularly when the light is low. During the day, fish big nymphs dead drift or swing large streamers. Experimenting with retrieves will increase your success – sometimes the bass want a slow swing, sometimes they’ll be more apt to jump a fly that has a lot of movement. Besides smallmouth bass, fallfish, channel cats, and walleye have all been on the hunt for a well-fished fly. Walleye, in particular, will begin to feed more aggressively as water temps drop. And remember, where you find one walleye there are usually more about.

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Ponds: Ponds remain a great place to fly fish right now, and with the water cooling, look for action to carry over into daylight more. Largemouth bass are in summer mode and are more than willing to take a fly. 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: Local fly fishing clubs will begin their fall programs over the next few weeks. Here’s what’s on tap for September thus far:

  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers Chapter of FFI has announced their September meeting: We welcome you to join us on September 11th at 6:30pm, when Scott Feltrinelli will be visiting to talk about fishing the great lakes tributaries for salmon, steelhead and bass. Scott has over 27 years of fly fishing experience in both fresh and saltwater, and is the owner and guide of Ontario Fly Outfitters. Ontario Fly Outfitters is one of New York’s premiere fly fishing guide services specializing in providing a wide variety of fishing experiences for every level of fishing ability. He regularly targets the world class fishery we have within Western New York, on the tributaries of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie from the Salmon River to Steelhead Alley. Scott is an author/photographer for On The Fly Magazine, Cortland Line, Simms and LOOP Tackle Pro Staff. Scott’s talk will cover the techniques he uses to catch salmon, steelhead and bass in the Great Lakes tribs, as well as some of the streams he frequents. If you want to catch more steelhead or smallmouth bass this year in the great lakes tribs, you won’t want to miss this presentation. Unlike past presentations, we will not be starting with a fly tying demo. Instead, Scott’s presentation starts at 6:30 sharp, at the Big Flats Community Center, 476 Maple Street, Big Flats, NY 14814. Please note Sept’s date is shifted from our normal first Monday of the month timing due to Labor Day holiday.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI has announced their first chapter meeting for the Fall. The speaker will be area angler, writer, and fly shop owner, Mike Hogue, who will present: “Biking, Solo Canoes and Float Tubes: Ways to Enhance Your Fly Fishing Experiences.” The meeting is scheduled for Thursday September 21, 2017, Endicott Public Library, 7:00 PM (informal tying demonstration at 6:30). Mike has done all the hard work by evaluating the best ways to combine exercise, fly fishing, and finding low pressure venues, all while enjoying nature’s scenery. Mike will share with us his hard learned fishing strategies and methods for rigging for mobility as well as some of his favorite “solo” fishing locations and experiences. His presentation will explain why he chooses a solo canoe over other watercraft options. He will discuss the vitally important issues of handling, durability, paddles, gear, rod holders, fly patch, gear bag, and will remind you to plan on flipping the watercraft when you devise your setup. He will talk about how to select gear and rig it up for fly fishing from small watercraft. Surprisingly, nothing has been written about this material and Mike’s information is unique. Mike will also be our pre-meeting fly tyer demonstrating an Old Adirondack pattern called The Devil Bug which will be featured in a future Fly Tyer magazine article. Mike is the owner of Badger Creek Fly Tying, a fly fishing shop in Freeville, NY, just outside of Ithaca. He has had articles published in numerous publications, and has served as VP of Conservation for the IFFF North East Council, as well as on the National Conservation Board.

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

 

 

We get a brief spell of dry weather before the rain and thunderstorms move in again. Labor Day will be a decent day with mostly sunny skies. We’ll have a breezy southwest wind with warm temperatures. As a cold front approaches, we’ll have showers in the forecast tonight.

We’ll have a better chance of rain and thunderstorms on Tuesday as the cold front comes through. We’ll have rain and thunderstorms, with the potential for strong storm. With an upper level trough setting up over the Great Lakes and Northeast, showers, along with cooler temperatures will be in the forecast for the remainder of the work week.

High pressure and nicer weather arrives for the weekend. We will be cooler with highs in the mid to upper 60s, we’ll have partly cloudy skies. Dry weather continues into Monday with mostly sunny skies and highs in the upper 60s to low 70s.

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Fishing with the ladies…

Posted in Fishing Reports, Saltwater, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on September 2, 2017 by stflyfisher

My connection with Destin, Florida is an interesting story, one to be revealed in a blog post at a later time. For now, let’s just say I have good reason to frequent this sunny Florida panhandle city – part of the beautiful “Emerald Coast”.

I recently wrapped up a week-long visit to Destin, complete with family and “plus ones” in tow. As busy and hectic as the vacation schedule was, I still had time to fish the early hours while the rest of the house snoozed away.

Destin sits on a long peninsula of land between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay – a large saltwater bay, 129 square miles in size, that is fed by the gulf tides and estuary rivers to the north.

destin

An aerial view of Destin. Picture courtesy of flyfishaddiction.blogspot.com.

In addition to an abundance of places to fish in the salt, the area is dotted with ponds and lakes that hold largemouth bass and panfish. So depending on the weather and sea conditions, an angler has a choice of bay fishing, surf fishing, and pond/lake fishing. There’s rarely a time when a line has to sit dry for long.

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Miles and miles of white sandy beach await the early morning fly fisher…

For most of this visit I chose to fish the surf. I had previously fished Destin in the spring and fall, focusing on the bay. I’d heard summertime had a significant “trash fish” bite, but among that rubble was a gem of a fish that had a reputation as a great adversary on the long rod: the ladyfish…

ladyfish

The ladyfish is a ray-finned fish also referred to as skipjacks, jack-rashes, or tenpounders. They are coastal-dwelling and found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world but occasionally venture into more temperate waters. Ladyfish prey on smaller fish and shrimp. They can grow to over 3 feet in length and may reach 20 pounds in weight. More commonly, they are found to range from 12″ to over 20″. The body of the ladyfish is a tapered spindle shape with an oval cross-section. Their eyes are very large as are their mouths. Their incredible aerial acrobatics in combination with a hard mouth allows them to throw a poorly set hook quite easily. They are largely silver and white in color but their backs are a light olive to sand color with a beautiful band of pink where their color transitions to silver.

After arriving at our place and settling in, I rigged my 9 weight fly rod with a full intermediate line and took a quick golf cart ride to the beach. I walked east beyond the swimming area and began casting a size 2 chartreuse and white clouser minnow. It wasn’t long before I was hooked up and witnessing first-hand, the incredible high-jumps of the ladyfish.

ladyfish.jumping.olander.doug

Ladyfish are known as the “poor man’s tarpon” due to their incessant aerobatics, as captured here in this picture courtesy of Doug Olander.

I fished the surf for several days and found varied fishing conditions for these surf-side torpedoes. One day the surf was flat as a mill-pond and I spent much of the day running up and down the beach chasing ladies crashing the beach. Their devastating attacks on glass minnows in the shallows reminded me of bluefish blitzes. On other days the surf was up and the ladies were still biting but were spread out and cruising resulting in a slow but steady bite. One hot afternoon I found them on almost every other cast, though they were not showing themselves as they were on the calmer days.

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I’ll estimate I caught at least a hundred ladyfish over a 4 day period and probably lost another 50 in the process. Ladyfish are built for blitzing bait – a long sleek body, deeply forked tail, big eyes, and a big mouth all make for one terrific gamefish for the saltwater angler.

One group of Mississippi fly fishermen respectfully refer to the ladyfish as the Mississippi tarbone and point out that local anglers can experience much of the thrill of catching tarpon and bonefish without having to leave Mississippi waters.

I found the “ladies” to feed very aggressively and take almost any fly I threw at them. While I didn’t try topwater, I’m sure a large popper thrown into their blitzes would have resulted in regular hook-ups. At times they would feed actively in large schools and could be seen porpoising as they chased bait in the shallows. The most effective flies were shiny, silver, or white. A white clouser with some flash combined with a fast retrieve that imparts plenty of action to the fly is all that is needed to catch these lightening bolts of the salt.

While sometimes difficult to hook, ladyfish will strike again and again on the retrieve. Their mouth is very abrasive; leaders should be checked frequently for fraying. On the advice of the local Orvis fly shop, I used a small bite guard of 30 lb mono as ladyfish are not at all leader shy. And I’d recommend not using expensive or intricate flies because they will get chewed up and stripped to a bare hook in no time! A 1/0 stainless hook tied with a lot of flash and some white hackle or deer hair will do the trick. Don’t spare the glue or epoxy! Simple and bullet-proof will work well.

The fish I caught ranged in size from 12″ to over 24″. Any ladyfish will fight hard but when they get over 18″ you will quickly be grinning ear to ear with their blistering runs and spastic leaps. I caught several larger ones that put a serious bend in my 9 weight and made long reel-screaming runs followed by tarpon-like leaps.

Noreen Galaba ladyfish

A nice-sized ladyfish caught while wading. Photo by Captain Baz Yelverton.

I fished my 9 weight rod because one never knows what will show up in the surf, including redfish, jacks, and sharks, but I could have gone lighter. A 6 – 8 weight rod would work just as well and reduce arm fatigue from casting. A floating line can be used when the fish are in close but I prefer an intermediate or intermediate sink tip to get down in the water column. A simple 30/20 lb mono leader 5 to 8 feet in length is all that is needed on the business end. Flies do not need to be big, but I found that a larger hook helps increase hook-ups.

Ladyfish are sometimes cursed by anglers because they can aggressively interfere with fishing for other species. Redfish anglers, for example, will stalk a flat only to hook up with a ladyfish and spook every red on the flat. But I welcomed the opportunity to waltz with the “ladies”. I could count on them to join me on the floor with every cast. I could delight in their high leaps from the emerald waters of the Gulf straight up to the bright blue Florida sky. And I’ll certainly be back to ask for another dance with them come next summer.