Archive for the Fishing Conditions Category

Fly fishing Barnegat Bay’s spring bite

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Saltwater, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on June 14, 2018 by stflyfisher

On the Sunday afternoon before Memorial Day, I made the 4 hour trek down to the Jersey shore to spend some time with my Dad and to fish the infamous spring bite in Barnegat Bay. Fishhead Greg, a charter captain I had fished with twice last fall and owner of Fisherman’s Headquarters, had recommended it, after all. Captain Greg had told me that the striped bass fishing can be outstanding in the spring as fish migrate northward on the feed. And beyond the stripers, “racer” blues, so named for their somewhat emaciated appearance (big head and skinny body), invade the relatively warm waters of Barnegat Bay to feed voraciously in the shallows. The bite, as Captain Greg would say, can be “off the charts”, good. In particular, seeing a big bluefish crash a popper in 4 feet of water is something all fly anglers should see at least once in their life.

As recounted in my Memorial Day post, I fished the sod banks on my own on the first morning of my visit and tallied my first striped bass on the fly. With the skunk shook off, fishing with Greg the following morning HAD to be good! Indeed it was…

I talked with Greg the afternoon before our trip. As usual, he talked at length about conditions and possible game plans. He had not had good luck on Memorial Day and was seeking “revenge.” He had some concerns about the cold water that had been flooding into the inlet as a result of prevailing southerly winds. These winds are known to move the warmer top water, resulting in an upwelling of cold bottom water. And that cold water can really put the brakes on the bite.

Greg said that trolling had been a hit or miss proposition, though some big fish had been caught. And since he knew I was really all about fly fishing, he decided on a three-pronged attack for our trip: 1) fish the jetties and inlet, 2) come inside and fish the sod banks, and 3) fish the flats. This would all be done fly fishing. Greg’s rationale was that there is always life in the inlet. If the inlet didn’t fish well, we’d fish the sod banks where I had some success, and then at high slack water, we’d hit the flats where he’d gotten reports of schoolie stripers in abundance. The plan sounded great to me, and after all, I’ve always tried to follow the guide’s advice. They know the water.

And so we met early on an overcast and misty Tuesday morning. It was warmer than Memorial Day and would brighten and warm up more throughout the morning. Greg had his boat, The Fishhead, at a new slip close to Barnegat Light. I arrived at 5:30 am and found him busy at work prepping for the day.

After loading my gear on board, we stowed my rigged rods. I brought a 10 weight Scott Tidal with a floating line armed with a Bob’s Banger popper, a 10 weight TFO TFR (“tough fly rod”) with a sinking tip line armed with a 2/0 chartreuse half and half, a 9 weight Orvis Clearwater with an WF intermediate line armed with a 1/0 clouser, and an 8 weight TFO Professional Series II with an intermediate sink tip armed with a size 2 clouser.

We were soon headed straight out to the inlet. The sea in the inlet was mild with barely a light wind blowing out of the south. Greg nudged me up within casting range of the submerged section of the North Jetty. Armed with my 10 weight and a sink tip line, I cast the weighted half and half and let each cast sink on a ten count before I started a fast retrieve. After only a few minutes I felt a bump as the fly neared the boat and then as I pulled the fly up for a backcast, saw a dull blue flash and a boil where the fly left the water. “I think that was a blue,” I yelled. I cast again, counted down, retrieved and BOOM, I was on.

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My 10 weight takes a deep bend thanks to a Barnegat Inlet bluefish… (Picture courtesy of Greg Cudnik)

My 10 weight instantly took a deep bow as the bluefish dug hard in response to the hook-set. I tightened the drag but blues are strong fighters and the fish surged and stripped line, off and on for the first few minutes. Eventually I worked the fish up close and Greg deftly slipped the net under it. As Greg would say, “we shook the skunk.”

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Blue on the fly… (Picture courtesy of Greg Cudnik)

We continued to fish the North Jetty, then fished the South Jetty. but no one seemed to be home and we saw very little action on the other boats. So Greg shifted to Plan B and off we went to the sod banks. We scaled down from the 10’s to the 8’s and 9’s, hoping a big blue or striper might make us think differently about our tackle choice.

Greg worked through some good looking water. But like the jetties, the sod banks were not to be, save one bluefish that sucked in an errantly cast clouser off Greg’s fly rod. Greg had short-cast the fly in preparation for a true cast, and the fish struck at boatside. He had it on for 10 seconds and then the leader parted, victim to the blue’s razor grill.

So we moved to our last hope holdout, another of Greg’s “Promised Land” areas, considered highly productive and reliable. The area we fished is simply known as “The Flats” and is an expanse of shallow bay water that will often hold striped bass and bluefish cruising for a good meal in the spring.

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The flats…

Greg had kept in touch with another fishing friend who reported some action on the flats. His friend was getting stripers in a hole he found amidst the shallow grass-bottomed flat. He was drifting over it, then driving upwind at the end of the run and repeating the drift. The schoolie bass were apparently liking the white soft plastic he was casting to them. So Greg steered towards his friend’s boat and had us drifting the flats about 100-200 yards away. We were blind-casting initially when we saw some signs of surface action. We slowly moved above the surface action so we’d drift down on what looked like striped bass chasing bait on top.

Almost immediately I was hooked up to one of the bigger bass of the day. The fish pulled strong and fought hard and was definitely a great way to start the flats bite.

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First bass on the flats. Can you tell I’m happy? (Picture courtesy of Greg Cudnik)

For the next few hours we drifted over that hole and every drift produced schoolie stripers. At times Greg and I were doubled up. Greg fished a crease fly for a while and had some topwater hook-ups which were visually awesome.

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Captain Greg with a nice schoolie.

It was great seeing such a nice mix of schoolie bass – a healthy sign for sure. Some were up in the 20″+ range, while others were smaller, but each one was carefully released to fight another day. Captain Greg is very much a conservationist. He’s not against harvesting a fish on occasion, but prefers to release striped bass, particularly the larger ones.

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“Go get bigger…”  It takes a striped bass 5 years to reach the 20″ mark and another 10 years to grow past the 40 pound mark… (Picture courtesy of Greg Cudnik)

As the morning aged into noon, the wind came up out of the south. What had started as a hot glassy-calm morning transitioned to a cooler and breezy one. The stronger wind rushed our drift so that each fishing window shortened. The fish were still there and the action continued but the tide was starting to ebb. It was time to leave the flats with the water moving out of the bay. If we waited too long, we’d not make it off the shallows.

We packed it in and left the flats, heading back to the dock. The day had started fast with a nice bluefish, then slowed considerably as we searched the inlet for more life, but ended up in a big way. The spring bite was every bit as good as Greg had said it could be, though it was a very different bite. I had booked the trip thinking we’d get into big blues but instead the highlight of the trip was a non-stop schoolie bite on the flats. We caught some 25+ bass and I once again learned more about the great Barnegat Bay fishery from Captain Greg.

God-willing, I’ll be back next spring. I’ll do more wade fishing and book another trip with Captain Greg. Maybe the bite will be big blues, maybe classy bass in the inlet or off the beach. Whatever it is I’ll welcome the fishing, a new harbinger of spring for me.

 

 

 

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Memorial Day, Barnegat Bay, and Roger’s River

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Saltwater, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on June 2, 2018 by stflyfisher

Oh, I know the sound the river makes,

By dawn, by night, and by day.

But can it stay me through tomorrows,

That may find me far away?

Roger’s River by Ralph D. Conroy

I woke up at 4:30 am on Memorial Day and lay there in bed, knowing I should get up and get going, but after a full weekend of yard work while the spirit was willing – the flesh was weak. ‘Think of what they did on this day’, I thought, and that thought finally ended the fight.

Unlike past years, I would not be fishing Ball Eddy on the West Branch of the Delaware that day. Instead, I had decided to visit my father, a Korean War veteran, and engage in some fly fishing on Barnegat Bay. In the Spring, Barnegat Bay is known for its good striped bass fishing as the bass are migrating northward along the East Coast at this time of year. It’s also a time when “racer” bluefish – referred to as racers because their starved bodies are so thin in comparison to their heads – invade the warmer waters of Barnegat Bay to feed up. Blues can provide outstanding topwater fishing on the flats of the bay.

Most fly anglers know the saying: you fish to the fish’s schedule, not yours. This is particularly true when fly fishing the salt. The tides can make or break the bite as can the wind and water temperature. Fortunately for me, all of these factors were aligned nicely this Memorial Day. I just had to hustle and get out to Barnegat Light before the tide hit slack high.

I drove out to the island from mainland New Jersey and crossed the great Barnegat Bay on the Long Beach Island causeway. To my left I could see the bay’s waters stretch seemingly endlessly and in the distance could just barely make out Barnegat Light. The wind was coming out of the northeast and rippled the bay. A grey overcast hung over the water and the island – a good thing for the light-shy bass. I was feeling hopeful.

It’s a 15 minute drive down Long Beach Island’s main boulevard to get to the northern end of the island but it always seems an eternity. On the way, you pass the once sleepy towns of Ship Bottom, Surf City, Harvey Cedars, and Loveladies, and finally enter Barnegat Light – established in 1692 – the town around the lighthouse and the literal end of the road. Then, turning left off the boulevard, you pass the fishing fleet, the party boats, and the charter boats, and make your way to a part of Barnegat Light referred to as High Bar Harbor.

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The commercial fishing fleet at Barnegat Light. In the distant background is part of High Bar Harbor and to the right stretching into the bay, lies “the dike.”

Arriving at the state park at the end of High Bar Harbor, I rigged up and set off through a cedar and bayberry canopy and emerged onto a great bay beach, referred to by locals as “the dike.”

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An aerial view of “the dike” seen as the long thin spit of land that stretches from High Bar Harbor to a sedge island. The dike is man-made of dredge spoils, built to create a harbor and divert tidal flows around the sedge island at its tip. Barnegat Inlet is to the far center right of the picture.

The northeast wind blew gently and immersed me in a bath of fresh salty air. Gulls and osprey soared and wheeled overhead. I had the entire beach to myself and as I walked in the sullen light of that morning, I wondered how it must have been to make a beach landing in war, the air ripped by bullets and filled with the cries of dying men.

It was a 15 minute walk to reach the end of the dike where the sod banks began. The place looked fishy and felt right. The current was flowing like a river along the banks and the water was a beautiful blue-green, reminding me that the emerald beaches of the Gulf have their own beauty but it is not the only beauty that water can have.

I found a point that protected a sandy cut behind it. It looked like a perfect place for bass and blues to set up and ambush or intercept prey.

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The sod banks…

My 8 weight was rigged with an intermediate sink tip line. I tied on a 1/0 chartreuse and blue clouser. Casting slightly up-current just like I would fishing a trout river with a streamer, I let the fly sink, counted down to 10, and began to strip the fly back on the swing. On just the third such cast, the fly stopped with a solid throbbing jolt. The rod tip danced and bowed in a deep arc and I cleared the line and got the fish on the reel. What followed was a good deep fight, filled with head shakes and lunging runs…

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A solid Barnegat Bay schoolie striper complete with chartreuse and blue mustache…

I was elated: this striper was a first on the fly and I caught it using the basics I had taught at a BC Flyfishers meeting held the week before.

I worked my way up the dike, casting and working the fly deep on the swing. The bass seemed to be holding in close, just off the current, no doubt picking up baitfish and crustaceans flushed loose from the banks by the tidal current. The bite lasted another hour during which I tallied three more nice schoolie bass…

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The current died when the tide reached high slack water and this lull would last a bit before the great bay had absorbed the ocean’s rush and started pushing it back seaward. I decided to pack it in, happy with my success. I had, after all, achieved one of my fly fishing goals; to catch a striped bass on the fly.

The walk and wade back was a long one. I was tired from the morning’s fishing and the soft sand underfoot made the hike all the more taxing but gave me time to once again reflect on the meaning of the day. Just before going to bed the night before, in an effort to calm my excitement over fishing the next day, I pulled out a Field & Stream anthology of short stories. The book seemed to naturally open to a story titled “Roger’s River“. The author, outdoor writer Ralph D. Conroy, was born in 1939, grew up in Massachusetts, and was an Army veteran. Mr. Conroy was a regular contributor to Guns & Ammo magazine, and was also published in Reader’s Digest and Field & Stream. In his short story, “Roger’s River”, the author writes of many themes familiar to stories with fly fishing as a backdrop, but it was the theme of connection and subsequent loss in war that resonated with me most that evening.

The story takes place during the Korean War. The author, recently graduated from high school, ventures afield in the Vermont countryside to set up camp by a river and fish alone. He is a week away from reporting for basic training in the Army and this is his last time to fish before heading off to war. He arrives at a small town and meets another young man who turns out to be a local fly fisherman familiar with a stream close by. The young man’s name is Roger. The two young men only briefly chat before Roger sets off to what the author later describes as “his river.” This is the only time the two men actually talk to one another in the story.

The author sets up camp that evening and hears the distant wail of a harmonica as he sits by his campfire. The next day he discovers Roger’s camp – neat and orderly – as he returns from fishing the river. There he finds the makings of a poem scribbled on some paper that hints that Roger too, will soon be off to war. After packing up, the author has the feeling that he is leaving more than the river behind.

Fast forward a year and the author is back home from his tour of duty in Korea. He returns to Roger’s river and finds Roger’s camp a mess – littered and in disarray. He leaves the camp on a mission to find out what may have happened to Roger. Courtesy of a local gas station attendant, he locates Roger’s house and meets his father, who reveals that his son had died in a helicopter crash in Korea a week before he was supposed to come home.

Over 54,246 men were killed during the Korean War with 7,704 still unaccounted for as of 2018. As I walked up the beach to the wood line of bayberry and cedar that marked the path out of the dike, I remembered the prose of Conroy’s story, recalling the meaning it carried, like the clarion call of taps in the evening. I thought of those lost in that war, like Roger, who may have carried a fly rod to cherished water, fished it one last time, and then left it behind for a higher calling. I stopped, took pause to view the bay, then turned and left it behind me, feeling fortunate for the morning’s fishing, but more so, for what they gave so that I could return to my own river and fish another day.

Pompano on the fly

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Saltwater, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on April 26, 2018 by stflyfisher

Hey, are you Jeff Lowery? You sure look like him. He’s a fly fishing legend around here. 

Shout-out from an old beach bum in Destin, Florida

He looked like Jim Harrison, the famous writer, squinty-eyed, wrinkled, and tan as old leather. It was the second time in two days he had asked me if I was Jeff Lowery.

“You asked me that yesterday”, I said with a grin. “Oh, well you sure look like him”, the old beach bum replied. “He’s a fly fishing legend. He fishes from a step ladder on the first bar”. And with that he promptly moved on down the beach in his quest for the elusive fly fishing legend.

I had arrived early with the morning sun painting the beach and dunes sugar-white and the calm surf in hues of emerald and azure. The first and second bars were clearly visible with the deep blue of the troughs beyond them. The first bar was out 25 to 50 feet. That is where I needed to wade to intercept fish that cruised the trough and crashed bait against the shallows of the bar. It was late-April and the fishing report was that the pompano run was a strong one.

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A tale of two cousins…

Pompano are a smaller cousin to the permit – the saltwater fish of fly fishing dreams and one of the three gamefish of the tropical saltwater fly fishing “grand slam”, the other two being the bonefish and tarpon.

Pompano can range up to 8 lbs., but finding fish over 5 lbs., is rare. Even so, they are built for speed with their forked tail and tall compact body. Their saltwater habitat is typically inshore and nearshore warm waters (70-89 °F), especially along sandy beaches, oyster bars and over seagrass beds. Because of their temperature preferences, pompano migrate northward in the summer, and toward the south in the fall. Their range extends from Massachusetts to Brazil, but it is most common to areas near Florida. Like permit, pompano feed on crustaceans: sand fleas, small crabs, and shrimp. But they also eat mollusks and small baitfish. They are a member of the jack family (Trachinotus carolinus) and like most jacks, are very fast swimmers and live in schools. They are bottom feeders with very short teeth made for crushing and their mouths are rubbery, much like a carp.

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The Permit – picture courtesy of Gray’s Taxidermy

I was not sure how to fish the pompano run so I started with a small clouser in blue and chartreuse. The 9 weight cast it well on an intermediate line and a 6 foot leader tapered down to 15 lb test. There was little wind to knock the fly down and almost immediately I felt solid taps on the retrieve. As I lifted the fly to re-cast, several small fish came screaming by the fly. I’d deal with these feisty fish all day, dime-bright bullets with tails of egg yolk yellow.

After a few more casts to the deep blue edge of the trough I felt a soft grab, somewhat tentative, followed by a few head shakes and then the jolting of the line and bright flashes in the water. The fish suddenly “grew” in size and made off on a run that pulled my rod down to the horizon, bucking wildly, and had me doing everything I could to keep the slack line feeding cleanly through the rod guides. In no time I had the line on the reel, the drag screaming as the fish tore off to sea.

At times I gained on the fish, then it would reverse and peel out. This continued for 5 minutes and then wondering and hoping it was a pompano, my first pompano, I saw its gleaming deep side and the forked tail. I waded back off the bar into a small trough and up the beach. The fish slowly tired, but still fought in the surf. I walked up the beach some more and dragged the fish out of the surf.

It was a pompano – speed demon of the gulf surf! Its body shone bright in the sun – hues of silver and light blue, its back dark gray with hints of yellow on its underside and the tail fin. The fish had inhaled the small clouser so I clipped the line as close as I could and released it, feeling good about catching my first pompano.

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My first pompano on what would turn out to be one of those days to remember…

I waded back out to the first bar. The water was still relatively cool but the sun warmed me. The day brightened and the sea around me turned on with color. I now tied on a fly that imitates a sand flea, one of the principal foods of the beach-running pompano. Like permit, the pompano has a downcast mouth made for eating the bottom dwelling sand flea, among other crustaceans.

Vlahos sandflea

This sand flea pattern was just the ticket for the pompano that ranged the surf the day I fished. This fly was designed by Nick Vlahos and sold on his website (www.sandbarflies.com). The pattern I fished was sold at the SanDestin Orvis store and is called Vlahos’ Marbled Sand Flea.

I fished this fly deeply with short twitches and it wasn’t long before I was fast to another pompano. These fish are truly built for speed in the shallower waters of the surf, and it was evident why when I watched large porpoises in the outer bar that were likely feeding on these fish.

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Dolphins were not the only predator for pompanos on the day I fished. This fish fought hard for being so critically wounded by what was probably a small shark.

As the sun rose higher in the sky I could see the pompano is schools cruising up and down the beach. I was able to sight-fish them, casting ahead or just short of the school. Though pompano are known for their Jekyll and Hyde feeding personality, on this day the “pomps” were turned on and lit up. Most casts I made were followed and the fly would be attacked even when it meant an about-face. While the sand flea fly was very effective, switching to clousers and other bright saltwater streamers didn’t seem to make much difference.

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This fish displayed some yellow on its fins and a somewhat darker gray/blue back.

The fishing continued red-hot most of the morning into the early afternoon with 30 fish landed and quite a few more lost. Quite possibly the ultra clear water conditions and bright sun eventually ended the active bite. Pompano are known to prefer turbid waters so maybe too much sun was a bad thing.

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The beautiful Emerald Coast of Florida…

After 5 hours of epic fishing in the sun-drenched clear waters of the Gulf, I decided to give the rest of the day back to the fish. I had that good tired feeling as I walked the two miles to the beach access with the sound of a screaming reel and the sight of a deeply bent fly rod accompanying me the whole way. The pompano definitely put a smile on my face and a skip in my step and I was thankful to have met such a beautiful gamefish. I will be sure to return next spring, hoping the timing is in tune with the spring migration and maybe too, in time to meet my apparent fly fishing clone, the legendary Jeff Lowery.

 

Looking back: Fly fishing in 2017 – adapt, improvise, overcome…

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Rod Building, Saltwater, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on January 5, 2018 by stflyfisher

2017 will go down in the annals of the Southern Tier Fly fisher as very unique year in a myriad of ways. Some fishing for me was off compared to typical years but I am grateful that for every ying, there was a yang. The United Sates Marine Corps trains its Marines to “adapt, improvise, overcome”, under challenging conditions and so it was with fly fishing in 2017. Where I could not fish one venue due to conditions, I was able to roll with circumstances and create fly fishing success in other areas. I believe this is a key trait of good fly anglers: the ability to accept what Mother Nature hands us and still make lemonade out of lemons…

Before looking back at fly fishing, let’s review the weather history for the year, as so much of fishing often depends on the weather and climate. The following climate summary chart says a lot about the year, and in particular, that it was a very wet one…

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Daily temps were overall on par with historic norms, but precipitation was certainly anything but normal…

Weather highlights for the year were:

Record snowfall

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Binghamton NY achieved the status as snowiest city in New York after Stella left a whopping 35″ of snow on March 14th, the most snowfall Binghamton has ever received in 24 hours.

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Yours truly digging out during Winter Storm Stella…

High precipitation

The big snow-pack left by a snowy winter in combination with some significant rain in spring/summer made for some high water levels in area creeks, streams and rivers. In particular, the Susquehanna watershed took longer than usual to dry out, leaving the warmwater rivers high and largely unwadeable through mid-summer. My own records show I didn’t really start fly fishing for smallmouth bass until early August.

USGS.01513500.107463.00060..20170101.20171230.log.0.

Water flows on the Susquehanna in Vestal averaged in the 8 – 10K CFS range through early August, putting off fly fishing by wading. Once the Susquehanna watershed did dry out, the river dropped significantly.

But all the water made it a good year for trout, after last year’s long summer drought.

USGS.01426500.107322.00060..20170101.20171230.log.0.

Flows on the West Branch of the Delaware River were on average very healthy for 2017, but there were still some big swings due to continued water flow mismanagement on the part of the DRBC.

A cooler late spring and summer…

Temperatures varied around historical norms for most of the year, but there was one significant trend of average to cooler than average temperatures from mid-May through early September. It was a cool summer and there’s no doubt that was good for the coldwater fishery.

Fly fishing in 2017 – a summary:

Rod building

I started building a fly rod for my brother-in-law in January, enrolling for the second time in BC Flyfisher’s Rod Building Class, led by master rod builder, Joe Swam. I built up a TFO Finesse, 8′ 9″ 4 piece 5 weight rod using all of TFO’s original components. THis moderate action rod was just the ticket for fine presentation, according to TFO, and the rod performed outstandingly on the Bighorn during the trico hatch in Jeff’s able hands.

Fly tying

I also enrolled in BC Flyfisher’s annual fly tying class, though I could not attend all of the classes. Led by a cast of several very experienced BCFF members and guest tyer Joe Cambridge, the class once again added to my skill base and provided some simple guide fly patterns to add to my fly boxes. among them the Utah Killer Bug and The Turd.

Casting

One thing I tried to do a lot of in 2017 was casting practice, especially during high water conditions. It is said that the best anglers will practice casting BEFORE fishing, particularly to shake off the casting rust at the beginning of the year, to develop and perfect better casts and in preparation for guided trips. I found that it was important to have a curriculum set so there was some purpose to the practice. There are a plethora of casting videos on YouTube to use as part of any curriculum. Local fishing clubs will usually hold casting classes, as did the BC Flyfishers. I found practice helped me tremendously in preparing for my Bighorn trip as well as my saltwater trips, where being able to cast in windy conditions can make or break the day.

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Different color hula hoops, a lawn, a fly rod of choice with clean line and a lawn fly – tuft of bright yarn at the end of the leader – are all one needs to work on becoming the next Lefty Kreh.

Thank God for trout

While the warmwater rivers were high and not wadeable / fishable, I relied on the trout fishery for my fly fishing options from spring to early August. A significant blessing we anglers of the Southern Tier enjoy is the diversity of fisheries available to us. We have tremendous opportunities in cold and warmwater angling along with very unique fisheries that offer a variety of spawning-related runs of lake fish.

In early spring through May, I fished the local creeks for stocked, holdover, and native browns. I fished some typical haunts and a few new ones and found the fishing good.

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Yours truly releasing a nice upstate brown, pic courtesy of Eric Tomosky.

I had some very good days swinging a classic old pattern introduced to me (and tied by) fellow angler Eric Tomosky.

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The Carey Special, a classic western wet that seemed to appeal to eastern browns…

I also fished the bigger rivers, including my favorite, the West Branch of the Delaware.

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Late start to Smallie fishing

The USGS water gauge for the year says it all; unless one had access to a boat, many of the warmwater rivers were off limits due to high unwadeable flows for all of the spring and much of the summer. It’s certainly always a hit or miss thing to get into the pre-spawn smallmouth bite in May as flows are normally high then, but this year I couldn’t get a break until early August. What windows of opportunity there were seemed to coincide with my work schedule.

I fished the Tioughnioga River alone and with some fly fishing friends, including Eric Tomosky and my cousin’s husband, John Greco. The Tioughnioga fished well for smaller bass and fallfish and at least one very big bass that ended with a just-beyond-the-reach release.

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A long deep pool on the Tioughnioga River…

As the Susquehanna dropped I shifted over to this favorite water, one I consider my home water, and found solid fishing for smallmouth bass in fall feeding mode…

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A beautiful chocolate fall smallmouth bass. This bass hit a white Murray’s Dying Minnow fished off a large tree downfall along the river’s edge.

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Another smallmouth bass that couldn’t resist a streamer…

The catfish bite, however, was disappointing for me and did not compare to past years.

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My lone channel cat of 2017. I miss their hard hits on a fly and the deep bend they’ll put in an 8 weight fly rod…

Saltwater fly fishing in Florida

As previously mentioned, while some forms of fishing suffered in 2017, others took off. Such was the case for me and saltwater fly fishing. I enjoyed a repeat of fly fishing Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, Florida in April and caught some trout, a redfish, and flounder on the fly there. Though most of the fish I caught were small, these catches were a good start in my quest to learn how to fly fish the vast saltwater flats of this 130 square mile bay. Like learning to fish for trout or smallmouth bass, each fishery requires time and dedication in order to achieve a level of mastery.

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To walk the beach with a 9 weight and fish the blitzes of ladyfish was heaven…

I had read of ladyfish, considered by some anglers as a trash fish and even a pest for their sheer ferocity and willingness to attack anything that swims. They are present in big numbers in the bay and surf along most of Florida’s coast. I returned to Destin in late August and decided to fly fish the surf. I found the ladies very willing to take the fly. It was not uncommon to catch 20 to 30 of these saltwater speedsters in a few hours of fishing. And boy, do they dance and jump!

Bighorn River trip

I was able to return to “the last good country” in mid-September and wet a line with my brother-in-law on the fabled Bighorn. It was a great trip, all in all, featuring some phenomenal dry fly fishing during the trico hatch as well as some solid nymph and streamer fishing.

Float trip with Todd

While I did float the river in my kayak twice in the fall, I had the privilege and pleasure to float the river with Todd Smith, Sayre, PA resident and proud owner of an awesome 16′ Towee skiff. For those not familiar with this boat and the brand, the Towee skiff caught my eye a while ago as a true design hybrid that just might be the ideal fly fishing boat for rivers, lakes, saltwater flats, and even nearshore salt. This combination driftboat, skiff, and canoe is very stable and draws only 4″ fully loaded.

towee3

Looking forward from aft on Todd’s beautiful Towee skiff. Note the clean layout, rod storage, electric trolling motor, storage, and partially seen, a 30 horse Evinrude jet outboard (Pic courtesy of Todd Smith).

After emailing back and forth and trying to juggle schedules most of the year, Todd and I were finally able to meet up for a nice afternoon/evening float on the Susquehanna in late September. We caught a few fish and enjoyed some banter about our different military backgrounds (Todd – Army, Me – Navy). Best of all, I got to see what Todd’s Towee could do on the river. As low as the river was in late September, I was impressed with how well it could skim over shallow riffles. It’s stability was also very impressive. Todd and I stood and cast flies all afternoon without an issue.

Saltwater fly fishing off New Jersey

I had two quality shots at northeastern saltwater fly fishing from a boat thanks to Fishhead Greg (Greg Cudnik), who owns and operates Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom (Long Beach Island), NJ. Greg guided me on two occasions, the first for albacore in October and the second time for stripers in late November. The albie fishing was on fire and I fulfilled a goal to catch not one but 3 of these saltwater rockets on the fly rod. The stripers never came to the surface but the troll did produce…

striper greg

Mom

I can’t end this 2017 fly fishing review without the mention of my mother, who I lost on December 18th. She died of dementia and other complications after taking a fall that broke her hip. She was 88. As is often the case when dealing with the death of a loved one, time is spent looking back on their life, recalling wonderful memories. As part of this process, I had the opportunity to sort through hundreds of pictures chronicling her life, and my early life just as well. Among the pictures, I found a few of her as a young lady fishing on a party boat in the fall. According to my father, this was a trip fishing for cod and other bottom fish out of Boston. I’m not aware of her ever fishing again, but she loved the fact that I fished. I was raised in a non-piscatorial family and outside of a few saltwater fishing trips my Dad took as part of business, I was the only one in our family to pick up the long rod, or any rod for that matter. Nonetheless, my Mom was always there for me, whenever fish called. I can remember her making me a big breakfast and then driving me to the Saddle River in suburban NJ for put and take trout fishing as a 10 year old. I can remember her making a cooler of food any time I went fishing on one of the party boats out of Barnegat Light. When I brought fish home, she was always there to cook what I caught. She was a fishing cheerleader if there ever was one. And though her dementia eventually dimmed the light of her life, to the very end she was the most optimistic force in my life. I could do anything in her eyes on this good earth.

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A favorite picture of my Mom with my older son Chris, at his college graduation from Campbell University in December, 2015. At this point in her life, her light, a great guiding beacon that always steered one straight, was just starting to fade…

So I look back on 2017 with some sadness, having lost the greatest fishing guide in my life. But I wade forward into 2018 knowing she is still there for me; in the riffles, the river runs, amidst the pretty morning hatches, and the blitzes in the surf.

 

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.

susky 0904

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.

WBNG7Day0904

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 28, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on August 30, 2017 by stflyfisher

Put August in the books. Labor Day looms and it won’t be long before we are into Fall and arguably the best fishing of the year, assuming Mother Nature cooperates. Precipitation totals continue to climb for our area but at a slower rate. The warmwater rivers are finally down. The increased precip and cool temperatures have been great for trout fishing. Lastly, there are reports that the salmon are starting to enter the tribs.

KBGMcurrent2 (1)

Air temps have been in the normal to cooler than normal over the last month.

KBGM2017plot (1)

Fly Shop Talk: I’m currently reading the book My Life was This Big, by Lefy Kreh. It’s an interesting read and I’ll be doing a full book review on it when I am finished. One impression I have of Lefty from the book is that he certainly is an unconventional thinker and he applies that way of thinking to almost everything he does, fly fishing included. He believes that fly fishing is paralyzed by tradition, and gives numerous examples, but highlights the way anglers learn to fly cast – the 10 and 2 approach – arguing that for small stream casters it is appropriate but not for anglers fishing big water and windy conditions. Lefty is known for a much longer and more horizontal casting stroke. At 92, Lefty still give casting demonstrations!

Here’s the week ahead in fly fishing report:

Lake Ontario Tribs: To sum it up in a few words, the salmon are starting to trickle in. There are some salmon being landed – with many more brief hook-ups. This is encouraging to see even though the numbers are small so far. Look for things to pickup more after the water release next weekend. Every year is different but so far this looks like it should be a great river season.

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

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging remains good. Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. Largemouth bass fishing (with bonus pickerel) is fair to good here.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing should be picking up markedly here. Expect bonus browns, rainbows and bass.
  • 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. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: No recent reports from here but with drier conditions the fishing should be good here for bass and tiger muskies.

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 water levels, bugs and the fishing have been pretty consistent the last few weeks. Stilesville on the upper West Branch is running 526 cfs and down at Hale Eddy we have 637 cfs and 49 degrees, pretty good flows for late-August. The upper East at Harvard is now 268 cfs and 54 degrees and down at Fishs’ Eddy we have 437 cfs and 60 degrees. Down on the main Delaware we have 1,200 cfs and 62 degrees this morning. The mornings have been a good time to hit the water with some Tricos on the Main and East Branch with a few on the lower West Branch. As usual up here the Tricos can be hit or miss and a lot depends on the weather of the day and getting some spinners on the water. The Blue Winged Olives in #18-22 have been pretty reliable this year with some bugs usually showing up early afternoon on. Small Rusty Spinners for the Olives are essential flies to have this time of year. We’ve been seeing some pretty small winged ants in size 24 or smaller and are good flies to have, even if the fish seem to be feeding on mayflies. Terrestrials in general are always good to have this time of year. We have a little stain to the West Branch and it seems to be coming from the release/reservoir, which is usual this time of year, and is not a bad thing for the streamer fishing as we approach fall. It looks to be fairly cool all week with little rain.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting that the olives hatches have been good over the last few weeks. The fish are eating a lot of them just under the surface or in the film so watch the rise forms carefully. Otherwise nymphing or swinging wet flies will be your best shot. There are a lot of small olives on the rivers so keep that in mind while choosing the sizes of your wets and nymphs.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the good fishing continues. With the regular rainfall and cooler weather mother nature has been taking care of our wild trout and insects. Just about every trip that went out this week was very good. All of our guests have had great action on nymphs regardless of the river section chosen. Right now the trout want to eat and if you get a nymph in front of them they will take it. During the last few days our guides have been spread out with boats on both the upper and lower sections of the West Branch and on the East Branch. The majority of the floats have been spent fishing nymph rigs and the fly rods have been bending. There was also a brief period this week where intense local showers caused turbidity. During this brief turbidity the streamer bite turned on pretty good. Guide Matt had an early day trip where they had steady action on streamer flies. The best news this week is that there were a few days where the fish rose pretty steady for a prolonged period. I put my guests into this action on both the East and West branches recently and the action was good for about the last 2 hours before dark. With the cooler afternoons the insect activity has been picking up. Most of the activity has been with olives. They are emerging well most days. There are also Trico’s, Sulfurs, Isonychia, Cahills, Midges and terrestrials in the drift. In addition to these insects there has been the occasional mix of Caddisflies and some brief sightings of giant yellow drakes in places. Overall however there is enough insects on the water to keep the trout interested. On my last float trip we had really steady catching with both Olive Cripples, Olive Klinkhammers and Rusty Spinners. From late afternoon until dark the fish have been looking up. Anglers will find the trout just about everywhere but there have been pods of juvenile and mid size browns feeding heavily in the bubble lines of the eddies and in the tailouts of pools where insects accumulate. These pod feeding trout have had tunnel vision and zero selectivity. When we have found this action it has been a fish on every cast. Anglers planning to fish in the coming days will now finally have some options. There is good Trico Action early day and streamers may tempt a few during this time period as well. The mid day period has been fishing well with nymphs. With the cooler weather anglers will now have some additional areas to nymph as the Beaverkill, Willow, Lower East and Main Stem are back into a decent temperature range. Anglers should start to look for risers in late afternoon. All of the main pools will now have action and in some places they have been going wild. From this point on we can expect the fishing to continue to slowly improve with every cool day. Now is a great time to plan a float trip on one of the Delaware Branches. The Smallmouth Bass action has been hot which is normal for July through mid September. Guide Zach has been putting some time chasing these gamefish. He has been fishing the Delaware below Callicoon regularly and with great success. The next few weeks are a great time to get out for smallies. They will start to feed heavily as the waters start to cool down. This cooling period also coincides with the migration of baby shad dropping back down the river. Every year this event causes heavy feeding blitzes in many of the eddies down river. We will continue to offer smallmouth bass trips through mid September.

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 dropping to summer lows, though storms will continue to periodically revive them. 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 indeed been acting strange, mainly due to the weather. While all of our local rivers are good for nice wading and good fly fishing, water temps are down due to the cooler than normal air temps and recent rains. My personal opinion is that this sudden change in water temp may have put down the bass temporarily. The fishing should come back.

All of the local rivers are in superb shape with excellent clarity. The rivers are loaded with crayfish and minnows and the white fly hatch is most liely now in its later stages. This hatch usually stretches out over 6 weeks beginning in late July and lasting well into August.

Right now topwater should produce as should fishing big nymphs dead drift or swinging large streamers. Focus efforts on low-light conditions or fish the shady areas of the rivers for the best action. Remember to experiment – 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.

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. September is usually the start of monthly meetings.

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

Our weather remains a large body of high pressure over the St. Lawrence River. This will give us mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. We will put a few more clouds in the forecast for Tuesday, but our string of beautiful weather will continue.

We’ll watch a storm working its way up the Atlantic Coast on Wednesday. This will give us more of a glancing blow. We’ll have clouds with a slight chance of scattered showers.

A cold front will move through Thursday giving us mostly cloudy skies with showers and thunderstorms. A quick shot of cool air will follow on Friday with highs in the 60s. We’ll see mostly sunny skies on Friday and into Saturday.

A warm front will approach on Sunday giving us clouds and showers. Temperatures will rebound into the 70s Sunday and Monday with partly cloudy skies on Monday.

WBNG7Day0828

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 14, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 13, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s finally getting a little drier. The wet weather continues to ease and the rivers are showing their bones. We are still in a surplus, rain-wise. There have been a few sightings of salmon up north – possibly just a few curious fish pushing upriver – but certainly not the beginnings of what is due in a few weeks. Or so it seems…

stfftio

The Tioughnioga River, shown here, is in perfect shape for wading and fly fishing. Just watch out for alligators! This picture was taken just upriver of the area where two small alligators were sighted and then caught by the DEC.

Fly Shop Talk: It’s nice to finally fish the local warmwater rivers. Trout fishing has been a salvation for us river rats during a record-wet year but as long as the river flows remain where they are now, I’ll be hanging up my trout gear for some long overdue brownlining.

We are truly very lucky to have such fly fishing diversity in our midst. As much bad press as the Southern Tier might get at times, anyone who fly fishes is certainly blessed. Blue ribbon trout rivers, creeks and streams, lakes of all sizes, and the vast warmwater rivers are all very accessible. And all of this water brings with it so many species that can all be caught on the fly. Next time you’re out on the water, take a moment to recognize in your own way, the terrific fly fishing we have at our fingertips.

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging has been absolutely superb over the past few days! Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. Largemouth bass fishing (with bonus pickerel) is very good here as well.
  • 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 the weekend rain didn’t impact the West, East, or Mainstem Delaware rivers very much. Stilesville on the upper West Branch is at 518 cfs and 47 degrees and down at Hale Eddy we have 552 cfs with a temp of 50. There may be a slight stain by some creeks entering the river but it won’t last too long. The upper East Branch at Harvard is 258 cfs and 56 degrees while downriver at Fishs’ Eddy we have 620 cfs and 64 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is 1,310 cfs and 64 degrees. The Sulphurs have been getting lighter and lighter upriver and we are seeing more Blue Winged Olives lately. There are a few Cahills and Isoncyhcia around and these have been good bugs to blind cast, especially on the lower West and upper main if the temps are decent. The nymphing on the lower West is a good option as well and you should see some bugs in the afternoon hours.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting that overnight rains only bumped up the river flows slightly. We are already dropping back this morning and the rivers look clear in Hancock. The lower West Branch had some little olives in the evening while the upper West had a mix of some sulphurs and olives. The upper West is your best bet for dry flies. If you want to nymph stay lower due to the algae. The lower Mainstem looks good for smallmouth with decent flows and temperatures in Callicoon.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that there is not much change in overall fishing conditions since the last report. The only real difference is some wet weather moved into the region. This rain was mostly light but some areas got locally heavy downpours. The area most effected is the Beamoc waters. Both rivers more than doubled their flows. This morning they have turbidity which should clear quickly. The Main Delawre also got a quick rise in flow and localized turbidity is present. The Upper East and West branches have only slight changes in flow. Both Trout and Bass fishing is reliable now. Our guests have had good fishing on most every trip.

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 dropping to summer lows, though storms will continue to periodically revive them. 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 are now in the zone for nice wading and good fly fishing. The smaller rivers – the Tioughnioga, the Chenango, and the Chemung, are in superb shape with excellent clarity. The Susquehanna is also at good wading levels but has a bit of murk to it. This murk is actually a benefit to anglers more apt to fish the sunny daylight hours. Fishing the riffles and deep runs even under bright sun will produce as the murk cuts the light down and the bass feel safe. But if fishing in lower clarity water, choose dark or very bright flies.

The rivers are loaded with crayfish and minnows and the white fly hatch has started. I observed nymph shucks drifting by in large numbers the other evening on the Tioughnioga. As the sun began to drop in the sky, sure enough, the white fly or “white miller” mayflies began to show themselves. This hatch usually stretches out over 6 weeks beginning in late July and lasting well into August, but high water may have delayed it.

Right now topwater will produce as will fishing big nymphs dead drift or swinging large streamers. Focus efforts on low-light conditions or fish the shady areas of the rivers for the best action. Remember to experiment – 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.

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The good thing about fishing Southern Tier rivers is that you never know what you are going to catch. This channel catfish hit a large wooly bugger fished on the swing in a deep run.

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:

 

A few showers may be lingering around Sunday morning, but as we move into the mid-morning, even though clear the area. Skies then are clearing through the afternoon as high pressure sets up. Temperatures Sunday are below average in the low- to mid-70s.

High pressure sticks around Monday, before a small-scale disturbance looks to move in Tuesday, bringing in the slim chance for showers Tuesday. Temperatures look seasonable for the first half of the week in the upper-70s.

Wednesday looks mainly quiet at this time with a small pocket of high pressure dipping in from the north before another system looks to push in Thursday and hang around through Saturday.

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