Archive for the Smallmouth Bass Fishing Category

The week ahead in fly fishing: June 5, 2017

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

We are now wading into June, the month of Father’s Day, Flag Day, and the Summer Solstice. The mayflowers are adorning roadsides and stream banks alike with their white and purple, mayflies and caddis are now hatching with the regularity that anglers can count on, pastures are getting the first cutting of hay, and if you look closely enough, corn is starting to break out of the ground in places. And fly fishing is gently moving into it’s late spring / early summer phase.

Fly Shop Talk: Mike Hogue will be holding his 10th Annual Open House this coming Saturday, as detailed below in the “events” section of this post. Mike’s Open House is an excellent one and while writing about it, I was reminded that Badger Creek Fly Shop is truly a survivor in the ever-changing landscape of fly fishing retail. The Southern Tier certainly has had its history of fly shop casualties, including Timber Creek Sportsman, Cortland Line Factory Store, Gander Mountain (not sure where this retailer stands now), and probably some others I can’t think of at the moment. The small guys just don’t have the economy of scale that the big box retailers – like Bass Pro and Orvis – have, but what they may lack in scale they can certainly make up for in solid local fly fishing intel, customer service, and products that work for the Southern Tier.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: It’s time to close the reporting on the GL / FL tribs. Generally speaking, the spring runs are over / the steelhead have dropped back to the lakes. Fishing can still be good for all sorts of species that will run up and back in the tribs – smallmouth bass, brown trout, and carp, so these can be great waters to fish in solitude in the off season.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that lake trout action has been at or near peak form on Cayuga Lake.  He expects good pike fishing on Owasco Lake. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake run-down:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is very good to excellent with large fish (27″ range) common.  Fish are all over – shallow to deep. Salmon are scattered all over the lake including some over deep water.  Pickerel fishing is good to excellent.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here. Work is currently being done near the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Expect good to excellent smallmouth bass fishing here with rock bass, lake trout and perch in the mix.  Lake level is high.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing is the usual slow to good depending on the day. Bass action is top-notch as well with most fish spawning.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers have been in good shape for fishing. Hatches and bug activity has also been very good: 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the Catskill rivers are in great shape for wading and floating. The upper West at Stilesville is currently 600 cfs and 53 degrees, starting out fairly warm due to the spill over the reservoir. Downriver at Hale Eddy the flow is 773 cfs and 51 degrees. The upper East is down a bit to 237 cfs and 51 degrees and below the Beaverkill at Fishs’ Eddy we have 873 cfs and 55 degrees. The main at Lordville is 1,890 cfs and 57 degrees. With all of the rivers in great shape we’ve been very lucky this spring with cool air temps which have really helped to keep the water temps down and fishable this late in the spring. It looks like next week is going to be a rainy one most days so we may have some higher water coming soon. On the West Branch we are still seeing a few March Browns and Grey Fox, Blue Winged Olives, Tan caddis and the 14-16 Sulphurs have been pretty good in the afternoons into the evening. The main and East are getting some good Sulphur activity as well and the drakes have been around for a week or so now so be on the lookout for spinners.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that it’s still bug soup on the rivers with lots of olives, sulphurs, cahills, march browns, gray fox, green drakes, and just about every caddis you can imagine. They have been finding fish eating earlier along wind protected banks and other quiet areas and expect to start seeing more march brown spinners and coffin flies over the next few days.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that river conditions are about perfect. There is good access for wade fishermen and drift boat anglers. The water temperatures are in the perfect range for our wild trout to be active and aggressive. There will be plenty of March Browns and Green Drakes around now. These are the big hatches right now and the fish have been feeding on them heavily. There are also huge hatches of Sulfurs and Blue Sedge right at dark. These insects have been covering the water at times. Over the last few nights there has been heavy spinner activity associated with the smaller sulfur species. These are best imitated by a #16 spinner. There are also patches of activity with the giant Coffinflies and March Brown Spinners but this activity has not yet become widespread. The flight of the giant spinners is due any day now. With the big bugs you should remember to have a 2x or 3x leader for the evening. The big patterns quickly spin and destroy the light leaders that many use for daytime fishing. The Beaverkill, Lower East Branch and Main Stem are still having the most diverse hatches. The Beaverkill is my top choice. This river has the bugs and over the last few days the action has been world class.

Hatching:

Sulphur – #16 – Ephemerella dorothea
Green Drake – #8-2xl – Ephemera guttulata
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.
Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

 

Local creeks: Local creeks have been in prime condition with nice cool flows, but that’s about to end with the rain in the forecast. Generally speaking, fishing has shifted to nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies. Hatches of caddis and mid-season mayflies are on, particularly on the warmer days. Stocking is tailing off, but some streams and creeks will receive stockings in the next week or two. Keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

owego

Owego Creek’s flows will reverse course to high levels if the heavy rains hit as forecast this week.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers have remained hit or miss with regards to levels and flows for wading. Whereas the Susquehanna has been high to very high, the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga, upper Chenango, and the Chemung have been fishable. It’s been hard to get a good read on spawning activity for smallmouth bass but by now they are most certainly on the beds. As with largemouth bass, some anglers target smallies on the beds. They can be spooky at times or very aggressive but personally, I don’t like to fish them at spawning time where they are on the beds. With the significant rain in the forecast, rivers will once again be high for the next few days. As rivers crest and recede, head upriver for the best fishing conditions.

Ponds: Ponds are in full gear for fly fishing. Largemouth bass are actively spawning now. Bluegills and sunfish are doing the same. There are many local ponds to fish – public and private. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective. Some anglers will fish the nests – bass will typically hit most anything that invades – but there is a bit of an ethical question there. It’s also time to try topwater, especially in the shallow areas and around structure in the morning and at dusk.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities:

The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of FFI June Program will be holding a Casting Clinic and Practice, led by Chas Elliott, FFI Certified Casting Instructor, on June 5th. This meeting will be held outside on the lawn in back of the Big Flats Community Center, starting at 6:30 pm. There will be casting challenges and contests for those that want to take part, and Chas Elliott and several others will be available to help casters advance their casting form further. This is a great opportunity, whether you are a beginner or looking to improve your casting, this is a meeting you won’t want to miss. Visitors, as always, are welcome. In the case of inclement weather, we have planned an interesting program inside. The June meeting will conclude with election of Club Officers for the coming program year.

Badger Creek Fly Tying and Fly Shop will be holding its 10th Annual Open House on Saturday June 10th, from 9 am to 4 pm, at the fly shop located at 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY. Special guests will include John Shaner from Hardy / Fenwick North America, local fly angler and author Joe Cambridge, giving free fly tying demos, and Joe’s wife, Carol Farouk Cambridge, giving free fly casting lessons. Special guest fly tier Clayton Maybee will also be on hand. Free drinks and snacks will be provided and there will be a drawing for door prizes and a fly rod for those who attend. Bring a friend and register again for the door prize! For more info contact : Mike Hogue 607-347-4946, email: mike@eflytyer.com.

badger creek

The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI will hold its last general meeting before the traditional summer break on Thursday June 22, 2017, at the Endicott Public Library, at 7:00 PM with an informal tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. Chapter member Bob Bruns, a dedicated warm water river rat, will talk about fly fishing our warm water rivers for smallmouth bass. His presentation, “Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass”, will cover how to fish for the “gentleman game fish of the warm water species” with detailed information on tackle, tactics, and methods that he has learned from small-mouth bass masters and has applied to his fishing of the local rivers over the last 20 years. Bob will characterize our area’s warm water rivers and profile the seasons of the small-mouth bass. His presentation will also cover the diverse “by catch” that comes to those who fish for bronze backs – a nice bonus to anyone who fly fishes “brown water”.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s weekend weather forecast is as follows:

Seems like the early part of the week will be another one that is water-logged. Clouds increase Sunday morning ahead of some showers and storms that look to affect us through the day. Some of these storms could be strong to severe, with gusty winds as the main threat at this time. Some small hail and heavy rainfall are also possible in any storm on Sunday. The storms Sunday will be caused by a slow-moving low-pressure system, which looks to keep the chance of showers in our forecast for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week. The chance of showers decreases Thursday after the low gets kicked out of the area, but the small chance for some pop-up showers or storms remains on Thursday. Friday dries out under a large pocket of high pressure, before the chance for showers returns for Saturday. Temperatures do look to return to near seasonable in the low-70s by the end of the week.

WBNG7Day

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: May 29, 2017

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

Memorial Day weekend, the traditional gateway to summer, is now past and gone. It’s the first three day weekend in the New Year for many anglers, and a chance to hit the water, for at least a few hours if not a day or two. Hopefully most anglers got out to enjoy our beautiful local waters and while doing so, remembered those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy. After all, freedom isn’t free.

tio brown1

Southern tier anglers are blessed with great fly fishing opportunities. On this Memorial Day, remember the price paid by those who served and died. It is because of their selflessness that we are able to enjoy the freedom to pursue happiness.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River have been dropped again, now to the 300 CFS level. While there may still be some dropback steelhead in the lower river, the fishing is now pretty much all about smallmouth bass.

Whitakers Sports Store and Motel is reporting that the river is now running at the summer base flow of 185cfs.  The majority of steelhead have dropped back to Lake Ontario but you may still find the occasional drop back in the lower end of the river. With the rise in water temperature the smallmouth bass fishing in the lower end of the river has been excellent with woolly buggers producing the best results.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that on the bigger lakes like Seneca and Cayuga, fishing is about 2 weeks behind “normal”.  Water temps are in the low 50s in the main lake areas with upper 40s not far below the surface.  Salmon and browns are still inshore and in casting range in a lot of areas.  It’s been a prime year for the nearshore trout/salmon fanatics! Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is very good to excellent with large fish (27″ range) common.  Salmon are scattered all over the lake along with brown trout;  I think we’ll see fair to good casting for them for a couple more weeks but it’s a bit more hit/miss.  Pickerel and perch are hitting well on the north end of the lake.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good. I expect good pike and rainbow trout fishing here this year.  Work is currently being done near the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Overall fishing here remains in peak form. Water temperatures are conducive to trout, salmon, bass and perch all being in the nearshore mix.  Lake level is high.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging continues to be slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing here was very good last week.  Bass action should be top-notch as well.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers are high and largely unwadable. Fishing from a drift boat is the best way to fish the river system. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting good fishing conditions. BLue winged olives have been producing well with rainy conditions as have March Browns and Grey Fox.  The #14-16 Sulphurs are going pretty good on the main and lower East and West.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that anglers are catching fish on March Browns both by finding fish eating them and using them as searching patterns.  The sulphurs have been an evening hatch and keeping us on the water late.  Caddis have still been the mainstay on the river with a lot of different species hatching.  There’s a healthy mix of bugs out there.  Nymphing has improved in the lower flows with small flies working best.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that water levels are perfect for all and the big insect hatches are underway. The overall fishing is good just about everywhere but there are a lot of options. The tailwater and freestone rivers are offering a vastly different fishing experience from one another. The tailwaters are decent but not the best choice at this time. They are the lowest water at this time which always makes the fishing a challenge. The early heavy hatches are waning and  the fish are getting pretty snotty about their feeding habits. These rivers are in need of a hatch change to perk things up again. The March Brown, Drake and Sulfur activity has not yet begun. The Freestone Rivers, Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Lower East and Main Stem have the bugs right now. March Browns are emerging slowly each day. There is a building hatch  of larger Sulfurs in the afternoon. Near dark the smaller sulfurs have been profuse. There are also lots of Caddis about and the fish are taking them whenever they actually get on the water. There are also spinners in the drift just about 24 hours a day at this time. The super Bugs like the Drakes and Big Stoneflies are a possibility on these rivers at any time now. Blind fishing large March Brown patterns in the fast water is highly recommended right now along with nymph fishing the riffles. This is the non hatch period approach. In many cases we will blind fish a riff and then go back over the same water with nymph rigs. Overall there is a definite pattern of the nymphing being better when it is bright and the dry fly fishing being better under overcast skies. During the 2 brief periods this week where the sun hit the water our guests killed it on nymph rigs. We had hookups one after another. Additionally this was widespread as all of our guides reported similar action over 6 or 7 entirely different river locations around the system. If you want to make a good day into a great day make sure to stay into dark. The sulfurs are blanketing the water at dark and the fish have been gorging. The other times of day it is a slow steady pick.

Hatching:
Sulphur – #16 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Hendrickson – #16 – Ephemerella X- (a few still around the West Branch)
March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.Little, Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

Local creeks: Local creeks are in prime condition with nice cool flows. Fishing has shifted to nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies. Hatches of caddis and mid-season mayflies are starting to really turn on, particularly as the weather warms. Stocking is tailing off now, but some streams and creeks will receive stockings into early June.

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2 year old stocked browns, like this one, can provide excellent action on light fly tackle.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers are dropping nicely but the Susquehanna is still too high for safe wading (but is good for fishing from a boat). The smaller rivers, like the Tioughnioga, Chemung, and Chenango are in good shape for wading and have decent water clarity. It’s been hard to judge the prespawn with water levels and temps so variable but this week’s warmer weather is sure to kick it into high gear. Fish water adjacent to shallow bays, tributary mouths, eddies, and shoreline structure. When the pre-spawn bite is on, large streamers will work well – smallies are typically aggressive and feeding up for two reasons – 1) their metabolism is picking up as water temps rise, and 2) they need to store up for the rigors of spawning.

Ponds: Ponds are warming, cattails are sprouting up, and aquatic weeds are growing. As water temps rise, largemouth bass are actively staging for spawning and in some cases are already on beds. Bluegills and sunfish are doing the same. Fishing will only get better from here on in. There are many local ponds to fish – public and private. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should be effective. Some anglers will fish the nests – bass will typically hit most anything that invades – but there is a bit of an ethical question there.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s weekend weather forecast is as follows:

High pressure looks to build in tonight, eliminating the chance for rain, but some fog/mist in the early morning hours Tuesday will be possible. A nearly stationary low-pressure system will then set up in the Northern Great Lakes, sending shortwave troughs through our area Tuesday and Wednesday. With each of these shortwaves comes the chance for showers and thunderstorms, with any storm possibly being strong to severe.

High pressure finally kicks that stubborn low-pressure system out of the area on Thursday, meaning Thursday looks to be the most dry day of the week at this time.

A disorganized low-pressure system then slides in from Winnipeg toward the end of the week. It looks to interact with a 30knot mid-level atmospheric jet stream following a path clockwise around an upper-level high pressure system centered in South Carolina, it will drag mid-level moisture up from the Yucatan Peninsula and put the chance of showers back in the forecast for Friday and Saturday.

A large body of high pressure then becomes dominant Sunday and Monday. However, the chance for pop-up rain showers or storms stays with us mainly in the PM hours Sunday and Monday.

WBNG7Day (1)

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: May 15, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on May 16, 2017 by stflyfisher

Mother’s Day is upon us. For the male anglers out there, this was not the weekend to hit the water, perhaps, at best, a few hours. For the female anglers, of course, it is just like Father’s Day – hang up the sign – “Gone Fishing” and the day is yours.

Fields are plowed and the hills are greening up. Turkey season is now half over, or half begun, depending on your view.  The rainbows are mostly done spawning, and bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – have begun their amorous ways.

Water remains the theme in the Southern Tier. There’s been a lot of it, as last reported. Creeks, streams, and rivers are showing the excess. Here’s the latest data:

KBGM2017plot

Fly shop talk: Many of us have at least one person to thank for being in the wonderful sport of fly fishing. in many cases it’s a family member or close friend. And when it is someone close, the bond formed from that sharing can enrich the lives of both the teacher and student. Once given, the gift of angling never really goes away. In my case, my brother-in-law, whom I barely knew at the time, passed on this great gift. he took me to the famed West Branch of the Delaware on a July morning and on my own, using his tackle, landed a bright butter yellow 18″ brown. Call it beginner’s luck – that fish hooked me more than I hooked (and released) him. I’ve thanked Jeff ever since and this year built him a fly rod as a 60th birthday present. And while I learned things building the rod, perhaps the best part of it is that like teaching angling, that rod will also keep giving; to grandchildren, and on down the line. So what about you? have you thanked the person who got you into fly fishing?

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River have dropped and the fishing reports have been pretty good.

pineville514

Water temps are in the upper 40’s to low 50’s. The DSR is reporting some nice-sized Atlantics, along with steelhead, browns, smallmouth bass, and even walleye being landed. The fishing remains mixed, as are the methods, but there are some nice fish coming into the river as well as some steelhead dropping back.

Whitakers Sports Store and Motel is reporting that the water level dropped again over the weekend and finally a stretch of mild conditions is expected for later in the week. We still have a few drop backs hanging around and the lower end of the river has been producing the best action. Areas such as the Town Pool, Longbridge/Staircase and Black Hole has produced the best action early in the morning and later in the day. Depending on the day anglers who fished the DSR have reported getting into a mix of drop backs, Atlantic Salmon or smallmouth bass. For those anglers who are fly fishing, swinging streamers with sinking leaders has been most productive.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that some stability with the weather is helping the Finger Lakes fishing.  Debris has settled out and water clarity has improved markedly.

  • Cayuga Lake:  Salmon and brown trout are distributed around the whole lake now for the most part.  Expect the same with browns and rainbows. Water temperatures are warming up and fish are moving out and deeper, though good numbers can be found in certain places shallow – but they are clearly scattering (which isn’t a bad thing). Lake trout jigging is good to very good.  Pickerel and perch are hitting well on the north end of the lake.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging had been slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good. I expect good pike and rainbow trout fishing here this year.  Work is currently being done on the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Yellow perch fishing is in full swing. Bonus bass, salmon and lakers are in the mix. I expect top-notch mixed bag fishing here now.  Smallmouth and rockbass should be starting to move up in large numbers.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers are high and largely unwadable. Fishing from a drift boat is the best way to fish the river system. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that all rivers are still very clear after a weekend of some off and on rain. There are still some pretty prolific Blue Quill hatches on the West Branch and the Hendricksons slowed down a little bit this weekend but should pick back up as the temps creep up.  There are lots of caddis around lately too with some pretty good numbers of Apple caddis throughout the system. The streamer fishing has remained pretty good lately with the high volume of water currently in the system.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that the hendricksons are hatching well and the fish have been eating them. The water levels continue to drop and more wading opportunities are opening up. March browns are moving up the system and hopefully the caddis become more active in the sunshine.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the action right now is very good in most places. Anglers can expect to find action with Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers. The Dry Fly is steady and reliable and most days from 3:00 until dark the trout are feeding heavily. There are some funnel points in the river that are so full of fish that it has been crazy. Hendrickson Duns and Spinners are on the menu on the tailwaters while March Browns and Caddisflies are happening on the freestones. Sulfurs should also join the mix any day now. There are also lots of Caddis on the water at this time. There are still Apple Caddis along with many others in various sizes. As far as location goes, the fish are totally spread out due to the heavy influx of mayflies. We are getting streamer strikes in every water type at this time.
  • Hatching:
    Hendrickson – #12 – 14 – Ephemerella subvaria
    Hendrickson – #16 – Ephemerella X
    Blue Quill – #16 – Paraleptophlebia. adaptiva
    March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
    Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
    Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
    Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
    Apple Green Caddis #16 – 20 – Light Brachycentrus sp.
    Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

Local creeks: Local creeks got another god plug of water but are dropping and clearing as of this report. Streamers will be the best bet as long as flows and water clarity are off, but certainly by later this week, fishing should be back to normal. The warmer weather could provide some solid dry fly action. Fishing with nymphs and wets will always be productive as well.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers are still too high for wading but are OK for fishing from a boat. The smaller rivers, like the Tioughnioga, will be first to clear and drop. It’s been hard to judge the prespawn with water levels and temps so variable but this week’s warmer weather is sure to kick it into high gear. Smaller rivers with lower flows will be the best bet for now, unless fishing from a boat. Fish water adjacent to shallow bays, tributary mouths, eddies, and shoreline structure. When the pre-spawn bite is on, large streamers will work well – smallies are typically aggressive and feeding up for two reasons – 1) their metabolism is picking up as water temps rise, and 2) they need to store up for the rigors of spawning.

Ponds: Ponds continue to warm and the largemouth bass are actively staging for spawning and in some cases may actually be on beds. Fishing will begin to pick up with warmer weather and this week’s climb into the 80’s will certainly help energizing the fish. Panfish will also be active. While it’s not popper time just yet, cruising fish could be tempted with large dry flies or a terrestrial pattern.

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Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of upcoming events:

The BC Flyfshers chapter FFI is featuring return speaker, Bruce Pencek for the May chapter meeting on Thursday, May 18 at the Endicott Public Library at 7:00 PM (informal tying demonstration at 6:30). The topic will be “American Tenkara Fishing”. Bruce Pencek returns from Virginia (via Hancock) to talk about American Tenkara – the translation of no-reel/fixed-line fly-fishing tackle and techniques from the mountain streams of Japan to the diverse waters and fish of North America. He will talk about selecting and rigging tenkara tackle and give his thoughts about how fixed-line rods have improved his success with western techniques – dry flies, Euro-style nymphing, even streamers – for trout, smallmouth, and carp. (With luck, he might have some illustrated tales about his fixed-line fishing in the Southern Tier in the days leading up to the talk.) He’ll provide some handouts with his recommendations for information sources and vendors. Before the talk, he’ll tie some of the flies he uses regularly.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

The low that gave us the showers and thunderstorms on Mother’s Day is spinning off the coast of Maine. This gave us some early clouds and showers. Skies will become partly cloudy, but it will be a cool and windy day. Winds diminish tonight and skies will be mostly clear. We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Tuesday with highs climbing into the 70s. We’ll be even warmer on Wednesday with highs in the 80s. With the warm, and slightly muggy weather, there could be a few scattered showers or thunderstorms. Showers and thunderstorms will be in the forecast for Thursday as a cold front comes through. Highs once again will be in the 80s. We’ll have partly cloudy skies with highs in the low 70s on Friday, with mostly sunny skies on Saturday. As a low moves in, we’ll have clouds and showers on Sunday and Monday with highs in the upper 60s to low 70s.

WBNG7Day

Looking back on 2016…

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Rod Building, Saltwater, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on January 17, 2017 by stflyfisher

“To be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction, is to live twice”

Kahlil Gibran

The book on 2016 is now officially closed and as most who peruse my blog know, I like to take a look back on each year fly fishing the Southern Tier before looking forward to the year ahead.

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The beautiful West Branch of the Delaware – a classic Upstate New York trout fishery that will hopefully continue to provide great fly fishing in 2017…

2016 was an interesting mix of fly fishing highs and lows for the Southern Tier and for me in particular. I’ll summarize those points with commentary in this post. Look for a “year ahead” post in the coming weeks as well as a review of my performance to last year’s fly fishing goals and a list of what I want to accomplish in 2017.

Weather / Climate Summary – The top story of the year is the drought that started slowly, but hung on through summer and early fall to the point where many small creeks and streams were dangerously low, if not outright dried-up. Owego Creek, for example, was dry in sections, something I’ve never seen in the 24 years I’ve lived in the Southern Tier. What’s often not so good for some fishing, however, can be good for others. The warmwater rivers of our area were low enough for good wading access as early as April and even the mighty Susquehanna was low by late June.

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A large fallfish nest lies exposed on the Susquehanna River. This might be expected in a dry year in August, but to see this in late June is a testament to the severity of the 2016 drought.

By July, one could wade across the Susquehanna in many places! River flows hit a low of 500 CFS in mid-September – making fishing from a boat difficult in some areas later in summer. Note the USGS chart below…

susquehanna-2016-trend

As can be seen in the next chart, temperatures were on the warm side in February and March, precipitating early snow-melt, but then tracked in a fairly tight range for the remainder of the year. Precipitation, or lack thereof, was the bigger issue. The chart below shows a growing deficit that widened significantly into the early fall.

2016-temp-precip

BC Flyfisher’s 1st fly rod building class – The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF kicked off 2016 with a rod building class taught by expert rod maker, Joe Swam. The class was outstanding – the group small enough to allow personalized teaching from Joe. It was so good I’m enrolled in the second annual rod building class as I write this. The best thing about the class was the knowledged gained on not only “how”, but “why” fly rods are built as they are. As an example, I never understood why the female end of each rod section is wrapped much like a guide. Now I know, thanks to the class, that the ferrule is very weak and the wrap serves to re-enforce the rod. Obviously too, rod building opens endless opportunity to build a rod that is totally your creation, and perfectly suited to your fly fishing needs. I’ll never buy another. Thanks, Joe!

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Rod wrapping with Hemingway.

Visit to Destin – I visited Destin, Florida, and my son Chris, on my way to a business trip destination at the end of January. I’d never been to the “Emerald Coast” of the panhandle of Florida. I brought my 9 weight saltwater fly fishing outfit with me but without much local guidance, I was unable to stir up a bite. Nonetheless, in talking with a few locals, I was immediately impressed with the fly fishing potential, especially when one older angler answered my query on the fishing by saying, ‘the fishing is not good, it is excellent, most excellent…’

April Steelhead – I made it out for steelhead on a very cold and wet, early April day. I once again was able to fish with friend Bob Card and guide Tony Gulisano. Tony is a great guide and is adept in angling for steelhead and salmon in all ways – spinning, centerpin, and fly fishing. Although I did raise one fish, I skunked out while Bob hooked into a number of steelhead and lost a few more. The only bad side to the trip were the repeated disappointing statements from Tony on what he was seeing as we drifted the river. The numbers of steelhead were low according to him – in some places he saw only a few fish where he’d normally see 20, 30, or more. Tony’s observations are based on years guiding the river. What he saw in early 2016 more or less predicted less than a great run of steelhead in the fall.

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Bob Card with a nice spring steelhead…

Owego Creek – I was able to get out on the “lower” Owego Creek with Rick Searles. Owego Creek is homewater to Rick – he knows it well and has caught some true trophy browns from the Owego. Rick showed me some areas to fish but was pretty up front about expectations. The lower Owego Creek is not loaded with trout but when one does find them they can be very high quality fish, including some big holdovers and wild browns as well. While I did not do so well the couple of times I fished it, I’m a believer in this small creek’s potential. Rick and I fished it in the spring but as mentioned above, by June the creek was extremely low. I stayed away from ALL creeks for the remainder of the year. I figured wild and holdover browns had enough to contend with from Mother Nature.

April Visit to Destin – I managed to visit Destin, Florida again in April along with my wife. We flew down to see our son, Chris, but in the process, decided to see what real estate was like. One thing led to another and before long we were hooked on buying. I never pictured my later life as involving the “snowbird migration”, but suddenly the thought of living part of the year in a warm climate where the fishing is both good and different and then returning north for late spring through fall seemed to appeal to me. On top of that, Destin has a strong vacation rental market and buying a property would allow us to own an investment that we could use a bit, letting rental income defray at least some of the cost before retirement. We ended up buying a townhouse on a stocked lake just minutes from the beach and 5 minutes by golf cart to Cowahatchee Bay…

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Early Season Bronze – The pre-spawn smallmouth bass bite turned out to be excellent. With water levels at spring lows, it didn’t take long to break out my smallmouth gear and look for some early season bronze. I had some excellent fishing starting with the smaller warmwater rivers like the Tioughnioga, but eventually even the big Susquehanna dropped to levels that offered exceptional fly fishing. This early season bite is always there, of course, but only when winters are mild and the rivers are relatively tame does it open up for the wading fly angler. I fished the smaller rivers early on and found some “football” smallies and equally stout fallfish in the river braids and shallow eddies…

Later in the spring, the big Susquehanna also dropped to wadeable levels, and the fishing opened up there too. I did my best to get out when the getting was good, and scored some nice bass in the process. I even got a chance to break in my newly made fly rod, dubbed “The Golden Bear” because of its Vestal High School colors of green and gold…

 

Trout & Memorial Day – I didn’t fly fish for trout as much as I’ve done in past years. Blame the low warmwater river levels and my obsession with smallmouth bass and other warmwater river species. I did make it down to my favorite place on the West Branch of the Delaware River a few times, the most memorable and personally rewarding being Memorial Day. A former sailor, Dan, contacted me out of the blue. He had read my Memorial Day blog posts and told me he had worked for Bob Shippee, one of the 37 on board who had died when the Stark was attacked in 1987. The more I read of Bob Shippee and the more I corresponded with the man who first wrote me about him, the more I wanted to write a tribute to Shippee.

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Memorial Day brown – and evidence that Bob Shippe was listening…

Carp – I ran into a few carp this year and fished for them intentionally a few more times. My first encounter was while fishing for early season bass with “The Golden Bear” – a good test of any rod and one that made me smile all the more.

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Big river carp are a great way to test out a newly built fly rod…

I caught another dandy on the Tioughnioga with Singer’s Crayfish in a size 6 – a great little pattern that’s equally good on smallmouth. In this specific case, I sawa at least a dozen carp moving and feeding in a deep hole. A few drifts with my crayfish pattern and I was hit solidly. What a great fight these fish can put on! My other attempts resulted in a few missed hook-ups but these scouting trips proved fruitful in uncovering a number of areas to fish in 2017.

Father’s Day – I spent a very special Father’s Day with a long distance fly fishing friend, Joe Laney. Originally from the northwest, Joe currently lives and works in Manhattan with his wife and daughter, but has connections in the Southern Tier through his wife’s family. He happened to read some of my posts way back when and eventually we met up to fish our local waters. Since then, we usually get out when he’s up our way. Joe’s a very good fly angler. On this past Father’s Day we explored the Otselic River and enjoyed catching some nice smallmouth bass, fallfish, and even a few rock bass. It’s always a joy to fish new water, especially with a good friend…

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Joe releases a nice fallfish on the beautiful Otselic River…

Catfish – I’ve been running into Mr. Whiskers for a number of years, but it seems like my encounters have increased most recently, prompting me to fish intentionally for them while out hunting bass. Counter to general opinion, the channel catfish that populate our warmwater rivers will aggressively hit a fly, especially large buggy streamers and nymphs. Once hooked, hang on for a deep and dirty fight, even on an 8 weight rod. The state record was a 32 lb fish caught in Brant Lake, but I’d bet river cats are tougher, pound for pound, than their laker kin due to river conditioning. I caught a half dozen up to 32″ with just as many missed in 2016 and repeated an early fall pattern where they were feeding on large emerging mayflies! Go figure…

The Fall Float – I’ve made it out on my small and humble kayak every fall for the last few years and these solo floats always prove very productive. The Susquehanna was very low when I launched downstream this year, making for some even skinnier paddling in places. I fished mainly buggers and the bass were hot to play, including several very nice ones. I did not get a shot at musky or pike, but saw a “fingerling” musky – maybe 12″ long holding near some weeds in about a foot of water. That was most encouraging. Also in the mix was a very nice channel cat and countless fallfish, probably one of the most under-rated beginner “fly fisher fish”, but a species that always fights with bravado and readily and heartily takes a fly…

Blues – The fishing for bluefish was pretty damn good this year. That’s something I truly missed the last several years. Fishing seemed to change off Barnegat Light / Long Beach Island ever since Hurricane Sandy decimated the Jersey shore and that change to the fishing (along with regulation changes) took its toll on the party boats. Whereas two boats – Doris Mae and Miss Barnegat Light – ALWAYS ran for blues from spring through fall, day and night, fishing deteriorated so badly that these boats began to cut back on their trips. Sadly, Doris Mae eventually sold out. Theories abound on specifically why the fishing has changed for Barnegat Light – some indicate bottom changes due to the storm – others point to changes in seasonal currents. Whatever the cause, the trip (think fuel expense and time to fish) to reach blues from Barnegat Light did not make business sense. So after reading some glowing reports this past fall, I looked about 40 minutes north to the boats out of Belmar and I was not disappointed. I took a trip aboard The Golden Eagle with my cousin, Mark, and we had a great day. The only disappointment was that the fish mainly wanted bait in the chum slick. I prefer to jig for them, but it was so good to feel their brute power…

Destin – My wife and I returned to Destin in early November to spend a week at our place there. I finally got a chance to meet Ed Greene, a local fisherman and neighbor to our realtor. He was gracious enough to take me out to the expansive Cowahatchee Bay on his center console 23 foot fishing boat. We fished primarily for “trout” as they are referred to in the south. The bay holds a wide range of gamefish, including summer flounder, ladyfish, bluefish, redfish, trout, jacks, spanish mackerel, and even cobia and tarpon. Once I got a handle on the fishing, thanks to Ed’s sage advice, I ventured out on my own, wading the bayside shallows and tidal creeks. I fished a 9 foot 8 weight rod, an intermediate line, a 6 foot leader, and a number of streamers / shrimp patterns, but the best producer was a chartreuse and white clouser minnow. My efforts were rewarded with a number of small trout, a redfish, many lizardfish, and a summer flounder – a great intro to fly fishing, Emerald Coast style, and to think it was only a 5 minute ride in a golf cart to miles of bay fly fishing…

Ed also was kind enough to take me out wreck fishing offshore in a friend’s 27 foot center console boat. Our target species was red snapper. We first jigged up live bait in the East Pass inlet using light spinning gear and tiny sabiki rigs. This was fun stuff in itself. Proper technique could end up with 3, 4, or even 5 feisty baitfish on the multiple hook rigs. After we had a good supply of live bait, we cranked up and headed offshore to wrecks that Ed had in his GPS unit. We fished in water 50 to 90’+ and used pretty stout boat rods with 60lb mono. The rig was classic bluefish stuff – egg sinker (in this case 8 ounces!), swivel, leader, and snelled circle hook. I’d never fished a circle hook and it does take some getting used to. The idea is to just let the fish take the bait and simply tighten up to it without lifting the rod. The circle hook then rotates in the fish’s mouth, rolls, and hooks the fish in the corner of the mouth. I quickly got the hang of it, and in combination with the 3 other gulf-fishing veterans, it wasn’ long before we each had our 2 fish limit in the cooler. These were beautiful red snappers, hard fighting and even better tasting…

Salmon – Another first for me was a trip to fish the salmon run in the Salmon River. I made it up to the Upper Fly Zone – an area I had never fished before but one about which I’d heard good comments. I fished it with angler friend Bob Card on a rainy day. For those unacquainted, the Upper Fly Zone is beautiful water and well worth a full day or days of fishing. I hooked up as did Bob but we did not land one of thee black beasts, primarily due to our position on the river. If nothing else, it was a great recon trip. I’ll certainly be back up there again in 2017.

The Magic of 100 – I’ll finish up this post with a comment on achieving a goal I set at the start of 2016 to “fish and/or engage in fly fishing events and activities 100 times”. Look for a future post on this idea of “100”in the near future, but setting that goal was largely responsible for most of the 2016 memories that I’ve posted here.

And so, I’ll close out 2016 with a wish that 2017 is even better for Southern Tier long rodders…!

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: October 3rd

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 2, 2016 by stflyfisher

The colors are beginning to fill in the hillsides. And the silver maples that line the river are turning to gold. This upcoming week will only get brighter in terms of the colors as we move towards peak. Meanwhile, the rains over late last week and the weekend served to at least add a little to our woefully deprived creeks. The fact that the Susquehanna bumped up a bit is a good sign but we still have a ways to go.

susky-oct

This week we wade into October and the great fall fly fishing transition. Get out and wet a line now while conditions are still good for a broad swath of the species covered here. Remember too that the general trout season closes in two weeks, so the trouty types should get their fill while the getting’s good.

Fly shop talk: Many of us start off fishing with some idea on where we want to go and what we want to do. We may arrange to fish a river or stream with a friend or we may decide to fish alone. Whatever the case, how many of us have a well thought-out plan? Especially for those who work, time is precious, and time on the water even more so. Our fly fishing hours are precious, after all, and any fly fishing outing deserves a plan of some sort. I like to develop a Plan A and a back-up plan, Plan B. Plan A is developed after checking the weather, the USGS water gauge for the areas of interest, and fishing reports. Timing, access and egress, stretches of the water to be fished are all reviewed in advance. Plan B develops along the same lines but is a back-up plan with a twist. I always have a Plan B whenever I go fishing thanks to Mike Hogue, a well-known Ithaca area angler and owner of Badger Creek Fly Tying. Mike writes a lot about “exploring” fishing trips, and so my Plan B is always fishing new water. That way, if Plan A is a bust because the fish aren’t cooperating, I always end the day on a high note by feeling like I made the best of it and took time to explore new water. One never knows when new water ends up being favorite water, too.

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries:  The DEC recently announced that it’s closed the Lower Fly Zone to fishing until further notice. This announcement came in conjunction with a cut in the release for the river. The release cut was apparently made to conserve reservoir water in case the current drought persists. It’s being done to protect the spawning salmon, according to the DEC. It’s anyone’s guess what impact this lower release will have on the salmon run. Some believe lower water hinders the run, while others believe the salmon will run to spawn, regardless of conditions. The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that there’s currently a very light trickle of fish into lower part of the river (“3s and 4s”), and throughout the DSR section of the river. Anglers are catching fish but the best action seems to be in the early hours of the morning. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel is reporting that the fish have adjusted to the low water and have mostly been holding in the deep holes during the day and moving from hole to hole at night. With increased fishing pressure the best action has been first thing in the morning and later in the day once the crowd thins out. Anglers who have had the most success stayed in and around the deeper holes.  The low water pushes the fish to the deeper holes because it’s the only place they can hide and have cover. Because these areas can be crowded and the water is low and clear, the fish may be skittish or more line shy then normal. Using fluorocarbon, adjusting leader/tippet, and using more natural colors instead of big bright flashy stuff can all make a difference under the current conditions.

Catskill rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the area got some rain this weekend but not enough to make much difference to the river but they did increase the release overnight bringing Stilesville up to 642 cfs and just under 800 cfs at Hale Eddy. The river still has a decent amount of stain, especially on the West due to the release this time of year.  We’ve had rain the last few days and the streamer fishing has been decent for most. We have had some Blue Winged Olives and Cahills but the dry fly fishing has been spotty at best overall.  The temps are in the low to mid 50’s on the West and upper 50’s on the mainstem.  The water is a bit cleaner down on the mainstem as the silt drops as you head down river.  Nymph fishermen are doing well now that the rivers aren’t too high due to releases. The Delaware River Club reports that the recent release from Cannonsville Reservoir is 696 cfs. This leaves the West Branch is decent shape for both floating and wading. The Mainstem will rise a little but will also remain good for wading and floating. The East Branch temperatures are decent and the river is in good shape for wading. We have been hearing some reports of fish being landed on the lower stretches. Wet flies and caddis pupa have been working for the nymphers while small dark streamers are taking some fish. We are seeing some isonychias in spots. They still seem a little spotty but some people are finding decent numbers of them.  Most of the dry fly action has been on small olives in the afternoon.

 

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 –
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Creeks picked up a little water with recent rains but not much. Cooler nights are helping the warm water but it’s still best to give the creek trout a break for now.

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

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing for lake trout is fair to good. Bonus salmonids are occasionally in the mix.  Crews are replacing the intake screen at AES.  There are a couple barges out there.
  • Owasco Lake:  The water level here is low but launchable without problems thus far. Lake trout action here has been fair to good.  Bonus bass, rainbow and brown trout are around. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good.  Perch and pike fishing should pick up.
  • Seneca Lake:  The water level here is very low.  Launching could be a problem in areas. Expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.  The southern third of the lake should offer some fair fishing for browns, lake trout and salmon, but it’s still a crapshoot.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.  The water level is very low here but launching at the State Launch is not a problem.

Ponds: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening when water temps are highest. Bass and sunfish will remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers were dropping to new lows but got a little recharge due to the recent rains. Still, they are easily waded, making for great fly fishing. These river levels are allowing a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles to be accessed safely.

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The Susquehanna, like all of the warmwater rivers, is seen here “baring its shoulders”, evidence of a very dry year…

The smallmouth bite remains excellent thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. Water temps are as low as the mid 60’s.

The rivers are loaded with bait and that bait is getting bigger as fall progresses. Water clarity is excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies. And remember on bluebird sky days where the sun is really bright, look for shady areas to fish as bass are light-shy.

In addition to smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter a variety of other warmwater species. Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be caught on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Nathan Hopper, the cut-off low pressure system is still hanging around the Great Lakes just as we thought it would because it’s separated from the main jet stream. We don’t expect it to move very far from that area, which means that clouds and showers will be possible up through Monday here in the Southern Tier. High pressure then looks to kick that cut-off low back into the main jet stream and move it toward the northeast early in the week. Once that high pressure takes hold in the central plains, we’ll start to see a clearing trend and drier conditions will work their way in by mid-week. Thursday will be sunny under that high pressure, and temperatures will be comfortable as they work toward the 70-degree mark. 70 degrees is about 8 degrees above average for the first week in October. The next weather-maker looks to come in Friday and affect Saturday, as well, with a 30% chance of showers on Saturday.

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 26th

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , on September 26, 2016 by stflyfisher

Fall is here and the hillsides are starting to show it. Although we still have about two weeks to go for peak colors, some trees are starting to lighten up. Leaves are even falling, no doubt due to the drought that has a lock on the Southern Tier. Nights are getting cooler and cooler days look to follow. This is one of the best times of the year to get out and fly fish. Besides the spectacular scenery and wildlife, many local fish species are starting to prepare for winter in two ways – feeding up and/or heeding mother nature’s call to spawn. In both cases, these fish are either feeding to put on weight before the long winter or are biting out of aggression and competition.

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Most people think of fall in hues of scarlet, orange, and yellow. Fly fishers tend to think of fall in hues of olive and black…

Fly shop talk: The New York State DEC held a public hearing on September 14th. Concerned area residents and i-3 Electronics representatives met at Union-Endicott High School for a public information / public comment session on a draft permit for wastewater discharge for i3, formerly EIT. While some have expressed concerns that the permit allows toxic waste to be dumped into the Susquehanna River, members of the DEC say that part of the reason they hosted the information session was to alert the public that the permit works to protect the Susquehanna. I’ve not thoroughly investigated whether the leachate waste that’s being treated is harmful to our beautiful Susquehanna River, nor have I seen outward signs of damage to fish or other river life. But I am scratching my head over how a state that bans fracking can turn around and allow the transportation and treatment of fracking waste and the subsequent discharge of the treated waste into the Susquehanna. I plan on submitting my concerns to the DEC. While the public comment meeting has passed, any interested person may submit comments in writing to the DEC. According to the DEC, all comments will be considered in making the final decision about issuance of this permit. Written comments about the permit modification and renewal must be RECEIVED BY September 30, 2016 to be considered and should be sent to:

Teresa Diehsner
NYSDEC Headquarters
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
(518)402-9167
DEPPermitting@dec.ny.gov

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that the movement of salmon up the run has slowed recently. There are fish staging in the estuary. Water temp is around 65 degrees and flows are a steady 400 CFS. Fish are being caught but not so much as during last week. Streamers, buggers, and egg patterns will work on salmon.

Catskill rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the release from the West Branch has been lowered once again with current flows in the mid 600’s and temps averaging in the mid 50’s. The water still has a pretty good stain going on with several feet of visibility. The water does clear as you head down the West Branch and onto the mainstem which is just under 1,000 cfs with a temp around 60 degrees. There have been a few Blue Winged Olives in the afternoon hours in size 18-24 throughout the system as well as a few 14-16 Cahills.  There are also still a few tricos around in the mornings. Streamers are still a good bet on the West. The Delaware River Club reports that the cool nights have helped dropped the water temperatures, even on the low water of the East Branch. Olives and Isos have been working well, but make sure your box has flying ants and small dark Caddis. Lower water should make nymphing productive, even with the sun.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 –
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Creeks picked up a little water with recent rains but not much. Cooler nights are helping the warm water but it’s still best to give the creek trout a break for now.

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

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening. Bass and sunfish will remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. The Susquehanna is back to crashing lows for the year and at current levels can be forded in many locations. There are a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles that can be accessed safely.

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Looking upriver on the Susquehanna River

The smallmouth bite is very good to excellent thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. I’m currently measuring water temps as low as the mid 60’s on the Tioughnioga, but in general, water temps will range from the low 60’s to mid 70’s depending on the river and location.

The rivers are loaded with bait and that bait is getting bigger as fall progresses. Water clarity is excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies. And remember on bluebird sky days where the sun is really bright, look for shady areas to fish as bass are light-shy.

In addition to smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter a variety of other warmwater species. Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be caught on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Brian Schroeder, a cool body of Canadian high pressure moving through Ontario and Quebec will keep temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s, with frost possible. A low will move across the Great Lakes early in the week. We’ll start Monday with sunshine, but the clouds will be increasing. There will be a slight chance for some showers late Monday night. The clouds and the chance of showers will continue Tuesday and Tuesday night, but will wind down for Wednesday. High pressure moves in later in the week giving us partly cloudy skies on Friday and mostly sunny skies on Saturday. Temperatures will rebound into the upper 60s and low 70s by Saturday.

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 19th

Posted in Carp, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2016 by stflyfisher

This week marks the official start of fall, September 22nd to be exact. And Mother Nature seems to recognize it. Trees are starting to take on hues of fall – the hillsides are dotted by a few maples that are beginning to show their scarlet colors. Goldenrod in the fields is in full bloom and oaks are starting to drop their acorns. The other day I made my way down to a river, strolling through an adjacent field. I kicked up grasshoppers, enjoying the afternoon warmth, with every stride.

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Looking downriver at dusk on the beautiful Tioughnioga

Fly shop talk: Here’s a little bit more about the autumnal equinox, courtesy of The Weather Channel:

During the autumnal equinox, day and night are balanced to about 12 hours each all over the world. Instead of the Earth tilting away from or toward the sun, its axis of rotation becomes perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the Earth and the sun.

“This change in the tilt causes the change in seasons with the northern hemisphere moving from the warmth of summer to the chill of winter,” said weather.com digital meteorologist Linda Lam. “This process includes a shift in the overall location of the jet stream which plays an important role in weather conditions.”

From that point on, daylight in the Northern Hemisphere gradually becomes shorter up until the winter solstice. This is the opposite of what occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, where daylight won’t grow any longer.

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: It’s time to add this fishing category to my report. Right now the Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting movement of small pods of salmon up the run. These fish are staging in the estuary and are either moving up the river or even turning around, most likely due to the warmer water. River flows are around 400 CFS with a temp in the mid 60’s.

Catskill rivers: 

The West Branch Angler reports that all of the fishermen who haven’t been able to wade the West Branch of the Delaware River will be happy with the new flow. The Cannonsville Reservoir release was cut over the weekend and flows have dropped from well over 1,000 CFS to 500 CFS. We will still have the same bugs and the fish will be a more likely to come to the surface with the lower water. The flying ants in size 18-24 will be around for a while as well as a few Isonychia and Cahills. The Delaware River Club reports recent rains have not done much for river flows. Most people seemed to be throwing streamers over the weekend but there has been a decent mix of olives, cahills, and some isonychias hatching.

 

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 –
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Nothing new here. The low, warm water warns, “stay away.” Give the creek trout a break for now.

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

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: Still not much new to report here as long as warm days and cool nights continue in the forecast. Fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening. Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. At current levels, even the Susquehanna can be forded in many locations and a lot of out-of-the-way pools, runs, and riffles can be accessed safely.

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The Susquehanna River hit a new low for the year – 500 CFS…

The smallmouth bite remains very good thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. I recently recorded temps as low as the upper 60’s on the Tioughnioga, but in general, water temps will range form the upper 60’s to mid 70’s.

The rivers are loaded with bait and water clarity remains excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies.

And while fishing for smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter other warmwater species…

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Channel catfish, like this nice specimen, will aggressively take a fly…

Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be in the mix on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

The rivers can still be wet waded comfortably, but be aware that wet wading in sandy or muddy river bottom areas can expose one to leeches. I was recently reminded of this, finding a rather large one attached to my lower leg! Leeches are generally not harmful – clean the bite area thoroughly with soap and water and hydrogen peroxide and don’t be surprised if the wound bleeds for a while. Leeches will actually secrete an anticoagulant enzyme when they bite. And while getting bitten is not a great thing, the fact that leeches are around should serve as a reminder that the use of a leech pattern fly can be deadly for most warmwater river species. Walleyes, in particular, can’t resist leechy-looking flies in olive, brown, and black.

Fly fishing events: After a summer break, area fly fishing clubs and chapters are getting back to business. Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU will hold their first monthly meeting of the fall on Tuesday, September 20th at 7 pm at the Vestal Library. Speaker, to be announced.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold their first monthly meeting after the summer break on Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm, with a fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Endicott Library. The guest speaker will be Bill Kessler, a devoted Atlantic Salmon fisherman who has fished from a couple hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, to Scotland, Ireland, and his “local” fisheries on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and in New Brunswick.  Bill will describe the Atlantic’s life cycle, habitat, and will describe various methods of fishing for salmon, using both wet and dry flies.  He will discuss the equipment — flies, lines, rods and reels as well as describe both single and double hand casting techniques and when to use them. Bill will bring samples of the equipment and flies and will regale us with stories of his most memorable experiences. As usual, the meeting is open to the general public at no fee.
  • The BC Flyfishers will be auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod, starting with the September 22nd general meeting. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Nathan Hopper, there’s another cold front currently situated in the Upper Midwest and is separate from the front that rolled through over the weekend. After the cold front pushes through, the chance for showers will stick with us on Monday, though things will progressively dry out through Monday. Tuesday looks to be more seasonable with the sun out and the humidity to a more comfortable level. High pressure then takes over and the sun will remain with us through the end of the week, as mostly clear conditions prevail. Temperatures will hang out just above average for the week, with highs in the low- to mid-70s.

Looking out a little longer term, forecasters are saying that cold fronts will be more common across the Northeast through the rest of September. This roller coaster-type weather pattern is typical for autumn months and will only increase in frequency and magnitude through November. However, one can expect warmer temperatures to win out over the cooler temperatures through the rest of the month.