Archive for the Smallmouth Bass Fishing Category

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 23, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on July 25, 2017 by stflyfisher

The lead paragraph on this weekly fly fishing report is beginning to sound like a broken record. The past week started out looking like it might be dry but ended up with some heavy localized downpours that sent some creeks, streams, and rivers into heavy turbid flows. Maybe it’s time to pray for dry weather?

Climate records for the Southern Tier continue to tell the same story: moderate to cool temps and lots of precipitation:

KBGM2017plot

Fly Shop Talk: In his book, My Life Was This Big, Lefty Kreh talks about his stint in the US Army during WWII. While he was proud of his service (he fought in the Battle of the Bulge), Kreh and the US Army did not get along. “I hated the Army. Despised it. It ran counter to my lifelong instinct to make things better. I am an inveterate tinkerer and self-described inventor.” While the Army might not have appreciated Kreh’s inventiveness, the fishing world certainly did. Below is a picture of just one of Kreh’s nifty way of making fishing better. His first fly reel, a Pflueger Medalist purchased in 1947, was improved with a finger insert as a means of applying drag to the spool.

lefty reel

 

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

  • Cayuga Lake: Lake trout jigging is slow with occasional moments of good fishing. Bass season is underway. I expect jigging to pick up once this algae bloom clears up. When that happens is anyone’s guess.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is fair here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is generally good. Rockbass and large perch remain in the mix. Water here is still relatively cold.
  • Seneca Lake: Laker jigging has shown some signs of improvement since the Memorial Weekend Derby. Fishing is fair.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good from what I’ve heard.
  • Otisco Lake: Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part. This lake muddies up easily and can be tough after heavy rains. There is an algae bloom going on here from what I heard.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. If fishing the freestones, however, “fish with your thermometer”.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the weekend’s rains left some dirty water on most of the rivers but there still are a few spots that the storms avoided. Down at Hale Eddy it’s pretty dirty but dropping with a current flow of 938 cfs and 56 degrees. Up at Stilesville the flow is 374 cfs and 46 degrees and will be your best spot to fish down to Oquaga creek which is pumping in a decent amount of dirty water. The West could clear up enough by tonight to offer some decent opportunity. The East got hit pretty good with a flow of 2,360 and rising at Harvard and down at Fishs’ Eddy we have 2,410 cfs and 64 degrees. The main is going to be dirty as well with a flow of 3,310 and rising at 300+ cfs per hour. We should have some good streamer fishing on the West as the water drops over the next couple days.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that all the rivers in the system are up and off color. It looks like the rain is tapering off so the West Branch should drop and look a lot better tomorrow morning. The flow didn’t move much at Stilesville so the West Branch above Oquaga Creek should be in decent shape. If you go up there you should see some afternoon sulphurs and olives. It is still perfect for wading up there. Below Oquaga Creek it looks like a streamer from the boat kind of day. If the river drops quickly enough there is a slight chance of finding a few fish on top in the big pools so carry a dry fly rod too, but count on throwing streamers for the most part. Try dark streamers first in the off colored water.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that HOT, HOT HOT has been the weather pattern lately. Summer has it’s grip on the Upper Delaware region at this time. There is no better place to spend a hot day than out on the river so here are your options for fishing. Trout fishermen who plan on fishing in the coming days should be aware that a lot of the system has very warm water. The options for chasing trout at this time are the Upper East Branch, the West branch and the headwaters of the Beaverkill and Willowemoc. The best action is very early morning and again from near dark until after dark. Our guides have been on the water on both the Upper West and Upper East branches and they are getting some nice fish for our guests. The fishing is very technical now. As is always the case in summer you need to be proficient with long leaders, making accurate casts and floating drag free. This is what we teach and now is the time where conditions will demand near perfection. The insects will not change now. Sulfurs, Olives, Tricos, Midges and terrestrials. Small is the key on the waters that see the most pressure. (this is the entire West Branch). Isonychia and Cahills are about late day and you can take some of the more exuberant fish with these larger patterns. Nymphing has always been our go to approach for getting some numbers on the tailwaters and recently this is where the success has been best. You will still need perfect floats and long leaders. You will also need to be comfortable fishing the tiny stuff. All of my nymphs at this time are #18 or smaller on both 5X and 6X tippet. On a recent trip my guests had very good action fishing the pressured water and put about a dozen fish in the net. There is also a small population of anglers who head to the water after dark at this time of year. These are the hunters who fish mice, frogs, boppers, gurglers and huge streamers. These guys are doing well. Our guides have been taking some monster browns after dark some of which measure 25″ to 30″. If you think you want to give this a try call us today.

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 have been a yo-yo with the variable weather we’ve had. They will continue to rise and fall with the sporadic storms. To many anglers, these high water events are an excuse to fish elsewhere, but to creek-savvy anglers, change is a good word. Fishing after a high water event can be difficult but highly rewarding. Nymphing with big “nymphs” like cranefly larvae, worms, crayfish and hellgrammite patterns, can lure big browns waiting for the washdown of all sorts of food forms. Large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

Warmwater Rivers: As discussed last week, forget about the warmwater rivers for now. I fished the lower Tioughnioga this past weekend and was surprised how full, fast, and turbid it was. The USGS gage chart looked decent, but the river was another story. With the squirrely weather we’ve been having, look to the headwaters of the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga, Chenango, and Chemung for the first signs of dropping flows and clearing. But dropping gage charts don’t always mean the river is fishable.

susky 724

The Susquehanna River continues to tease…

Ponds: Ponds are a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are in summer mode and are more than willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: Most local fly fishing clubs take a summer break starting with July, so there won’t be any activities or club/chapter meetings to report over the coming weeks. If an event pops up, I’ll try to capture it here.

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

We have a slow moving front to our south. With lows moving along this front we had rain and thunderstorms last night, leading to flash flooding. We will have a similar forecast today with rain and thunderstorms. The rain will taper to showers tonight.

A slight chance of showers on Tuesday as high pressure begins to move in. Nice weather on Wednesday with partly cloudy skies.

Another front will approach on Thursday with another round of rain and thunderstorms. A few showers could linger into Friday.

Nice weather for the weekend with partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures.

WBNG7Day (2)

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The week ahead in fly fishing: July 16, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 18, 2017 by stflyfisher

Water, water everywhere continues to be the theme for 2017. The past week was another turbulent one, weather-wise. Although the heavy rains seemed to hit some locations and bypass others, the effect local creeks, streams, and rivers was pronounced.

fernando llosa

This amazing picture of Taughannock Falls is a testament to recent heavy rains. Photo courtesy of Fernando Llosa

Fly Shop Talk: Last week’s severe rain events and their effects on local watersheds were a case in point on why it pays to know at least a little about hydrology. As I drove to work in Ithaca, it was interesting to see that Nanticoke Creek was running low and clear while Owego Creek, one valley to the west, was high and turbid. Choconut Creek, a creek close to my home, was also seemingly unaffected by the weather. Fortunately, a number of weather and climate-related sites on the internet make it very easy to get a good read on what moving waters are doing without having to travel and make a local assessment. Weather radar can show just where weather events are occurring and the USGS water gage can help an angler piece together where water is rising or falling. But use of the USGS water gage requires some relative idea of what gage levels and flows, i.e., what are the best condition for fishing, for example. So some familiarity with the moving water is needed to make use of the data.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that Cayuga Lake is muddy and came up at least a foot. I cancelled/postponed my weekend trips. Let’s hope conditions settle out soon. Just chant “No more rain…no more rain…no more rain…” Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Lake trout jigging was very tough this weekend from what I heard. Bass season is underway. Pickerel fishing is fair to good.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is fair here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good (not on a par with Cayuga by any means.)
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is generally good. Rock bass and large perch remain in the mix. Water here is still relatively cold.
  • Seneca Lake: Laker jigging has shown some signs of improvement since the Memorial Weekend Derby. Fishing is fair. Expect tough conditions this weekend with the heavy rains.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good from what I’ve heard.
  • Otisco Lake: Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part. This lake muddies up easily and can be tough after heavy rains.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. If fishing the freestones, however, “fish with your thermometer”.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the rivers have cleared up quite a bit after the weekend’s rain and the West is currently in great shape with only a slight stain.  The upper West at Stilesville is currently 370 cfs and 46 degrees and Hale Eddy is running 606  and  52 degrees with minor stain to the water.  The upper East at Harvard is running 322 cfs and 57 degrees and downriver at Fishs’ Eddy the flow is 1,060 cfs and 63 degrees.  We should continue to have some good Sulphur activity, especially on the upper half of the West Branch.  The last two days were a bit slower with the bugs, likely due to the stained water and increased flow.  Other than being a bit higher than mid-week the West is back to good clarity and should start to fish better this week.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting good fishing in the Catskill system. Nymphing has definitely been a good choice until the sun drops behind the hills.  There have been some mid-day sulphurs on the upper West West but everything definitely picks up towards evening.  We did see more cahills and isonychias over the weekend so those hatches should improve.  Little olives and sulphurs are making up the bulk of the food right now so definitely carry those patterns.  Small olive spinners have worked really well lately.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the last week brought the Upper Delaware some unpredictable weather. Small cold fronts passed through the region almost every day bringing us fast passing but heavy thunder storms. This weather has changed the river conditions but there is a pretty big difference from section to section. The most stable and predictable at this time is the Main Stem. It has been on the rise and much higher than last week. This will continue as long as the storms persist simply because all water here goes to the Main Delaware.  The water temperatures have dropped a bit which is a good change for the lower river. The Beamoc Water and the Upper East and West are where the flows have been swinging. They have been rising quickly and falling quickly right along the storm paths. Areas where rain has been locally heavy have had turbidity which clears up in about 24 hours or less. Overall temperatures have dropped but anglers should always check the water temperature  before fishing the freestone rivers in July and August. There have been several days recently where I have stayed dry while watching heavy rain upstream There have also been times where I have been on the wet end of the same situation. It is always a good idea to have a light rain jacket during summer in the mountains. In most instances the rains have been 10 to 15 minutes in duration. The Fishing remains good for both Trout and Bass. The Trout action is now pure summertime activity. Super fussy fish are the rule. Long leaders, light tippet and long casts are a must. Tiny Sulfurs, Olives, Trico’s, Midges and terrestrials are your daytime choices. Isonychia and Cahills will take some fish towards dark. The best trout activity remains in the Upper East, Upper West and the Upper Main Stem Delaware. With the heavy downpours you may find a good streamer bite in areas of turbidity. Recently we have been adding some nice trout to our daily catch on streamers worked along the edges of the dirty water.  The Smallmouth Bass activity is now steady and reliable. We have been hitting it with both Fly and Spin tackle and our guests have been having great trips. Fly guys will want to go deep in the sunny portion of the day. Baitfish, Buggers, Crayfish and other buggy creation will take some fish as long as they are slow and deep. When the light fades the action has been great on top. I have been rigging Poppers, Divers and Gurglers and all have been working well. There is also good match the hatch smallie action if you want to stay on the water until right at dark. The fish are eating Isonychia, Cahills and White Flies. They are not fussy so a big white wulff almost always does the trick.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Brown Drakes #10-2xl – Ephemera simulans
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Pale Evening Dun / Pink Lady – #14 – Epeorus vitreus
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Light BWO – #14 – Drunella cornuta (previously Ephemerella cornuta)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Blue Sedge – #14 – Psilotreta spp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

Local creeks: Local creek flows have been a yo-yo with the variable weather we’ve had. They were settling down again, only to be roaring again as of this writing. To many anglers, these high water events are an excuse to fish elsewhere, but to creek-savvy anglers, change is a good word. Fishing after a high water event can be difficult but highly rewarding. Nymphing with big “nymphs” like cranefly larvae, worms, crayfish and hellgrammite patterns, can lure big browns waiting for the washdown of all sorts of food forms. Large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

owego creek

Warmwater Rivers: Forget about the warmwater rivers. They were again on the way down but last week’s rains and Monday’s storms put a fork in them over the short term. For now, look to the headwaters of the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga, Chenango, and Chemung for the first signs of dropping flows and clearing. The drier weather in the week ahead may allow us to finally wet a line for bronzebacks!

susky

The Susquehanna River at Vestal tells the story – the watershed that feeds our rivers are soaked and pouring out of the hills, making our rivers too high and turbid for good fishing.

Ponds: Ponds are a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are done spawning and so are sunfish and they are beyond the brief period where they’re recuperating from the rigors of spawning. This makes then willing to take a fly. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late, but in the case of sunfish, any time of the day will work. Fishing the edges of weeds and around structure with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially in the early morning and towards evening.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: Most local fly fishing clubs take a summer break starting with July, so there won’t be any activities or club/chapter meetings to report over the coming weeks. If an event pops up, I’ll try to capture it here.

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

WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny, a few scattered showers and thunderstorms. 0-.05″ Less than 20% High 84 (82-86) Wind NW 3-8 mph

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, scattered showers and thunderstorms. 0-.10″ Low 64 Wind L&V

THURSDAY: Partly cloudy with a few scattered showers. 20% High 84 Low 64

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy with PM showers and thunderstorms. 30% High 84 Low 62

SATURDAY: Partly cloudy with showers and thunderstorms. 20% High 80 Low 64

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy with rain and thunderstorms. 40% High 82 Low 62

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy with showers and thunderstorm. 30% High 82 Low 60

TUESDAY: Partly cloudy. High 80 Low 58

WBNG7Day (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 9, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 10, 2017 by stflyfisher

We are solidly in summer, now. Corn is getting higher in the fields and this year’s fawns are growing by the day and soon will lose their spots. The warmwater rivers are finally coming down. For smallmouth bass fishermen, its been a long agonizing wait to hit the rivers. Hatches are transitioning to summer bugs and soon terrestrials will also be on the menu.

KBGMcurrent2

Daily temperatures have been on the cooler side lately.

KBGM2017plot

Cumulative precipitation is now roughly 50% greater than historical norms for this time of year but the rate of precipitation is slowing.

Fly Shop Talk: It may be a little early for most anglers, but now is the time to prep for fall fly fishing. Did I say prep for fall? Yes, I’ve always tried to be tying up and prepping one season ahead, tying trout flies and getting trout gear organized in early winter, tying smallmouth bass flies and prepping for brownwater fishing in late winter, and gearing up for steelhead and fall fishing in early summer. Late August is less than two months away for those who like to catch the Great Lakes tribs salmon run. Now’s the time to go through cold weather gear, tackle, boots and waders and repair or replace as needed.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that the lakes in the area are clearing up and bouncing back into shape.  Lake levels are high on Skaneateles and possibly other Finger Lakes. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is returning back to form.  Bass season is underway. Pickerel fishing is fair to good.
  • Owasco Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is good here with a lot of fish still shallow.  Lake trout fishing is fair to good (not on a par with Cayuga by any means.)  Perch are everywhere shallow.  Pike are available.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is good.  Many fish are still spawning. Rockbass and large perch are in the mix.  Water here is still relatively cold.
  • Seneca Lake:  No recent word on lake trout jigging.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing continues to be good around the Bluff area according to reports I have received from Angling Zone friend Al.  DEC is contemplating the re-introduction of ciscoes and possible lake whitefish to this lake.  I have never caught a cisco or whitefish and would be impressed if these species took hold.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part.  Bass action has been good with spawning winding down.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. If fishing the freestones, however, “fish with your thermometer”.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that they started to release a bit more water from Cannonsville last night and currently Stilesville and Hale Eddy are both reading 704 cfs and 46 up top and 48 at Hale Eddy. These are great flows for mid July and offer great wading as well as floating. The fishing has been pretty good with some consistent bugs on the West Branch. We are still seeing some larger, #16 Sulphurs as well as more of the #18’s. The small Olives in 18-24 have been good also, even in the bright sun. The Isonychia have also been around in normal numbers and have been working well, especially in the fast water. We have been getting some good spinner falls on these nice nights we’ve been having with lots of Sulphur and Olive spinners.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting that the release from Cannonsville has been increased to 699 cfs this morning.  Water temperatures are in good shape on the entire West Branch and Upper East Branch.  There were some fish rising in yesterday’s sun but things picked up after the clouds rolled in and the sun dropped a bit in the evening.  Sulphurs and little olives were the main bugs with a few isonychias and cahills here and there.  Nymphing deeper drop offs has been productive during the day.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the Upper Delaware has gone through some major changes in the last week. Summer has it’s grip on the region now and the regular rainfall that was present all spring has disappeared. Currently most of the river system is warm with a few exceptions.

    For Trout fishing the only areas that are fishing well are the West Branch and Upper Main Stem.  The Upper East has good temperature but the fishing is highly technical. The headwaters of the Beaverkill and Willowemoc are also cold. The Upper Main and West branch remain the best bet. Over the last week releases from Cannonsville have fluctuated between 500 cfs. and 700 cfs. This range is keeping the insects and trout active. At the current flow rates there are fish feeding most of the time. On all of our floats we can always find sporadic risers to challenge your casting ability. The periods of high activity remain 2:00 to 5:00 pm and again near dark. Sulfurs and blue wing olives are the dominant insect hatches but isonychia, cahills and some caddisflies are about. Midges are also a factor during summer. tricos and other tiny insects are about most mornings with fish feeding only in certain areas. Overall the fishing at this time can be classified as reliable but technical. We are now rigging several dry fly and nymph rods for our guests. I have a heavy rod with the isonychia and a light rod with light tippet. This lighter rod gets changed between the tiny patterns that we are hoping the fussy trout will eat. These are mostly Olives, Sulfur and midge patterns. My nymph rods are rigged with a triple rig that is our standard for all year long. This is only used in the deeper faster runs. The other nymph rod is rigged more like a dry fly setup with two #18 nymphs and a float only 12″ above the flies. This is the best rig for most of the water at this time. All of the rigs must be presented totally drag free to have any chance at all. At this time the Trout are at the top of their game and your presentation has to be perfect. We are also hitting the Smallmouth water now.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Brown Drakes #10-2xl – Ephemera simulans
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Pale Evening Dun / Pink Lady – #14 – Epeorus vitreus
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Light BWO – #14 – Drunella cornuta (previously Ephemerella cornuta)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Blue Sedge – #14 – Psilotreta spp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

Local creeks: Local creeks are finally settled, very clear, and running like they should for early summer. While this makes fishing easier to some degree, it makes it harder in other ways. Fish, by nature, are light shy. So under clear low water conditions and particularly on sunny days, some degree of stealth is needed on skinny water, along with lighter, longer leaders. Nymphing, fishing wet flies on the swing, and dry flies will all work well right now. Hatches are typical of early summer and it’s time to consider at least packing terrestrial patterns. Never fish when thunderstorms are about but 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.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are getting back down to wadeable fishable flows, but they are still generally on the high side. There have been some reports of smallies coming to hand by wading anglers but current conditions still dictate larger dark or bright flies and sinking type fly lines. The Susquehanna River in Vestal is on a long slow slide down but at 4,000 CFS is still too high for safe wading and the river is still murky. Provided we continue under dry conditions, the best shot at fishing will be the Tioughnioga and the Chemung Rivers, although these are now essentially flatlined and not falling more. For the river rats out there, now’s the time to tie up some flies and prep for brownlining while waiting for just a little more improvement in flows.

susky

The Susquehanna River in Vestal is gradually falling but won’t be wade fishable until flows drop below 3,000 CFS. Anglers with boats can fish the river, but might need to wait a bit for the river to clear more.

Ponds: Ponds are a great place to fly fish right now. Largemouth bass are done spawning and so are sunfish and they are beyond the brief period where they’re recuperating from the rigors of spawning. This makes then 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cattails, though found in shallower water, can provide good cover for bass during the day. A popper thrown at the edge of cattails can often induce bass-in-hiding to come out and play.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: Most local fly fishing clubs take a summer break starting with July, so there won’t be any activities or club/chapter meetings to report over the coming weeks. If an event pops up, I’ll try to capture it here.

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

High pressure will linger over New York and Pennsylvania today. A body of low pressure will move into the Great Lakes. We’ll have mostly sunny skies with increasing clouds. There will be some late day showers and thunderstorms.

As the cold front moves through on Tuesday, we’ll keep showers and thunderstorms in the forecast. After some early showers and thunderstorms, these will end Tuesday night.

I have the front stalling just to our south. With a low riding along this front, showers and thunderstorms will be in the forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

We’ll have partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

WBNG7Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…!