Archive for the Trout Fishing Category

The week ahead in fly fishing: March 27, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on March 26, 2017 by stflyfisher

The traditional opener of trout fishing is less than a week away. After throwing a late winter curve ball that blanketed the Southern Tier with up to 3 feet of snow, Mother Nature’s reversal could make local creeks, streams, and rivers swollen and moving for Saturday’s opening day. Until the weekend, though temps were on the increase, it was a very gradual trend with below freezing temps at night. Cross your fingers that we don’t get to flooding conditions and retain some of that beautiful early spring snowpack.

Fly shop talk: It’s that time of the season where NY’s DEC gears up for stocking local creeks and streams with hatchery-reared brown trout. Local ponds and lakes typically receive rainbows. Hopefully flows will be reasonable given the current ground saturation, snow pack, and expectation for rain and warmer temperatures. Stocked trout are not everyone’s idea of trout fishing but they can help shake off the winter casting rust and let’s face it, feeling the tug is a nice way to start the season off. If you know someone looking to get started in the sport, early season stockies are the ticket. A simple 3 – 5 weight outfit and a basic selection of flies (stonefly nymphs, wet flies, wooly buggers and small streamers) are all that’s needed. Stocked trout typically take a fly pretty aggressively and if dead-drifting is not working, it can pay to put some movement in the fly. But don’t take stockies for granted. In his wonderful book, Trout Tactics, Joe Humphreys discusses “conditioning” of trout and how some familiar circumstances can turn trout on to feeding. He tells of a case where he was fishing a stocked stream with, as he put it,”plenty of company”. No one, even the great Joe, was having any luck. After a while, one angler threw a handful of pebbles across the stream. Guess what happened? The trout suddenly turned on to feeding. The reason? Stoked trout are conditioned to feeding from above when automatic feeders spread pellets across the holding tanks. The pebbles imitated this and triggered the trout to feed!

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Early season stockie…

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run reports that flows have dropped to very nice levels but the fishing seems to remain a mix.

Flows have dropped from an initial flow of 1150 all the way down to 750. Warming temps have also attracted more anglers to the run. Swinging streamers, fishing stonefly nymphs, and egg patterns have all produced. Whitakers reports that the drop in water level has helped get a few more anglers out on the water. Anglers stopping into the shop who fished the Lower Fly Zone reported landing some steelhead on a mix of nymphs and single egg patterns. Other anglers who fished the upper section of river between Altmar and Pineville reported landing some steelhead while bottom bouncing and float fishing with blue egg sacs. In the lower end of the river anglers who fished the DSR reported landing some steelhead while swinging flies or bottom bouncing and float fishing with egg sacs. There are steelhead also being landed at some of the smaller local tributaries.

Suggested patterns:

  • Wiggle stone in blue, peacock, chart, pink. size 10
  • Rusher nymph in blue, purple, chart. size 10
  • Steelhead hammer in black, red, blue. size 8
  • Steelhead stone in purple, red, orange. size 8
  • Sucker spawn in blue, cream, white, peach. size 8
  • Steak-n-eggs in pink, orange, chart. size 10
  • Steelhead bugger in size 8.

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Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that things are back to normal in the Central NY Region for this time of year.

Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fly-fishing  and casting with gear has been productive for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers.  Lake trout jigging is also productive.  The water level has come up quite a bit and launching shouldn’t be a problem at most launches – at least for now!
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Very few boats were out of Watkins Glen perch fishing when we went out.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing should still be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.

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

  • It’s still not too late to sign up for the Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF’s Fly Fishing Academy, scheduled for Saturday, April 8, 2017, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. This year marks the TT5R’s 10th anniversary for the Annual Fly Fishing Academy. The event will be held at the Campbell-Savona High School in Campbell, NY. This is a high quality fly fishing course, open to Adults and to Youth 11 yrs old and over. 
    This full day class is designed for beginner and intermediate fly fishers to develop and expand techniques and skills. The day includes three casting sessions led by a Certified Casting Instructor. Learning sessions throughout the day are taught by fly fishers with vast experience and include fly fishing strategy, knot tying, gear selection, fly selection, getting started with trout and bass, and more. Nymph, dry fly and streamer techniques are demonstrated in a full-scale model stream. Lunch and snacks are provided. No equipment is necessary. Class fee is $85 for Adults (ages 16 and over); $40 for Youth (ages 11-15, accompanied by a registered Adult). TTFR Members are also eligible for a $10 discount. Space is limited and filled last year, so you are encouraged to register early. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Contact Steve Harris 607-377-4956 sjh529@stny.rr.com or Kirk Klingensmith 607-346-7189 kklingensmi@stny.rr.com
  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

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

Rain showers will continue rolling through the Southern Tier in waves for the next few days, and some fog or low clouds are also possible with a very moist atmosphere. Rainfall and snow melt may cause low-end moderate flooding at some locations. The chance of moderate flooding has decreased in the past 24 hours. However, there is still the chance of low-end moderate flooding come the first half of the week. There is no indication of any major impacts from flooding after these rain showers, and any flooding similar to the 2011 flood is out of the question. The seasonable temperatures we’ve had over the weekend will continue and even warm into the mid-50s through next week. High pressure then slides into our area come the second half of the week, keeping skies mainly clear and keeping temperatures above average to wrap up the work week.

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The week ahead in fly fishing: March 13, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on March 12, 2017 by stflyfisher

March continues to roar of winter, even with the official start of spring less than two weeks away. After a warm spell last week, temps again dropped to single digit lows Friday night and have carried on through the weekend. And lake effect snow, brought on by high winds, hit the Southern Tier along with the cold. Ponds now have skim ice on them and creeks, though still swollen and high, could build up some shelf ice based on the current forecast. The cold weather gives anglers a good excuse to break out their gear in anticipation of spring fishing and go through it thoroughly. It also pays to re-fill those spring and summer fly boxes while the siren call to hit the water is not so strong…

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Anglers who attended one of the BCFF chapter’s fly tying classes learned how to tie some great guide patterns. Now’s the time to fill those spring fly boxes! (Picture courtesy of Nick DiNunzio)

Fly shop talk: “I think the best teacher is the stream…” – this is just one of many gems I’ve mined from the book, Trout Tactics by Joe Humphreys. Humphreys is a well-known fly fly fisherman from Pennsylvania who taught fly fishing at Penn State and who has authored several books on a sport he has participated in for much of his long life. I’ve just started the book, but reading it has reminded me of something I’ve neglected over the last few years: reading good books on fly fishing. Continuous improvement is important to any fly angler looking to increase skill levels on the water. Before one can improve, knowledge is needed. After knowledge is gained, application of that knowledge through practice develops skill. To be a better angler,commit to gaining knowledge through reading good fly fishing books and then applying it on the water.

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Joe Humphreys holds the Pennsylvania fly fishing state record brown trout that he caught at night in 1977 on Fishing Creek. The big brown stretched the tape to 34″. Humphreys pursued the fish for 3 years before finally hooking it.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries:

Fishing conditions have made fishing the Salmon River and other GL tribs difficult and reports are pretty poor as a result. The bitter cold, wind, snow and high river levels have put a damper on the fishing for sure. Some anglers have had success with steelhead on some of the smaller local tributaries.

Related to Great Lakes trib fishing is the following from the DEC’s recent report-out held at the Rochester Institute of Technology. According to the DEC’s 2016 Fishing Boat Survey, fishing on the lake for Chinook salmon, lake trout and Atlantic salmon was good, but “fishing success for coho salmon, brown trout and rainbows was relatively poor.” Fishing for lake trout was reported as “stable.” Chinook salmon fishing on the lake this year was very good at the western end between the months of May through August, and during July for all areas of the lake. The average length of the fish were shorter than previous peak years, but on average were larger in girth. Anglers experienced a rebound of the fall fishing on the lake’s tributaries last year after a subpar 2015 season. The total amount of fish stocked in New York’s waters of Lake Ontario by the DEC in 2016 included about 1.88 million Chinook salmon, 316,000 Coho, 662,170 Rainbow trout, 156,270 Atlantic salmon, 384,250 Lake trout and 68,250 Walleye. DEC staff reported that fall 2016 Chinook and coho salmon egg collections at the Salmon River hatchery “exceeded targets, and that fish survival has been good to date.” However, anglers can expect a shortfall in the numbers of yearling (1 year old) lake trout that will be stocked this coming year due to an unexplained disease at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Allegheny National Fish Hatchery. A total of 400,000 fish was the goal, but the actual number now will be less than 300,000.

The old news coming into the meeting is the recently announced joint New York/Canadian plan to cut Chinook salmon and lake trout stocking levels in Lake Ontario by 20 percent this year. The decision, which officials stress will continue for a few years and have minimal, if any, impact on the lake’s fishing, was prompted the current state of the alewive population on the lake. Alewives are the main prey for Chinook, the No. 1 game fish that anglers target on Ontario. Recent studies have shown alewive numbers took a hit during the brutally cold winters of 2013-14 and 2014-2015. They are not native to the Great Lakes and have limited tolerance to cold temperatures. The result, say DEC officials is an imbalance in the lake of Chinook salmon and the food they need to survive. State, federal and Canadian officials are teaming this spring to do bottom trawl surveys throughout the lake to get a good handle on the situation. They’re hopeful the mild winter this year will result in appreciable increased numbers of the bait fish. (Report courtesy of David Figura, NYupstate.com).

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that water temperatures are likely in the 37/38 degree range on the surface of the larger Finger Lakes. Pike/pickerel/walleye/tiger musky seasons close this coming week on March 15th.  It is unlawful to target those species (even for catch and release) when the season is closed, so all my guiding will be focused on trout/salmon until May 6th when the season re-opens.

Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fly-fishing  and casting with gear has been productive for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers.  Lake trout jigging is also productive.  The water level has come up a little bit and launching is easier at some launches.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Very few boats were out of Watkins Glen perch fishing when we went out.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing should still be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.

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

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of Trout Unlimited will have its next chapter meeting on Tuesday, March 21st at 7 pm at the Vestal Public Library. On tap for the evening’s presentation is Mike Breed of the Chenango Valley High School who will talk about the Trout in the Classroom project.
  • The BC Flyfishers will be holding its next chapter meeting on Thursday, March 23rd at 7pm, with an informal fly tying demo at 6:30 pm. Rick Cramer, owner of Troutfitter Fly Shop in Syracuse will be the speaker and his presentation will be on expanding your trout fishing horizons to include streams around Syracuse. Troutfitter is one of the very few quality fly fishing shops in our area. Rick will tell us about his shop, provide us with discount cards, and acquaint us with more trout fishing locations in the in the Syracuse area.  Specifically, Rick will talk about Otselic River, Skaneateles Creek (and Lake), Oriskany Creek and Chenango Canal, and Fabius Brook. Find out where to access them, what flies to use, and Rick’s favorite spots. Rick will be handing out maps showing access points so bring a pencil to add your notes on best locations.  Why be stuck fishing the same local venues? It’s time to add new scenery and locations to your fishing repertoire. Come and join us and bring a friend.
  • The Leon Chandler chapter of Trout Unlimited is sponsoring Ithaca Fishing Day. The chapter has expanded the focus of this event beyond just fly-fishing to encompass all aspects of fishing and cold-water conservation. The date for the event is Saturday, March 25, 2017 from 9 am to 4 pm. The event will be held at the Ithaca High School, in the cafeteria. Ithaca Fishing Day is a unique event that invites the entire community to come and experience a day of educational opportunities focusing on fishing and cold-water environmental conservation. It’s free to the public and all proceeds raised benefit the youth-related environmental education activities of our local Trout Unlimited Chapter, including the Trout in the Classroom program currently in seventeen local elementary, middle and high schools. Programs are planned throughout the day; including the opportunity to interact with one of the Trout in the Classroom fish tanks. As always, special programs will be featured on a variety of important and interesting topics. This will include presentations by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Mel Russo, and Shahab Farzanagen; as well as free fly-casting and fly-tying instruction throughout the day. This event offers unique opportunities to learn fishing and fly tying tips from masters from around the region, and includes demonstration tanks featuring live locally collected aquatic insect specimens.
  • It’s still not too late to sign up for the Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF’s Fly Fishing Academy, scheduled for Saturday, April 8, 2017, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. This year marks the TT5R’s 10th anniversary for the Annual Fly Fishing Academy. The event will be held at the Campbell-Savona High School in Campbell, NY. This is a high quality fly fishing course, open to Adults and to Youth 11 yrs old and over. 
    This full day class is designed for beginner and intermediate fly fishers to develop and expand techniques and skills. The day includes three casting sessions led by a Certified Casting Instructor. Learning sessions throughout the day are taught by fly fishers with vast experience and include fly fishing strategy, knot tying, gear selection, fly selection, getting started with trout and bass, and more. Nymph, dry fly and streamer techniques are demonstrated in a full-scale model stream. Lunch and snacks are provided. No equipment is necessary. Class fee is $85 for Adults (ages 16 and over); $40 for Youth (ages 11-15, accompanied by a registered Adult). TTFR Members are also eligible for a $10 discount. Space is limited and filled last year, so you are encouraged to register early. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Contact Steve Harris 607-377-4956 sjh529@stny.rr.com or Kirk Klingensmith 607-346-7189 kklingensmi@stny.rr.com
  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

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

We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Sunday, but it will be frigid and breezy with highs in the teens and 20s’. Cold Sunday night with lows in the single digits. Another low will develop over the middle part of the country, tracking well to our south. This will turn into a Nor’easter. It will give us some clouds on Monday. The storm track brings the low right along the Atlantic coast, so there is a chance of snow on Tuesday and into Wednesday. We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Thursday. Another low coming in from the west will give us some snow on Friday. The good news with this is that temperatures will be on the rise with highs in the 30’s to end the forecast.

 

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The week ahead in fly fishing: March 6, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 6, 2017 by stflyfisher

March officially came in like a lamb. With a high of 60 degrees and a low of 47, there was no doubt in the way March opened. But a day later that all changed. Temperatures plunged, the wind blew hard enough to knock down limbs and cause power outages, and the lake effect snow started dusting the hilltops. With a high of 47 and low of 21, March 2nd seemed to try and turn the month to a lion-like start. And it just got worse over the weekend, with temperatures hitting the single digits and in some areas, negative numbers.

Fly shop talk: Joe Cambridge taught this past week’s BCFF fly tying class and for those who attended and listened attentively, there were a lot of kernels of fly fishing wisdom that came with his class. I’ve captured some of them here for the benefit of all:

  • Less is more in fly tying. Cambridge repeated to take a small amount of dubbing, for example, and if it seemed right cut it in half. He repeated this advice in tying the Fatal Attraction streamer. Too many streamers are tied with too much material.
  • Chewed flies fish better. Joe told a story about an old-timer he fished with who would insist on giving the younger Joe a new replacement fly after he’d caught a few fish on the fly he was using. Youner Joe thought he was getting the better end of the bargain, getting new flies, but soon learned differently when the older, wiser, angler out-fished Joe.
  • Joe discussed fishing a streamer he loves to use on the Finger Lake tribs – the Fatal Attraction. He prefers to dead drift the streamer, then make it look like a helpless minnow struggling against the current, rather than stripping it aggressively. “How many minnows have you seen attack trout?”
  • Soft hackles can be deadly. Joe told the story of fishing with a relative in Scotland who gave him a box of wet flies when he returned to the USA. Joe looked at them and dismissed them as being effective for being so sparsely tied. Years later he was fishing to trout that were taking emergers and could not hook a fish. After trying everything he discovered the box of soft hackles and thought, ‘what do I have to lose’. He immediately took fish after fish and became a believer in this fly type. And so did an old angler who asked what he was using. Joe gave the angler a soft hackle and he too began to take fish. A while later he offered Joe $5 a fly for every one of the soft hackles he had in his fly box.
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One version of the Partidge and Orange, an old time soft hackle. Note the bump of dubbing behind the hackle. Joe Cambridge feels this dubbing thorax helps keep the hackle from collapsing around the body of the fly. Picture courtesy of burntdrags.blogspot.com.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run continues to report lackluster results but these appear to be largely connected to weather conditions and high river flows. Whitaker’s also reports that very few anglers have been on the water over the last couple of days and as a result, they are not getting many reports.

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Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that water temperatures are in the 39/41 degree range on the surface of the larger Finger Lakes.

 

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fly-fishing  and casting with gear has been productive for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers.  Lake trout jigging is also productive.  The water level is low and launching and retrieving boats could be a hassle for some. Perch/Pickerel action should be good up north. Pickerel/pike season closes on March 15th.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Very few boats were out of Watkins Glen perch fishing when we went out.  Expect fair to good pike fishing. Pike season closes on March 15th.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing should still be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.

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

  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will be holding its next monthly chapter meeting on Monday, March 6th. Make sure to mark your calendars because this will be a good one. Joe Goodspeed, Sales Rep. for Thomas and Thomas, will be visiting to talk about Fly Fishing for Muskies. Joe is known for being a very diversified fly fisher who thinks outside the box and targets many different species. His talks are always interesting. Prior to his presentation, Joe will be tying a fly he uses for musky fishing. Joe always has some interesting stories and techniques to share, so you will not what to to miss this presentation. Fly tying demo will start at 6:30 pm, with the presentation starting at 7:00, at the Big Flats Community Center, 476 Maple Street, Big Flats.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF held the third of a series of four fly tying classes  on Saturday, March 4. The class is focused on tying guide flies – flies known for their simplicity and high effectiveness in fooling fish. Local tyer and fly fisher, Joe Cambridge, taught Saturday’s lesson with some great flies like the Partidge and Orange Soft Hackle, the Peacock and Starling Soft Hackle, and the Fatal Attraction Streamer. These flies will all work very well in our local waters. While the class is closed to new participants, the public is welcome to come, observe, and learn more about fly tying, fly fishing, and the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF. If interested, read more here. The next class will be held on Saturday, March 11 at 9 am in the basement meeting room of the Endicott Public Library. On hand to teach will be Kevin Gilroy, BCFF chapter member and professional fly tyer.
  • The BC Flyfishers will be holding its next chapter meeting on Thursday, March 23rd at 7pm, with an informal fly tying demo at 6:30 pm. Rick Cramer, owner of Troutfitter Fly Shop in Syracuse will be the speaker and his presentation will be on expanding your trout fishing horizons to include streams around Syracuse. Troutfitter is one of the very few quality fly fishing shops in our area. Rick will tell us about his shop, provide us with discount cards, and acquaint us with more trout fishing locations in the in the Syracuse area.  Specifically, Rick will talk about Otselic River, Skaneateles Creek (and Lake), Oriskany Creek and Chenango Canal, and Fabius Brook. Find out where to access them, what flies to use, and Rick’s favorite spots. Rick will be handing out maps showing access points so bring a pencil to add your notes on best locations.  Why be stuck fishing the same local venues? It’s time to add new scenery and locations to your fishing repertoire. Come and join us and bring a friend.
  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

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

Parade Day shaped up to be the coldest Parade Day in the last 16 years. The next coldest Parade Day was in 2013 when the high temperature was only 25 degrees. Saturday’s high topped out at 15 degrees. Sunday looks to be about 20 degrees warmer than it was on Saturday, with highs in the low-30s for most. Our weather looks to stay quiet for the next few days, as Monday will have temperatures in the low-40s with high pressure and dry conditions dominating.

We are tracking our next low-pressure system that looks to trek north of the United States through southern Canada for the first half of the week, dragging a warm front, then a cold front, across our area Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures Tuesday look to climb into the 50s for most, with the passing cold front bringing the best chance of rain showers.

As temperatures fall behind the cold front, some of the lingering precipitation could be snow or lake-effect snow.

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In like a lamb – a Preview on March Fly Fishing

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

March is a transition month for fishermen, particularly fly fishermen. It is a month when (traditionally) the snow melt starts in the Southern Tier, creeks and streams pick up that wonderful run-off green color, and on sunny days, a few bugs, mainly little black stoneflies, begin to flutter clumsily about.

March is just as well known as the fickle entrance to spring, when warm days, as we’ve recently been experiencing, tempt us into thinking old man winter is on the way out. Indeed, we can start the month warm and end up deep with snow. So it is said, March will come in like a lamb or lion and exit just the opposite. And while March 2017 came in very lamb-like, March to-date has been very lion-like with cold and even frigid temps, high winds, and snow squalls.

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What March can look like. This picture was taken deep in Vestal’s Jones Park on 3/7/15.

We’ve had another relatively mild winter. December proved the coldest month and February has been downright balmy. Hopefully this weather pattern is not prelude to another dry summer and fall. Last year’s drought was extreme by most measures. As reported here, the weather pattern made for some great warmwater fishing but suicidal trout conditions. In any case, early March is a good time to look ahead on the year and give a head’s up on fly fishing events, activities, and preview early season fly fishing.

Events to watch or attend:

The Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA – For those who missed the Somerset NJ show, the final “reasonably local” opportunity to attend will be the Lancaster, PA show which will be held Saturday, March 4th through Sunday, March 5th. Exhibitor booths will include non-stop casting demonstrations, seminars, fly-tying, a Women’s Fly Fishing Showcase, Fly Fishing Film Festival, book signings and the newest fly fishing tackle and gear. Fly Fishing Show admission is $15 for one day and $25 for both days. Children under age 5 are free as are Scouts under 16 in uniform. Active military with an ID are $10. Hours are: Sat. – 9 am-5:30 pm; Sun. – 9 am-4:30 pm.

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Ithaca Fishing Day – The Leon Chandler chapter of TU will once again celebrate the arrival of spring with Ithaca Fishing Day. And this one will be the 25th! This is a great event for fly fishers of all ages and skill levels. The event will be held on Saturday, March 25th from 9 am to 4 pm.

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The Twin Tiers Five Rivers (TT5R) Fly Fishing Academy – The TT5R Chapter of  IFFF is sponsoring its 10th Annual Fly Fishing Academy. This is a high-quality fly fishing course, open to Adults and to Youth 11 yrs old and over. The class will provide beginner fly fishers with the basic knowledge and skills to get started, and will help those familiar with the sport onto a fast track to improve. Classroom topics include fly fishing equipment and its use, fly types and their usage, knot tying, reading water, basic entomology, fishing dry flies, streamers, and nymphs, catching and releasing fish. Students will most importantly develop fly casting skills through three sessions throughout the day. Students can bring and learn on their own equipment, but are welcome to use the club’s equipment. More than 15 members and fly fishing experts staff the school, bringing over 200 years of fly fishing experience to help you learn and have fun. Kirk Klingensmith is the Lead Instructor for the Academy. Chas Elliott leads the fly casting staff and is an Internationally Certified Casting Instructor. Class fee is $85 for Adults (ages 16 and over) and $40 for Youth (ages 11-15, accompanied by a registered Adult). TT5R Members are also eligible for a $10 discount. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Class size is limited, so please register early. Contacts : Steve Harris 607-377-4956, sjh529@stny.rr.com, or Kirk Klingensmith 607-346-7189, kklingensmi@stny.rr.com.

Activities:

Wader work – If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to go over all of your wading gear. Check boots for damage, replace missing studs, check laces for wear and get your felt bottoms replaced if they are worn. Check and repair your waders for leaks. And check your wading staff for functionality.

Fly rods – Go over all of your fly rods in the following steps: clean, inspect, repair. Start by cleaning with soap and water, paying particular attention to the crannies around the guides. A soft bristle toothbrush can help with deep cleaning. Once clean, a light coat of car wax improves the finish and helps protect your rod from accumulation of dirt. Don’t forget to clean the cork grip. Soap and a soft bristle brush, Softscrub, or eraser sponges do a great job of removing grit and grime.

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The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great on cleaning cork.

Next, inspect your rod for damage. Run pantyhose material through the guides to detect burrs. Inspect the wraps for wear or damage. Check the reel seat. Examine the blank for dings that could be stress concentration points. Once you are done inspecting, take action to correct any discrepancies.

Fly reels – Start by removing the fly line from the reel. Set that aside for further examination. Next, check the backing. Is the backing still fresh or is there evidence of mildew or wear? Backing is relatively cheap to replace and you’ll be glad you did if a big fish ever takes you there. Now, insect the reel for dirt and damage. Light cleaning with soap and water will remove most grime. In some cases using a Q-Tip will help clean the crevices. A light coat of oil on the reel spindle and handle helps. Check your fly reel maintenance instructions for specific maintenance on the drag system.

Fly lines – Take each fly line and coil it into a tub of warm soapy water. Allow it to soak and then run the line through a sponge or clean wet cloth to clean it. Once cleaned, lay it out in large loose coils to dry. Once your line is dry, dress the line with quality line dressing and let it dry. Once the dressed line is dry, wipe it down with another clean dry cloth and store the line in loose coils until ready to use again.

Inventory fly boxes and tie up – It pays to go through your fly boxes and take inventory BEFORE you get on the water. You can decide whether to buy or tie.

Fly fishing opportunities:

For most anglers, March means trout (where the season is open), landlocked salmon, and steelhead. Rainbow trout will run up the Finger Lakes tribs but these fish are on their way to spawn and are protected until Opening Day on April 1st. It’s important to keep regulations in mind at this time of year as they vary significantly by water, species, and allowed angling methods. There are a number of local creeks, for example, that are open all year under artificial lures (flies) / catch and release rules. Other creeks are closed until the traditional opening day. Some Catskill waters are open, such as the border waters on the West Branch of the Delaware. And the Finger lakes are always a possibility. One of the most popular destinations for early season anglers are the Great Lakes tribs such as the Salmon River, where steelhead and browns can be caught. Steelhead, in particular will be coming into the river to spawn in some cases and later in spring, will drop back after spawning. Water temperatures and flows play a big part in the fishing.

Early season flies also vary but egg patterns, nymphs, and streamers are best, depending on the waters being fished. March water temps are almost always very cold, so fish nymphs and egg patterns dead drift or streamers slow and deep.

Regardless of what kind of fishing you are doing, fly fishing in the early season can often times be hit or miss, but no matter what, it’s a great way to get a fly fishing tune-up for better fishing to come.

The week ahead in fly fishing: February 27, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on February 26, 2017 by stflyfisher

Spring certainly visited the Southern Tier with gusto this past week. Record temperatures were set with highs, at times, hitting the low 70’s. And those high temperatures went to work on the snow pack, swelling local creeks, streams, and rivers with snow-melt. Most ponds and smaller lakes are largely ice-free and all of our snow is gone. As nice as it was to get a tease of spring and even early summer, let’s hope the weather returns to normal and some of the white stuff hits the ground again.

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The East Branch of Owego Creek flows high and turbid with snow melt in this picture taken on Friday, February 24.

Fly shop talk: I’ve recently been attending the BC Flyfisher’s fly tying class, learning how to tie guide flies. The class has provided an opportunity to connect with other anglers, shake off the fly tying rust, and learn how to tie some simple but very effective fly patterns. Guide flies are fish catchers – cheap in material use and fast to tie. And as John Trainor stated in one of the first two classes, when you lose some of the nymphs to the bottom, which you should be doing if you are fishing where you should be, you don’t mind losing them in comparison to a more technical fly that you just purchased at a fly shop. Guide flies are probably the epitome of effectiveness and tying them should remind us all that fly fishing need not be as pricey or “difficult” as it is sometimes portrayed. Going forward this year, I’ll be carrying plenty of these patterns in my vest, but more so, I’ll try to keep my fly fishing just like these guide flies – efficient and effective.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run has been reporting poorer results lately, mainly due to river conditions. Most of the snow is melted and the run-off has really kicked flows up significantly. Whitaker’s is reporting the much same and advises anglers to check river flows before venturing out.

 

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Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that water temperatures are in the 41 degree range on the surface of the larger Finger Lakes. The action over the past three days has been good to very good for the most part. Here’s his lake-by-lake report:

 

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing has been productive for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers.  Both fly-and gear fishing are working.   The water level is low here and launching and retrieving boats could be a hassle for some. Lake trout jigging is good to very good.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Perch and pike fishing should be good.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing should still be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.

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

  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will be holding its next monthly chapter meeting on Monday, March 6th. Make sure to mark your calendars because this will be a good one. Joe Goodspeed, Sales Rep. for Thomas and Thomas, will be visiting to talk about Fly Fishing for Muskies. Joe is known for being a very diversified fly fisher who thinks outside the box and targets many different species. His talks are always interesting. Prior to his presentation, Joe will be tying a fly he uses for musky fishing. Joe always has some interesting stories and techniques to share, so you will not what to to miss this presentation. Fly tying demo will start at 6:30 pm, with the presentation starting at 7:00, at the Big Flats Community Center, 476 Maple Street, Big Flats.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF held the second of a series of four fly tying classes  on Saturday, February 25. The class is focused on tying guide flies – flies known for their simplicity and high effectiveness in fooling fish. Some very skilled and experienced fly tyers will be leading the remaining two classes. While the class is closed to new participants, the public is welcome to come, observe, and learn more about fly tying, fly fishing, and the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF. If interested, read more here. The next class will be held on Saturday, March 4 at 12 pm in the basement meeting room of the Endicott Public Library. On hand to teach will be Joe Cambridge, who has presented at previous BCFF monthly meetings.
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The “Turd”, shown here in fly tying instructor Tim Barrett’s vise, was one of four guide flies taught in this past Saturday’s BCFF Fly Tying class.

  • The Fly Fishing Show is in town. For those who missed the Somerset NJ show, the final “reasonably local” opportunity to attend will be the Lancaster, PA show which will be held Saturday, March 4th through Sunday, March 5th. Exhibitor booths will include non-stop casting demonstrations, seminars, fly-tying, a Women’s Fly Fishing Showcase, Fly Fishing Film Festival, book signings and the newest fly fishing tackle and gear. Fly Fishing Show admission is $15 for one day and $25 for both days. Children under age 5 are free as are Scouts under 16 in uniform. Active military with an ID are $10. Hours are: Sat. – 9 am-5:30 pm; Sun. – 9 am-4:30 pm.

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  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

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

A few snowflakes will end up falling on Sunday, with light accumulations, from 0-1″, expected, particularly at the higher elevations. MINOR flooding is also possible through Sunday evening, as ground conditions are such that the heavy rainfall received Saturday could cause flooding in some areas.

Colder air sets up and hangs around through Sunday night. More mild air looks to return Monday and stay through midweek, with temperatures possibly reaching into the mid-50s again come Wednesday. We are watching a few batches of rain showers, one on Tuesday and another low-pressure system on Wednesday. Both of which look to shake up the first half of our week. Some snow showers are then possible on the back end of that low-pressure system on Thursday. High pressure takes over Friday and Saturday, as quiet and more seasonable weather returns to the Southern Tier.

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The week ahead in fly fishing: February 13, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on February 12, 2017 by stflyfisher

February has proven to be an interesting month thus far with ups and downs in temperatures, snow, and rain. The good thing is that we’ve had a good amount of precipitation which is very much needed after a long summer drought. And while the weather might be a little sloppy, there’s a lot to do in terms of local activities to keep the blood pumping for spring fly fishing.

Fly shop talk: I’ve mentioned the book “Younger Next Year” in my blog before. For those who have not read it, it’s a fantastic read and one that could make a huge difference in your life on many fronts. The book stresses seven factors that can lead to a great life in “the third chapter” of life, including physical fitness and proper diet, but one of the most important of all of those is “connection” or social interaction. Studies have shown that remaining connected in the later years of life is important to longevity. And this came to mind as I sat at my “bench” and enjoyed the fellowship of anglers, young and old, while fly tying at the BC Flyfisher’s recent fly tying class. We are, after all, social animals. And while I do enjoy being out on a river on my own, rubbing elbows with other like-minded fly anglers can promote a deep sense of connection and also, of course, improve one as an angler. This is a great reason to join a local fly fishing organization and get out and stay connected.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run has been reporting “so – so” results most recently. Weather has certainly been a factor limiting the number of anglers but reports from the anglers who have fished have been mixed, but more on the “zero” side. Flows have recently increased to levels that will challenge wading anglers. Whitaker’s Sports Store and Motel is reporting some success for the upper end of the river for anglers bottom bouncing flies.

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Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is recommending that Finger Lakes anglers sign up to become a DEC Diary Keeper. The DEC is always looking for participants for Region 7 (Cayuga/Owasco/Otisco/Skaneateles) or for neighboring Region 8 (Seneca/Canandaigua/Keuka/Canadice/Hemlock).  It’s easy to participate and your information (length of trip, number of anglers fishing, fish caught et.al.) will help DEC with management decisions.  Even if you only fish a few days a season, your info can help.  Click here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9218.html  and scroll to the bottom for more info.

Here’s the lake – by – lake report from John:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing has been productive for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers.  Both fly and gear fishing is working. The water level is low here and launching and retrieving boats could be a hassle for some.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Perch and pike fishing should be good.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing should still be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.

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

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will be holding its monthly chapter meeting on Thursday, February 22nd at 7 pm at the Endicott Public Library. An informal fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm will precede the main meeting. The presentation topic is HUNT MONSTER BROWN TROUT in NEW ZEALAND. Frank Cole and his companion, Steve Pettit, will talk about their journey in 2011 to beautiful New Zealand to catch trophy Brown Trout. They trek the lower third of the South Island over several rivers and lakes with Simon, their demanding NZ guide, through “chubby rain”, cold and heat. Perhaps, the most beautiful place to fish for trout in the world, the scenery is stunning and the trout are amazing!
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF held the first of a series of four fly tying classes  on Saturday, February 11. The class will focus on tying guide flies – flies known for their simplicity and high effectiveness in fooling fish. Some very skilled and experienced fly tyers will be leading the remaining three classes. While the class is closed to new participants, the public is welcome to come, observe, and learn more about fly tying, fly fishing, and the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF. If interested, read more here. The next class will be held on Saturday, February 25 at 9 am in the basement meeting room of the Endicott Public Library.
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John Trainor’s “Frenchie” nymph can be seen in his vise in this picture taken at the first of four “guide fly” fly tying classes held this past Saturday, February 11th.

  • The Fly Fishing Show is in town. For those who missed the Somerset NJ show, the final “reasonably local” opportunity to attend will be the Lancaster, PA show which will be held Saturday, March 4th through Sunday, March 5th. Exhibitor booths will include non-stop casting demonstrations, seminars, fly-tying, a Women’s Fly Fishing Showcase, Fly Fishing Film Festival, book signings and the newest fly fishing tackle and gear. Fly Fishing Show admission is $15 for one day and $25 for both days. Children under age 5 are free as are Scouts under 16 in uniform. Active military with an ID are $10. Hours are: Sat. – 9 am-5:30 pm; Sun. – 9 am-4:30 pm.

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  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

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

A WINTER STORM WARNING is in effect from 7am Sunday to 1pm Monday for our area for a wintry mix that will begin early Sunday morning, then rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow will continue through Sunday night, with snow continuing Monday.

Look for a wintry mix of sleet and snow on Sunday with 1-4″ of sleet and snow possible during the day in Broome and Tioga counties, while 3-7″ of sleet and snow may fall during the day in Chenango, Otsego, and Delaware counties. On Sunday night this wintry mix will be transitioning to all snow with a total snowfall of 2-6″ possible for Broome and Tioga counties and 6-10″ with isolated areas of 12″ possible for Chenango, Otsego, and Delaware counties come lunch time Monday.

 

Our next storm system looks to affect the Southern Tier on Wednesday, with the chance for some snow showers. We’ll then keep a slight chance of showers in the forecast each day as we wrap up the work week.

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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…

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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.

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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…!