Archive for the Flies – Local Favorites Category

The week ahead in fly fishing: April 24, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on April 25, 2017 by stflyfisher

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster of high water events. The Southern Tier has certainly received a lot of rain, and in combination with saturated ground from previous snow melt, local creeks, streams, and rivers have all been full to overflowing. According to NOAA data, Binghamton is at 16.74″ of precipitation versus a historical norm of roughly 10″ for this time of year. So yes, it’s been a wet one. And Binghamton claimed the “snowiest city” award this year with 135.2″ total, edging out Syracuse. All of that is good for the fishies, especially after last year’s severe drought.

Fly shop talk: I recently watched a video on David Magnum, a fly fishing guide from Destin, Florida. David is addicted to Tarpon – 120 days of his season are focused on fly fishing for these brutes. The video reminded me that often in life, the enemy of the best is the good. In other words, rather than fly fishing the seasons, maybe one should focus on one fish species? One of the guides narrating the video talks about guides who pursue what’s biting for their clients, versus “fisherman guides” who will go all out for the targeted species even at the risk of a fish-less day. David Magnum “…dedicates his life to it, to one species – tarpon – and for him being hungry, and always wanting more, that makes him a better guide, and I think if you do that for 20 years or however long, when that’s all you think about is that one certain species 24/7, I think you will become better…”

Think about your own fly fishing and watch this video. Is the better fisherman narrow and deep, or wide and shallow? And what do you want your angling legacy to be?

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River are finally being dropped down to safe wadeable levels…

slmon river

The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting pretty good fishing, overall. Water temperatures are holding at in the mid to upper 40’s and with flows down wading is better. Anglers in the lower river are hooking up with egg patterns, beads, and nymphs. Some smallmouth bass are starting to show up as well. The fish are mainly dropbacks with a few bright fish in the mix.

Whitakers is also reporting good fishing with the majority of anglers getting into some fish. Drop backs are scattered throughout the river from top to bottom. The mid to upper section of the river is also holding spawning fish in and around the gravel areas. For those anglers who are fly fishing, swinging streamers with sinking leaders or egg patterns and nymphs under a strike indicator have been the most productive. Anglers are also reporting having good luck at some of the smaller local tributaries.

Suggested patterns:

  • Wiggle stone in blue, peacock, chart, pink. size 10
  • Steelhead stone in purple, red, orange. size 8
  • Rusher nymph in blue, purple, chart, red. size 10
  • Steelhead hammer in blue, black, red, chart. size 10
  • Steak-n-eggs in chart, pink, orange. size 10
  • Black flashback nymph in size 8.
  • Sucker spawn in cream, white, peach, blue. size 8
  • Glo-Bugs in chart, oregon cheese, steelhead orange, egg. size 10

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that just as the lake is rising again after last week’s deluge and will wind up higher than it was before. It is already as high as it has been over the past two weeks.  There is some MASSIVE debris floating around. There are some monster logs floating around up north of Long Point. Expect tricky if not impossible launching at Taughannock. ALL LAKES ARE LIKELY HIGH NOW AND MAY BE VERY MUDDY IN AREAS. Skaneateles Lake is usually the least affected by heavy rainfall. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is good off of Long Point.  Salmon fishing was returning to top-notch form and then the rain came…
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing should be fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging was very slow over the weekend of the 1st/2nd.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout and yellow perch fishing should be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Yellow perch fishing is in full swing. Bonus bass and lakers are in the mix. Now’s the time for top notch rainbow trout (with some Landlocked salmon) on the fly or on jigs.

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler is reporting that flows are still but dropping at a slow but steady rate.  The West Branch is still too high for safe wading. All of the rivers are very clear and the streamer fishing has been pretty good and consistent throughout the system.  We saw quite a few bugs yesterday on all rivers but the fish are still a bit slow to look up.  If fishing, you will see rising fish but many are rising one or two times and then are done.  So, you have to be ready for any opportunity and get the fly over the fish quickly within a minute or so.  With this weeks warming temps we are anticipating the dry fly fishing to become more consistent and we should start to see more bugs every day.

Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that this weekend saw an interesting mix of weather conditions on the upper Delaware. Saturday was a tough day, it was windy, cold and winter like. Sunday was a beautiful spring day, with sun, warm weather and light winds which made for a great day on the water. This time of year sun and overnight lows are very connected to water temperatures and trout activity. Although, Sunday seemed to provide ideal conditions for great early season dry fly activity, Saturday night’s cold temperatures (below freezing) prevented the river from really coming to life. Over the weekend steady rising fish were found, but the activity was brief. Both days saw decent bug activity that was mostly ignored by the fish. This was because of cold water temps and wind. The cold water makes the fish lethargic, they really don’t have to eat much when the water is under 45°. It is still early season in the Catskills. However, the system is ready to pop. We are seeing more bugs every day. Expect to see solid dry fly activity as soon as weather conditions stay sunny for a few days.

The Delaware River Club is that streamers are still catching fish and hendricksons, blue quills, and black caddis are about.  The early hatches can be a bit sporadic in the beginning as they grow so be patient out there looking for risers.

Hatching:
Hendrickson – #12 – 14 – Ephemerella subvaria
Blue Quill – #16 – Paraleptophlebia. adaptiva
Quill Gordon – #14 – Epeorus pluralis
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.
Tiny Black Stonefly – #18 – Capniidae sp.
Early Brown and Black Stoneflies – #14 – 16 – Taeniopteryx spp.

Local creeks: Local creeks were looking very good before last weeks heavy rains but now are very full and somewhat murky.

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Looking upstream on the upper East Branch of Owego Creek…

Water is still cold but the warm sunny days are bringing the bugs out – small mayflies and even some caddis. Stocking continues. Keep streamers handy but also have a nice selection of nymphs, sets, and dries handy.

Ponds: Ponds are clear of ice and slowly starting to warm. Fishing will remain slow until we have a good string of warmer sunny days and nightly lows climb.

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

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU is holding its Annual River Clean-up on Saturday, April 29 from 9 am to noon at the Fireman’s Park in Deposit. It’s suggested to bring work gloves and boots. All volunteers can help themselves to coffee and donuts at 9 am and then hot dogs and hamburgers at noon. Bring your fishing gear and enjoy an afternoon of fly fishing after serving the river right!
  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of FFI will hold its May meeting on Monday, May 1st at 7 pm. Henry Ramsey will be presenting, “Matching and Fishing the Sulphur Hatch”. Henry will teach on how to fish the sulfur hatch and what flies to use. The various species of mayflies characterized by fly fishers as sulfurs are very prolific in our area and in Pennsylvania. They provide local anglers many opportunities to catch trout on the nymph, emerger, dry fly, and spinner patterns that duplicate those insects. This presentation will go into the various stages of these insects’ lives and the imitations Henry uses to fish them. Henry is our third co-author of the new Keystone Fly Fishing book. He is an extremely innovative and talented fly tier and speaker. He also co-authored Matching Major Eastern Hatches, which catalogs many of his favorite fly patterns. His tying work has been featured in several publications including the Art of Angling Journal; The Game Journal; Fly Fisherman; and the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide. He is a contract fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants and is a member of the Daiichi Hook and Regal Vise Pro Staffs. If you want to catch more trout this year on sulfurs, you won’t want to miss this presentation. Prior to his presentation, Henry will be tying one or more of his patterns. Also at the May meeting the chapter will be holding its Musky Fly Raffle, raffling off the Flathead Sucker Musky Streamer shown in the Fly of the Month write-up in last month’s Newsletter. This is the actual fly that Joe Goodspeed tied at our March meeting. If you are a musky fisherman you will certainly want to have this fly in your box. Raffle tickets will go for $5 per ticket and will be sold during our May meeting.
  • Although still a few weeks away, the Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of FFI is starting to plan their annual trip to the Cohocton River. This trip is usually quite productive, with fresh-stocked browns added just a few weeks prior to our outing. The trip is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2017 and is being coordinated by Matt Towner. If you are going please contact Matt at 607-542-0285 or mtowner23@gmail.com, as enough food needs to be purchased for all who attend. The trip will depart from Corning Wegmans @ 9:00 AM. We usually start fishing in Avoca near the King farm and lunch will be held at the picnic area there. Once we arrive, the group will usually disperse from there up or down river to everyone’s favorite fishing spots. A few places even hold native brook trout that always put up a good fight. There are usually quite a few caddis to be found on the surface in early May, so be sure to include those in the flies that you bring
  • 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:

Quiet weather and clear skies look to dominate the local weather until early Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, a low pressure system that’s working northward up the East Coast could push some moisture into our area with northeasterly winds, especially in the morning on Tuesday.

A separate low-pressure system then looks to stroll through the Great Lakes on Thursday, bringing with it a cold front that could bring some more rain showers and even a few thunderstorms across the Twin Tiers.

The same can also be said for Friday, except instead of a cold front drifting through our area, the warm front from a third low-pressure system could waft across our area, perhaps providing enough warmth, moisture, and instability for a few more showers and storms Friday and into Saturday.

WBNG7Day

 

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BC Flyfishers “simply tie” with guide flies

Posted in Flies - Local Favorites, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on April 6, 2017 by stflyfisher

The BC Flyfishers (BCFF) chapter of IFFF just completed another innovative fly tying class. But unlike the previous two classes the chapter has offered, this one focused on very simple flies. Fly tying, after all, doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or arduous and time-consuming. And contrary to what some might think, the best flies are simple in design and less than perfectly imitative. These flies are often termed “guide flies”. Why, you may ask?

killer bugs

Frank Sawyer’s Killer Bug is an example of an extremely simple fly that was designed to catch greyling in English streams. The BCFF Guide Fly Tying class included a U.S. version of this fly, called the Utah Killer Bug.

In order to be effective, guides must be efficient. The rigs they tie for clients must work, and the flies used must catch fish for all clients, even for those with little to no fly fishing experience. While a guide can’t promise fish, repeated trips with poor results will mean less referrals and less income. As is said with any kind of business; no margin – no mission. So guide flies make for quick, inexpensive ties that catch fish. And the BC Flyfishers last tying class focused exclusively on these fly fishing marvels.

The Guide Flies fly tying class consisted of four weekly tying “chapters”, each taught by different tiers: John Trainor (BCFF board member and local angler), Tim Barrett (BCFF board member and NY State Guide), Joe Cambridge (Local angler and author), and Kevin Gilroy (Local angler and commercial tier). The classes ranged from a refresher on tying basics to tying simple nymphs, wets, streamers, and a few more involved dry flies. In addition to the lead fly tiers for each class, up to seven helpers – BCFF members with fly tying experience – were on hand to assist each participant with tying issues.

Week One, led by John Trainor, started with a refresher on tying basics that included starting the thread on the hook, pinch wraps, dubbing techniques, and whip finishing. Along with the basics was a primer on nymph guide flies. The featured fly for this class was the Frenchie. Derived from the Pheasant tail, The Frenchie is used in competition nymphing and is a great guide fly because it is fast to tie. It typically sports a hot spot and sometimes a collar, as shown below:

frenchie

“The Frenchie”

Other patterns tied in the class were Walt’s Worm (a classic), Ackourey’s Nymph (Joe Ackourey is a PA guide), and the Utah killer Bug.

utah killer bug

The Utah Killer Bug

Week Two, led by Tim Barrett, featured some proven patterns that are fast to tie and are used not only by guides, but in competition fly fishing as well. Some are modified versions of flies that have been simplified so many can be tied in an hour’s time. The featured fly was Tim Barrett’s favorite, Tim’s Simpupa. This fly originally is tied with a soft hackle collar but for simplicity’s sake, the hackle can be substituted with a coarsely dubbed collar or peacock herl,  as shown below.

simpupa

Tim’s Simpupa

Also included was another of Tim’s favorite fish-catcher’s – The Turd. The Turd imitates a variety of stoneflies or can be fished as an attractor. The pattern’s rubber legs seem to be a good trigger for fish.

turd

The Turd. Tim Barrett likes to tie in a hot spot collar below the bead and use differently colored or finished beads, his favorite being black. The chenille body color can also be varied.

Tim also demonstrated tying Tim’s Carpet Fly, Doppelganger, and Glass-O–Wine – all great nymph patterns.

Week Three, led by local fly fishing legend Joe Cambridge, focused on tying soft hackle flies and one streamer pattern. Cambridge started his class with soft hackles, a favorite fly type of his, and in his opinion, very underrated. Cambridge was first introduced to soft hackles by an uncle while fly fishing in the UK. Like most people who first see these sparsely tied flies, Cambridge dismissed their effectiveness but brought some back with him to the states at his uncle’s urging. He stashed the tin of flies in his vest but never touched them until he encountered a fish-less day on a Catskill river. As Joe tells it, fish were rising everywhere and refusing EVERYTHING he threw at them. He then thought of his uncle’s soft hackles and figured “what do I have to lose.” The trout jumped these sparsely tied flies with abandon and he was sold forevermore on their effectiveness.

Soft hackles are simple but can be a bit more challenging to tie. They are generally nothing more than silk thread, dubbing in some cases, and hackle. And they can be fished in a variety of ways.

Joe’s last fly was a streamer that he considers absolutely deadly on his home water – the Finger Lakes trbis. The Fatal Attraction, shown below, is actually a Don Blanton pattern that originates on the West Coast.

fatal attraction

In the last class, Week Four, the class was introduced to some very fishy dry flies, courtesy of Kevin Gilroy, a commercial fly tier. From the classic Red Quill to Kelly Galloup’s Butch Caddis…

slideinndotcom

Galloup’s Butch Caddis (courtesy of slideinn.com)

…all of the patterns tied belong in every serious angler’s fly box. One featured fly, the Sparkle Dun, is similar to the famous Comparadun. This fly has had its share of success and can be tied in several variations to simulate different types of bugs.

pmd-sparkledun-2

The Sparkle Dun

So there you have it: take four weekly sessions of learning to tie guide flies, add 4 top-notch fly tying teachers, instructional material and videos, pre-made tying kits for each of 16 fly patterns, and spend 16 hours at the vise practicing, and what does one get? 19 happy fly tiers with a new perspective on fly tying; good fish-catching flies can be cheap, fast and easy to tie, AND effective…

fly tying

Happy Guide Fly graduates…

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…

IMG_0880

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.

25

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.

 

WBNG7Day (1)

 

 

 

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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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.

pineville-usgs

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.

lancaster-ffs-web-banner-2017

  • 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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The week ahead in fly fishing: July 25

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on July 24, 2016 by stflyfisher

This is the first “week ahead” fly fishing report on Southern Tier Fly Fisher. As explained in a previous post, my weekly reports and other fly fishing articles will reside here until I have a new improved site in place.

It’s hot out there, and I should start my report by saying these are tough times for trout, particularly for the resident fish that inhabit local creeks. A recent stop at an access on the West Branch of Owego Creek was enough to remind me that this is not the time to stress coldwater species. My recommendation is to focus on warmwater stuff – brownlining as I sometimes refer to it. Take time to explore the many great warmwater fisheries we have and leave the high octane guys alone for a while.

Summer heat is here although we’ve had a string of cool nights to check the oppressive daytime temps. In our neck of the woods, watering corn fields is pretty much unheard of but I recently observed it in action for some newly sprouted corn. That says something. Some areas are harder hit than others – lawns are a good barometer.

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

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that after several days with very warm air temps it was nice to wake up today to a river with some more cold water running through it. The West Branch at Hale Eddy is flowing a nice 822 this morning, a great little cold water bump that will help keep more downriver sections cooler during this heat wave. The increased release is always a good thing, giving the slower moving sections of water a bit more texture throughout the river. The Sulphurs are still coming off consistently starting in the early afternoon hours up around Deposit. Even though it doesn’t look like much cloud cover over the next few days you will likely see a few BWO’s in the 18-22 range as well as some 14-16 Cahills. The Isonychia are still around in small numbers. Terrestrials are always safe bets this time of year so don’t forget the ants and beetles. Nymphing on the upper West has been pretty tough due to the algae in the water but the extra flow should help clear it out a bit. Downriver, say on the lower half of the West, the algae isn’t nearly as bad and nymphing is much easier.

Local streams and creeks: The creeks and small streams in our area are incredibly low, clear, and on the warm side right now. It’s best to leave these waters alone as long as the heat and dry conditions prevail. If you do fish, fish early or late and try to land and release fish quickly.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that Lake Trout action is top-notch on Cayuga and Owasco Lakes. Cayuga will likely provide some excellent fishing over the next 6 weeks at the very least. Cayuga Lake is usually good for all day action in August. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout action is top notch. Angling Zone friend/client Rick nabbed an 11lb brown here late last week.  It was a 28″er! Bass fishing is decent. There’s no shortage of bait on this lake.
  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing here ranges from very good to excellent for lake trout. There are good numbers of sizeable lakers throughout the lake.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be fair to good. Plenty of weeds are floating around. Angling Zone Friend/Client Andrew nailed a giant brown here recently.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing should be good to excellent. Lake trout action should be fair to good.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing had been good with some very large fish around. Bass fishing should be good.

Ponds: Ponds are definitely dropping and warming. Bass and sunfish are very active and willing partners to fly fishermen under these conditions, but low light early or late is best. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weedlines and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: All of the warmwater rivers are running clear, low and warm. Water temps are in the 75 – 80 degree range and wading is very easy with the low flows. Reports have been mixed. Smallmouth bass can be found hunting around the weeds and structure during the mornings and evenings. You’ll also find them hanging in the tailouts of pools chasing bait, sometimes in very skinny water, but mainly when the light is low. During the day, the bass will be deep and in the riffles and runs. Hellgrammite and crayfish imitations fished like a nymph will work well. Channel catfish and fallfish will also be found in the mix. And carp are now pretty active all day long in the weedy pools and tailouts. They can be caught with buggy-looking nymphs and crayfish imitations. Sight-fishing can be especially effective to mudding fish. The white fly hatch is due to start any time now. I’ve seen a few white flies coming off towards evening but nothing of significance yet. Once the hatch gets going, be prepared for terrific topwater flyfishing.

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The Susquehanna River, shown here, is flowing low and clear. Flows recently dropped below 1,000 CFS, making for great wet wading on these hot summer days.

Fly fishing events: Area fly fishing clubs and chapters take the months of July and August off so there is nothing to report here. However, one noteworthy announcement is the following press release concerning the work that Gary Romanic, VP of the BC Flyfishers has done to secure a large donation to reach out to veterans in our area and offer fly fishing opportunities and instruction:

Binghamton, NY – Broome County Executive Debbie Preston, Broome County Legislators, and Director of Veteran Services Brian Vojtisek joined the Broome County Veterans Fly Fishing Program to discuss details of a recent donation to help the program. Broome County recently gave $10,000 to the program to help offset costs for travel to fly fishing destinations to facilitate fly fishing instruction.

“As you know, veterans hold a very special place in my heart and I’m willing to help them out in any way that I can,” says Broome County Executive Debbie Preston.  “Fly fishing is a wonderful activity and I’m on board with anything we can do to help our local veterans live the best possible life they can after sacrificing a part of their life for this Country.”

The mission of the Binghamton Veteran Fly Fishers is to lift the morale and support the welfare of Broome County veterans. “We want to thank the County Executive and Brian Vojtisek in the Veterans Services Office for this wonderful donation,” says Gary Romanic, vice president of the Broome County Veterans Fly Fishing program.  “This money will go a long way in not only getting the veterans to prime fly fishing areas, but also to provide instruction to those who have never fished before.”

“When we were approached for a donation last year, we were delighted to help,” says Director of Veteran Services Brian Vojtisek.  “This program fits into our mission of helping veterans financially, and in adjusting to a return to civilian life.”This is a one-time donation.

The week ahead weather: The weather for the week ahead will be mainly summer sizzle with the usual thunderstorm potential on Monday and Friday and if you can believe it, showers on Sunday at the end of the week. Highs will range in the upper 80’s to low 90’s with lows in the low 60’s. There will be relief at the end of the week with highs dropping to the high 70’s / low 80’s. Tuesday and Wednesday will have bright sun. And speaking of sun, this is the time of year to be extra vigilant with regards to sun protection. Cover up with protective clothing or lather up with sun screen. And don’t forget a hat and sunglasses. The eyes can suffer on bright days and a good pair of polarized sunglasses will definitely help in spotting fish.

 

 

 

 

Looking Back on 2013

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Saltwater, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 3, 2014 by stflyfisher

It’s always helpful to take a look back before moving forward. And while this post is a little late as we near the close of March, for most Southern Tier fly anglers, the traditional fly fishing season has not quite started. So, here’s the way I see 2013 from the fly fishing rear view mirror…

Early season fly fishing for trout in 2013 was very good. I started the season, per tradition, fishing Cayuta Creek with fly fishing friend Dan. The stocked browns never fail on Cayuta and offer a great way to shake off the dust and rust from a long winter. The creek was in great shape and full of that blue-green early season water fly fishers love to see. Particularly noteworthy was catching my first fish on my own fly – in this case a Picket Pin – and an early season favorite.

First fish on one of my own flies...

First fish on one of my own flies…

I also caught what I believe was a hold-over or native brown on a JJ Jigs Picket Pin streamer, a first for me. I once briefly hooked and saw the flash of a very large brown under a downfall and lost another good one in the same spot.

A nice Cayuta brown caught on a picket pin streamer...

A nice Cayuta brown caught on a picket pin streamer…

As was the case in 2012, pre-spawn smallmouth bass did not disappoint. And it was a good thing, because 2013 was one of the worst fishing years for smallmouth in my record books, one that I’ve deemed “the summer of no smallmouth“.

A nice pre-spawn smallmouth...

A nice pre-spawn smallmouth…

Blame high water and lots of it combined with working for a living and not always being able to capitalize on flows settling down to wade-able levels. It seemed there were many weeks when I would drive by the rivers on the way home from work, watch them clearing and dropping, only to watch them rise again with late week or weekend rains. There were a few good outings, including a jaunt on the upper Susquehanna in Windsor where a wooly bugger soft hackle streamer I tied scored some very nice smallmouth.

This early fall smallie took one of JJ-Jig's "home invader" streamers on the swing...

This early fall smallie took one of JJ Jig’s “home invader” streamers on the swing…

Blues off New Jersey were quite simply and truly ‘the blues’ this year. As reported on the Miss Barnegat Light website, it was a weird fishing year with such a lack of bluefish that the boat switched to fluke fishing all summer for the first time in over 20 years. What happened to the blues? The word is that they were far offshore and could be had if one was willing to go for them. One boat reported finding the big guys in abundance offshore where they normally hunt tuna – in this case upwards of 40 miles out of Barnegat Inlet. Based on economics, party boats would rarely venture out that far for bluefish fares. So, aside from one day of tussling with a bunch of big ones in the fall, it was a lousy year for blues.

Getting back to trouting, I was introduced to two great subsurface patterns that really impressed:

I fished a sulfur soft hackle during the sulfur hatch and did quite well. This was not a first for me – I had been introduced to soft hackles way back on a trip to the Bighorn River in Montana – but it was a first on the West Branch of the Delaware. Along with some nice browns, I caught a bunch of dandy rainbows.

A beautiful West Branch rainbow...

A beautiful West Branch rainbow…

I also ran into a nice guy named Tom at the parking access. We got to talking as anglers are apt to do. Tom had not fished Ball Eddy so I offered that I’d be glad to show him around and I was glad I did. Not only was Tom a great fly fisherman, he also introduced me to the caddis sparkle pupa – some he tied up himself. I was fishing a different caddis pupa pattern and not getting nearly the action he was. He threw me a few and as they say, I became a ‘believer’.

The fall streamer bite on the Catskill rivers was so-so for me this year. Conditions were classic when I went in the fall and I did hook up, but it was nothing like I’ve experienced in the past.

A new old rod… I made it a point to cull my ‘stick’ inventory and sold off some in order to purchase a classic Scott rod that I intend to wave above local waters in 2014.

Scott 906/7 BT

Scott 906/7 BT

This Scott 907 BT (“Bass/Trout” rod) was built in the original Scott factory in Berkeley California. The original owner purchased it in 1993 and it has been fished far and wide, including a trip to New Zealand. It’s a “907” rod with a twist – a 6 weight trout tip and a 7 weight bass tip. I’ve always loved my Scott 907B and look forward to putting many more miles on this rod.

‘Turnover’ in the fall is always an interesting time. The science behind this event is that as the temperatures cool, the surface water of ponds and lakes cools, sinks, and displaces the relatively warmer bottom water. This turnover creates up-welling of the bottom water which continues until water temperatures are consistent, top to bottom. Before this process is complete, the water can turn stained or dirty, but afterwards, it’s clear as can be, and refreshingly so on our pond, which is normally murky and weedy in the summer to early fall. I took my kayak out on the pond in mid-November on an unusually warm day and experienced some incredible streamer fishing. I fished my St Croix 5/6 weight with a sink tip line and short leader tipped with one of my weighted bugger / soft hackle variants and had a blast “sight fishing” to deep-cruising largemouth. It was neat watching them inhale the fly in water as clear as the Caribbean. And many of these bass put quite the bend in the rod.

Stripers were hit and miss this year, as recently posted. I managed 2 pool-winners and caught a total of 6. I missed another big one right at the boat. The bass followed my flutter jig right up to the boat, took a swipe, and then bolted! It’s always exciting to watch big bass in feeding mode!

A great way to end 2013...

A great way to end 2013…