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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.

pineville

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.

WBNG7Day

The Fly Fishing Academy – priming anglers for spring…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on March 25, 2017 by stflyfisher

The date of April 1st is a great motivator for most anglers in New York. These days it’s less functionally significant for the fly fisher – many trout waters, for example, are open all year under special regulations – but for the bait fishers and those who keep what they catch, the date remains a true season opener. Still, April 1st just rings well on a few fronts – tradition, the potential for spring-like weather, and lastly, a true opening for the year in fishing on most waters and for most species.

In step with the opening of the spring fishing season, the Twin Tiers Five Rivers (TT5R) chapter of IFFF offers its Fly Fishing Academy. Before delving into the particulars of this event, I’ll provide a history to its past, courtesy of current chapter President, Kirk Klingensmith.

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TT5R chapter President Kirk Klingensmith uses a unique floor map of a trout stream to demonstrate presentation techniques to trout at the TT5R Fly Fishing Academy.

The TT5R was chartered as an IFFF chapter in 2000. The chapter started its first year with a mission focus on education, teaching fly fishing by holding a casting seminar. Three years later, the event took on a form closer to Ithaca Fishing Day where many in the public were welcomed to try the sport through fly tying, casting, knot tying, and other fly fishing skills. These early events featured a very popular catch and release trout pond for youth and introduced fly fishing to an estimated 200-300 per year. Though the revised format introduced a lot of people to the sport, TT5R leadership did not feel the approach was providing attendees enough detailed knowledge to retain their interest in the sport over the long term.

In 2006, the chapter decided to revise the event format to that of a full day fishing school. Kirk Klingensmith, current President of the chapter, led the organization of the first “Academy” as well as developing the curriculumn. Initial staff included Joe and Carol Cambridge (Joe still teaches at the Academy) and Dave Rothrock. Both Dave and Joe have written for Fly Fisherman magazine and are known nationally.

This year will be the chapter’s 10th year of the Academy format. Unlike the original events, the Fly Fishing Academy is now more student-focused with a limited class size of 25-32 students per year. TT5R leadership has found that students pick up the sport more effectively through this format. The Academy has introduced or advanced fly fishing for over 300 people in this way.

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Fly Fishing Academy graduates, eager to hit the water…

The TT5R staff currently includes Chas Elliott, IFFF Certified Casting Instructor. Chas trained for over 2 years to achieve this casting certification. Three others on staff have been formally trained in casting instruction. Teaching staff includes fly fishers with well over 100 years of combined experience. Over the years, Kirk Klingensmith estimates TT5R has introduced fly fishing to 1,500-2,000 people.

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Casting instruction is a major component of the curriculum of TT5R’s Fly Fishing Academy.

This year the Fly Fishing Academy will be held on Saturday, April 8, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, at the Campbell-Savona High School in Campbell, NY. It’s open to adults and to youth, 11 yrs old and over. The class provides 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 improvement. 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, and how to properly catch and release fish. Most importantly, students will get a chance to 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 will be staffing the school this year. Kirk Klingensmith is the Lead Instructor for the Academy and Chas Elliott will lead the fly casting staff.

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 the class filled quickly last year, so early registration is encouraged. Also this year is filling even faster. If considering enrollment, get your reservations in soon. Do not miss your chance to attend this excellent school to start or advance your skills. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Contact Steve Harris at 607-377-4956 or by email at sjh529@stny.rr.com or Kirk Klingensmith at 607-346-7189 or by email at kklingensmi@stny.rr.com.

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: March 20, 2107

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2017 by stflyfisher

We are now technically in Spring, but last week sure didn’t seem like it. Winter storm Stella made sure the Northeast did not forget that winter isn’t over until Mother Nature says so! Stella dumped a record amount of snow in our area. Binghamton picked up almost a foot of snow in just 4 hours early on March 14 and ended with an all-time 24 hour record snowfall of 35.3″ total accumulation, according to Weather.com.

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Amidst the storm, in the Vestal hills…

Snow leaders were a little more upstate of the Southern Tier: Hartwick, NY had 48.4 inches and Lake Placid, 42 inches. Besides sore arms and backs, the storm left us with a nice snow pack that the trout will surely appreciate. If not for the snow, I was ready to predict an early season bite for smallmouth and another bad year, like last year, for small water trout. Hopefully the next few weeks will be consistently cold at night and cool during the day, allowing a gradual (and natural) snow melt, and cool and adequate flows through early summer.

Stella

Just an aside, but the term “Bombogenesis”, used in describing Stella, is defined as a powerful low pressure system that intensifies rapidly. Bombogenesis begins as cyclogenesis, where an area of low pressure develops and strengthens. In weather-speak, bombogenesis, or “bombing-out”, occurs when the central pressure of a low pressure system drops 24 millibars within 24 hours in combination with a large temperature gradient, usually between a cold continental air mass and warm sea-surface temperatures. Over that temperature contrast, an intensifying jet-stream disturbance triggers air to rise, starting the bombogenesis process. Nor’easters can turn to weather bombs due to cold air surging southward from Canada combined with the warm ocean waters of the Gulf Stream. The result of bombogenesis is a dramatic increase in wind and precipitation in the form of snow in winter.

Fly shop talk: Today is the Vernal Equinox, the astronomical event where the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north along the ecliptic. All over the world, days and nights are approximately equal. The name equinox comes from Latin words which mean “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night). On the equinox, Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the Sun’s rays about equally because the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. The Earth never orbits upright, but is always tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees.

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From this day forward, we will enjoy the increasing sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets. So regardless of the weather, think spring, but because it is, and those longer days of fly fishing are not far off…

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run reports that flows have dropped but conditions have been somewhat on the slower side.

pineville flow

There have been some steelhead landed along with some browns and domestic rainbows, mostly on egg sacks, although nymphs are also producing. Whitakers Sports Motel reports that with the recent drop in water level and improved weather conditions, a few more anglers are getting out on the water. Anglers who are covering lots of water are having the most success. In the lower end of the river anglers are getting into some fresh fish while fishing the transition water. In the upper end of the river anglers are getting into a mix of fresh and darker fish in and around the deeper holes and runs. For those anglers who are fly fishing, nymphs or egg patterns under a strike indicator has been productive. For those anglers who are bottom bouncing or float fishing, egg sacs and beads has produced steady results.

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.


Lakes:
John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that things are back to normal in the Central NY Region. The Ithaca region did not get nearly the amount of snow that other parts of NY received.

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:

  • 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:

Tuesday brings plenty of clouds through midday. Some breaks of sun are possible in the PM. There is a slight chance of a late PM sprinkle or shower especially NE/E. Most of the day looks dry. Highs will be in the mid to upper 40s. With any extended periods of sun, a few 50 degree spots are possible. An Arctic cold front will cross our path overnight Tuesday and bring a chance of snow showers. The most noticeable difference from this front will be the sharply colder air mass in its wake.

Highs Wednesday will only be around 20 with a 30% chance of some snow showers. Winds will pick up and gust to 25-30mph. Chills will be near/below zero. Clearing takes over later in the day and into the overnight. Lows into Thursday morning will be in the single digits. Some of the coldest locations would be near/below zero with the snow pack still in place.

Bright sun is expected Thursday with highs back around 32. Friday brings a 30% chance of rain/snow showers. Next weekend looks unsettled due the location of front. South of the front will be much warmer than north of it. Along the front and north will see a higher chance of rain and snow. South of it will see more dry time. Until exact placement becomes evident, both weekend days will have a 40% chance of some showers. Highs will be around 40 with overnight lows near 32. Sunday there could be some wintry mix showers in the Catskills, but for now the chance is low.

WBNG7Day

 

Lunch with Josh and Mike…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on March 19, 2017 by stflyfisher

The title of this post should have simply been, “Ithaca Fishing Day”, but as it turns out, you can’t truly post about Ithaca Fishing Day without first mentioning the names of two of its most important behind-the-scenes guys: Josh Filter and Michael Lenetsky. I first met this dynamic duo during an Al Hazzard TU chapter meeting. I was immediately impressed as much with with their jovial presentation skills as I was with the technical depth of their “Fly fishing the Finger Lake tribs” presentation.

Most recently I had the opportunity to talk to Michael and Josh over lunch about an event that is truly a harbinger of Spring: Ithaca Fishing Day. It’s a big year for Ithaca Fishing Day (IFD) as the event celebrates its 25th consecutive year and in addition to spreading the word on the details, I thought it would be good to write about the event’s beginnings.

IFD is the brainchild of Phil Genova, a driving force in fly fishing education. Genova is well known for his work in teaching fly fishing. He started the Fly Fishing Apprentice Program, worked as Cortland Line Company’s Education and Communication Program Manager, and authored the book; First Cast: Teaching Kids to Fly-Fish. Ithaca Fishing Day was an extension of his zeal for teaching the art and sport of fly fishing and proved a good way to reach out and get others in the community involved. Phil Genova died unexpectedly at age 51 while on a fishing trip in the Florida Keys, but his legacy lives on with IFD.

Another key force early on was none other than Leon Chandler, who would attend the event according to Michael and Josh. IFD has always had a close association with the Cortland Line Company, and Leon Chandler, known as an ambassador of fly fishing world-wide, must have made quite a presence.

As usual, the Leon Chandler Chapter of Trout Unlimited is sponsoring Ithaca Fishing Day, but this year, the focus is expanded beyond just fly-fishing to encompass all aspects of fishing and cold-water conservation. According to Michael, this focus beyond fly fishing should draw a larger attendance.

The date for the Twenty-fifth Annual Ithaca Fishing Day is Saturday, March 25, 2017 from 9 am to 4 pm. This year, the event will be held at the Ithaca High School, in the cafeteria, in Ithaca, New York.

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. They say there’s no free lunch but there really is: this event is 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. There will be special programs on a variety of important and interesting topics, including 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.

Also in attendance will be the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, The Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom Project, The Trout in the Classroom Project, Twin Tiers Five Rivers Chapter of the Federation of Fly Fishers, Izaak Walton League/Cortland Field Archers, Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and more. Several local and regional vendors will be on hand with a wide variety of their goods on hand for sale, including Badger Creek Fly Fishing, JW Trout, Streamflow Design, and possibly Musky Joe’s Tackle.

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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.