Archive for the Writing Category

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 7, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on August 7, 2017 by stflyfisher

Summer seems to be finally here. The wet weather has eased somewhat, though we are still on a record-setting pace. Precipitation totals year to date are greater than 2016. But the rain events have been more sporadic with dry breaks between storms. This is helping drop river levels more quickly. It has also been cooler with daily highs holding in a tight range around the average for this time of year.

A recent hike with my dog along Choconut Creek in Vestal showed the impact of the significant flooding we have had this year. This creek flows from Pennylvania through Vestal and is a tributary to the Susquehanna. normally at this time of year it is low and clear – a trickle in some places. The upper reaches of the creek in PA and some of its tribs, such as “No Name Brook” hold native brookies. This year will be a good year for them!

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Major bank erosion on the Choconut Creek resulted in large tree downfalls in places. This picture, taken on 8/6/17, shows the Choconut flowing fairly full for summer.

Fly Shop Talk: A must-read for every fly fisher is the book, “A River Never Sleeps” by Roderick Haig-Brown. Bob Card, friend, fellow angler, and steelhead enthusiast, recommended the book to me one morning as we drove to the Salmon River. Card highly recommended it – a “couldn’t put it down” recommendation – and he was right. Buried deep in the book’s 352 pages, is a great essay titled, “Why Fish”. The 8 page essay begins with recounting a run-in Haig-Brown’s father – a big man and Army officer – had when a “little Cockney private” came running round a street corner smack into him. The collision prompted the larger man to ask of the smaller man, “why run?” The answer from the Cockney private: “to please myself”. Haig-Brown goes on to explore the many reasons we fish, but principally comes around to “enjoyment” as the main one. He goes on to remark that “fishing” started so many thousands of years ago when a tribe member took off in secrecy to fish long after a hunt had provided all the food the tribe needed.

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging is back to top-notch form. Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. I expect good largemouth bass fishing on Cayuga Lake.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing should be fair to good here. Lake trout fishing is fair to good.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Lake trout jigging is fair. Plenty of rockbass and some perch are around.
  • Seneca Lake: Fishing is fair for lakers – a couple fish is a good day.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should be fair to good here. Bass fishing has been good.
  • Otisco Lake: No recent reports from here.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps. Following are some local fly shop reports:

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that today is looking like a great day to be out with a slight drizzle since this morning and cloudy skies all day. The air temps are great and feel more like September than August at 57 currently which is great for the mainstem and East Branch. It looks like we won’t get too much rain today, probably 1/3″ total, not enough to bring it up too much. Currently the upper West Branch is 526 cfs at Stilesvill and 47 degrees. Down at Hale Eddy the flow is 611 cfs and 49 degrees. The East at Harvard is now 225 cfs and 56 degrees and downriver at Fishs’ Eddy the flow is 488 cfs and 62 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is now 1,360 cfs and 62. A great temp going into August and would be a great place to be with the current overcast conditions. If you’ve had enough of the Sulphurs in the no kill try the main with some Blue Winged Olives or blind casting a large Isonychia in likely spots. We should have some good Olives on the West as well. The streamer fishing is also a great option for today with the low light and possibly a little stain from the rain.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that Oquaga Creek was pushing a lot of water into the West Branch over the weekend. The river was a chalky color rather than brown making it decent for throwing streamers. We found mixing up the streamer selection made the difference and finally settled on small, dark patterns. The water was clear enough for fish to rise and there were some eating in the evening when the olives hatched. The Upper West Branch above Oquaga was in fine shape and had the normal hatches of sulphurs and olives. We are coming off a cool night so the water temperatures are starting off a couple of degrees cooler this morning. Today looks good with partly cloudy skies and air temperatures in the low 70’s. Winds should stay in the single digits.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that fishing has been very good for both trout and smallmouth bass. With the cooler weather and mix of sunny and overcast conditions the fish and insects were very active. The steady supply of thunderstorms recently has kept certain stretches of the river running with turbidity. This has been in every local river. Our guests have had periods of exciting action with streamers. There have been a lot of trout on both the East and West branches that are more than willing to chase streamers pretty hard. The trick has been turning the chasers into takers. To accomplish this we have been fishing mostly smaller patterns. Buggers, Urchin Buggers, EP Baitfish and 4″ or smaller articulated patterns. These smaller offerings have been the best at sealing the deal.
    The cooler weather and cooler water has been great for the hatches and the overall activity of the trout. On my trips there were plenty of targets as trout have been feeding steadily to a mix of insects. I have been out both early and late recently and there is action. There is a huge amount of trico’s emerging every morning. As long as the water is slow enough for the trout to feed efficiently they have been on them. Yesterday we had a few nice pods of mature rainbows feeding steadily on these tiny duns. We also had very good nymph fishing during the AM portion of the day.
    The evening rise has been better simply because the insects are more widespread and varied. There are olives, sulfurs, isonychia, cahills, midges. The evening is also a bit easier since the fish have been set up feeding in faster water as well as the pools. Finding a good fish eating larger insects in fast water makes for a much easier presentation. On all of my recent trips I have been able to locate solitary trout in riffles that were blowing up on the occasional Isonychia or cahill that floats by. Most of these trout have found their way to the net. The forecast for the week has daytime highs in the mid 70’s so conditions should be stable for a while. Now is a great time to take a crack at some mid summer dry fly fishing. We have been hitting the bass waters hard and with a good reason. The bass action is hot and it is all surface action! These great game fish have good water temperatures to be super active now. Now is the time where they will feed heavy in anticipation of cooling waters later in the fall. On all of our recent trips we have been able to fish the POPPER from start to finish. The action is good all day but it increases in intensity as the day progresses. On my recent trips the late afternoon has produced non stop action. On all of our recent trips the catch rate has been up. 20 + fish on the fly rod is common now and we have been taking some nice fish. Yesterday we had lots of 14″ to 18″ bass come to net. Right now we are fishing size #2 poppers on 5 weight rods. This combination is perfectly matched for Delaware Smallies. The best action is on brightly colored poppers. Orange has been hot.

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – 12 – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

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

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers were on the way down through this past Thursday, but Friday’s rains proved to be a spoiler for the weekend. Flows are again dropping and with a string of dry days in the forecast, should provide good fishing by late in the week. Some anglers have managed to produce by capitalizing on days when flows have dropped. Topwater and subsurface flies will work, with topwater being the choice for when the light is low. Pay attention to the USGS water gages for now.

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The Tioughnioga River was at a nice fishing level up until Friday, when rain had put it back on the rise. This river, along with the Chenango and Chemung, should give anglers hunting for bronze some good fishing access in the week ahead.

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

Fly Fishing Events / Activities: It won’t be long until local fly fishing clubs begin their fall programs. Here is one update on a fishing tripped planned by the TTFR chapter of FFI:

  • Chemung River Fishing Trip Moved Again to August 26 – Due to the water conditions on July 22, the Chemung River float fishing trip was postponed. The trip has been rescheduled for August 26th and is again open to all TTFR International Federation of Fly Fishers members and visitors. We need to know before August 23 if you plan to come. This is usually a productive and popular float for bass and carp. Plan to meet at 9 am in Corning NY at the Cohocton Street launch (behind Pressware) and float 7 miles to Botchers Landing. We will grill out a shoreline lunch halfway through the trip. We expect to be off the river around 5 pm. For lunch, the club will grill burgers with all the fixings. The club will have bottled water and some drinks. There will be plates, napkins, plastic silverware, etc. If you want to bring food to share, that would be great. Chips, cookies, wine, beer, or whatever else you would like. Fishing is for smallmouth bass and carp. An 8 weight outfit is recommended with a floating and maybe an 8 weight with a sink tip line. If you don’t have an 8 wt – bring what you have. If you need to borrow a rod, the club has 6 weights. I think you will find a 7 or 8 is perfect for the size of flies and longer casts. I suggest bringing clouser minnows, foxee minnows, suspendors, twistertails and gurglers. Big wooly buggers are a good bet. Felt sole wading boots are recommended. The rocks are very slippery – so best to avoid tennis shoes or Tevas. Bring a raincoat. You will need a canoe, kayak, driftboat, or inflatable pontoon for the float. If you will have space and would be willing to take along another person in your boat – that would be great! If you would like to come, but do not have a watercraft – we will try to hook you up with someone who has an open spot or you can rent a canoe ($45) or a single person kayak (35$/day). Please let us know your needs and we will make the arrangements with the rental company. Life jackets, paddles, etc will be provided if you rent. Please contact Matt Towner 607-542-0285 ( townermj@corning.com) before August 23 to let us know you plan to attend. You may also contact Kirk Klingensmith ( kklingensmi@stny.rr.com ), but he is out of town until 8/18, so a response may be delayed until he returns. In the case of bad water conditions or severe weather, we will notify folks who are coming by e-mail or cellphone.

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

After a relatively dry weekend, there’s a chance of showers for Monday with temperatures in the low-70s. High pressure then pushes in Tuesday through Thursday afternoon. Temperatures crest in the mid- to upper-70s under sunny skies, before the chance of showers returns late on Thursday and persists through Friday. At this time, Saturday looks to be a mainly quiet day, as a pocket of high pressure moves north through Ontario, perhaps keeping our atmosphere stable enough to prevent any convective rain or storms.

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The fly fisherman and the boxer…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on July 28, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s odd how disparate interests sometimes fire randomly like so many synapses in our brains and connect in new and interesting ways.  Consider, for example, my interest in fly fishing and the sweet science: boxing.  If you’ve read my “about” page, you already know that I’m the lone fisherman in my genetic line, save the possibility of some great uncles on my mother’s side who headed out to Montana in the early 1900’s.  Whether they ever wet a line on the great rivers is unknown, but the thought consoles me in my fly fishing addiction.

Boxing is another story, one that’s a little more understandable in that my maternal grandfather, who passed long before I came into this world, was apparently quite the fan (being Irish descent didn’t hurt either).  My mother told me of his interest only when I revealed my own love for the sport. She recounted his sitting by the radio, listening to the great bouts of Dempsey, Braddock, Louis, Baer, and undoubtedly, Jack Sharkey, the only man to have fought both Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis.

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Joe Louis is sent to a neutral corner after dropping Jack Sharkey. Louis would prevail after knocking Sharkey down 4 times. It was Sharkey’s last fight in the ring – August 18, 1936.

Jack Sharkey was born Joseph Paul Cukoschay on October 26, 1902, in Binghamton New York.  The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Sharkey left the family home in New York when he was a teenager, ending up in Boston. Sources report little of his early life until, at the outset of the First World War, teenaged Joseph repeatedly tried to enlist in the Navy. Turned down because of his age, he was not able to enlist until after the end of the war.

“Every time Louis hit me, he said, ‘Sorry.’ Every time Jack Dempsey hit me, he said, ‘How come you’re not dead yet?’”—Jack Sharkey

Sharkey wasn’t much of a fighter growing up – it wasn’t until he served in the U.S. Navy that Sharkey first stepped into a boxing ring, and that was only because a midshipman told him to substitute in the next fight at a Navy smoker or he wouldn’t get shore leave. Tall and husky, Jack quickly established a reputation as the best boxer aboard any vessel on which he served. Sharkey stood 6′ and had a notable 76″ reach. During his brief returns home to Boston he took part in his first fights for pay, the first on January 24, 1924, against Billy Muldoon, whom he knocked out in the first round. By the time of his honorable discharge just short of a month later, he had won a second fight and was already earning write-ups in the Boston papers.

Interestingly, a promoter declared his Lithuanian name unusable and so Joseph Paul Cukoschay became Jack Sharkey – “Jack” after Jack Dempsey and “Sharkey” from ‘Sailor’ Tom Sharkey, who fought Jim Jeffries to a 25-round decision for the heavyweight title in 1899.

“Who hit me hardest? Dempsey hit me the hardest because Dempsey hit me $211,000 worth while Louis only hit me $36,000 worth…”

Sharkey’s career statistics show an admirable record of 37 wins, 13 defeats, and 3 draws. One of his most noteworthy fights was against his “namesake”, Jack Dempsey, on July 21, 1927 in Yankee Stadium. Despite out-boxing the “Manassas Mauler” for 5 rounds, Sharkey lost the bout in the 6th round.  “I turned to the referee to complain I was getting hit low, and I got hit with a haymaker,” he once recalled. “That was that. I was out on the canvas.” “I came home and I went in the hospital,” Sharkey recounted more than 40 years later, in Peter Heller’s, In This Corner (1973). “I passed blood there for a long time . . . this is never brought out in print, the after-effects of a fight. You dry out like a lightweight, you’re dehydrated, pains that you have, you come home you soak in a tub full of Epsom salts, the pain and the aches. No one knows what a fighter goes through after the fight.”

When asked why he had hit a man who wasn’t looking, Dempsey replied, “What was I supposed to do, mail him a letter?”

Sharkey is remembered less for his title victory over Max Schmeling than for the controversial manner of his defeat to the ‘Ambling Alp’, Primo Carnera, in his first defense in 1933. Carnera, whose enormous size had been caused by a boyhood glandular disorder, was controlled by racketeers and had been built up through fixed fights. Carnera was thought to be an easy mark for Sharkey. But in the sixth round Sharkey went down from a punch which many ringsiders claimed they did not see. For the rest of his life Sharkey would face claims that his loss was rigged.

His final fight was against the up and coming Joe Louis. But this was 1936 and Jack Sharkey didn’t have the same legs, and Louis was a different kind of destroyer entirely. From the start of the fight, Sharkey foolishly waded into Louis’ punching range and found himself on the canvas three times before a combination put him down for the count in round three. Sharkey said to W.A. Hamilton after the fight, “Louis convinced me that I have no business in trying to continue, and now I am relegated with the others before me who tried to cheat time and nature only to be revealed in their true light.” After being knocked out by Joe Louis in the third round Aug. 18, 1936, Sharkey retired from the ring to open a restaurant in Boston and pursue his love of fishing.

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A beaten Jack Sharkey decides to hang up his gloves after losing to Joe Louis.

Sharkey was and has been largely considered second best, however unfair that may be. He was, after all, a fisherman who found himself lacing up a pair of boxing gloves by accident, not a desperate pug who had nowhere else to go. That he made it into the big leagues of boxing is considered by many, incredible.

family-and-Sharkey

Boxer, fly fisherman, family man…

“I started out as a fisherman,” Sharkey told The Ring in 1979. “When I was a kid I used to catch bass with my bare hands and sell them. Old-timers still remember me walking down the street carrying eels on my back.”

Sharkey acquired further fame in retirement from his exploits as a fisherman who could land a fly on a dime. Jack Gartside, noted fly-tier and author of many angling books, said he lived a dry-fly cast away from Fenway Park in the 1950s when Williams and Sharkey were demonstrating fly casting at a sportsman’s show in Boston. “When I was 8 years old, I was at a sportsmen’s show at the old Mechanics Hall in Boston. Ted Williams and Jack Sharkey, the boxer, were conducting fly casting demonstrations,” Gartside said. “After the casting, they both went to a booth to tie flies.”

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Sharkey, pictured left, sits with Jimmie Foxx (center) and Ted Williams (right) at a fly fishing exhibition.

One New Hampshire angler who replied to my request for information on the boxer / fly fisher said Sharkey was a hell of a fly fisherman. This man’s father fished with Jack on occasion and staked out his own spot on the bridge at Alton Bay, but woe betide the flatlander who took Jack’s spot! Sharkey was known to be irascible and cantankerous, particularly in later life.

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Sharkey could tie – no small feat for a guy whose hands went through a lot of abuse in the ring!

Sharkey was Ted Williams’ fishing partner for many years. When asked which he liked better, boxing or fishing, Sharkey replied, “Fishing, it doesn’t pay as much but then the fish don’t hit back.”

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Jack Sharkey had his last “boxing” contest with Max Schmeling decades after leaving the ring. Jack held the record as the oldest living former heavyweight champion, living to the ripe old age of ninety-one, only to be beaten by Schmeling, years later, who lived to be ninety-nine.

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Boxing and fly fishing may seem odd bedfellows, and many might question my sanity as a follower of both sports, but after reading about Jack Sharkey, I’m feeling a bit better about fist and fly. In a sense, Jack Sharkey, our own Southern Tier hometown hero, battled for a living but lived for fly fishing. And isn’t that what most of us do in a figurative sense in our own lives? Sharkey, in my opinion, was a hero for the everyday sportsman – the guy who slogged it out in the trenches, just to marry, raise a family, and maybe, just maybe, eke out a little time with the long rod on a pretty river. Rest in peace, Jack…

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

lefty reel

 

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

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

Catskill Rivers:  

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

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

Hatching:

Slate Drake #12-2xl – 12 – Isonychia bicolor
Sulphur – #16 – 20 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Tan Sedge – #16 – 18 – Glossosoma sp.
Green Caddis – #16 – Ryacophilia sp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.

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

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

susky 724

The Susquehanna River continues to tease…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WBNG7Day (2)

A stick for Jeff…

Posted in Gear, Rod Building, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on June 16, 2017 by stflyfisher

My son brought the box in and its long triangular shape immediately gave it away. It was, of course, “the rod”. As I opened the box I thought about what this fly rod symbolized: a payback to my brother-in-law.

Packaged neatly inside the box was a long clear sleeve with four glossy deep green sticks, a bag of rod guides in pewter grey, and a third bag that contained a cork grip and a rosewood reel seat. I was immediately smitten with the materials at hand.

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My mind raced back in time to my first fly fishing experience. My brother-in-law, Jeff, took me fly fishing at my wife’s urging. I did not – could not have – realized the enormity of the event. That early morning the river was entombed in thick fog, the result of the warm early summer air over the very cold water of the tailwater. Jeff set me up with his new, expensive, Winston 3 weight, in nymphing mode – an indicator, 2 nymphs, and some weight, and instructed me how to fish the rig through a nice piece of riffle water. Then he headed downriver and vanished in the river fog.

You can probably guess what comes next – beginner angler’s luck – as if destined from the fly fishing gods. After a number of repeated lob casts, my indicator rocketed to the bottom and all it took was a lift of the rod and that wonderful butter brown flash. I landed the fish, much to the applaud of a couple of veteran anglers – a fat 18″ brown. But it was I who was truly hooked that day. So there it began, on the fabled West Branch of the Delaware River…

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Looking downstream just above the Gentleman’s Pool – where it all started…

Fast forward many years, miles of wading, and a lot of fly fishing. Jeff returned to the West Coast for work, and though our distance made fishing together a once a year thing at best, we have remained close fly fishing brothers. We’ve done a few trips together – the San Juan River, the Bighorn. We’ve fished local Southern Tier rivers on occasion as well. Jeff is an excellent fly fisher, especially skilled with the dry fly. And since that epic day fishing with him, I have benefited from his advice and guidance and have improved my game from that first “angler’s luck” experience.

And then came along the start of our local FFI chapter – the BC Flyfishers. Joe Swam, featured in posts here before, is a very experienced bamboo rod maker who volunteered to teach a rod building class for the chapter. I signed up as a way to expand my fly fishing experience, learn more about how fly rods are made, and build a fly rod of my own.

The class was a success for the BCFF chapter and a great experience for me. I learned first hand from a master rod maker and completed the class with a really nice 8 weight fly rod I could use on local warmwater rivers as well as the salt.

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My first fly rod served me well on the local warmwater rivers. Built with saltwater grade components, it now resides in Destin, Florida where it will live the rest of its life chasing saltwater trout, redfish, and jacks, among other saltie species.

Late in 2016, Jeff set up a guided trip to the Bighorn river in southeastern Montana. He typically spends a week on that river every year: I’ve only gone with him once but it was an incredible fishing experience and well worth a do-over. This would be a very special trip – one celebrating his 60th birthday – so unlike past years, I jumped at the chance to go.

With the birthday Bighorn trip in mind and the BC Flyfisher’s second annual rodbuilding clinic looming in 2017, I began to search for a fly rod I could build for Jeff as a 60th birthday present. I already had one rod under my belt – I could only get better with this rod, especially under the tutelage of Joe Swam.

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Master rod maker, Joe Swam, does practice wraps and demonstrates the effect color preserver has on wrap color. BCFF chapter member Dennis See looks on.

And so the process began – first with searching for the right rod blank / kit. Jeff’s preference in a fly rod is for moderate action – what used to be referred to as a “dry fly” action. I chose the TFO Finesse rod – an 8 foot 9″ blank of moderate action with a sweet zone made for casting at “presentation” distances. Next came choosing the thread wrap color. I wanted a wrap color that matched the rich rosewood reel seat, and a pewter gray metallic thread for accent wraps. The red wrap color I chose came out perfectly – but note to neophyte rod builders out there – even color preservative will always alter the original color of the thread. In my case, my prediction that the brighter red thread would darken to a red wine color was spot on. Finding a metallic thread that would match the pewter guides and reel seat hardware was another matter. My initial choice of a pewter color was off, and the good folks at flyrodbuildingkits.com suggested I used a gunmetal grey thread which ended up an exact match. I’ll note that they sent the replacement thread free of charge: great customer service. And finally, I had to decide on the finish I’d use for the wraps. On my first rod, I used McCloskey’s marine spar varnish, provided by Joe Swam. I was very pleased with how my wraps came out. For this build, I decided to try Epifanes marine spar varnish. Originating in Holland, a nation with a strong maritime tradition, the name Epifanes, a Greek variation of EPIPHANY, denotes an appearance, a manifestation, a resplendence, or a moment of insight. I was very impressed with the result, and felt a company headquartered in Holland can’t be all wrong when it comes to maritime weather-proof varnish.

Then came the building. The winter snow hit the Southern Tier hard this year – we narrowly beat out Syracuse as the snowiest NY city with over 135″.

2017 snow

March, 2017 and a record 35″ of snow in 24 hours. In between shoveling, a rod was being made…

That made rod building a perfect winter activity, better in my opinion than working at the vise, though that too is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon with the white stuff flying cloaked in bitter cold…

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Jeff’s stick on the rod wrapper. Saranac Legacy IPA, deep winter snow, and a warm fire make for beautiful guide and ferrule wraps.

I took my time with the build – the goal to ship the rod in time for Jeff’s July birthday. Every weekend, the winter through, I added to what started as graphite, cork, and a forms of metal. Measure twice, cut once, was the theme. Along the way a Lamson Waterworks fly reel was ordered, backing, a Scientific Angler’s Mastery Trout fly line, rod sock and a powder coated aluminum tube.

The wraps looked good, secured with color preservative, but it was the varnish that gave the rod that final touch. Every building coat deepened the luster…

And then came the finishing touch – that last coat of Epifanes over the measuring wraps on either side of a rainbow trout decal…

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On either side of that rainbow trout decal, are 17″ and 20″ measuring wraps, soon to be broken by some Bighorn ‘bows on the dry fly…

Of course, glossy green graphite sticks, a rosewood reel seat, snake guides, wrapping thread, and the rich scent of spar varnish will never come close to the gift Jeff gave me – the gift of fly fishing. Even the feeling of satisfaction when a rod made with your own hands, carefully joined, and given that fly shop wiggle will never approach it. But perhaps building a fly rod is one of those things that continues the cycle of giving. Maybe that same rod will fall into the hands of another – a grandchild, a neighbor, or even a disabled veteran or cancer survivor. Lee Wulff once said, “The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you just caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?” While Lee Wulff is credited for having started the catch and release initiative and greatly improved conservation efforts as a result, I’d argue that before the fish comes the creation of the fisherman and what better way to pay back or forward, than by building a fly rod and passing it on.

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Deep bends, Jeff…

Cast away at BCFF’s 3rd Annual Fly Casting Clinic

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on June 8, 2017 by stflyfisher

The BC Fly Fishers (BCFF) will be holding its 3rd Annual Fly Casting Clinic on Saturday, June 17, from 9 am to 1 pm. The chapter includes casting instruction as a critical part of its teaching program, just like its parent organization, Fly Fishers International (FFI), known for its Casting Instructor Certification Program (CICP) – a highly esteemed credential for any angler.

The BCFF chapter conducted its first casting clinic in June of 2015. Well attended, the event took roots and a second casting clinic was held the following year.

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Fly casting outfits are shown here, ready for use in the BCFF’s first casting clinic.

This third clinic will be even better than the previous two and will include:

  • Beginner casting instruction (pick up and lay down, false casting)
  • Intermediate to advanced casting instruction (double hauling, wiggle cast, curve casting, roll casting)
  • Casting games including accuracy casting. The top three accuracy casters will get a prize.
  • Knot tying.
  • Video recording of your casting stroke for review and critique (please bring a memory stick for download or a phone or camcorder).
  • Two certified FFI casting instructors on hand along with several other very good casters to support casting practice.
  • Refreshments.
  • Catch & release fly fishing for bass and sunfish after the casting clinic (barbless hooks only).
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Joe Swam, chapter member and rod maker, teaches a young angler the roll cast.

This clinic is perfect for any angler – as a tune-up for casting as well as for someone who has yet to put a fly rod in their hands. It’s also a great event for youth. With Father’s Day just around the corner, what better way to spend a few hours than for a father and son or daughter (or family) to learn to cast?

What to prepare, what to bring?

  • Wear casual, relaxed clothing. A casting shirt that is open and free moving is ideal.
  • Sunglasses
  • Fly rod outfit – participants are encouraged to bring their own fly casting outfit but full fly casting setups are also available for use.
  • Clean and stretch your fly line, stretch your leader

The cost of the clinic is the same as last year: $20 for adults, $15 for youth and college students. Interested? Sign up using PayPal at BCFLYFISHERS or by check or cash to BC Flyfishers (mail to John Trainor, 144 West Hill Rd., Vestal, NY 13850).

Rain date for the event is Saturday, June 24. The location is the same as in the past two years: 144 West Hill Road, Vestal, NY. To get there, take Rt. 26 South, turn right in Vestal Center onto West Hill Road – just after Powersports X. It’s a long hill to the top – turn left onto a dirt driveway opposite a RED mailbox on right hand side of road labeled 144.

The week ahead in fly fishing: June 5, 2017

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

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

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

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

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

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

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

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

Hatching:

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

 

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

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

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

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

Fly Fishing Events / Activities:

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

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

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

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

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

WBNG7Day

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: May 29, 2017

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

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

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

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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