The week ahead in fly fishing: July 23, 2017

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

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

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

KBGM2017plot

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

lefty reel

 

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

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

Catskill Rivers:  

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

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

Hatching:

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

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

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

susky 724

The Susquehanna River continues to tease…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WBNG7Day (2)

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The week ahead in fly fishing: July 16, 2017

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

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

fernando llosa

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

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

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

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

Catskill Rivers:  

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

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

Hatching:

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

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

owego creek

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

susky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TUESDAY: Partly cloudy. High 80 Low 58

WBNG7Day (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 9, 2017

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

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

KBGMcurrent2

Daily temperatures have been on the cooler side lately.

KBGM2017plot

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

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

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

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

Catskill Rivers:  

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

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

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

Hatching:

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

Local creeks: Local creeks are finally settled, very clear, and running like they should for early summer. While this makes fishing easier to some degree, it makes it harder in other ways. Fish, by nature, are light shy. So under clear low water conditions and particularly on sunny days, some degree of stealth is needed on skinny water, along with lighter, longer leaders. Nymphing, fishing wet flies on the swing, and dry flies will all work well right now. Hatches are typical of early summer and it’s time to consider at least packing terrestrial patterns. Never fish when thunderstorms are about but keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

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

susky

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WBNG7Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: July 2, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on July 4, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s July 4th – the celebration of independence for our beloved country. This weekend is the traditional hallmark of summer – vacations start in earnest. It’s also normally the start of dry weather, lower water, easy wading, and terrestrials. But such is not the case this year…

KBGM2017plot

Tiger lilies, daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, cornflowers and other summer wildflowers are coming to the fore. Mayflowers are gone. The hills and valleys are shady cool on even the warm days, and this year’s rains has even brooks that trickle running high and cool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This little brook runs through a 500 acre park in Vestal. It’s normally just a trickle at this time of year, but most recently, it’s more like a trout creek. It will be a very good year for the native brook trout that inhabit the deeper holes and plunge pools.

Fly Shop Talk: 

“Well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?”

Ben Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

The response above is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation from the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.

Franklin, along with 55 other signers of the Declaration of Independence are considered by many to be our Founding Fathers. They decided it was ultimately time to break with Great Britain, permanently, to forge a new nation. They pledged to give “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” in order to live in freedom and throw off the oppression that was being forced on them. And when they put pen to paper, they knew there would be a bounty on their heads. If ever captured, they could be hung for treason.

So whether you’re going fishing today, hanging out with friends, grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers, or watching fireworks, remember that the men who founded our country and gained our independence were not doing the same after signing their lives away. Freedom isn’t free…

Declaration_of_Independence_(1819),_by_John_Trumbull

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that lakes were hammered with upwards of 3″ of rain on Saturday. Lake trout fishing has slowed down on Cayuga Lake. The amount of debris in the lake on Sunday and early today (Monday) was staggering around the Myers/Taughannock/AES area. Things are settling out. Even Skaneateles Lake was muddy, which is rare! Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

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

Catskill Rivers:  

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

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This West Branch Delaware rainbow couldn’t resist a #18 sulphur nymph fished in fast water. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the release for the West branch of the Delaware River was cut back to 600 up at  Stilesville and 791 at Hale Eddy.  The upper East at Harvard is 213 and 66 degrees and the lower East at Fishs’ Eddy is 865 and 71 degrees.  The mainstem at Lordville is 1,770 cfs and 61 degrees.  Be sure to check the temps down on the main and East to ensure you’re not harming the trout. We are still getting the same bugs with some good Sulphur hatches and spinner falls.  The afternoon Blue Winged Olives have been consistent as well.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that yesterday’s sun made the fish wary. Look in the shaded areas for rising fish and use stealth when approaching them. Blind casting in the riffles and along the seams can produce fish. Check your sub-surface flies often for algae if you’re fishing higher up in the system. Today’s weather looks like a carbon copy of yesterday’s with sun and light winds. We’re seeing the same mix of sulphurs, olives, cahills, and isonychias out there with some hatching earlier in the day.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports over the last week summer has slowly been getting a grip on our local water. With every passing day our freestone rivers are getting a bit warmer and the trout are falling into a more laid back summer way of going about their business. At the same time the warmer water temperatures are starting to increase the activity of the always aggressive smallmouth population. As we continue the warming trend this great game fish will continue to dominate the marginal waters and the lower reaches of the Main Stem Delaware. With the warming waters and the forecast for 80 degree weather our freestone rivers will become warm quickly. The best time for the Beaverkill and Willowemoc will be in the morning hours of the day. During the afternoon anglers should check temps. as the lower reaches of the rivers will be around 70 degrees. The East and West branches are icy cold at this time. This week the release from Cannonsville Reservoir was increased to 600 cfs. which has a pretty big plume of icy water heading down river. The entire West Branch and a big portion of the Upper Main Stem are in great condition for trout fishing and this is the best place to target. This is where our guides have been and this is where the photos are from.
    The insects are pretty stable and unchanged from earlier reports. Sulfurs and Olives are the main staple on the water. Good afternoon hatches on the Upper East and Upper West branches. There is a dead spot between around 5:00 to 8:00 before the insects kick in again. At this time it is smaller sulfurs, Olives, Isonychia, Cahills and Caddisflies. Spinners are also about in big numbers near dark. Early day activity is still a crap shoot. There are some Cornuta Olives about. Tricos and Caenis are on the water but still spotty. With all of these morning hatches there are definite, specific areas where they thrive and lots of areas where they never get on the water in large enough numbers to draw fish to the surface. In many instances the activity from these tiny insects remains confines to single pools or small sections. The best areas have lots of grass along the banks and some aquatic vegetation in the water. They also like water that has warmed up a bit so don’t look close to the dams. Another thing to remember is that in the Catskills the trico activity is later than in many other river systems. Sometimes the activity starts as late as 9:00 am. If you are planning to fish the Upper East or West branches now is the time for long and lighter leaders. Our guides are now constructing leaders of at least 15 feet that taper to 5X or 6X when fishing the tiny Sulfurs, Olives and Spinners. Trico and Caenis should be fished on similar rigs. All Upper Delaware rivers are low, gin clear and offering total access at this time. Now is the time for long precise casts, impeccable line control and perfect line feeding skills.

Hatching:

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

Local creeks: Despite the heavy rains from the weekend, local creeks have settled, and are running from a bit stained to clear. Nymphing, fishing wet flies on the swing, and dry flies will all work well right now. Hatches are typical of early summer and it’s almost time to consider fishing a terrestrial pattern. Never fish when thunderstorms are about but keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers were getting down there but the recent heavy rains but the brakes on that trend, unfortunately. The Susquehanna River in Vestal crested at 12,000 CFS and is on the way down. Provided we continue under dry conditions, the best shot at fishing will be the Tioughnioga and the Chemung Rivers. Both of these rivers are coming down relatively fast and should be in good shape by the weekend, if not sooner. For the river rats out there, now’s the time to tie up some flies and prep for brownlining!

Ponds: Ponds are in the throes of summer. Largemouth bass are done spawning and so are sunfish. As the water heats up and the sun is bright, it’s now time to shift fishing to early or late. 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. The key in largemouth bass fishing is often to slow down. If you’re stripping a streamer, slow it down – let it sink and experiment with retrieve. With poppers, let them sit until the last ring has disappeared. Often times a bass cannot stand the wait. A good pop will ring the dinner bell, but be careful not to spook fish in shallower water.

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:

 

 

With high pressure moving in from the northwest, The Fourth is looking great. We’ll have partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures. Skies will be mostly clear Tuesday night. The beautiful weather continues into Wednesday with mostly sunny skies.

We’ll watch two separate fronts for Thursday and Friday. The front that came through Monday, has stalled to our south near the PA/MD border. We’ll also have a front coming in from the west. These will give us showers and thunderstorms.

We could see a few lingering showers on Saturday, but the chance of that is low. High pressure on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday gives us mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies.

WBNG7Day

The week ahead in fly fishing: June 26, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on June 27, 2017 by stflyfisher

July 4th weekend looms large in the week ahead. It’s a 4 day weekend for some that spells opportunity to enjoy summer warmth and sunshine on the water.

Hatches are slowing from their spring-time intensity, although there are still some good ones left. Flows in the river systems are finally dropping which should open up warmwater river fishing. The hills are in full green and corn in some places is knee-high already. Just yesterday I saw my first fawn of the year, struggling to keep up with Mom as she crossed a country road ahead of me.

Fly Shop Talk: Rain continues to stuff the precipitation coffers for our area. As seen in the climate chart below, we are running a significant surplus for the year. It’s been wet, for sure. But to put this surplus in perspective, we had a record 68.05″ of precipitation in 2011 – so we are not even 50% of the way to how truly wet it can be!

KBGM2017plot (2)

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports decent fishing on the Finger Lakes. Here’s his lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake: Lake trout jigging is back to fine form. Fish have ranged from around 40′ out to 110′ – and likely deeper. A few salmon have been showing up for us in the same areas. Bass season is underway. Pickerel fishing is fair to good.
  • Owasco Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good here with a lot of fish still shallow. Lake trout fishing is fair to good (not on a par with Cayuga by any means.) Perch are everywhere shallow. Pike are available.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Smallmouth bass fishing is good. Rockbass and perch are in the mix.
  • Seneca Lake: Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow. Expect fair pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing continues to be good around the Bluff area according to reports I have received from Angling Zone friend Al. DEC is contemplating the re-introduction of ciscoes and possible lake whitefish to this lake. I have never caught a cisco or whitefish and would be impressed if these species took hold.
  • Otisco Lake: Tiger musky fishing has reportedly been slow for the most part. Bass action has been good with spawning winding down.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps, however, most fly fishing reports are warning that water temps may start rising, so “fish with your thermometer”, particularly on the freestones.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting the rivers are still slowly dropping but the bugs and fishing haven’t changed much over the last week or so.  We do still have decent Sulphurs in the #16 range from afternoon on.  We have been seeing quite a few small Olives in 20-24 range in the afternoon, even on the sunny days.  Yesterday there were quite a few Cahills in the 14-16 range and their spinners as well.  There has been some consistent Isonychia activity with most bugs around size 10.  And as usual, the Isos are great bugs for blind casting in the faster water.  The upper West Branch at Stilesville is 386 cfs and 45 degreees and down at Hale Eddy we are looking at 507 and 51 degrees.  The upper East at Harvard is 235 and 65 degrees and Fishs’ Eddy is now 810 cfs and 66 degrees.  You could fish early on the East but it’s going to get warm quickly and you’d be better off on the West as far as the quality of the fishing and for the sake of the trout.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that nymphing during low light periods has been decent.  This week looks great with most of the days overcast with a chance of small storms and very cool nights.  Daytime temperatures have dropped back around 80 degrees too with today’s high only around 70 degrees.  Olives, caddis, cahills, sulphurs, and isonychias are being spotted on the water at various times.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the Sulfurs remain the most reliable and abundant insect around the system. Olives are also abundant both in the morning and evenings. In overcast rainy weather olives have been abundant. These tiny mayflies almost always bring the trout to the surface.

    The bigger insects available are Isonychia and Cahills. These are mostly a night time event but occasionally the Iso’s are about at odd times. Currently there is decent action blind fishing big Isonychia patterns. On recent floats our guides have been having our guests spray the water with our big Iso Cripple with good results.

    Nymphing is very good right now. During all of my trips this week my guests were running the numbers up with nymph rigs. Currently when fishing from the drift boat I am rigging 2 nymph rods for my guests. One in our traditional fashion with 3 flies fished about 3 feet below an indicator. During summer I always add a second rig. This is the setup that is hot right now. The set up is quite different. This setup starts with a dry fly type leader about 10′ with 2 very tiny nymphs. #16 – #20. I put a very small indicator 8″ to 12″ above the nymphs and blind fish it exactly like a dry fly in all water types. This setup will take fish from every water type but really excels in very shallow runs and riffles.  I will also run this rig by any stubborn dry fly eater that we have trouble with. It is amazing sometimes how easy fish become when presented with a nymph just under the surface.

    As for locations, there are good options. Just about everywhere in the system has good flows and decent water temperatures. Under the current conditions the Beaverkill and Willowemoc during the non hatch periods can’t be beaat. The riffles and pocket water sections are full of willing trout and the nymph action is great. The Main Stem has been exceptional but a lot of the good nymph spots are a bit under high water at this time.

    At hatch time the East and West branches have some fast and furious activity right near dark. The near dark period is very reliable. This magic hour activity should remain steady now all summer. The action on the Tailwaters is mostly with the sulfurs and Olives. If you want to float some larger flies look to start for late day on the Beamoc water or the Main Stem. This is where you will find the Iso’s, Cahills and various other insects. These type of bugs thrive in the areas with larger rocks, faster water and slightly higher water temperatures. It is also important to mention that spinner activity is a daily thing now. Spinners are available at all times but as expected with the big numbers coming back at dark. Big spinners are working well near dark. I have had luck with #10 patterns most nights. During the day and if your vision is good the #16 is about the most useful size at this time. Currently most of the tough fish can be taken with the #16 hackle wing rusty spinner.

Hatching:

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

Local creeks: Local creeks have settled, cleared, and held at decent flows recently. Nymphing, fishing wet flies on the swing, and dry flies will all work well. Hatches of caddis and late-season mayflies are on, particularly on the warmer days. Never fish when thunderstorms are about but keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout. We are not yet at terrestrial time but sometimes something a little different will get a take when conditions are tough.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are finally dropping down into fishable and wadeable flows. And the spawn is essentially done. In some cases, smallmouth may be feeding up after recuperating from the spawn, but be aware that all of the rivers will fish differently due to water temps and the timing of the spawn. Right now the smaller rivers – the Tioughnioga, the Chenango, and the Chemung are the places to try, with two caveats: keep an eye on the USGS water gauges as this season of heavy localized rain can change a river’s flows on a dime, and prepare for murkier conditions as the rivers are less than ideal in terms of water clarity. You’ll want to bring intermediate to sinking, sink tip lines, heavier flies, and patterns in dark and very bright colors, along with lighter lines and flies. For now, focus efforts on the headwaters where the water will be the clearest and most fishable. A great rule for clarity is that if you can see your wading boots when in knee-to-thigh deep water, you’ve got decent fishing conditions.

USGS.01512500.107460.00060..20170619.20170626.log.0.p50

The Chenango River is getting in the zone for fly fishing with flows less than 2,000 CFS. The best smallmouth fishing right now will be on rivers like the Chenango, the Tioughnioga, and the Chemung.

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A decent Chenango River bronzeback from this time, 2016, when river flows were very low…

Ponds: Largemouth bass are done spawning and so are sunfish. You may still see some males guarding beds, however. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially towards evening. Remember the key in largemouth bass fishing is often to slow down. If you’re stripping a streamer, slow it down – let it sink and experiment with retrieve. With poppers, let them sit until the last ring has disappeared. Often times a bass cannot stand the wait. A good pop will ring the dinner bell, but be careful not to spook fish in shallower water.

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

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

WBNG7Day

An upper level trough will give us showers and thunderstorms today. Some of this will be heat driven, so we’ll have to wait until the afternoon for these to develop. Some showers will linger into the evening.

We’ll see a similar forecast on Tuesday with showers and thunderstorms. We do get a break on Wednesday with partly cloudy skies.

A low over the central Great Lakes will bring a warm front in on Thursday. We’ll have partly cloudy skies with showers and thunderstorms. We’ll see this forecast for the next few days. As the low tracks to our north and a cold front moves in. This will be our weekend forecast, with rain and thunderstorms. High pressure will give us dry weather by Monday.

The week ahead in fly fishing: June 19, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on June 20, 2017 by stflyfisher

This week is the week of the summer solstice. The official start of summer is Wednesday, June 21st. And while the day of maximum sunlight approaches, it seems like clouds and rain will prevail as they have much of this spring. Water, water, everywhere is getting a bit repetitious. What’s great for trout is not so great for river rats. And what a contrast from last year at this time…

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A large fallfish nest lies exposed on the Susquehanna River in Vestal in this picture taken in late June 2016. What a difference a year makes – the Susquehanna River is currently flowing at around 5,000 CFS+. Flows at the time of this picture were sub-1,000 CFS.

Fly Shop Talk: The summer solstice is the date when the earth’s position in relation to the sun, in combination with the orientation of the earth’s rotational axis, provides the maximum amount of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. From that date on, daylight gradually decreases until the autmnal equinox, when daylight and darkness are equal.

North_season

Diagram of the Earth‘s seasons as seen from the north. Far left: summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere. Front right: summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. Courtesy of: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tau%CA%BBolunga

Here’s the week ahead report:

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports decent fishing on the Finger Lakes. Here’s his lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging slowed down a bit this past weekend with the formation of the thermocline. I expect fishing to get back up to pace shortly.  Bass season is underway. Pickerel fishing is fair to good.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout should be good here. Work at Emerson Park has been completed and launching is easy.  I expect fair to good bass and pike fishing here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth fishing is fair. Fish are likely spawning, so if that’s your thing you should be able to do well.  Rock bass and perch are bonus fish.
  • Seneca Lake:  Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow.  Expect fair pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing has been good here according to reports I received from Angling Zone friend Al.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing is the usual slow to good depending on the day. Bass action has been good with spawning winding down.

Catskill Rivers:  

The Catskill Rivers have been in good shape and fishing well thanks to lots of rain and generally normal to cool temps, however, most fly fishing reports are warning that water temps may start rising, so “fish with your thermometer”, particularly on the freestones.

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that Stilesville on the upper West Branch is flowing at 392 cfs and 46 degrees and Hale Eddy is 585 cfs and 50 degrees. The upper East at Harvard is now 200 cfs and 57 degrees and down below the Beaverkill we are looking at 751 cfs and 63 degrees at Fishs’ Eddy. Lordville on the mainstem is 1,460 cfs and 64 degrees. The West Branch is going to be the best water to be on for a while and you will have to check the temps on the East and mainstem as they are going to heat up and when they reach upper 60’s it’s time to head somewhere else. We are getting some Sulphurs in #14-16, mainly in the evening, as we are in that time period where we are waiting on the mid-day summer Sulphurs on the upper West. With the summer-like temps the mid-day fishing can be slow on the surface before we get those more consistent Sulphurs. There have been quite a few spinners right at dark. We are also seeing a few Cahills in the #16 range and Blue Winged Olives on the cloudy days.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that anglers are doing well nymphing throughout the day despite sunshine. There were fish rising early before the sun hit the water and again in the evening with Olives and Caddis mixed in with a few Cahills. We are seeing Isonychias hatch so if you don’t want to nymph blind casting riffles with a bigger dry fly can be productive. If you are fishing the lower Beaverkill, lower East Branch, or lower Mainstem in the afternoon check the water temperature with a thermometer.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that as we head into summer, the trout fishing in the Upper Delaware normally falls into a steady reliable routine. Most days there is some surface activity during the early morning hours. The majority of the activity occurs in late afternoon and evening. Sulfurs and Blue Wing Olives will be the main food items now. Isonychia and Cahills will be the larger insects that will be available at times. Overall, however, changes to conditions will be far less important than during the spring period which brings change on an almost daily basis. This weekend continued with great fishing in some places while other areas have crapped out a bit. First the bad, the Upper East has gone from hot to not. The help from mother nature expired this week as dry weather stopped the reservoir from spilling over and we witnessed the reality of the DRBC’s paltry release plan. The water is low and the big fish have scattered to the areas with depth. Hatches are decent near dark. There is also a brief afternoon sulfur emergence in some areas. At this time most of the trout rising here are juvenile as the big boys are full from the drake activity. This is normal for this river and we see this happen every summer. Just about everywhere else is fishing well. I was on the Main Stem most days last week and can report incredible nymph fishing.  My guests have been easily averaging about a dozen fish per person on our nymph rigs. Some of fish have been pretty impressive mature wild rainbows that are out of control once you come tight on them. The dry fly activity has been a pick during the day. If you look hard you can find some action. You need to look hard along the banks and anywhere that food funnels into a smaller lane. There are a lot of these areas on the Big “D” and most hold a fish that slowly eats all day long.

    As is normal here the river starts to show signs of feeding activity in the last hour before dark. The peak of activity always center around the time where most of us find it difficult to see. Isonychias are on the water and some Cahills are about near dark. I have been getting some action blind fishing the Iso during the day but the action pales next to the instant results on the nymph rigs. It is however a productive method for those who don’t care to nymph. Anglers should also be aware that any trip to the Delaware at this time is going to include shad. The run this year was heavy and there are thousands of the ocean run fish about. Most every pool is full of them at this time. In their current post spawn condition they are eating everything. Small dry flies and nymphs are being taken by shad and in most cases before the trout can get near your fly. At this time the shad are dominating most of the huge slow pools and eddies. We have been targeting them each day especially when we have guests who have never taken them on the fly. These shad are hard fighters and are great sport on 5 weight rods. On the surface small spinners work best. Sub surface we remove our strike indicators and strip our nymph rigs quickly just below the surface. Most bead head nymphs will work as long as they are small. A #16 is about right.  It is easy to sight fish them as they are swimming around with their fins out of the water. The Beaverkill and Lower East are also fishing well with both nymphs and dry flies at the appropriate times. The action is around the fast water for both and some great fish have been feeding. There have been good amounts of Isonychia here and the fish love these flies.

Hatching:

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

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This West Branch brown couldn’t resist a March Brown soft hackle, like several others along with a WB rainbow. You won’t see March Browns on the hatch charts right now, but when the hatch charts aren’t working, something a little different can often drum up business.

Local creeks: Local creeks have been up and down with the rain but they are settling and clearing faster now because the ground is not quite as saturated as it was earlier in spring. In general, flows are excellent, the water is cool, and hatches have been very good. Where flows are high and murky, streamers will be effective in the early hours of the morning. After that, nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies will work well. Hatches of caddis and mid to late-season mayflies are on, particularly on the warmer days. Never fish when thunderstorms are about but keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

owego crk 619

Owego Creek is running high and muddy due to recent rains.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are back to running high and murky for the most part. As of this past weekend, the Chemung River was running in the fishable range with good clarity but that is reversing as a result of heavy rains on Sunday night. For now, fishing heavy water is best done from a boat with a full sinking or sink tip line, fairly short leader, and big dark or very bright flies. Check the USGS water gage charts for flows and focus efforts on the headwaters where the water will clear and drop first.

Ponds: Ponds are warming up and so is the fly fishing. Largemouth bass are finishing spawning as are sunfish. You will still see some occupying beds. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective, but topwater will also be effective especially towards evening. Remember the key in largemouth bass fishing is often to slow down. If you’re stripping a streamer, slow it down – let it sink. Vary the retrieve. With poppers, let them sit until the last ring has disappeared. Often times a bass cannot stand the anticipation. A good pop will ring the dinner bell, but be careful not to spook fish in shallower water.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities:

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU will be holding its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 20 at 7 pm in the public meeting room of the Vestal Library. Guest speaker will be Ed Veaudry! This should be a very enjoyable presentation and the chapter leadership looks forward to showing him our support! Please grab a friend and join us!
  • 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 Chenango Valley Chapter of TU Annual Dinner will be held on Thursday, June 22 at Taylor’s Country House Rt 320 – North end of Norwich. The agenda includes: Cash Bar and Appetizers @ 6 pm, Dinner @ 7 pm, with entrée choices of steak, chicken piccata, or haddock (fried or broiled). The cost of the event is $25 and that includes tip. Please pay at the door. Contact Sam Scafidi if you are interested at (607) 334 – 3197 or sscafidi@roadrunner.com

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

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A cold front will come today with showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could bring heavy rain and gusty winds. Some showers will continue tonight.

This will be followed by a trough on Tuesday and Wednesday. The chance of rain will decrease, but there could still be scattered showers and thunderstorms. Skies will become partly cloudy Tuesday night. We’ll have another round of showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday.

Skies will be partly cloudy on Thursday. Another cold front will move through on Friday with showers and thunderstorms. We’ll be dry on Saturday. Another low will approach on Sunday and Monday with showers and thunderstorms.

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″.

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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…