Archive for channel catfish

The week ahead in fly fishing: August 14, 2017

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 13, 2017 by stflyfisher

It’s finally getting a little drier. The wet weather continues to ease and the rivers are showing their bones. We are still in a surplus, rain-wise. There have been a few sightings of salmon up north – possibly just a few curious fish pushing upriver – but certainly not the beginnings of what is due in a few weeks. Or so it seems…


The Tioughnioga River, shown here, is in perfect shape for wading and fly fishing. Just watch out for alligators! This picture was taken just upriver of the area where two small alligators were sighted and then caught by the DEC.

Fly Shop Talk: It’s nice to finally fish the local warmwater rivers. Trout fishing has been a salvation for us river rats during a record-wet year but as long as the river flows remain where they are now, I’ll be hanging up my trout gear for some long overdue brownlining.

We are truly very lucky to have such fly fishing diversity in our midst. As much bad press as the Southern Tier might get at times, anyone who fly fishes is certainly blessed. Blue ribbon trout rivers, creeks and streams, lakes of all sizes, and the vast warmwater rivers are all very accessible. And all of this water brings with it so many species that can all be caught on the fly. Next time you’re out on the water, take a moment to recognize in your own way, the terrific fly fishing we have at our fingertips.

Here’s the week ahead report:

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

  • Cayuga Lake: Jigging has been absolutely superb over the past few days! Occasional salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout are in the mix. Largemouth bass fishing (with bonus pickerel) is very good here as well.
  • 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 the weekend rain didn’t impact the West, East, or Mainstem Delaware rivers very much. Stilesville on the upper West Branch is at 518 cfs and 47 degrees and down at Hale Eddy we have 552 cfs with a temp of 50. There may be a slight stain by some creeks entering the river but it won’t last too long. The upper East Branch at Harvard is 258 cfs and 56 degrees while downriver at Fishs’ Eddy we have 620 cfs and 64 degrees. The mainstem at Lordville is 1,310 cfs and 64 degrees. The Sulphurs have been getting lighter and lighter upriver and we are seeing more Blue Winged Olives lately. There are a few Cahills and Isoncyhcia around and these have been good bugs to blind cast, especially on the lower West and upper main if the temps are decent. The nymphing on the lower West is a good option as well and you should see some bugs in the afternoon hours.
  • The Delaware River Club is also reporting that overnight rains only bumped up the river flows slightly. We are already dropping back this morning and the rivers look clear in Hancock. The lower West Branch had some little olives in the evening while the upper West had a mix of some sulphurs and olives. The upper West is your best bet for dry flies. If you want to nymph stay lower due to the algae. The lower Mainstem looks good for smallmouth with decent flows and temperatures in Callicoon.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that there is not much change in overall fishing conditions since the last report. The only real difference is some wet weather moved into the region. This rain was mostly light but some areas got locally heavy downpours. The area most effected is the Beamoc waters. Both rivers more than doubled their flows. This morning they have turbidity which should clear quickly. The Main Delawre also got a quick rise in flow and localized turbidity is present. The Upper East and West branches have only slight changes in flow. Both Trout and Bass fishing is reliable now. Our guests have had good fishing on most every trip.


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 are dropping to summer lows, though storms will continue to periodically revive them. It’s time now to put terrestrials in the vest if they aren’t there already. Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and ants. Don’t forget inchworms also. While fishing with nymphs and dries will produce, look for terrestrials to become a main course item for trout as the hatches begin to dwindle. Hopper fishing can be great where creeks flow by open fields – especially when the wind is blowing.

Warmwater Rivers: The warmwater rivers are now in the zone for nice wading and good fly fishing. The smaller rivers – the Tioughnioga, the Chenango, and the Chemung, are in superb shape with excellent clarity. The Susquehanna is also at good wading levels but has a bit of murk to it. This murk is actually a benefit to anglers more apt to fish the sunny daylight hours. Fishing the riffles and deep runs even under bright sun will produce as the murk cuts the light down and the bass feel safe. But if fishing in lower clarity water, choose dark or very bright flies.

The rivers are loaded with crayfish and minnows and the white fly hatch has started. I observed nymph shucks drifting by in large numbers the other evening on the Tioughnioga. As the sun began to drop in the sky, sure enough, the white fly or “white miller” mayflies began to show themselves. This hatch usually stretches out over 6 weeks beginning in late July and lasting well into August, but high water may have delayed it.

Right now topwater will produce as will fishing big nymphs dead drift or swinging large streamers. Focus efforts on low-light conditions or fish the shady areas of the rivers for the best action. Remember to experiment – sometimes the bass want a slow swing, sometimes they’ll be more apt to jump a fly that has a lot of movement. Besides smallmouth bass, fallfish, channel cats, and walleye have all been on the hunt for a well-fished fly.


The good thing about fishing Southern Tier rivers is that you never know what you are going to catch. This channel catfish hit a large wooly bugger fished on the swing in a deep run.

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 ( before August 23 to let us know you plan to attend. You may also contact Kirk Klingensmith ( ), 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:


A few showers may be lingering around Sunday morning, but as we move into the mid-morning, even though clear the area. Skies then are clearing through the afternoon as high pressure sets up. Temperatures Sunday are below average in the low- to mid-70s.

High pressure sticks around Monday, before a small-scale disturbance looks to move in Tuesday, bringing in the slim chance for showers Tuesday. Temperatures look seasonable for the first half of the week in the upper-70s.

Wednesday looks mainly quiet at this time with a small pocket of high pressure dipping in from the north before another system looks to push in Thursday and hang around through Saturday.





The week ahead in fly fishing: September 19th

Posted in Carp, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2016 by stflyfisher

This week marks the official start of fall, September 22nd to be exact. And Mother Nature seems to recognize it. Trees are starting to take on hues of fall – the hillsides are dotted by a few maples that are beginning to show their scarlet colors. Goldenrod in the fields is in full bloom and oaks are starting to drop their acorns. The other day I made my way down to a river, strolling through an adjacent field. I kicked up grasshoppers, enjoying the afternoon warmth, with every stride.


Looking downriver at dusk on the beautiful Tioughnioga

Fly shop talk: Here’s a little bit more about the autumnal equinox, courtesy of The Weather Channel:

During the autumnal equinox, day and night are balanced to about 12 hours each all over the world. Instead of the Earth tilting away from or toward the sun, its axis of rotation becomes perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the Earth and the sun.

“This change in the tilt causes the change in seasons with the northern hemisphere moving from the warmth of summer to the chill of winter,” said digital meteorologist Linda Lam. “This process includes a shift in the overall location of the jet stream which plays an important role in weather conditions.”

From that point on, daylight in the Northern Hemisphere gradually becomes shorter up until the winter solstice. This is the opposite of what occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, where daylight won’t grow any longer.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: It’s time to add this fishing category to my report. Right now the Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting movement of small pods of salmon up the run. These fish are staging in the estuary and are either moving up the river or even turning around, most likely due to the warmer water. River flows are around 400 CFS with a temp in the mid 60’s.

Catskill rivers: 

The West Branch Angler reports that all of the fishermen who haven’t been able to wade the West Branch of the Delaware River will be happy with the new flow. The Cannonsville Reservoir release was cut over the weekend and flows have dropped from well over 1,000 CFS to 500 CFS. We will still have the same bugs and the fish will be a more likely to come to the surface with the lower water. The flying ants in size 18-24 will be around for a while as well as a few Isonychia and Cahills. The Delaware River Club reports recent rains have not done much for river flows. Most people seemed to be throwing streamers over the weekend but there has been a decent mix of olives, cahills, and some isonychias hatching.


Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 –
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Nothing new here. The low, warm water warns, “stay away.” Give the creek trout a break for now.

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

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: Still not much new to report here as long as warm days and cool nights continue in the forecast. Fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening. Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. At current levels, even the Susquehanna can be forded in many locations and a lot of out-of-the-way pools, runs, and riffles can be accessed safely.


The Susquehanna River hit a new low for the year – 500 CFS…

The smallmouth bite remains very good thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. I recently recorded temps as low as the upper 60’s on the Tioughnioga, but in general, water temps will range form the upper 60’s to mid 70’s.

The rivers are loaded with bait and water clarity remains excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies.

And while fishing for smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter other warmwater species…


Channel catfish, like this nice specimen, will aggressively take a fly…

Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be in the mix on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

The rivers can still be wet waded comfortably, but be aware that wet wading in sandy or muddy river bottom areas can expose one to leeches. I was recently reminded of this, finding a rather large one attached to my lower leg! Leeches are generally not harmful – clean the bite area thoroughly with soap and water and hydrogen peroxide and don’t be surprised if the wound bleeds for a while. Leeches will actually secrete an anticoagulant enzyme when they bite. And while getting bitten is not a great thing, the fact that leeches are around should serve as a reminder that the use of a leech pattern fly can be deadly for most warmwater river species. Walleyes, in particular, can’t resist leechy-looking flies in olive, brown, and black.

Fly fishing events: After a summer break, area fly fishing clubs and chapters are getting back to business. Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU will hold their first monthly meeting of the fall on Tuesday, September 20th at 7 pm at the Vestal Library. Speaker, to be announced.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold their first monthly meeting after the summer break on Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm, with a fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Endicott Library. The guest speaker will be Bill Kessler, a devoted Atlantic Salmon fisherman who has fished from a couple hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, to Scotland, Ireland, and his “local” fisheries on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and in New Brunswick.  Bill will describe the Atlantic’s life cycle, habitat, and will describe various methods of fishing for salmon, using both wet and dry flies.  He will discuss the equipment — flies, lines, rods and reels as well as describe both single and double hand casting techniques and when to use them. Bill will bring samples of the equipment and flies and will regale us with stories of his most memorable experiences. As usual, the meeting is open to the general public at no fee.
  • The BC Flyfishers will be auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod, starting with the September 22nd general meeting. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

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

According to WBNG’s Nathan Hopper, there’s another cold front currently situated in the Upper Midwest and is separate from the front that rolled through over the weekend. After the cold front pushes through, the chance for showers will stick with us on Monday, though things will progressively dry out through Monday. Tuesday looks to be more seasonable with the sun out and the humidity to a more comfortable level. High pressure then takes over and the sun will remain with us through the end of the week, as mostly clear conditions prevail. Temperatures will hang out just above average for the week, with highs in the low- to mid-70s.

Looking out a little longer term, forecasters are saying that cold fronts will be more common across the Northeast through the rest of September. This roller coaster-type weather pattern is typical for autumn months and will only increase in frequency and magnitude through November. However, one can expect warmer temperatures to win out over the cooler temperatures through the rest of the month.

Deputy Dawg and Old Fighter

Posted in Fishing Reports, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on October 3, 2015 by stflyfisher

As I waded downriver, the prospects of fly fishing the tail-out of a pool I’ve long loved were looking better and better. The river was low, the water warm and clear, and best of all, there was a low canopy of fog overhead. I started by fishing an intermediate sink-tip line and a conehead bugger with some good-looking white legs. It wasn’t long before I was rewarded with a mid-sized smallmouth bass and then another bigger brother. I began reminiscing in some great action from a few summers ago when I caught some dandy bass and lost a few more that made me miss this spot. On that warm summer morning I could see the bass, cruising and hanging in the tail-out and ambushing bait. It was exciting stuff for a bass guy…

A few casts more and I was tight to something that didn’t jump. A deep and slugging kind of fight ensued and a nice walleye came to hand. I made more casts and got another hook-up and again, another deep slugging fight followed. But this one was different. This fish pulled drag into the current, swung like a door below me and across, and did little corkscrews and tight twists and turns. It was hard just lifting it to the surface to see what it was. Eventually I had it close and confirmed what I thought – a channel cat…


Channel cats will hit a streamer with authority and put a good bend in an 8 weight fly rod…

It was my second catfish of the year on a fly – the first having been caught a week prior under similar circumstances. I have run into these fish every year it seems, but normally only one or two a year at best. They are chance happenings – a streamer stripped across their nose or a big nymph drifted too close for them to resist, I suppose. I’ve never intentionally fished for them.

The tailout...

The tailout…

As I approached the end of the tail-out, I saw that the surface commotion I had first witnessed from afar was not the splashy rushes of bass on the hunt, but sporadic boils and bulges in the water, as if big browns were gorging on emergers. The surface action was different but energizing nonetheless. I began extending my casts so my streamer swept deeper and deeper into the tongue of the tail-out. I jigged the streamer as I fished it and was soon rewarded with a good tug and a solid fish. This one fought the same as the previous cat, but with a lot more bravado. The fish surged upriver, held steady, and then made for the depths of the pool. I clamped down on the drag. A little later, a bigger channel cat twisted and turned at my feet.

Another nice cat with a bit more beef and brawn.

Another nice cat with a bit more beef and brawn.

Two more channel cats followed over the next hour, and all of them had struck the streamer with authority. The biggest had my eight weight bent well into the butt section and took well over 10 minutes to land.

The biggest cat of the three days. This fish, like the others, was very well fed and sported quite the gut...

The biggest cat of the three days. This fish, like the others, was very well fed and sported quite the gut…

I returned to the same spot on the next two mornings, trying to determine whether this was some fluke event or an actual feeding pattern. The fish were still there both times and continued to take the streamers I fished. While I caught one cat and lost one on both subsequent days, the feeding seemed consistent and the water continued to boil sporadically.

A Saturday return visit, a week later, yielded nothing, however. Perhaps the cold front that doused the area late in the week with unseasonably cold and rainy conditions put the fish off. There were still some of the surface boils I had seen previously, but no takes this time at all. Interestingly, there was a steady hatch of large Isonychias coming off. They lumbered skyward – relative “bombers” compared to some of the caddis that were fluttering about.

Thinking back on those interesting mornings, I now believe these cats were feeding on emerging Isonychia nymphs as well as their spinners. The hatch was a good one and as fly anglers of the Southern Tier know, this is a big mayfly. It seems odd for a catfish to feed up in the water column, but channel catfish are omnivores, much like carp. On the last day I fished this pattern, I experimented with nymphs and even skated big dries across the tail-out. A large bitch creek nymph on the swing did provoke a splashy take but that was the extent of my success fishing anything different than a big streamer.

I was thrilled to partake in this newly discovered pattern of feeding but was still a little puzzled. Should I have indicator fished large pheasant tail nymphs to the feasting cats? Would I have been better off fishing Isonychia dries or emergers to these fish – patterns I normally housed in my trout vest and not my bass vest? Research on the internet revealed the fly rod world record to be taken by indicator fishing a wooly bugger. Such tactics were able to fool a 20+ lb channel cat in Texas. Could they have worked equally well on those days on the Susquehanna? And could the hot and dry weeks prior to my fishing have set “the bite” up?

I continued to think through this fishing conundrum but what suddenly came to mind was not some divine answer from the piscatorial gods, but the memories of a cartoon I watched as a child. Deputy Dawg was a cartoon series that ran in the early 60’s. It featured a dog – Deputy Dawg – who was a deputy sheriff in a backwater area of the south. The other characters in the cartoon series were varmints – Muskie Muskrat, Moley Mole, Vincent Van Gopher…

Deputy dawg doin' some catfishin'

Deputy Dawg doin’ some catfishin’

Deputy Dawg would pal around with Muskie and Vince just as often as he would lock them up in the Jailhouse, and the trio would often engage in their favorite pastime, “fishin’ for catfish”…

Old fighter always seems to outsmart Deputy Dawg...

Old fighter always seems to outsmart Deputy Dawg…

But the catfish – and above all the largest and wiliest in the lake, Old Fighter – would always somehow get the upper hand any time Deputy Dawg tried to catch them, causing him to scowl and howl his infamous “dagnabbit”.

And so I waded off the river on that last Saturday morning, empty-handed, thinking a little like Deputy Dawg and his holy grail quest to catch Old Fighter. I resolved to return again, in late summer of next year, and figure out old Mr. Whiskers. I’ll fish those tail-outs on foggy or overcast mornings after a period of warm and dry days. I’ll look for those enticing surface boils. But I’ll experiment a bit more. I’ll try an indicator and some big nymphs and have a white-legged bugger streamer ready in reserve. Maybe I’ll get to tangle again with those beautiful channel cats, and just maybe, dagnabbit, with the Old Fighter of the Susquehanna.