Archive for fly fishing

In like a lamb – a Preview on March Fly Fishing

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

March is a transition month for fishermen, particularly fly fishermen. It is a month when (traditionally) the snow melt starts in the Southern Tier, creeks and streams pick up that wonderful run-off green color, and on sunny days, a few bugs, mainly little black stoneflies, begin to flutter clumsily about.

March is just as well known as the fickle entrance to spring, when warm days, as we’ve recently been experiencing, tempt us into thinking old man winter is on the way out. Indeed, we can start the month warm and end up deep with snow. So it is said, March will come in like a lamb or lion and exit just the opposite. And while March 2017 came in very lamb-like, March to-date has been very lion-like with cold and even frigid temps, high winds, and snow squalls.

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What March can look like. This picture was taken deep in Vestal’s Jones Park on 3/7/15.

We’ve had another relatively mild winter. December proved the coldest month and February has been downright balmy. Hopefully this weather pattern is not prelude to another dry summer and fall. Last year’s drought was extreme by most measures. As reported here, the weather pattern made for some great warmwater fishing but suicidal trout conditions. In any case, early March is a good time to look ahead on the year and give a head’s up on fly fishing events, activities, and preview early season fly fishing.

Events to watch or attend:

The Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA – For those who missed the Somerset NJ show, the final “reasonably local” opportunity to attend will be the Lancaster, PA show which will be held Saturday, March 4th through Sunday, March 5th. Exhibitor booths will include non-stop casting demonstrations, seminars, fly-tying, a Women’s Fly Fishing Showcase, Fly Fishing Film Festival, book signings and the newest fly fishing tackle and gear. Fly Fishing Show admission is $15 for one day and $25 for both days. Children under age 5 are free as are Scouts under 16 in uniform. Active military with an ID are $10. Hours are: Sat. – 9 am-5:30 pm; Sun. – 9 am-4:30 pm.

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Ithaca Fishing Day – The Leon Chandler chapter of TU will once again celebrate the arrival of spring with Ithaca Fishing Day. And this one will be the 25th! This is a great event for fly fishers of all ages and skill levels. The event will be held on Saturday, March 25th from 9 am to 4 pm.

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The Twin Tiers Five Rivers (TT5R) Fly Fishing Academy – The TT5R Chapter of  IFFF is sponsoring its 10th Annual Fly Fishing Academy. This is a high-quality fly fishing course, open to Adults and to Youth 11 yrs old and over. The class will provide beginner fly fishers with the basic knowledge and skills to get started, and will help those familiar with the sport onto a fast track to improve. Classroom topics include fly fishing equipment and its use, fly types and their usage, knot tying, reading water, basic entomology, fishing dry flies, streamers, and nymphs, catching and releasing fish. Students will most importantly develop fly casting skills through three sessions throughout the day. Students can bring and learn on their own equipment, but are welcome to use the club’s equipment. More than 15 members and fly fishing experts staff the school, bringing over 200 years of fly fishing experience to help you learn and have fun. Kirk Klingensmith is the Lead Instructor for the Academy. Chas Elliott leads the fly casting staff and is an Internationally Certified Casting Instructor. Class fee is $85 for Adults (ages 16 and over) and $40 for Youth (ages 11-15, accompanied by a registered Adult). TT5R Members are also eligible for a $10 discount. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Class size is limited, so please register early. Contacts : Steve Harris 607-377-4956, sjh529@stny.rr.com, or Kirk Klingensmith 607-346-7189, kklingensmi@stny.rr.com.

Activities:

Wader work – If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to go over all of your wading gear. Check boots for damage, replace missing studs, check laces for wear and get your felt bottoms replaced if they are worn. Check and repair your waders for leaks. And check your wading staff for functionality.

Fly rods – Go over all of your fly rods in the following steps: clean, inspect, repair. Start by cleaning with soap and water, paying particular attention to the crannies around the guides. A soft bristle toothbrush can help with deep cleaning. Once clean, a light coat of car wax improves the finish and helps protect your rod from accumulation of dirt. Don’t forget to clean the cork grip. Soap and a soft bristle brush, Softscrub, or eraser sponges do a great job of removing grit and grime.

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The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great on cleaning cork.

Next, inspect your rod for damage. Run pantyhose material through the guides to detect burrs. Inspect the wraps for wear or damage. Check the reel seat. Examine the blank for dings that could be stress concentration points. Once you are done inspecting, take action to correct any discrepancies.

Fly reels – Start by removing the fly line from the reel. Set that aside for further examination. Next, check the backing. Is the backing still fresh or is there evidence of mildew or wear? Backing is relatively cheap to replace and you’ll be glad you did if a big fish ever takes you there. Now, insect the reel for dirt and damage. Light cleaning with soap and water will remove most grime. In some cases using a Q-Tip will help clean the crevices. A light coat of oil on the reel spindle and handle helps. Check your fly reel maintenance instructions for specific maintenance on the drag system.

Fly lines – Take each fly line and coil it into a tub of warm soapy water. Allow it to soak and then run the line through a sponge or clean wet cloth to clean it. Once cleaned, lay it out in large loose coils to dry. Once your line is dry, dress the line with quality line dressing and let it dry. Once the dressed line is dry, wipe it down with another clean dry cloth and store the line in loose coils until ready to use again.

Inventory fly boxes and tie up – It pays to go through your fly boxes and take inventory BEFORE you get on the water. You can decide whether to buy or tie.

Fly fishing opportunities:

For most anglers, March means trout (where the season is open), landlocked salmon, and steelhead. Rainbow trout will run up the Finger Lakes tribs but these fish are on their way to spawn and are protected until Opening Day on April 1st. It’s important to keep regulations in mind at this time of year as they vary significantly by water, species, and allowed angling methods. There are a number of local creeks, for example, that are open all year under artificial lures (flies) / catch and release rules. Other creeks are closed until the traditional opening day. Some Catskill waters are open, such as the border waters on the West Branch of the Delaware. And the Finger lakes are always a possibility. One of the most popular destinations for early season anglers are the Great Lakes tribs such as the Salmon River, where steelhead and browns can be caught. Steelhead, in particular will be coming into the river to spawn in some cases and later in spring, will drop back after spawning. Water temperatures and flows play a big part in the fishing.

Early season flies also vary but egg patterns, nymphs, and streamers are best, depending on the waters being fished. March water temps are almost always very cold, so fish nymphs and egg patterns dead drift or streamers slow and deep.

Regardless of what kind of fishing you are doing, fly fishing in the early season can often times be hit or miss, but no matter what, it’s a great way to get a fly fishing tune-up for better fishing to come.

The week ahead in fly fishing: February 27, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on February 26, 2017 by stflyfisher

Spring certainly visited the Southern Tier with gusto this past week. Record temperatures were set with highs, at times, hitting the low 70’s. And those high temperatures went to work on the snow pack, swelling local creeks, streams, and rivers with snow-melt. Most ponds and smaller lakes are largely ice-free and all of our snow is gone. As nice as it was to get a tease of spring and even early summer, let’s hope the weather returns to normal and some of the white stuff hits the ground again.

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The East Branch of Owego Creek flows high and turbid with snow melt in this picture taken on Friday, February 24.

Fly shop talk: I’ve recently been attending the BC Flyfisher’s fly tying class, learning how to tie guide flies. The class has provided an opportunity to connect with other anglers, shake off the fly tying rust, and learn how to tie some simple but very effective fly patterns. Guide flies are fish catchers – cheap in material use and fast to tie. And as John Trainor stated in one of the first two classes, when you lose some of the nymphs to the bottom, which you should be doing if you are fishing where you should be, you don’t mind losing them in comparison to a more technical fly that you just purchased at a fly shop. Guide flies are probably the epitome of effectiveness and tying them should remind us all that fly fishing need not be as pricey or “difficult” as it is sometimes portrayed. Going forward this year, I’ll be carrying plenty of these patterns in my vest, but more so, I’ll try to keep my fly fishing just like these guide flies – efficient and effective.

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run has been reporting poorer results lately, mainly due to river conditions. Most of the snow is melted and the run-off has really kicked flows up significantly. Whitaker’s is reporting the much same and advises anglers to check river flows before venturing out.

 

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Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that water temperatures are in the 41 degree range on the surface of the larger Finger Lakes. The action over the past three days has been good to very good for the most part. Here’s his lake-by-lake report:

 

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing has been productive for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers.  Both fly-and gear fishing are working.   The water level is low here and launching and retrieving boats could be a hassle for some. Lake trout jigging is good to very good.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Perch and pike fishing should be good.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing should still be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.

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

  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will be holding its next monthly chapter meeting on Monday, March 6th. Make sure to mark your calendars because this will be a good one. Joe Goodspeed, Sales Rep. for Thomas and Thomas, will be visiting to talk about Fly Fishing for Muskies. Joe is known for being a very diversified fly fisher who thinks outside the box and targets many different species. His talks are always interesting. Prior to his presentation, Joe will be tying a fly he uses for musky fishing. Joe always has some interesting stories and techniques to share, so you will not what to to miss this presentation. Fly tying demo will start at 6:30 pm, with the presentation starting at 7:00, at the Big Flats Community Center, 476 Maple Street, Big Flats.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF held the second of a series of four fly tying classes  on Saturday, February 25. The class is focused on tying guide flies – flies known for their simplicity and high effectiveness in fooling fish. Some very skilled and experienced fly tyers will be leading the remaining two classes. While the class is closed to new participants, the public is welcome to come, observe, and learn more about fly tying, fly fishing, and the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF. If interested, read more here. The next class will be held on Saturday, March 4 at 12 pm in the basement meeting room of the Endicott Public Library. On hand to teach will be Joe Cambridge, who has presented at previous BCFF monthly meetings.
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The “Turd”, shown here in fly tying instructor Tim Barrett’s vise, was one of four guide flies taught in this past Saturday’s BCFF Fly Tying class.

  • The Fly Fishing Show is in town. For those who missed the Somerset NJ show, the final “reasonably local” opportunity to attend will be the Lancaster, PA show which will be held Saturday, March 4th through Sunday, March 5th. Exhibitor booths will include non-stop casting demonstrations, seminars, fly-tying, a Women’s Fly Fishing Showcase, Fly Fishing Film Festival, book signings and the newest fly fishing tackle and gear. Fly Fishing Show admission is $15 for one day and $25 for both days. Children under age 5 are free as are Scouts under 16 in uniform. Active military with an ID are $10. Hours are: Sat. – 9 am-5:30 pm; Sun. – 9 am-4:30 pm.

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  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

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

A few snowflakes will end up falling on Sunday, with light accumulations, from 0-1″, expected, particularly at the higher elevations. MINOR flooding is also possible through Sunday evening, as ground conditions are such that the heavy rainfall received Saturday could cause flooding in some areas.

Colder air sets up and hangs around through Sunday night. More mild air looks to return Monday and stay through midweek, with temperatures possibly reaching into the mid-50s again come Wednesday. We are watching a few batches of rain showers, one on Tuesday and another low-pressure system on Wednesday. Both of which look to shake up the first half of our week. Some snow showers are then possible on the back end of that low-pressure system on Thursday. High pressure takes over Friday and Saturday, as quiet and more seasonable weather returns to the Southern Tier.

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Looking back on 2016…

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Rod Building, Saltwater, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on January 17, 2017 by stflyfisher

“To be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction, is to live twice”

Kahlil Gibran

The book on 2016 is now officially closed and as most who peruse my blog know, I like to take a look back on each year fly fishing the Southern Tier before looking forward to the year ahead.

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The beautiful West Branch of the Delaware – a classic Upstate New York trout fishery that will hopefully continue to provide great fly fishing in 2017…

2016 was an interesting mix of fly fishing highs and lows for the Southern Tier and for me in particular. I’ll summarize those points with commentary in this post. Look for a “year ahead” post in the coming weeks as well as a review of my performance to last year’s fly fishing goals and a list of what I want to accomplish in 2017.

Weather / Climate Summary – The top story of the year is the drought that started slowly, but hung on through summer and early fall to the point where many small creeks and streams were dangerously low, if not outright dried-up. Owego Creek, for example, was dry in sections, something I’ve never seen in the 24 years I’ve lived in the Southern Tier. What’s often not so good for some fishing, however, can be good for others. The warmwater rivers of our area were low enough for good wading access as early as April and even the mighty Susquehanna was low by late June.

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A large fallfish nest lies exposed on the Susquehanna River. This might be expected in a dry year in August, but to see this in late June is a testament to the severity of the 2016 drought.

By July, one could wade across the Susquehanna in many places! River flows hit a low of 500 CFS in mid-September – making fishing from a boat difficult in some areas later in summer. Note the USGS chart below…

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As can be seen in the next chart, temperatures were on the warm side in February and March, precipitating early snow-melt, but then tracked in a fairly tight range for the remainder of the year. Precipitation, or lack thereof, was the bigger issue. The chart below shows a growing deficit that widened significantly into the early fall.

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BC Flyfisher’s 1st fly rod building class – The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF kicked off 2016 with a rod building class taught by expert rod maker, Joe Swam. The class was outstanding – the group small enough to allow personalized teaching from Joe. It was so good I’m enrolled in the second annual rod building class as I write this. The best thing about the class was the knowledged gained on not only “how”, but “why” fly rods are built as they are. As an example, I never understood why the female end of each rod section is wrapped much like a guide. Now I know, thanks to the class, that the ferrule is very weak and the wrap serves to re-enforce the rod. Obviously too, rod building opens endless opportunity to build a rod that is totally your creation, and perfectly suited to your fly fishing needs. I’ll never buy another. Thanks, Joe!

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Rod wrapping with Hemingway.

Visit to Destin – I visited Destin, Florida, and my son Chris, on my way to a business trip destination at the end of January. I’d never been to the “Emerald Coast” of the panhandle of Florida. I brought my 9 weight saltwater fly fishing outfit with me but without much local guidance, I was unable to stir up a bite. Nonetheless, in talking with a few locals, I was immediately impressed with the fly fishing potential, especially when one older angler answered my query on the fishing by saying, ‘the fishing is not good, it is excellent, most excellent…’

April Steelhead – I made it out for steelhead on a very cold and wet, early April day. I once again was able to fish with friend Bob Card and guide Tony Gulisano. Tony is a great guide and is adept in angling for steelhead and salmon in all ways – spinning, centerpin, and fly fishing. Although I did raise one fish, I skunked out while Bob hooked into a number of steelhead and lost a few more. The only bad side to the trip were the repeated disappointing statements from Tony on what he was seeing as we drifted the river. The numbers of steelhead were low according to him – in some places he saw only a few fish where he’d normally see 20, 30, or more. Tony’s observations are based on years guiding the river. What he saw in early 2016 more or less predicted less than a great run of steelhead in the fall.

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Bob Card with a nice spring steelhead…

Owego Creek – I was able to get out on the “lower” Owego Creek with Rick Searles. Owego Creek is homewater to Rick – he knows it well and has caught some true trophy browns from the Owego. Rick showed me some areas to fish but was pretty up front about expectations. The lower Owego Creek is not loaded with trout but when one does find them they can be very high quality fish, including some big holdovers and wild browns as well. While I did not do so well the couple of times I fished it, I’m a believer in this small creek’s potential. Rick and I fished it in the spring but as mentioned above, by June the creek was extremely low. I stayed away from ALL creeks for the remainder of the year. I figured wild and holdover browns had enough to contend with from Mother Nature.

April Visit to Destin – I managed to visit Destin, Florida again in April along with my wife. We flew down to see our son, Chris, but in the process, decided to see what real estate was like. One thing led to another and before long we were hooked on buying. I never pictured my later life as involving the “snowbird migration”, but suddenly the thought of living part of the year in a warm climate where the fishing is both good and different and then returning north for late spring through fall seemed to appeal to me. On top of that, Destin has a strong vacation rental market and buying a property would allow us to own an investment that we could use a bit, letting rental income defray at least some of the cost before retirement. We ended up buying a townhouse on a stocked lake just minutes from the beach and 5 minutes by golf cart to Cowahatchee Bay…

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Early Season Bronze – The pre-spawn smallmouth bass bite turned out to be excellent. With water levels at spring lows, it didn’t take long to break out my smallmouth gear and look for some early season bronze. I had some excellent fishing starting with the smaller warmwater rivers like the Tioughnioga, but eventually even the big Susquehanna dropped to levels that offered exceptional fly fishing. This early season bite is always there, of course, but only when winters are mild and the rivers are relatively tame does it open up for the wading fly angler. I fished the smaller rivers early on and found some “football” smallies and equally stout fallfish in the river braids and shallow eddies…

Later in the spring, the big Susquehanna also dropped to wadeable levels, and the fishing opened up there too. I did my best to get out when the getting was good, and scored some nice bass in the process. I even got a chance to break in my newly made fly rod, dubbed “The Golden Bear” because of its Vestal High School colors of green and gold…

 

Trout & Memorial Day – I didn’t fly fish for trout as much as I’ve done in past years. Blame the low warmwater river levels and my obsession with smallmouth bass and other warmwater river species. I did make it down to my favorite place on the West Branch of the Delaware River a few times, the most memorable and personally rewarding being Memorial Day. A former sailor, Dan, contacted me out of the blue. He had read my Memorial Day blog posts and told me he had worked for Bob Shippee, one of the 37 on board who had died when the Stark was attacked in 1987. The more I read of Bob Shippee and the more I corresponded with the man who first wrote me about him, the more I wanted to write a tribute to Shippee.

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Memorial Day brown – and evidence that Bob Shippe was listening…

Carp – I ran into a few carp this year and fished for them intentionally a few more times. My first encounter was while fishing for early season bass with “The Golden Bear” – a good test of any rod and one that made me smile all the more.

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Big river carp are a great way to test out a newly built fly rod…

I caught another dandy on the Tioughnioga with Singer’s Crayfish in a size 6 – a great little pattern that’s equally good on smallmouth. In this specific case, I sawa at least a dozen carp moving and feeding in a deep hole. A few drifts with my crayfish pattern and I was hit solidly. What a great fight these fish can put on! My other attempts resulted in a few missed hook-ups but these scouting trips proved fruitful in uncovering a number of areas to fish in 2017.

Father’s Day – I spent a very special Father’s Day with a long distance fly fishing friend, Joe Laney. Originally from the northwest, Joe currently lives and works in Manhattan with his wife and daughter, but has connections in the Southern Tier through his wife’s family. He happened to read some of my posts way back when and eventually we met up to fish our local waters. Since then, we usually get out when he’s up our way. Joe’s a very good fly angler. On this past Father’s Day we explored the Otselic River and enjoyed catching some nice smallmouth bass, fallfish, and even a few rock bass. It’s always a joy to fish new water, especially with a good friend…

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Joe releases a nice fallfish on the beautiful Otselic River…

Catfish – I’ve been running into Mr. Whiskers for a number of years, but it seems like my encounters have increased most recently, prompting me to fish intentionally for them while out hunting bass. Counter to general opinion, the channel catfish that populate our warmwater rivers will aggressively hit a fly, especially large buggy streamers and nymphs. Once hooked, hang on for a deep and dirty fight, even on an 8 weight rod. The state record was a 32 lb fish caught in Brant Lake, but I’d bet river cats are tougher, pound for pound, than their laker kin due to river conditioning. I caught a half dozen up to 32″ with just as many missed in 2016 and repeated an early fall pattern where they were feeding on large emerging mayflies! Go figure…

The Fall Float – I’ve made it out on my small and humble kayak every fall for the last few years and these solo floats always prove very productive. The Susquehanna was very low when I launched downstream this year, making for some even skinnier paddling in places. I fished mainly buggers and the bass were hot to play, including several very nice ones. I did not get a shot at musky or pike, but saw a “fingerling” musky – maybe 12″ long holding near some weeds in about a foot of water. That was most encouraging. Also in the mix was a very nice channel cat and countless fallfish, probably one of the most under-rated beginner “fly fisher fish”, but a species that always fights with bravado and readily and heartily takes a fly…

Blues – The fishing for bluefish was pretty damn good this year. That’s something I truly missed the last several years. Fishing seemed to change off Barnegat Light / Long Beach Island ever since Hurricane Sandy decimated the Jersey shore and that change to the fishing (along with regulation changes) took its toll on the party boats. Whereas two boats – Doris Mae and Miss Barnegat Light – ALWAYS ran for blues from spring through fall, day and night, fishing deteriorated so badly that these boats began to cut back on their trips. Sadly, Doris Mae eventually sold out. Theories abound on specifically why the fishing has changed for Barnegat Light – some indicate bottom changes due to the storm – others point to changes in seasonal currents. Whatever the cause, the trip (think fuel expense and time to fish) to reach blues from Barnegat Light did not make business sense. So after reading some glowing reports this past fall, I looked about 40 minutes north to the boats out of Belmar and I was not disappointed. I took a trip aboard The Golden Eagle with my cousin, Mark, and we had a great day. The only disappointment was that the fish mainly wanted bait in the chum slick. I prefer to jig for them, but it was so good to feel their brute power…

Destin – My wife and I returned to Destin in early November to spend a week at our place there. I finally got a chance to meet Ed Greene, a local fisherman and neighbor to our realtor. He was gracious enough to take me out to the expansive Cowahatchee Bay on his center console 23 foot fishing boat. We fished primarily for “trout” as they are referred to in the south. The bay holds a wide range of gamefish, including summer flounder, ladyfish, bluefish, redfish, trout, jacks, spanish mackerel, and even cobia and tarpon. Once I got a handle on the fishing, thanks to Ed’s sage advice, I ventured out on my own, wading the bayside shallows and tidal creeks. I fished a 9 foot 8 weight rod, an intermediate line, a 6 foot leader, and a number of streamers / shrimp patterns, but the best producer was a chartreuse and white clouser minnow. My efforts were rewarded with a number of small trout, a redfish, many lizardfish, and a summer flounder – a great intro to fly fishing, Emerald Coast style, and to think it was only a 5 minute ride in a golf cart to miles of bay fly fishing…

Ed also was kind enough to take me out wreck fishing offshore in a friend’s 27 foot center console boat. Our target species was red snapper. We first jigged up live bait in the East Pass inlet using light spinning gear and tiny sabiki rigs. This was fun stuff in itself. Proper technique could end up with 3, 4, or even 5 feisty baitfish on the multiple hook rigs. After we had a good supply of live bait, we cranked up and headed offshore to wrecks that Ed had in his GPS unit. We fished in water 50 to 90’+ and used pretty stout boat rods with 60lb mono. The rig was classic bluefish stuff – egg sinker (in this case 8 ounces!), swivel, leader, and snelled circle hook. I’d never fished a circle hook and it does take some getting used to. The idea is to just let the fish take the bait and simply tighten up to it without lifting the rod. The circle hook then rotates in the fish’s mouth, rolls, and hooks the fish in the corner of the mouth. I quickly got the hang of it, and in combination with the 3 other gulf-fishing veterans, it wasn’ long before we each had our 2 fish limit in the cooler. These were beautiful red snappers, hard fighting and even better tasting…

Salmon – Another first for me was a trip to fish the salmon run in the Salmon River. I made it up to the Upper Fly Zone – an area I had never fished before but one about which I’d heard good comments. I fished it with angler friend Bob Card on a rainy day. For those unacquainted, the Upper Fly Zone is beautiful water and well worth a full day or days of fishing. I hooked up as did Bob but we did not land one of thee black beasts, primarily due to our position on the river. If nothing else, it was a great recon trip. I’ll certainly be back up there again in 2017.

The Magic of 100 – I’ll finish up this post with a comment on achieving a goal I set at the start of 2016 to “fish and/or engage in fly fishing events and activities 100 times”. Look for a future post on this idea of “100”in the near future, but setting that goal was largely responsible for most of the 2016 memories that I’ve posted here.

And so, I’ll close out 2016 with a wish that 2017 is even better for Southern Tier long rodders…!

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: January 9, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Rod Building, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on January 8, 2017 by stflyfisher

Happy New Year! Another year gone by – another year to come. It’s been a while since the last weekly fishing report so here’s the first of 2017. In general, fishing has slowed with the cold weather, but there is still some decent fly fishing to be had for the winter-hardened anglers out there. I’ll cover the areas with updates where fly fishing is possible. Small stillwaters such as ponds and the smaller creeks and streams and the warmwater rivers are pretty much out now due to the presence of ice.

Fly shop talk: A recent ad from Simms that found its way into my email carried the subject line: “2017 Resolution: Go Fishing.” As simple as it is, and an obvious lead-in to what new products Simms has in store for 2017 that will help you go fishing, anglers should read and heed and definitely carry this mantra forward in 2017. After all, nothing beats hitting the water for anglers wanting to improve their skills and as Harry Murray, famed smallmouth fly angler says, a day you don’t go fishing is a day you never will. Second to going fishing is to desk-top fish in some way, by reading a book, tying flies, working on gear, or even building a new fly rod. I’m convinced ANY type of fly fishing activity makes a better angler in the long run…

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Any fly fishing activity can make for a better angler in the long run…

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that some steelhead are being caught but conditions are less than favorable at the moment with a lot of lake effect snow, very cold water, and marginally high flows for wading. The USGS gauge at Pineville is currently around 900 CFS. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel reports that the upper end of the river is producing some action for anglers able to brave the cold. Anglers fishing the Altmar to Pineville section of the river are hooking up with steelhead. One local angler reported landing one smaller size steelhead (5 lbs) and seeing a few others caught – generally the same size. The Finger Lakes tribs are also producing browns, rainbows and landlocked salmon for those willing to fight the cold.

Suggested Patterns:

  • Sucker spawn in white, cream, peach, blue. size 8
  • Estaz eggs in chart, pink, white, blue. size 10
  • Glo-Bugs in pink, chart, orange. size 8
  • Steelie omelet in chart, peach. size 8
  • Steelhead stone in red, purple, orange. size 6
  • Steelhead bugger in size 6.
  • Black / purple egg sucking leech in size 6.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting the Finger Lakes to be heading for a deep freeze that’s expected to last at least a week. But now’s a great time to plan for spring fishing. Following is his lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Shorefishing has been productive for landlocked salmon, brown trout, rainbows and lakers.  Both fly-and gear fishing is working.
  • Seneca Lake:  Last I’d heard, perch fishing was good here.  I’d expect a few salmon and trout to be around, as well as some pike for the boaters as well as anglers in good shore areas.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is still very good here.  Also expect good perch/bass/pickerel and fair salmon/trout fishing.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here along with some bonus lake trout and smallmouth bass.

 

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here. The auction will be held at their next monthly chapter meeting, on Thursday, January 19th.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is holding its next monthly chapter meeting on Thursday, January 19 at 7:00 pm, with a fly tying demo at 6:30 pm. The presentation topic isFishing for Silvers in (rainy) Cordova, Alaska” with speaker and chapter member, Dan Leonard. Come out to watch another one of Dan’s entertaining videos of his fishing trip to Cordova, Alaska for silvers (Coho Salmon).  This trip took place in September of 2008 with Mark Heath from Chenango Forks and old friend and guide, Ed Trainer from British Columbia.  In September, Cordova has the most precipitation of the year at an average of 22 inches with an average of 21 rain days of the month.  The public is invited and there is no charge for the presentation.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is also conducting a fly rod building class. The first class was held this past Saturday. While the class is closed to new registrants, the classes are open to the public to attend and watch. Here’s a link from last year’s very successful class. There are two sessions left – Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 9:00 am and Saturday ,January 21, 2017 @ 12:30 pm. The class is being held at the Endicott Public Library in the downstairs meeting room.
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Joe Swam, expert rod maker, teaches a student in the fine art of fly rod building at the BC Flyfishers second annual fly rod building class. Picture courtesy of the BC Flyfishers.

  • The Leon Chandler Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Tompkins County Cooperative Extension 4-H Program will be offering an Introduction to Fly Tying workshop, featuring nine two-hour sessions with several different instructors teaching the basics of tying the dry fly, wet fly, nymph and streamer patterns that are the most effective in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes area. All classes will be from 6:00-8:00 pm on Saturdays, January 14 – March 11, 2017 at the Tompkins County Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue Ithaca, NY. In addition to the 9 weeks of instruction, tuition includes complete tying kits (vises, scissors and related tools); all tying materials (feathers, dubbing, hooks and related materials); as well as a comprehensive introductory text on fly tying. Fees are $140 for adults (19 and up), $110 for children (between the ages of 13 and 18) and $215 for a child and adult combination. There are a limited number of partial scholarships available for children between the ages of 13 and 18. A 50% tuition deposit must accompany your application. To register contact Athena Steinkraus at:
    Winter Fly Tying Workshop
    c/o Tompkins County CCE
    615 Willow Avenue
    Ithaca, NY 14850
    MORE INFO:  607-272-2292 (ext. 139)
    ahs38@cornell.edu

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

According to WBNG’s Nathaniel Hopper, windy and cold conditions will prevail for all of us for the rest of the weekend, while some localized areas will see lake-effect snowfall. Strong northwest winds will be bringing snow off Lake Ontario, as we could see gusts up to 30mph. Wind chills in the negative teens to negative single digits cannot be ruled out. The best chance for snow looks to stay north and east of Binghamton, while a few waves of snow may wobble across Broome/Tioga County throughout the day. Some localized areas north and east of Binghamton may see more than 3″ of snowfall in more persistent bands, though 0 to 2″ is expected for a majority of the area as snow showers end late Sunday. Temperatures then dip into the single digits Sunday night, with some spots possibly seeing negative single digits. Temperatures then look to warm through the first of next week, winding up in the low-40s by mid-week, which is well above average. As things warm up, rain and a wintry mix will be more likely than snow. A cold front then looks to bulldoze through the Twin Tiers next weekend, dropping temperatures back to seasonable with a wintry mix possible as the front passes.

wbng7day

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 26th

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , on September 26, 2016 by stflyfisher

Fall is here and the hillsides are starting to show it. Although we still have about two weeks to go for peak colors, some trees are starting to lighten up. Leaves are even falling, no doubt due to the drought that has a lock on the Southern Tier. Nights are getting cooler and cooler days look to follow. This is one of the best times of the year to get out and fly fish. Besides the spectacular scenery and wildlife, many local fish species are starting to prepare for winter in two ways – feeding up and/or heeding mother nature’s call to spawn. In both cases, these fish are either feeding to put on weight before the long winter or are biting out of aggression and competition.

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Most people think of fall in hues of scarlet, orange, and yellow. Fly fishers tend to think of fall in hues of olive and black…

Fly shop talk: The New York State DEC held a public hearing on September 14th. Concerned area residents and i-3 Electronics representatives met at Union-Endicott High School for a public information / public comment session on a draft permit for wastewater discharge for i3, formerly EIT. While some have expressed concerns that the permit allows toxic waste to be dumped into the Susquehanna River, members of the DEC say that part of the reason they hosted the information session was to alert the public that the permit works to protect the Susquehanna. I’ve not thoroughly investigated whether the leachate waste that’s being treated is harmful to our beautiful Susquehanna River, nor have I seen outward signs of damage to fish or other river life. But I am scratching my head over how a state that bans fracking can turn around and allow the transportation and treatment of fracking waste and the subsequent discharge of the treated waste into the Susquehanna. I plan on submitting my concerns to the DEC. While the public comment meeting has passed, any interested person may submit comments in writing to the DEC. According to the DEC, all comments will be considered in making the final decision about issuance of this permit. Written comments about the permit modification and renewal must be RECEIVED BY September 30, 2016 to be considered and should be sent to:

Teresa Diehsner
NYSDEC Headquarters
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
(518)402-9167
DEPPermitting@dec.ny.gov

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that the movement of salmon up the run has slowed recently. There are fish staging in the estuary. Water temp is around 65 degrees and flows are a steady 400 CFS. Fish are being caught but not so much as during last week. Streamers, buggers, and egg patterns will work on salmon.

Catskill rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the release from the West Branch has been lowered once again with current flows in the mid 600’s and temps averaging in the mid 50’s. The water still has a pretty good stain going on with several feet of visibility. The water does clear as you head down the West Branch and onto the mainstem which is just under 1,000 cfs with a temp around 60 degrees. There have been a few Blue Winged Olives in the afternoon hours in size 18-24 throughout the system as well as a few 14-16 Cahills.  There are also still a few tricos around in the mornings. Streamers are still a good bet on the West. The Delaware River Club reports that the cool nights have helped dropped the water temperatures, even on the low water of the East Branch. Olives and Isos have been working well, but make sure your box has flying ants and small dark Caddis. Lower water should make nymphing productive, even with the sun.

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: Creeks picked up a little water with recent rains but not much. Cooler nights are helping the warm water but it’s still best to 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: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening. Bass and sunfish will 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. The Susquehanna is back to crashing lows for the year and at current levels can be forded in many locations. There are a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles that can be accessed safely.

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Looking upriver on the Susquehanna River

The smallmouth bite is very good to excellent thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. I’m currently measuring water temps as low as the mid 60’s on the Tioughnioga, but in general, water temps will range from the low 60’s to mid 70’s depending on the river and location.

The rivers are loaded with bait and that bait is getting bigger as fall progresses. Water clarity is 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 remember on bluebird sky days where the sun is really bright, look for shady areas to fish as bass are light-shy.

In addition to smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter a variety of other warmwater species. 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 caught on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. 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 Brian Schroeder, a cool body of Canadian high pressure moving through Ontario and Quebec will keep temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s, with frost possible. A low will move across the Great Lakes early in the week. We’ll start Monday with sunshine, but the clouds will be increasing. There will be a slight chance for some showers late Monday night. The clouds and the chance of showers will continue Tuesday and Tuesday night, but will wind down for Wednesday. High pressure moves in later in the week giving us partly cloudy skies on Friday and mostly sunny skies on Saturday. Temperatures will rebound into the upper 60s and low 70s by 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.

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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 weather.com 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.

susky-low

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…

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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.

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 12th

Posted in Fishing Reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 12, 2016 by stflyfisher

We are now a little over one week from the official start of fall. It certainly doesn’t feel like that given the toasty and humid end of week weather we’ve recently experienced, however. Trees continue to show signs of turning and there’s no doubt our continued dry and drought-like conditions are causing an early turn. Creeks, streams, and even the larger rivers are all bones these days. One look at the water gauge for the Susquehanna is all you need to convince yourself that it’s been a dry year…

suskysept

And along with the dry weather, the daylight is shortening – another sign of fall. By next week we’ll be even-steven on the ratio of daylight to darkness – and it’s downhill from there. Best to rise early when it’s dark out and get used to it in preparation for late fall steelhead fishing!

Fly shop talk: This week I’d like to recognize the 15 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America. This isn’t fly shop talk, per se, as it doesn’t have much to do with fly fishing – or does it? It goes without saying that the 9/11 attack was by all accounts a truly life changing event for the victims, their families, and the survivors, including the many responders who continue to suffer from the physical and psychological impacts of the attack. But I think it is fair to say, no American can say that their life has not changed as a result. Walk through any airport, go to any major public event, or visit a government facility, and the lasting effects of the attack are clearly visible. We lost a bit of innocence on that day. We are, perhaps, more guarded. We may even bristle at the thought of that day. For freedom is indeed, not free. And this is where fly fishing comes in. Get out and fish this week. Do it, if for nothing else, to remember those who died, who suffered, and who continue to suffer. Remember them and honor them by doing the very thing the evil ones out in the world want so dearly. Exercise the freedom you have and cast. Wade our beautiful rivers. Cherish some serenity. And cast, cast away for them…

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The second tower of the World Trade Center bursts into flames after being hit by a hijacked airplane in New York in this September 11, 2001 photograph. REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek/Files

 

 

 

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

Catskill Rivers: 

Releases on the West Branch of the Delaware have been pretty significant lately with a high flow of over 1400 CFS this weekend. Currently flows are dropping but still above 1000 CFS. The West Branch Angler reports that there was a bit of stain to the water over the weekend. Water temps are good throughout the West Branch and the upper mainstem as well with the temp at Lordville is currently 63.  Streamer fishing is going to remain pretty good with the currently high is volume of water. The flying ants in size 18-24 will be around for a while as well as a few Isonychia and Cahills.  We don’t know how long the water will last but high flows will continue until we get a decent amount of rain to help the downstream flows. The Delaware River Club reports Cahills and olives are the main hatches right now but there are still some small sulphurs mixed with isonychias.  There are also a few brown caddis showing up.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 – S. ithaca & canadense
    Golden Drake – #12-2xl – Potomanthus
    Trico – 22 – 26 – Tricorythodes sp.
    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: Not much new to report here except that the cooler nights will shift the best fishing to later in the day or around dusk. 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 remain low and continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. At current levels, even the Susquehanna can be forded in spots and a lot of out-of-the-way pools, runs, and riffles can be accessed.

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The warmwater rivers are really getting skinny, as shown in this picture of a Susquehanna river braid that is now totally dry…

The smallmouth bite is very good, even “hot” according to some river rats. The river temps are dropping thanks to cooler nights and those cooler nights are also giving the rivers a nice blanket of radiation fog that provides excellent low light fishing well into mid-morning. I recorded a recent temp of 75 degrees on the Susquehanna.

The rivers are loaded with bait and water clarity is good. 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. Also be prepared to encounter different species. I recently found a pod of young walleyes that were taking a large streamer stripped through a pool. It was nice to see younger fish like that – a true indicator that the river is healthy.

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 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 3rd Partridge Fly Tying Days will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum from 10:00am-4:00pm. The day celebrates the art of fly tying. Partridge Fly Tying Days is a fun, casual format for a fly tying show with the objective to promote fly tying through education. The day is filled with demonstrations, presentations and workshops from some of finest fly tiers in multiple specialties, in the intimate surroundings of the Wulff Gallery.
    Information will be updated frequently. PRESENTATIONS include BCFF member John Shaner speaking about “Tackle and beyond”, Peggy Brenner presenting on “Streamers”, and a presentation to be announced by the Catskill Fly Tying Guild.
    Authors & Demonstrations include Rick Bobrick of Medusa Leaders. Rick will be set up for furled leader and knot tying demonstration throughout the day. There will also be over a dozen fly tyers on hand.
  • 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, a more seasonable and less humid high pressure system looks to be shifting into our area from the Central Plains. This will limit cloud activity, and keep things more fall-like through Wednesday. On Wednesday, another cold front will come through our area, and thus another chance for some showers and a few thunderstorms. After this cold front pushes through, temperatures will drop off the table with highs being on average or just below average in the mid-60s to low-70s for the remainder of the week.

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.