March continues to roar of winter, even with the official start of spring less than two weeks away. After a warm spell last week, temps again dropped to single digit lows Friday night and have carried on through the weekend. And lake effect snow, brought on by high winds, hit the Southern Tier along with the cold. Ponds now have skim ice on them and creeks, though still swollen and high, could build up some shelf ice based on the current forecast. The cold weather gives anglers a good excuse to break out their gear in anticipation of spring fishing and go through it thoroughly. It also pays to re-fill those spring and summer fly boxes while the siren call to hit the water is not so strong…
Fly shop talk: “I think the best teacher is the stream…” – this is just one of many gems I’ve mined from the book, Trout Tactics by Joe Humphreys. Humphreys is a well-known fly fly fisherman from Pennsylvania who taught fly fishing at Penn State and who has authored several books on a sport he has participated in for much of his long life. I’ve just started the book, but reading it has reminded me of something I’ve neglected over the last few years: reading good books on fly fishing. Continuous improvement is important to any fly angler looking to increase skill levels on the water. Before one can improve, knowledge is needed. After knowledge is gained, application of that knowledge through practice develops skill. To be a better angler,commit to gaining knowledge through reading good fly fishing books and then applying it on the water.
Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:
Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries:
Fishing conditions have made fishing the Salmon River and other GL tribs difficult and reports are pretty poor as a result. The bitter cold, wind, snow and high river levels have put a damper on the fishing for sure. Some anglers have had success with steelhead on some of the smaller local tributaries.
Related to Great Lakes trib fishing is the following from the DEC’s recent report-out held at the Rochester Institute of Technology. According to the DEC’s 2016 Fishing Boat Survey, fishing on the lake for Chinook salmon, lake trout and Atlantic salmon was good, but “fishing success for coho salmon, brown trout and rainbows was relatively poor.” Fishing for lake trout was reported as “stable.” Chinook salmon fishing on the lake this year was very good at the western end between the months of May through August, and during July for all areas of the lake. The average length of the fish were shorter than previous peak years, but on average were larger in girth. Anglers experienced a rebound of the fall fishing on the lake’s tributaries last year after a subpar 2015 season. The total amount of fish stocked in New York’s waters of Lake Ontario by the DEC in 2016 included about 1.88 million Chinook salmon, 316,000 Coho, 662,170 Rainbow trout, 156,270 Atlantic salmon, 384,250 Lake trout and 68,250 Walleye. DEC staff reported that fall 2016 Chinook and coho salmon egg collections at the Salmon River hatchery “exceeded targets, and that fish survival has been good to date.” However, anglers can expect a shortfall in the numbers of yearling (1 year old) lake trout that will be stocked this coming year due to an unexplained disease at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Allegheny National Fish Hatchery. A total of 400,000 fish was the goal, but the actual number now will be less than 300,000.
The old news coming into the meeting is the recently announced joint New York/Canadian plan to cut Chinook salmon and lake trout stocking levels in Lake Ontario by 20 percent this year. The decision, which officials stress will continue for a few years and have minimal, if any, impact on the lake’s fishing, was prompted the current state of the alewive population on the lake. Alewives are the main prey for Chinook, the No. 1 game fish that anglers target on Ontario. Recent studies have shown alewive numbers took a hit during the brutally cold winters of 2013-14 and 2014-2015. They are not native to the Great Lakes and have limited tolerance to cold temperatures. The result, say DEC officials is an imbalance in the lake of Chinook salmon and the food they need to survive. State, federal and Canadian officials are teaming this spring to do bottom trawl surveys throughout the lake to get a good handle on the situation. They’re hopeful the mild winter this year will result in appreciable increased numbers of the bait fish. (Report courtesy of David Figura, NYupstate.com).
Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that water temperatures are likely in the 37/38 degree range on the surface of the larger Finger Lakes. Pike/pickerel/walleye/tiger musky seasons close this coming week on March 15th. It is unlawful to target those species (even for catch and release) when the season is closed, so all my guiding will be focused on trout/salmon until May 6th when the season re-opens.
Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:
- Cayuga Lake: Fly-fishing and casting with gear has been productive for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers. Lake trout jigging is also productive. The water level has come up a little bit and launching is easier at some launches.
- Seneca Lake: Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout. Very few boats were out of Watkins Glen perch fishing when we went out.
- Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing should still be good here.
- Owasco Lake: Lake trout fishing should be good here.
- Skaneateles Lake: Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.
Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of upcoming events:
- The Al Hazzard chapter of Trout Unlimited will have its next chapter meeting on Tuesday, March 21st at 7 pm at the Vestal Public Library. On tap for the evening’s presentation is Mike Breed of the Chenango Valley High School who will talk about the Trout in the Classroom project.
- The BC Flyfishers will be holding its next chapter meeting on Thursday, March 23rd at 7pm, with an informal fly tying demo at 6:30 pm. Rick Cramer, owner of Troutfitter Fly Shop in Syracuse will be the speaker and his presentation will be on expanding your trout fishing horizons to include streams around Syracuse. Troutfitter is one of the very few quality fly fishing shops in our area. Rick will tell us about his shop, provide us with discount cards, and acquaint us with more trout fishing locations in the in the Syracuse area. Specifically, Rick will talk about Otselic River, Skaneateles Creek (and Lake), Oriskany Creek and Chenango Canal, and Fabius Brook. Find out where to access them, what flies to use, and Rick’s favorite spots. Rick will be handing out maps showing access points so bring a pencil to add your notes on best locations. Why be stuck fishing the same local venues? It’s time to add new scenery and locations to your fishing repertoire. Come and join us and bring a friend.
- The Leon Chandler chapter of Trout Unlimited is sponsoring Ithaca Fishing Day. The chapter has expanded the focus of this event beyond just fly-fishing to encompass all aspects of fishing and cold-water conservation. The date for the event is Saturday, March 25, 2017 from 9 am to 4 pm. The event will be held at the Ithaca High School, in the cafeteria. Ithaca Fishing Day is a unique event that invites the entire community to come and experience a day of educational opportunities focusing on fishing and cold-water environmental conservation. It’s free to the public and all proceeds raised benefit the youth-related environmental education activities of our local Trout Unlimited Chapter, including the Trout in the Classroom program currently in seventeen local elementary, middle and high schools. Programs are planned throughout the day; including the opportunity to interact with one of the Trout in the Classroom fish tanks. As always, special programs will be featured on a variety of important and interesting topics. This will include presentations by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Mel Russo, and Shahab Farzanagen; as well as free fly-casting and fly-tying instruction throughout the day. This event offers unique opportunities to learn fishing and fly tying tips from masters from around the region, and includes demonstration tanks featuring live locally collected aquatic insect specimens.
- It’s still not too late to sign up for the Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF’s Fly Fishing Academy, scheduled for Saturday, April 8, 2017, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. This year marks the TT5R’s 10th anniversary for the Annual Fly Fishing Academy. The event will be held at the Campbell-Savona High School in Campbell, NY. This is a high quality fly fishing course, open to Adults and to Youth 11 yrs old and over.
This full day class is designed for beginner and intermediate fly fishers to develop and expand techniques and skills. The day includes three casting sessions led by a Certified Casting Instructor. Learning sessions throughout the day are taught by fly fishers with vast experience and include fly fishing strategy, knot tying, gear selection, fly selection, getting started with trout and bass, and more. Nymph, dry fly and streamer techniques are demonstrated in a full-scale model stream. Lunch and snacks are provided. No equipment is necessary. Class fee is $85 for Adults (ages 16 and over); $40 for Youth (ages 11-15, accompanied by a registered Adult). TTFR Members are also eligible for a $10 discount. Space is limited and filled last year, so you are encouraged to register early. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Contact Steve Harris 607-377-4956 firstname.lastname@example.org or Kirk Klingensmith 607-346-7189 email@example.com
- The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.
The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:
We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Sunday, but it will be frigid and breezy with highs in the teens and 20s’. Cold Sunday night with lows in the single digits. Another low will develop over the middle part of the country, tracking well to our south. This will turn into a Nor’easter. It will give us some clouds on Monday. The storm track brings the low right along the Atlantic coast, so there is a chance of snow on Tuesday and into Wednesday. We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Thursday. Another low coming in from the west will give us some snow on Friday. The good news with this is that temperatures will be on the rise with highs in the 30’s to end the forecast.