Archive for susquehanna

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.

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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.

Choconut Creek

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on October 23, 2009 by stflyfisher

Pioneer Joseph Addison established a farm on the banks of Choconut Creek in 1811.  Back then it is said that Mr. Addison could shoot deer from the porch of his farmhouse to provide meat for his family and the trout were so plentiful in the creek that he could wade in and catch them with his bare hands.

Joseph Addison House, as it appears now, close to 200 years old...

Joseph Addison's farmhouse, as it appears now, close to 200 years old (pic courtesy of 1811 Addison House B&B)

Historic Addison House stands proud with years, now a restored bed and breakfast inn, and Choconut Creek still flows the same 40 circuitous miles through hemlock-wooded gorges, valleys thick with hardwoods and across farmland that has been tilled for nearly two centuries.  The creek passes by modern-day Vestal, once the site of Iroquoian longhouses, on its destination to the Susquehanna River.

The Addison House and farm (http://www.1811addison.com/index.htm)

The Addison House and farm (http://www.1811addison.com/index.htm)

The unusual name of the creek is of Native American Indian origin; “Choconut” is a corruption of the Nanticoke word “tschochnot” meaning “place of tamaracks”.  A second interpretation is derived from the word “chugnut” which was the name of a small Indian tribe living under the protection of the Iroquois. The “chugnut” established villages on opposite sides of the Susquehanna River at the mouths of Choconut Creek and its northern sister-stream, Nanticoke Creek.  The Continental Army made it their mission to destroy these settlements since the Iroquios supported the British during the Revolutionary War, and this paved the way for the first European settlers, who came by way of New York and Connecticut in 1806 and built homes along the Choconut.  One among those new arrivals described this area of Pennsylvania as follows:

“The country is, as respects the surface, what is generally called a ridgy or rolling surface – very few of the hills too steep for cultivation, and their summits equally fertile with any other part. In the hollows or valleys there are delightful clear streams, a proportion of  which are large enough for any kind of water-works, and they abound with trout and other kinds of fish. I think it is the best watered country in my knowledge.”

In some ways, the area surrounding Choconut Creek has not changed much since the pioneer days.  There are still plenty of deer, bear, turkey, and even a few bobcat roaming the rural hills and valleys.  Coyote have taken the place of wolves, one of which treed a neighbor of Joseph Addison.  But it’s the creek that’s of interest here, and my research shows it may not be quite what it was when old Joe Addison waded its spring-fed waters.

The stream is classified as a warm water fishery by the Soil and Water Commission, but the commission also reported in 2001 that native populations of Brook and Brown trout can be seen in the Choconut Creek and many of its tributaries.  Indeed, some earlier posts in this blog prove that brookies are resident in at least one of the creek’s tributaries.

NoName Brook - Choconut Creek trib...

NoName Brook - a Choconut Creek tributary.

Flyfishers are aware that mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies are indicators of good water quality. At several creekside stops on a recent fall outing, caddis could be seen in abundance along with a few mayflies.  Their presence on the Choconut is encouraging…

A nice run by a roadside bridge...

A nice rocky run by a roadside bridge...

Also encouraging was stream structure – from pools with some depth…

The head of a deeper pool on the Choconut...

The head of a deeper pool on the Choconut...

to well-shaded runs…

Shade that brookies like...

The kind of shade that brookies like...

and long pools with nice flows.

Upper Choconut pool - not far from old Joe's place...

Upper Choconut Creek pool - not far from Addisn House...

But noticeably missing in all the places I checked were trout.  As much as I looked, with polarized sunglasses I might add, I could not find a one.  Could old Joe’s accounts of brook trout heaven in his backyard be accurate?  The landscape has not changed much from the days of old, or has it?

After much thought and more research on the matter, I contend that Joseph Addison was, in fact, not sipping whiskey when he made his claims of a creek stacked with brook trout.  When he first settled his piece of heaven, every inch of the hills and valleys were dense with hardwood and fir.  The hemlock shaded the ground, preserving the snow pack deep into late spring, and kept groundwater and the flows of the brooks and creeks cool during the heat of the summer.

The history of the Catskills is testament to the deforestation that changed that region from a haven for brook trout, to a fishery for brown and rainbow trout – “invasive” species if I dare say so.  In this historic mountain forestland, hemlocks 4 feet in diameter were once commonplace in what can best be described as an ancient climax forest, deep in duff with topsoil intact, covering the mountains like a huge sponge that retained cool water and absorbed the shock of heavy rains.  The white pines were claimed first for ship’s masts in the early colonial days and then the great hemlocks were felled and bark-stripped to feed the leather-tanning industry.  By the 1880’s, the effect was a bare mountainous landscape covered only in scrap, slashing, and broken trees.

As the Catskills went, so, most likely, did the Choconut Valley.  Just north of the place were leather tanning factories that fed a burgeoning shoe industry in Endicott, NY.  And beyond that, the farms blossomed to feed a growing America.

Choconut Creek flowing through pasture...

Choconut Creek flowing through pasture...

While the upper stretches of Choconut Creek may hold a few brookies or browns – and even a few small creek trophies that have the place all to themselves – the creek is indeed a shadow of the fishery it once was in the days of “old Joe”.  The best measure of what it could be can be found just up the road in Jones Park.  There, as previously posted, the hemlocks and hardwoods have been left alone to do their job.  The result, in mere puddles in the fall, is clear to anyone who wants to look.  At least there, Joseph Addison’s claim lives on…

Tight lines…

Weekend Short Report – Update

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing with tags , , , , on September 27, 2009 by stflyfisher

I went fishing fairly early yesterday morning at my favorite Susquehanna River access in Apalachin.  As I rigged up, a forest green late-model Dodge Ram pickup pulled in with boat in tow.  The driver positioned his pick-up perfectly in line with the ramp, parked, and began to load the boat with his gear.

I headed down to the ramp to enter the river and stopped to see what this angler was up to.  “Fishing for walleye?” I asked.  “No, smallmouth.” was the reply.  There was something familiar about this guy.  His head was shaved and his tan and working clothes suggested he worked outdoors.  He was neat and orderly – laying out his rods just so.  “You tie your own flies?”, he asked, most likely noting several that I had on my vest drying patch.  “No”, I said.  Then he mentioned that he made a living raising hackle chickens for the fly tying industry.  That’s all I needed to hear to realize I was talking to none other than Charlie Collins, the owner of Collins Hackle Farm.  I had once heard him speak and show his quality hackle at an Al Hazzard Chapter TU meeting.  Here’s a little background info from the internet on Charlie, and his business:

Collins Hackle Farm. Charlie Collins started breeding hackle chickens in 1980, using stock from Andy Miner, Harry Darbee, and Dick Bitner. Collins’s main genetic emphasis is in breeding birds with thin, flexible quills that wrap true and don’t split or twist. “If you can’t wrap the feather, all the other hackle traits are worthless,” he says. “No trait is more important than quill quality.”

Collins has a relatively small operation, hatching from 4,000 to 8,000 chicks annually at his farm in Pine City, New York. He breeds for neck qualities exclusively and doesn’t sell his saddles individually–he includes them with his necks. For about $50, you can purchase a top-grade neck and saddle directly from Charlie. He has a wide array of natural colors passed down from the Miner stock (Bitner raised grizzly almost exclusively) and is especially proud of his colored barred stock, which many tiers admire because of its buggy appearance and stiffness.

Collins’ avows his approach is nonscientific compared to a large-scale producer such as Whiting or Metz. He approaches his hackle herding in the old-school manner, producing feathers that are very desireable for traditional Catskill tiers. He has walked the fine line between advancing hackle quality and retaining some of the feather characteristics that appeal to traditional Catskill tiers who don’t necessarily want densely hackled flies.

While large-scale growers such as Whiting and Metz micro-monitor each chicken’s environment, interestingly, Collins takes an almost exact opposite approach. Collins feels that his hearty strain of mountain-bred bird is not only truer to the backyard breeders of the Catskill era, but also makes for a healthy, strong, and relatively disease-free flock.

We chatted a while about smallmouth bass, how game they were, and how the best time of the year to catch a trophy, was upon us.  Charlie said we needed just a little more of a drop in water temp to really get things going.  “I’m getting some good fish, but they’re here and there, mixed with small ones”.  “Once the colors turn, it will get really good”, he added, with a big grin on his face.

I mentioned to Charlie that I had a blog and I would be glad to list his website on the blog, but he was quick to point out he only does business by phone and mail.  “I’m just too busy to run a website”, he said.  So here’s some contact info for those of you who are fly tyers:

Collins Hackle Farm
436 Kinner Hill Road
Pine City, NY 14871

Phone 607-734-1765

I left Charlie to getting his boat in the water and I started wading down the river, with some of his words still in my head: “I mean look at this – a beautiful fall morning and you and I are the only ones on this entire section of a great smallmouth river – I mean it just doesn’t get any better than this”.  Indeed, he was right…

Looking upriver, with Charlie getting his boat in the water...

Looking upriver, with Charlie getting his boat in the water...

I fished my favorite section of the river – a hole that Charlie was familiar with and one where he had hooked a big muskie last year.  I noted that the river was up some and had a little murk to it. It was eerily quiet early in the morning, but eventually the bass started popping bait.  I fished several streamers on a sink tip line without success.  I experimented with colors and still nothing.  Every time I was in the midst of changing flies, the bass would erupt.  I’d then cover the area without a hint of a take.  Frustrating…

Looking upstream at the hole, while a doe watches me carefully...

Looking upstream at the hole, while a doe watches me from the bank...

I moved downriver to try some bank water and then moved back to fish the hole again.  Clouds invaded the bluebird sky and with the clouds came the wind.  Leaves fell to the water and the air temperature dropped.  I watched the resident osprey soar with the wind like a sailplane, surveying the river all the while, but apparently fishless like me.  The bass were still chasing bait sporadically and eventually I had a decent “chunk” blow up on a pencil popper I worked across the pool.

The wind kept blowing harder.  The water frothed up in whitecaps and casting got harder.  I gave up the ghost after a few hours, thankful I had not been skunked.

The beginning of fall on the Susquehanna...

The beginning of fall on the Susquehanna...

As I waded back to the access, the sky to the east and south was dark and brooding.  Rain was on the way.  I left the river hopeful for a little more fall.  Charlie’s grin from our morning chat was still fresh on my mind.