Archive for west branch delaware

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…

NINTCHDBPICT000005002843

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.

Listening to guides…

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Trout Fishing, Writing with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by stflyfisher

When local fly fishing guide Wayne Aldridge recently spoke to our Trout Unlimited chapter, I took copious notes. Part of my studiousness was in the interest of writing a report on his presentation: “Fall fly fishing on the West Branch of the Delaware”. But most of my note-taking was out of pure self-interest: I have learned to listen to guides. This past Sunday was a perfect example of how listening to a guide can pay off.

After recent dousings of rain, the weekend had looked like it might be the perfect set-up for fishing the Cayuga Lake tribs. A good push of water along with the sting of some frosty nights this time of year is typically what sends a love message to the landlocked salmon and brown trout staging in the lake. The fish sense that the time is right and move up the tribs to spawn, giving fly fishers a golden opportunity to catch the fish of a lifetime. But timing the run is never a sure thing, and while monitoring the USGS river gauge and the weather report are key, there’s nothing like being on the spot and testing the waters to really know when the run is on. And so, an email inquiry was quickly dispatched to fellow blogger and trout bum extraordinaire, Artie Loomis, and the inquiry was just as quickly answered: “Fall Creek isn’t happening yet”. As I stared at those disappointing words early Sunday morning, I immediately started thinking about plan B…

Plan B...

A quick glance at the Hale Eddy river gauge showed perfect wading flows, but the potential for dirty water loomed large in my mind. The tailwaters are known for producing a turbid discharge in the Fall, the result of turnover in the reservoir that feeds the river. Most fly anglers would not even give discolored water a chance figuring the fish can barely see their nose in such conditions. But the advice of Wayne Aldridge suggested otherwise – that stained water in combination with the presence of spawned-up male brown trout in a bad-ass mood can make for some truly outstanding fishing. What’s good for a guide is always plenty good enough for me…

Shortly before 9 am I crossed the river at the Rt 17 / Deposit overpass. The Gentleman’s pool was flowing picture-perfect and its banks were totally void of anglers but the river water was the color of dirty wash-water. I made my way to the river road and was butt-deep in the 45 degree water in no time, armed with my Scott A2 9 foot 6 weight streamer rod, a vest stuffed with flies, and hope in a guide’s advice.

The river was in its peak autumn glory and I had the entire stretch of river to myself. Mist rose off the water and encircled me like cigar smoke, but despite the frosty morning temps, the constant casting, mending, and stripping that’s required when streamer fishing warmed me up in no time.

I started the morning fishing a white conehead zuddler on a river braid above the pool. The water was cleaner there – the channel was fast in spots but the far bank was undercut and laden with thick cover. A downed tree created a deep green pool with a gorgeous back eddy as well. I had once streamer-fished this braid on an early spring morning and experienced one of those vicious, arm-jerking strikes that momentarily stops one’s heart and left my 1X tippet clean of any fly.

The channel failed to produce, so I made my way to the riffle at the head of the pool where two spin anglers had taken up position and now broke the morning solitude. They were throwing what appeared to be spinners based on the glint of light that beamed off the end of their lines. It wasn’t long before the taller of the two caught a small brown, and then another. That was enough for me to change my fly. Tucked in my fly box was a black maribou streamer with a zonker-style body of gold. I figured the gold flash and contrasting black color might show better in the murk of the pool.

I walked downriver below the spin anglers and worked the water thoroughly, hanging up every now and again. Losing flies, especially streamers, can get pricey, but I chalk that up to the price of success after another “guide-ism” that states; “if you’re not losing flies on the bottom every once in a while, you’re not fishing deep enough”. I quartered my cast upstream, then stripped it hard, down and across. After every few casts I moved down a few steps and continued this way, eventually hooking up with a few feisty browns, small but full of spirit.

Mid-morning, I headed back to the car for a break, my legs numb from the cold water. The spinning anglers had also left the river and we chatted a bit in the warmth of the sun. These guys were from New Jersey and had apparently done well on a Saturday float trip of the Main Stem. They inquired as to the fishing of the West Branch and I told them that fall was regarded as the best time to catch the brown trout of a lifetime. Indeed, towards the end of his presentation, Wayne Aldridge had gone even further stating that every year the river gave up a fish in the 27″ – 30″ range.

I returned to the river fishing tandem streamers, starting at the head of the pool and slowly working down-river. Partway through I changed flies again (another guide-ism – to change type and color often when streamer fishing) and this time tied on a snow-white bead-head zonker as my lead fly with a black ghost riding shotgun some 2 feet back.

Halfway down the pool I snagged what I thought was the bottom but then watched in disbelief as a very nice brown launched airborne and tail-walked across the river at the end of my line. The fish fought deep – a solid heavy slug-fest and much more in character with what brown trout are known to do so well. I gradually worked him out of the main current but saw little of his size in the discolored water. Minutes later and after a few misguided attempts, I finally got him part way into my woefully inadequate net…

The pay-off...

After releasing this beautiful male brown, regaled in spawning colors and sporting a pronounced kype, I thanked the good Lord for two things: the advice of guides and ears to listen with…

Tight lines…

Memorial Day Weekend Report

Posted in Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , on June 12, 2010 by stflyfisher

The holiday weekend provided ample time for two major outdoor activities; landscaping, which consisted of laying down 2 big truckloads of mulch, planting numerous shrubs, trees, and flowers, and, fly fishing. I’ll skip the report on shoveling the equivalent of 2 truckloads of mulch and get to the good stuff, for the local fishing scene is really coming into its own…

Depending first on snowpack and then rain levels, fishing the bigger warmwater rivers can be an iffy thing this part of the year if you wade and fly fish. Last year, for example, I did not get out onto the Susquehanna until September. The bigger the river, the greater the watershed, and the big rivers just take time to settle down when the weather is persistently wet. This year is quite different so far, with “the big 4”, the Tioughnioga, the Chenango, the Chemung, and the Susquehanna, all flowing at wade-able levels (the Susky is a little full yet, but fishable). I fished the Tioughnioga, the lower Susquehanna (Vestal), and the West Branch of the Delaware and found all to be in good to great shape.

Looking upstream on the Tioughnioga...

The Tioughnioga had nice flows and water temps in the low-to-mid 70’s. Clarity was excellent and I was just amazed, while wading, at the sheer number of crayfish the scooted from rock to rock. Some of these crustaceans were small, but there was a good mix of 3″ to 4″ crayfish that were present as well. I fished the Schoolhouse Pool first, swinging a Murray’s #6 Half-breed Marauder down the pool. I worked the far shore down into the deep water and while casting, saw what looked like a plume of mud directly downstream of me. I cast that way, and while stripping my fly back, had a solid thump and raised the rod on a throbbing mass of power that soon took off downstream. This was no bass, though I sensed some head shakes, but there was no jump in this fish’s fight. I tightened my drag down and the fish then ran across the pool and up the other side. Close to the backing, I started regaining line, but then the hook pulled. This was no doubt a big hungry carp. I’ve had a number of hookups with these big brawlers, but have only actually ever landed one, a 15 lber, upstream on this very same river.

I then worked upstream and picked up a small bass, returned back to the schoolhouse pool as the sun set and switched flies to a #6 Murray’s Brown Marauder. I worked downstream swinging my fly on a sink-tip line and soon picked up 2 more small but chunky bass. Then further down the pool I finally hit pay dirt as I swam my fly around a large (pool table-sized) boulder. I picked up 2 very nice bass around the rock and both fought with typical smallmouth bravado.

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to give the lower Susquehanna a try. The river was flowing just slightly on the high side, but clarity was good. Wading downstream, I saw evidence of many bass beds as well as quite a few fallfish nests.

A fallfish spawning bed...

Fallfish scoop out the bottom much like most fish do to make their spawning bed, but after spawning, cover and protect the eggs with a large pile of stones. Their unique spawning beds can be extreme in size – as wide as 3 – 4 feet, and as in the case of the one in the pic above, a foot or more in height above the river bottom.

I worked a #6 Brown Murray’s Marauder once again as my fly of choice on a sink tip line and picked up a fallfish and then a walleye.

Walleyes will eat a fly fished deep...

As I left that evening I did notice smallmouth bass chasing bait in the very shallow area of pool I was fishing and I also kicked a few up from the shallow edges of the river on the trek back to the access.

On Monday, Memorial Day, I visited the West Branch of the Delaware, for a change of venue. The West was flowing on the low side at roughly 300 cfs and had a water temp of 59 degrees. There was some algae in the water which made cleaning flies essential on every other cast.

Balls Eddy

I nymphed the run below the pool and had my best success with a #18 beadhead sulphur nymph and a #16 sulphur emerger as the trailing fly. Hatch activity was as sporadic as the fishing but I did manage to first lose a very nice rainbow, catch two small rainbows, roll a nice brown, and finally land a rainbow towards the early afternoon.

West Branch Rainbow

To summarize the weekend’s fishing, I’d have to say the smallmouth bass post-spawn funk is over and fishing should be good from here on as long as the rivers behave themselves. Crayfish and minnow imitations always work well in the early in the morning or late in the evening. Nymphing with large dark nymphs such as a Murray’s #6 Hellgrammite is also a good way to go once the sun is up and full.

If trout fishing the bigger Catskill waters is your thing, sulphurs are in full swing but do not forget the large slate drake, also known as Isonychia. BWO’s (Blue Wing Olives) are another good choice, particularly if it is overcast or rainy. Last but not least, the ubiquitous caddis is always a good choice. These guys haunt the local streams all year long.

Tight lines…

Big Rocks

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on May 23, 2010 by stflyfisher

Stephen Covey, the noted personal development author, has a philosophy on time management that classifies all activities into 4 quadrants – Urgent but Important, Urgent but Not Important, Not Urgent but Important, and Not Urgent but Not Important. Covey preaches that the second quadrant (“Q2”), or those things in life that are not urgent but important, are the tasks we should truly prioritize above all others. They are often preventive in nature, much like regular exercise, which is not urgent, but when delayed or worse yet, ignored, can have significant negative consequences on our health over the long term. They may also be an important aspect of personal development, like the earning of an advanced degree. They are the key to a life well-lived.

Covey illustrates the importance of “Q2” with a demonstration where students are asked to fill a jar with a set amount of sand, pebbles, and rocks. Most students err when faced with this challenge by filling the jar first with the sand and pebbles and find to their dismay, there is no room for the rocks. Covey uses the demonstration as a metaphor for life, placing the big rocks in first, adding the pebbles, and finally pouring in the sand. The big rocks, of course, are the important, not urgent things in life. By placing them first, all of the smaller things fit in around them, leading to a full life of few regrets. By not placing the big rocks first, they never fit in because of all of the little things in life.

I was reminded of this demonstration this last weekend. On Saturday, my sister called and in the course of talking about all of the small stuff in our lives, she mentioned that someone she knew had just lost her husband. The couple had gone to bed the night before and when the morning dawned, this woman woke to the tragic realization that her 40 year old husband had passed on in the night. We talked about what matters most, how short our time in this world can be, and how dearly we must approach our time.

So early on Sunday morning I decided to start my day, in the words of a very close soul, reinvigorating, rejuvenating, and recreating – a definite Q2 activity by Covey’s definition – and a priority. The smallmouth bass spawn was winding down on the rivers and I figured the fish would not be such willing takers after participating in their own “Q2” work over the last few weeks! The river gauge for the West Branch of the Delaware was looking very attractive with flows of 500 cfs and the weather forecast was fine.

I got up early that morning and drove Rt 17 East through that good country of Windsor, crossing a somewhat murky Susquehanna and the West Branch at the Deposit “quickway” bridge. Looking downstream from the bridge, I quickly ascertained that the Westie was flowing like a trout river should; beautifully blue and dotted with whitened riffle water. Best yet was the fact that not a soul was fishing the expansive glassy water of the Gentleman’s Pool.

I made my obligatory stop at the West Branch Angler, which, oh-by-the-way, was sporting a new addition and lots more gear. Larry Finley, the Fly Shop manager, was able to suggest some nymph patterns, including a caddis emerger, that would end up being the ticket. After my stop, I drove downriver on the hard pan river road and by 9:30, I was knee deep in the 48 degree West Branch at Balls Eddy.

The beautiful West Branch of the Delaware River...

The river level, flow rate and water clarity of the river were all perfect. Early on, there were a few caddis coming off, but little else. I rigged up with a small beadhead caddis larvae and a March Brown spider soft hackle and began a slow methodical search for fish. At the head of my favorite pool is a fast riffle with an interesting pocket where rainbows love to hang. In a previous post I referred to this spot as “the rainbow’s den”, but working my 2 fly rig through this wonderful hold did not elicit a strike. I kept moving down the pool, changing flies, adjusting weight, then working back upstream, each time changing my pattern selection a bit.

Around 10:30, the caddis began coming off more steadily. The hatch was certainly no snowstorm, as it can be later in the day, but it signaled that things were warming up and that the trout might be moving a bit. It was at this point that I tied on the WBA-recommended caddis emerger pattern as my trailing fly, behind my beadhead brassie attractor.

After more dredging of the pool, I finally hooked up with a nice brown. This fish did the normal “brown” thing – holding like a rock in the current, then getting pissed off and suddenly reversing downstream to the safety of deeper water. There he slugged it out a while, finally coming up but still swinging like a punched out boxer.

Nice Westie brown...

Getting the first fish to the net is always a confidence booster and I quickly got back to business after releasing this beautiful wild brown.

I have found I’ll often pick up rainbows on the swing when nymph fishing so I never end a drift until I’ve let my flies tail out, occasionally noodling the rod a bit as they hang in the current below me. On one such swing I felt a strong tug and set the hook on my second fish of the day. The initial response was as predictable as hooking a smallmouth; this rainbow launched out of the water like it had JATO (jet-fuel assisted take off) rockets strapped to it and threw another leap into its repertoire halfway through its electrifying fight.

The rainbow with JATO...

I fished a little while longer and had another, much smaller brown, somehow pull off a short distance release (SDR) as it shot downstream between my legs. The stunt left me bent over in the middle of that majestic river, searching my wader crotch for a very hard-to-find #16 caddis emerger! Score one angler-humiliation for the trout…

After extricating myself from that situation, I decided to call it a short but pleasant day on the river and head back to the parking access. When I got back to my car, I lit up a cigar and took time to actually enjoy the end of my trip – breaking down my rod, pulling off my waders, stowing my gear, watching other fisherman pull in and rig up with all the hope in the world plain as the day on their determined faces.

Then I drove home, windows open, puffing away, thinking of the little rocks waiting for me – the lawn to mow, the weeding to do, the breakfast dishes, the dead tree to take down. None of that really mattered, however; the big rocks were already in place.