It was another mixed week in terms of weather, but still warmer overall than normal. Leaves are done and hunters are now on the hunt. Thanksgiving is around the corner, a time when hardy anglers are separated from those that prefer their fishing on the more pleasant side of the weather. Finger Lakes and Great Lakes trib anglers continue to wait for the “real fall” and it may start happening this week.
Here’s what you can expect for fall fly fishing in the week ahead:
- Catskill Rivers Trout: Conditions remain good for this time of year, with decent water levels and reasonably mild daytime temperatures. With colder nights, there’s no need to get out on the river right away in the morning – sometimes it helps to let the water warm a bit. Subsurface techniques are still the best way to go, with nymphs and streamers producing fish. Colder temperatures and colder water will require more patience and a need to cover the water more thoroughly. Both the Beaverkill & Willowemoc Rivers are in very good shape for this time of year. The Beaverkill is closed upstream from the 206 bridge, and the Willowemoc is closed above the bridge near Parkston. The East Branch of the Delaware River is wadeable and in nice shape as well. The East Branch is open from the Shinhopple bridge downstream, and it is all catch and release now. The West Branch of the Delaware & Delaware River are both in good shape for this time of year with wading available. In general, flies right now would be BWO’s in size 16 or smaller. Streamers are also a good choice.
- Great Lakes Tribs: The Salmon River is a broken record of poor to fair fishing with a few good days thrown in. Last week water levels were cranked up from 500 to 900 CFS and as of today, they are suddenly back down to 500 (or less). Many thought the big increase would bring fish in but reports don’t seem to reflect that consistently. The Douglaston Salmon Run reports have been lackluster and Whitaker’s Sports Store and Hotel reports appear to be the same for the most part. The upper river has been producing but mid-river seems to be the sweet spot for anglers who are willing to work for fish under reduced pressure. While egg patterns are proving most effective, nymphs and wooly buggers have also been producing.
- Finger Lakes Tribs: Browns and landlocked salmon are in the tribs and are being taken, however, with the water low and gin-clear, these fish are very spooky. Egg patterns, nymphs, and streamers will all take fish. Fall Creek and Salmon Creek need a good shot of water. Fall Creek is currently flowing at 50 CFS.
- Local Creek / Stream Trout: Local creeks are back down from recent rains and are running with decent clarity and cool temps. Nymphs and streamers will be best right now but keep in mind that the general trout season is closed. Some local creeks, like Owego Creek and Cayuta Creek, remain open but under artificial lures / catch and release only exceptions. Other creeks, like Nanticoke Creek, are closed. Check the DEC fishing regulations before heading out.
- Warmwater Rivers: Local river flows were up again due to last week’s rains but they are again dropping. The Susquehanna River is too high for wading but the feeder rivers like the Chenango and Tioughnioga are in pretty good wading shape. River temps are now sub 50 degrees meaning the bass will be deep in their winter lies for the most part. The walleye bite should continue to be good along with pike and musky but the key is to slow the pace down. Fish the deeper pools using sink-tip lines and short leaders. Best flies will have big profiles.
- Ponds: Pond fishing will continue to slow but look to late afternoon fishing on warmer, sunny days for best results. Fishing will be more of a subsurface game with nymphs and streamers, fishing deeper as surface temps cool. If the water is turbid due to fall turnover, fish darker, bigger, flies.
- Lakes: Finger Lakes fishing is very good for those with a boat. In particular, pike fishing will be getting better as we move towards colder weather and landlock salmon, lake trout and browns will be moving inshore staging to head up the tribs.
There are a number of fall fly fishing events in the weeks ahead:
- The Twin Tier Fiver Rivers chapter of IFFF will be holding its next monthly chapter meeting on December 7th at the Big Flats Community Center, where local fly tyer, fisher, and fly shop owner, Mike Hogue, will be talking about fishing in Arkansas and the Ozark region. Mike has fished this area off and on for around 30 years, and he plans to discuss the tail waters, cool waters, spring creeks and warm water lakes of these regions. The tailwater fisheries in Arkansas are world famous for monster brown trout, and they are not the only opportunities in the Ozarks that offer fantastic fly fishing. Mike will also be tying flies and, in particular, will be showing how to tie a streamer that has enabled him to catch several trophy trout. If you like fishing for monster brown trout and want to learn some new techniques and flies, or if you want to learn about another exciting fly fishing destination to put on your list of trips to take during your lifetime, you won’t want to miss this talk. Mike is the owner of Badger Creek Fly Tying, a fly fishing shop in Freeville, NY, just outside of Ithaca. He has had articles published in numerous publications, and has served as VP of Conservation for the IFFF North East Council, as well as on the National Conservation Board. Mike’s talk will start at 7 pm, with fly tying starting at 6:30 pm.
- The Al Hazzard chapter of Trout Unlimited will be holding its December chapter meeting on Tuesday, December 15th at 7 pm at the Vestal Public Library. Speaker for this meeting is to be announced.
- The BC Flyfisher’s Chapter of IFFF had a great November meeting with Joe Cambridge speaking about fly fishing the Finger Lakes tribs. Their next meeting will be held on Thursday, December 17 at the Endicott Public Library. The meeting will start with an informal fly tying session by Gary Romanic at 6:30 pm, followed by the main program at 7:00 pm, which will feature BCFF member Joe Swam doing a presentation titled ‘Crafting Bamboo Fly Rods’. Joe Swam has been building fly rods since 1991 and has built over 200 bamboo fly rods and donated many to encourage youth interest in fly fishing. Joe will share his rod building history and experience and take the audience step by step through every detail of building a fine quality bamboo rod. Currently, Joe builds about 12 to 20 rods per year. Joe will show in detail how to choose the materials, prepare them, join them, and ultimately finish the rod. This will be an excellent presentation to attend since Joe will be heading up BC Flyfisher’s upcoming graphite fly rod building course this winter.
- The BC Flyfishers are also announcing a new rod raffle! IFFF National is offering the chapter one last chance to raffle off another Lefty Kreh TFO rod of your choice. The ticket price has been reduced and the raffle will be held at the January 21, 2016 meeting. Tickets may be purchased on the chapter website, www.bcflyfishers.org, or may be purchased at the December 17 or January 21 monthly meeting. Pricing is: 1 ticket $6, 4 tickets $10, 8 tickets $18. Rod choices are: TFO 0376 4pc (3wt 7’ 6”), TFO 0480 4pc (4wt 8’ 0”), TFO 0586 4pc (5wt 8’ 6”), TFO 0790 4pc (7wt 9’ 0”), TFO 0890 4pc (8wt 9’ 0”), and TFO 1090 4pc (10wt 9’ 0”).
Look for more fall-like weather in the week ahead. The week will start off on the colder side, with highs in the high 30’s / low 40’s and lows in the mid to upper 20’s. But come mid to later in the week, daily highs will increase as will night-time lows. By Friday expect a high near 60. A front will move through on Saturday, bringing rain and a resumption to the colder temps of the early part of the week. For those fishing north or northwest, be prepared for possible lake effect snow.