Weather continued to be on the warm and dry side through the Thanksgiving holiday. Friday’s weather was ridiculous for this time of year with temps above 60 degrees, but it sure was a great day to get out and wet a line. Added to the warmer weather were the gunshots of hunters in the morning and late afternoon. With Thanksgiving behind us and hunting season open, expect angling pressure to lessen as we move into December.
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 continues to be a mixed bag. The Douglaston Salmon Run rates the fishing on the lower end of the river at a 4 to 5 out of 10. The mid and upper river have been fishing better as a result of the higher release but it seems like the recent lower flows are not bringing more fish into the river, at least in any significant numbers. As of today, flows are 500 CFS. While egg patterns are proving most effective, under an indicator or bottom bouncing, nymphs and wooly buggers have also been producing.
- Finger Lakes Tribs: Browns and landlocked salmon are in the tribs and are being taken, however, flows remain very low and the water is gin-clear so the fish are extremely spooky. Best time to fish under these conditions is during low-light – either early, late, or under cloudy skies. Be very careful approaching any holding area, dress to blend in, and wait and watch at first, as suggested by Joe Cambridge. Egg patterns, nymphs, and streamers will all take fish. Fall Creek and Salmon Creek need a good shot of water. A recent visit to Salmon Creek proved it so low at its mouth that it’s hard to believe any fresh fish could make it in even if they tried.
- Local Creek / Stream Trout: Local creeks remain low and clear with cool temps. Nymphs and streamers will be best right now but keep in mind that the general trout season is closed. 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 continue to drop to decent wading levels on all rivers except the Susquehanna below Binghamton. The feeder rivers like the Chenango and Tioughnioga are flowing nicely but with river temps below 50 degrees, fish will be deep in their winter lies for the most part. Having said that, it is totally possible with continued coolish and not cold weather to catch walleye, pike, bass, and musky but the key is to slow the pace down. Fish the deeper pools using sink-tip lines and short leaders. Where water clarity is good, fish natural colors.
- Ponds: This will be the last report on pond fishing. As evening lows hover below freezing, skim ice will be an issue, hampering fly fishing. There still may be opportunity based on temperatures through this relatively warm fall. Fish slow and deep for best results.
- Lakes: According to John Gaulke of the Finger Lakes Angling Zone, water temperatures on the major Finger Lakes are in the 46 to 48 degree range – perfect for Landlocked Salmon fishing. Water levels are still very good on Seneca, Cayuga and Skaneateles Lakes. Fishing is fair to good for lake trout and the pickerel fishing on the north end of Cayuga Lake is superb. Perch and bass fishing should also be good with pike fishing well underway. Fly anglers who enjoy casting streamers might want to give wading shore fishing a shot.
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 will hold their final chapter meeting of 2015 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”).
The week ahead will be a repeat of last week with cool temps and night-time lows in the mid to upper 20’s. Come mid week temps will hit a high in the upper 40’s to low 50’s and there is some rain forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday – a welcome sign if it pans out, Rainfall amounts are predicted to be half an inch over the two days. Whether that makes a dent in the tepid flows of local tribs is anyone’s guess. The weekend is forecast to be halfway decent with daytime highs near 50 under partly cloudy to partly sunny skies. Now is the time to brush up on dressing for cold weather fly fishing and get the warmer clothing and gear in order. Fly fishers planning to fish the Salmon River should get korkers or heavily cleated boots ready. It’s amazing how studs can wear or work out over the course of fishing – check now and make sure studs are tightened or added as necessary.