The big chill came and went and brought snow, ice, and then rain to the Southern Tier early last week. The heavy rain and brief warm-up caused major flooding. Creeks, streams, and rivers were all up high and discolored mid-week. It chilled down on Thursday under sunny skies, with some lake effect snow added to the mix. Friday remained cold but the weekend dawned bright, sunny, windy, and warm. And they call this winter? At least we are rounding the corner of winter and have plenty of great meetings and events to attend as we prepare for Spring fly fishing.
Here’s what you can expect for fly fishing in the week ahead:
- Catskill Rivers Trout: Most of the Catskill waters should be better for winter fly fishing after the recent warm weekend weather. Water temps have ranged from the high 30’s to low 40’s. As always, beware of shelf ice and slippery banks. The catch and release section of the Beaverkill and Willowemoc are open all year as well as the West Branch of the Delaware where it borders Pennsylvania and the Mainstem of the Delaware River. Under current conditions, streamers and nymphs will be the best fly types to use. Wooly buggers, little black stonefly nymphs, and pheasant tail nymphs should all produce, but keep in mind that with water temps where they are, it’s a slower game.
- Great Lakes Tribs: The Salmon River flows remain high and steady at 1,600 CFS at Pineville. The warm weekend weather has caused the river to be somewhat stained due to run-off on the lower river but the upper river is clear. Shelf ice and anchor ice have diminished. Reports are fair with some steelhead coming to hand on egg patterns, worm imitations, and stone fly nymphs.
- Local Creek / Stream Trout: Local creeks now are good and full and very much having that early spring snow-melt look thanks to weekend warmth, however some still have slush ice, solid ice, and/or shelf ice, making fishing very much dependent on the particular watershed. Fish slow and deep with nymphs or streamers and time fishing for the warmer afternoons. Little black stoneflies should be about when there’s warming conditions.
- Lakes: John Gaulke of the Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports the following for the Finger Lakes: 1) Cayuga Lake: Some nicer salmon are starting to show themselves along with this season’s many immature fish. The big news has been good numbers of lake trout roaming shallow, most likely feeding on gobies. Pike are also available, 2) Seneca Lake: Pike fishing here has been fair to good with a nice assortment of various sizes available. A few salmon and browns are around, 3) Skaneateles Lake: Expect good fishing here for rainbow trout and landlocked salmon. Launching is available out of Mandana, and 4) Keuka Lake: Lake trout are hitting around Branchport in deep water.
The following are fly fishing events for the upcoming weeks of February:
- As previously announced, the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is holding a Fly Rod Building class which will start on Feb. 27th, continue on March 19th, and end on March 27th. The price for the class is $125 and that price includes a two piece six weight blank and all the component materials to finish the rod. It is possible to build a different weight rod if desired, but this may cost a little more. The class is being taught by Joe Swam, a very experienced rod maker, who gave a terrific presentation at the December chapter meeting on building bamboo fly rods. As in BCFF fly tying classes, there will be others on hand at the rod building class to assist with rod building. Email chapter President Nick DiNunzio at firstname.lastname@example.org, if interested.
- The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will be holding their next monthly chapter meeting on Thursday March 17, 2016, and it should be another good one. The meeting will be held, as usual, at the Endicott Public Library at 7:00 PM, with a fly tying demo at 6:30 PM. John Shaner, a previous speaker at BC Flyfisher chapter meetings, will make another great presentation, titled “Get Ready for April Trout Fly Fishing”. John Shaner is a returning speaker. He’ll make a 2 part presentation covering all he feels is necessary to be in tip top shape for the opening of inland trout fishing. The first part of John’s talk will walk through tackle maintenance and care. It may seem insignificant but you won’t be happy if you lose a big fish after being idle over the last few months. The second, more significant part of his presentation will cover many surprising things most anglers don’t know about leaders, tippets, connections, and how to make them all more efficient. These facts are based on his angler observations when he was a full time guide and based on the questions asked by fly fishermen during his many years of experience with Cortland, Orvis, and Hardy. John will bring props and will have many examples to show the audience. John will also be our informal fly tyer and will be tying the classic version of Sawyers’ Pheasant Tail nymph, a great pattern for opening season.
- The next Al Hazzard TU general meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 15th at 7 pm at the Vestal Library. Speaker and topic have not yet been announced.
- The Fly fishing Show is in its final stages – there’s only one show left that’s reasonably close to the Southern Tier and that event will be held in Lancaster, PA at the Lancaster County Convention Center on March 5 & 6. Ticket prices vary to some degree but expect to pay $15 minimum for a one-day pass and up to $38 for a 3 day pass. For that fee, expect to see quite a few fly fishing and fly tying legends, the likes of Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser, Bob Popovics, Joe Humphreys and George Daniel, to name just a few. You’ll also get to see the latest in fly fishing tackle, attend presentations, and enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded fly fishing addicts. It is well worth a day of your time.
- Two more Spring events to preview are: 1) The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF Fly Fishing Academy will be holding their 9th annual fly fishing class on April 2. Their school is a popular full day fly fishing school, where beginners and advancing fly fishers can develop their skills. The chapter welcomes youth from 11 through adults. The academy staff includes seasoned fly fishers and the casting staff is led by an IFFF Certified Casting Instructor, and 2) The Leon Chandler chapter of Trout Unlimited’s Ithaca Fishing Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 26. This event includes casting, fly tying lessons, demonstrations, fly fishing vendors, and a lot more. Each event will receive a posting in the coming weeks with a lot more details on these great events.
The week ahead will look more like early spring than late winter. After a very mild weekend, daily highs will drop to freezing on Monday, but then increase to the upper 40’s by Thursday, with rain in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. Temps will then drop to daily highs around freezing and lows in the low teens as a cold front sweeps through the region. It also looks like there will be light snow carpeting the ground on the weekend. If venturing out, wear cleats, carry a wading staff, and always bring a change of clothing and drying towels. A thermos of coffee or hot soup is a good idea as well.