Winter is here and it shows in the hills. While the Southern Tier has been getting dribs and drabs of snow, there’s been a bit more north towards Cortland and Ithaca where they’ve been getting daily doses of lake effect snow. Temps plunged into the teens, and then lower during the week. In fact, on Friday, it was a frigid 0 degrees in Newark Valley. Ponds are now solidly ice-covered, local creeks have a good amount of shelf ice, and the rivers have ice floes. Water levels in most creeks, streams, and rivers are on the high side but seem to be settling.
Here’s what you can expect for fly fishing during the second week of 2016:
- Catskill Rivers Trout: Nothing much to report for the Catskill Rivers. Flows are generally down but the recent cold weather will certainly drop water temps and slow the fishing down. 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, large 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 in the lower 30’s, it’s a slow game.
- Great Lakes Tribs: The Salmon River flows dropped over the weekend from a steady 1,000 CFS to 700 CFS at Pineville. As of this writing they’ve come back up a bit to the 800’s. Water temps are right above freezing and as a result, there’s slush and shelf ice present, particularly in the lower river. Anglers should be careful wading and carry a wading staff. Additionally, be sure to dress for the weather and be prepared for snow squalls. Over the last few days, fishing reports from the Douglaston Salmon Run continue to be more optimistic as are those from the upper end of the river. Nymphs appear to be working well and nothing beats a small black stonefly pattern, particularly on the warmer days. Remember to change things up when the fishing gets stale. It definitely pays to experiment with size and color of flies as well as in type.
- Finger Lakes Tribs: Fall Creek remains at a nice flow – around 200 CFS or less. Egg patterns, nymphs, and streamers will all take fish. Fishing the lake shore may also be good. Remember that Finger Lakes trib fishing is closed except for Fall Creek, where it is open from the downstream side of the Route 13 Bridge to the falls.
- Local Creek / Stream Trout: Most local creeks are stable to dropping but very cold. Shelf ice is now present due to the recent cold spell. Nymphs and streamers will be the best fly choices right now but if fishing the creeks, remember to slow the pace down as the fish will be less active. 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. Always check the DEC fishing regulations before heading out.
- Lakes: John Gaulke of the Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting that in terms of winter fishing, neither Seneca nor Cayuga Lake has produced any noteworthy salmon action. A few decent sized fish, as well as some nice sized browns are available on both lakes, but they are few and far in between. Fishing may improve as winter progresses. Skaneateles is probably the best bet for consistent fishing. Lake trout are available on Keuka Lake. Pike action is fair to good on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.
The following are fly fishing events in the second week of 2016:
- The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will continue its fly tying classes. The third class will be held on Saturday, January 30th at 9 am at the Endicott Public Library and will cover tying dry flies. There still may be room in some of the next classes so anyone interested in participating should contact John Trainor at email@example.com. Classes are $15 each or all four for $50. Materials are included in this price.
- As recently announced, the BC Flyfishers are 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. A down payment of $50 is required by Jan. 31st.
- The Al Hazzard chapter of Trout Unlimited is offering an advanced tying class with Andy Nazak. The class is $30 per 3 hour session and will start on Saturday, January 30th. The fly tying event will be held from 10AM – 1PM at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Jefferson Ave, Endicott, NY. The class is limited to 5 people per session. Contact the Al Hazzard chapter of Trout Unlimited for more information, here.
- The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will be holding their annual Social Night at Tanino Ristorante Italiano in Horseheads, NY on Monday, February 1st. The evening will start at 6:00 pm with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. At 7:00 pm there will be a buffet dinner with salad, pasta, chicken, vegetable, dessert and coffee, tea or soft drinks. The cost is $25 per person. The speaker will be a nationally known expert on the environmental issues of hydrofracking, Cornell Professor Dr. Tony Ingraffea. Tony’s talk is entitled Shale Gas/Oil; Evidence on Leaky Wells, Methane Emissions, and Energy Policy. Dr. Ingraffea has spoken at previous TTFR chapter meetings and is a fellow fly fisher from Ithaca Trout Unlimited. The talk will share the emerging science of the impact of natural gas harvesting and leakage, and methane’s accelerating impact on climate change. Research at Cornell and elsewhere is showing the cost effectiveness of alternative energy technology, raising the importance of governmental policies which encourage it. You will find Dr. Ingraffea both engaging and entertaining. You won’t want to miss this event. This event is open to members, visitors and guests. Attendees are especially encouraged to invite spouses, family members or fishing buddies to enjoy the evening as well. Reservations should be made as soon as possible for this popular Dinner Social Night. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required. Questions can be directed to Bob Schaeffler email@example.com (607) 734-2104, or Steve Harris firstname.lastname@example.org (607) 973-2509.
- The Fly fishing show has come to town. If planning on attending one of these shows in the Northeast US, you’ll now have two choices: 1) Somerset, NJ at the Garden State Convention Center on January 29, 30, and 31, or 2) 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.
The week ahead will be a little milder in terms of typical winter weather, with a string of daytime highs in the low 30’s and peak temps in the low to mid-40’s. Lows will range from the low teens to the freezing mark. The current forecast shows next weekend to be a bit of a warm-up with highs in the mid-40’s. If venturing out, be careful of shelf ice, bring a wading staff, wear studded boots, and layer up.