We passed the official start of spring last week and will kick off the official start of trout season with Opening Day on Friday. Daylight only lengthens from here on in and the weather should continue its warming trend. Pretty soon the hills will start to color up with leaf buds and blossoms, bugs will become more active, and so will our region’s great gamefish.
Here’s what you can expect for fly fishing in the week ahead:
- Catskill Rivers Trout: All of the Catskill Rivers are dropping but remain cold – in the upper 30’s to low 40’s. 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 and the East Branch remains closed. This will all change, of course, on Friday, April 1st, when all of the rivers will be open to fishing. 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 still a slower game. The Catskill Flies fly shop in Roscoe reports that surface activity has been spotty. Stone flies have been hatching on warm afternoons but few fish are rising, Nymphs and streamer fishing have been effective with mid-day being the prime time. And the West Branch Angler is also reporting that the recent spate of warmer weather will definitely get the early season stones moving below the surface and on the surface too. There could even be some decent dry fly fishing for those looking. Focus on the slower moving pools where the fish don’t have to work too hard to grab a fly on top. A dark-bodied elk hair caddis in the #16 range should work for most surface feeders. Depending on the number of fish feeding and their consistency, it usually pays this time of year to get the fly to the fish quickly after seeing a rise. Oftentimes they only rise once or twice and you have to get a fly over them quickly or your chances go way down. The rivers are all beautiful with good water and temps. Nymphing will remain productive with small stones and mayfly nymphs in the #16-20 range. The streamer fishing should also pick up with the water warming.
- Great Lakes Tribs: The Salmon River flows were cut back on Saturday. Flows at Pineville are currently at the 750 CFS mark. Ice is gone and water temps are now hitting the 40 degree mark. Dropbacks are now being caught but the key to success seems to be covering a lot of water. Spawned-out fish will be eager to feed on anything from egg patterns and nymphs, to swung streamers. Fishing reports are fair right now but fish are being caught from Altmar all the way down to the DSR.
- Local Creek / Stream Trout: Local creeks have settled down to nice flows and good clarity. There is just a little of that nice snow-melt murk in the water. With another week of warmer temps, expect to see some hatches of little black stoneflies and possibly some BWO’s. Having said that, this is a great time for streamers, nymphs, and worm imitations. Muddler minnows and buggers in black, olive, brown, and white will also work well fished deep. Prince nymphs, picket pins, and small wooly buggers fished dead drift should also produce. Stockings will begin this week on many waters and will continue through April, May, and June.
- Lakes: John Gaulke of the Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that the Finger Lake fisheries are in a spring pattern. All launches should be accessible. Water levels are generally low but up from winter lows. In general, expect fair to good fishing for lake trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout. Here’s the lake by lake report: 1) Cayuga Lake: Expect fair to good fishing for lake trout, brown trout and landlocked salmon. Both spinfishing and fly-fishing can be productive for the salmon and brown trout. I managed to land (and release) my personal best Landlocked Atlantic Salmon this week – a 30.5″er on a streamer. A friend nailed a 28.75″ fat brown while trolling. There are some big fish in Cayuga Lake this year, 2) Seneca Lake: Expect decent lake trout fishing from Sampson State Park north to Geneva. Salmon action has reportedly picked up a little, but is still not on a par with recent years. Some large fish are reportedly around, 3) Skaneateles Lake: Expect good fishing here for rainbow trout and landlocked salmon, 4) Owasco Lake: Water levels are good for launching out of Emerson Park. Perch fishing is very good here. Lake trout action should be fair to good. Expect some decent brown trout and rainbow trout fishing here this year, 5) Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing is reported good in Branchport in deep water.
- Starting next week, Lakes / Ponds and Warmwater Rivers will be added to the weekly report, mainly due to our warm early spring. Bass and sunfish are starting to move around in the shallows on warmer afternoons and the tadpole hatch is in full swing! The warmwater rivers are dropping very nicely with the main stem of the Susquehanna in Vestal just crossing the 5,000 CFS mark. Clarity is also not too bad. A continued warming trend and dryer conditions could get pre-spawn smallmouth bass fishing going sooner rather than later.
The following are upcoming fly fishing events:
- The next Al Hazzard TU general meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 29th at 7 pm at the Vestal Library. Nationally known and highly sought-after Ed Van Put will be the guest speaker. Ed and Judy VanPut will be giving a Power Point presentation that describes and depicts the various differences between hatchery trout and wild trout. The objective of the class is for attendees to be able to identify hatchery trout from wild trout. The program also includes an age/growth analysis – comparing wild trout on Willowemoc Creek with wild trout from the Delaware River as well as how large a 3-year old, 4-year old, etc. fish is – which helps answer the question of “how old is a 20-inch fish?” … and perhaps why there are not many of them! Note that this meeting will be held Tuesday, March 29th at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church – 200 Jefferson Ave., Endicott, NY (same street as Endicott Police, and across from Seton Middle School).
- And, as detailed in a recent post, the Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will be holding their Fly Fishing Academy 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.
- The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of IFFF is also holding its April chapter meeting on Monday, April 4th where it will host PA guide and fly fisher, Joe Ackourey for a fly tying demo and a talk on Spring Trout Fishing. Joe should be no stranger to many anglers – the BC Flyfishers hosted him for a terrific chapter meeting in 2015. Joe has nearly five decades of fly fishing experience and was lucky to learn from his late father, Dick Ackourey, who was also a renowned guide, fly tyer and outfitter, and a true master both on the water and at the vise. His father took Joe under his wing at the early age of 6, where he first learned to tie trout flies in production mode as well as to fly fish. Joe has been published over 50 times in various fly fishing journals and has made appearances on local and national outdoor TV stations. Joe primarily fishes in Pennsylvania, on streams such as the Lackawanna River, Bowman Creek, the Susquehanna River, as well as a variety of other small mountain streams. Joe’s first love is teaching, so expect to learn a lot on this date.
The weather for the week ahead will be all over the place but that is common for early spring. After a fairly warm weekend, look for temps to drop a bit to highs in the mid 40’s by Tuesday, then rise to highs in the mid 60’s by Thursday, then drop to the high 30’s by Sunday. Lows will range from the high 20’s to the high 40’s. There’s some significant rain in the forecast for Thursday and a possible dusting of snow on Sunday. With the exception of Wednesday, the most pleasant of the week, skies will be partly to mostly cloudy. The warming trend we are experiencing is definitely getting waters prime for spring fishing. Snow melt is done but keep an eye on Thursday’s rains to possibly impact water levels, flows, and clarity in area creeks, streams, and rivers. Check the USGS water gauge before heading out.