Spring is officially here! This is technically the “vernal equinox”, when daylight and darkness are equal. The amount of fishing time will only increase from here on in. The past week continued on a relatively mild path but with some precipitation in the mix. It even snowed on Friday. Temperatures bobbed up and down the spectrum, from mild to below freezing, but all in all, it continues to look more and more like spring. Ice is gone, snow is mostly gone, and water temps are on the rise. Fishing is starting to turn on!
Here’s what you can expect for fly fishing in the week ahead:
- Catskill Rivers Trout: The Beaverkill Angler in Roscoe reports that the Beaverkill and Willowemoc were up and murky due to Thursday’s rain but are now dropping to decent levels. And even though temps have been warmer, there’s no need to hit the rivers first thing in the morning – sleep in and focus on the afternoon. 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. The West Branch is dropping slow and steady and is now flowing at roughly 700 CFS. 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.
- Great Lakes Tribs: The Salmon River flows are dropping thanks to three consecutive cuts in releases. Flows are currently at the 1,000 CFS mark. Ice is gone for the most part and water temps are inching up – now in the high 30’s to low 40’s, thanks to recent warm weather that will continue into next week. There are reports that steelhead are spawning and in some cases maybe finishing the spawn. Spawned-out fish will begin to drop back and they will be eager to feed on anything from egg patterns and nymphs, to swung streamers. Fishing reports are poor to fair right now but that may have more to do with the recent significant drop in flows. Often times rapid changes in flows can put the fish off until they get used to the new conditions.
- 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 on most waters and will continue through April, May, and June.
- Lakes: John Gaulke of the Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that the lake fisheries are heading towards a spring pattern. All launches should be accessible around the larger Finger Lakes. Water levels are generally low but up from winter lows. Pike/Pickerel/Tiger Musky season is closed until the first Saturday in May. The lake report follows: 1) Cayuga Lake: Salmon and brown trout fishing here is fair to good. Water levels came up at least a foot and a half. Water temps remain around 38/39. Some debris is around from last week’s rain, but overall conditions on the lake are very good to excellent. We’re seeing more legal sized fish and some fun 17″ers around. Expect some good to very good lake trout action here, 2) Seneca Lake: Pike fishing here was fair to good with a nice assortment of various sizes available. A few salmon and browns are around, but not many, 3) Skaneateles Lake: Expect good fishing here for rainbow trout and landlocked salmon. Launching is available out of Mandana, 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, and 4) Keuka Lake: Lake trout are hitting around Branchport in deep water.
The following are fly fishing events for the upcoming weeks:
- 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).
- The Leon Chandler chapter of Trout Unlimited will be holding its legendary Ithaca Fishing Day on Saturday, March 26. This event includes casting, fly tying lessons, demonstrations, fly fishing vendors, and a lot more. Read more about Ithaca Fishing Day here.
- And, as detailed in a recent post, 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. Registration deadline is Friday, March 25.
- 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 last year and had a terrific and informational chapter meeting as a result. 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 relatively mild early spring weather we’ve been experiencing will continue in the week ahead. High temps will range from the low 40’s to the mid 50’s, with lows from the low 20’s to the low 40’s. Rain is in the forecast for the end of the week and it will be cloudy to partly cloudy most of the week. The warming we are experiencing is definitely getting waters prime for spring fishing. While snow melt is pretty much gone, the additional rain we could see during the week could impact water levels, flows, and clarity in area creeks, streams, and rivers. Check the USGS water gauge before heading out.