The Southern Tier may be on the cusp of winter, which is now only a week away, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. The weather continues with a mild streak thanks to jet stream positioning. Precipitation, wet or white, remains low as well. But most anglers aren’t complaining. It is awfully nice not to have to layer up and fish with numb hands, after all.
Here’s what you can expect for fall fly fishing in the week ahead:
- Catskill Rivers Trout: – Both the Beaverkill & Willowemoc Rivers are in very good shape, but remember that 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 now closed to fishing. As for the West Branch of the Delaware & Delaware River, both rivers are in good shape for this time of year although the West is flowing at a very low rate – 260 CFS. Wading is not an issue at all at those levels. Bugs are mainly olives and midges but streamers are another good way to go. The upper sections of the WB are closed, so stick to the border waters.
- Great Lakes Tribs: The Salmon River flows were kicked up to the 900 CFS level and as of this writing, are very slowly dropping. At this level, wading is OK but anglers should be vigilant as the water is moving and very cold at 41 degrees. The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting a pick up in action lately – not a huge uptick but reports have been more favorable – possibly the result of the recent release. The mid-to-upper river is also producing, but again, it is not on fire like previous years. While egg patterns are proving most effective, under an indicator or bottom bouncing, nymphs and wooly buggers have also been taking fish. Oddly, there are still a few salmon around. As of last week, some cohos were caught and a friend reported hooking a fresh king salmon in the upper river. 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: Browns and landlocked salmon can be found in the tribs but they are very very spooky and in hiding with the water so low and clear. Best time to fish is during low-light conditions – either early, late, or under cloudy skies. Be very careful approaching any holding area, dress to blend in, and wait and watch at first before casting. Egg patterns, nymphs, and streamers will all take fish. Fall Creek and Salmon Creek still need a lot more water. Fishing the lake shore and the mouths of the tribs might be a better choice right now.
- Local Creek / Stream Trout: Local creeks are back down and remain clear with cool temps. Nymphs and streamers will be the best fly choices right now although with the recent mild weather, fish could be rising to midges and olives, so don’t count the dry fly out just yet. 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 are way down and most of the rivers are now wadeable. Water temps may up a bit due to the mild weather so a little exploring of the smaller rivers could produce bass. But with river temps below 50 degrees, fish will be deep in their winter lies for the most part. Remember that it is totally possible with the continued mild trend 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.
- Lakes: According to John Gaulke of the Finger Lakes Angling Zone, water temperatures on the major Finger Lakes are in the 46 degree range. Water levels are low throughout the region. Lake fishing reports from John are as follows: 1) Skaneateles Lake: Fishing is good for rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, lake trout, smallmouth bass (catch and release) and yellow perch. The docks have been removed from the State Launch, 2) Cayuga Lake: Fishing is fair for lake trout though should be good on the right days. Pickerel action is superb up north! Pike fishing is underway and showing some promise. Salmon fishing is just starting up with plenty of dinks around but low numbers of sizeable fish, 3) Seneca Lake: Pike fishing is fair to good with a nice assortment of various sizes available. Salmon fishing has been poor, 4) Keuka Lake: Lake trout fishing is excellent. Expect good action for yellow perch, smallmouth bass, pickerel and the occasional pike, 5) Owasco Lake: Expect good to very good pike fishing.
There are a number of fly fishing events in the weeks ahead:
- 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 will be Stanley Cole. Stanley returned to the area, from Tennessee, in 2007, and now lives in Elmira. He’ll be sharing his thoughts and tips on fishing steel head, muskie, walleye, trout, and salmon and how it’s changed/improved since he was here in the 1980s.
- 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”).
It’s truly hard to believe that the mild weather we’ve been experiencing will continue another week or more. Most of those anglers still haunting local waters are pretty happy about it and the weather might even encourage those who hung up their waders to get out again. For the week ahead, look for temps to slowly drop from the low 60’s into the high 30’s by the coming weekend, with lows below freezing later in the week. There’s a good chance of precip on Thursday and some of it may turn to snow on Friday. Looking farther ahead, Christmas week could be a repeat of milder weather and at this point, it’s fair to say, it won’t be white either.