Joe Cambridge is a college professor by trade. Cambridge teaches English at Thompkins County Community College during the week, but is very much a professor in the fine art of fly fishing the Finger Lake tribs on the weekend and on days off. The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF was fortunate to have Joe as a guest speaker and fly tyer at the October chapter meeting.
Once again, the chapter meeting was very well attended. Over 30 fly fishers of all experience levels attended. And it wasn’t long before interested anglers gathered ’round Joe Cambridge as he sat at a table and tied up some of his favorite Finger Lakes trib flies.
Cambridge is an accomplished fly tyer. His proficiency was immediately evident as he tied one of his favorite streamers, Garthside’s Soft Hackle Streamer. Cambridge swears by the magical movement of the fly in the water, and its ability to lure landlocked salmon into hammering the fly. He ties it in white and olive or solid white on a #2 or #4 hook. Other patterns he tied:
- The “Purple Fly” that admittedly looks odd but Cambridge swears can fool a lot of browns and landlocks. He claims the unique movement of the eyelash yarn, available at sewing shops, is the secret to its success. He tied it almost like a wooly bugger with a body of black flash chenille, the palmering the eyelash yarn like hackle.
- Stewart’s Spider – this was a very simple fly tied with starling hackle in size 14 and apparently another deadly pattern
- Sawbelly Special – tied with purple flash, bucktail, and mallard – and a great lake trout pattern.
After the fly tying demo, announcements were made by President Nick DiNunzio. Among numerous announcements, the following were most noteworthy:
- The chapter now has a facebook page and the BCFF website has quite a few ads posted. Please make sure to visit these businesses and mention you saw them on the BC Flyfishers website.
- The Timber Creek Sportsman Shop is, sadly, up for sale. Anglers are encouraged to help Chuck Sherwood by buying items to reduce his inventory.
- The chapter is planning more trips including a van trip down to the Somerset, NJ Fly Fishing show in late January. There will most likely be a steelhead trip planned for November.
- The chapter is planning to have a fly tying and fly casting classes this winter.
- The rod raffle (your choice of TFO rod in a variety of line weights) is going great. There will be one more chance to buy tickets at the November meeting and then a winner will be drawn.
- Pictures of the restoration work that was completed on the Park Settlement stretch of Owego Creek were shown.
- John Trainor, Treasurer, reviewed finances and talked a little bit about the need for donations to pay for liability insurance for the casting classes.
- The chapter will be offering BCFF car stickers for sale in the future.
After announcements Joe began his presentation and slide show of fly fishing the Finger Lakes tribs. Joe reviewed these great pointers:
- Equipment is key. Use a 6 – 9 weight rod, with 8 weight the best choice and a reel with a good drag system spooled with WF floating line and/or sink tip line.
- Use razor-sharp hooks and re-sharpen if they snag something or get dull.
- Wear polarized sunglasses, a long-billed hat, and dress in drab colors so as not to spook the fish. Use the sniper’s credo – “blend in”.
- Dress for the weather, layering, and have a rain jacket. Also, keep at least one change of clothing in your car.
- Mend, mend, mend when fishing nymphs and streamers. Cast the fly out upstream and mend as it passes downstream. Play “jump rope” as the fly drifts down. Let it tail out and hang a moment.
- Fish the ledge at the falls plunge pool carefully. There can be black ice present and make sure to dress for a colder, wetter environment. Fish your fly downriver along the ledge and remember that the current swirls in an eddy “upstream”. If a trout or salmon emerges, “give it to them”, as in don’t jerk the fly away.
- Nymph fishing can be very effective. Cambridge recommended a #6 Fox Squirrel nymph or stonefly, fished with a right angle indicator rig when the weather gets colder. He emphasized that as temps really cool down, casts and drifts need to be such that the trout needs to barely move to take the fly.
- Be very careful not to spook fish. The trout and salmon have been in the lake at depth where light is not strong. When they enter the tribs, they are light shy and very wary. It’s important to “fish with your eyes” and locate fish but do it carefully with minimum movement.
The tribs are low and clear right now. We need a good push of water, according to Cambridge, to get a run going and so far that hasn’t happened. But as the daylight shortens, the air and water temps cool, and the fall rains start, the Finger Lakes tribs can be a great place to catch some very nice fish. Besides browns and landlocked salmon, that are there to spawn, big lake trout will come up to feed. In the words of Joe, too many anglers stow their gear by mid-October just when some of the best fishing of the year is about to start. Try a late-season foray into Finger Lakes country. Chances are good you’ll be back!