Fall is technically here as of tomorrow, September 22nd. And the hillsides are starting to show it. Ash trees are turning their hues of plum, the silver maples on the river banks are beginning to turn just a little yellow, and here and there the maples are turning crimson. Temps last week dipped real low – as low as 34 degrees one chilly morning in Newark Valley. Though daytime temps remain warm, these lows are having their effect on water temperatures.
Fishing reports remain mixed as autumn begins:
- The Douglaston Salmon Run reports generally slow conditions. Flows remain low at less than 400 CFS, and this no doubt isn’t helping things. The salmon are apparently moving up at night and then pretty much holding in deep lies. The best action has been at daybreak. The rain that’s expected Sunday and Monday with a cold front may get things going better this week.
- The Catskills rivers are in late summer mode for the most part. The freestones and the East Branch are flowing at summer lows, while the West Branch is at a high release of over 1,200 CFS. These conditions offer interesting twists in fly fishing opportunities – from dry flies and light nymphing the freestones, to streamers, heavy nymphing, and dry fly fishing on the West Branch. The West Branch’s wading situation right now is not the best, but keep an eye on the USGS water gauge. The release is high to maintain flows and temps in the main stem, but the rain that’s forecast for tonight could change that. Hatches in the Catskills remain the same: BWO’s, caddis, stenos, and Iso’s as well as terrestrials, particularly flying ants. Streamers will be effective in the early morning and/or if flows are up and the water is stained. It won’t be long before browns start to color up and get aggressive for the fall spawn.
- Turnover in ponds has not started yet, and the week’s warmer temps should keep fishing good. Late day / early evening will be the best time to take bass on top or with big buggy streamers as the water is at its warmest.
- The warmwater rivers are in prime condition right now. A recent jaunt to the Tioughnioga revealed water temps that were down-right fall-like – in the upper 50’s to low 60’s. These lower temperatures have smallmouth bass feeding up for winter. Flows are terrific and are helping to concentrate the fish. Clarity is exceptional as well. The white fly hatch is done now, but the October caddis have begun to show. These are large caddis – size 12 – 14 – and these bugs have a wonderful copper / orange color. The bass will key in on these bugs when they are active, so bring some big caddis patterns if fishing the local rivers. This is also the time to kick up streamer size. Smallmouth bass are not line shy and will grab big streamers with abandon when they are feeding. Crayfish patterns, big nymphs, particularly imitating their favorite food – hellgrammites – will also work well. In addition to bass, walleye, fallfish, pike and musky will also be on the hunt. One never knows what will show up when fishing the rivers.
Fly fishing events are as follows:
- This week the BC Flyfishers IFFF chapter will be holding their first monthly meeting of the fall on Wednesday, 9/24. The event will take place at the George F. Johnson Public Library in Endicott. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the main meeting kicks off at 7 pm. The meeting is open to the public. Tim Barrett, local guide, fly tyer, and boat builder will be demonstrating his fly tying skills at 6:30 and then will give a presentation entitled “Targeting 20+ Pound Fish on a Fly Rod”. If you have never landed a fish on a fly rod that is measured in pounds, not inches, this presentation is for you, and even if you have, you’re likely to learn something from this very experienced angler. Salmon River fishing is about to ramp up with King Salmon, Coho Salmon, big lake Browns, and Steelhead, all of which can exceed 20 pounds. In spite of what many say, these fish will readily take a fly. Tim will start by giving a brief history of this type of fishing, and then will provide information on all of the Salmon River species. The remainder of the presentation will get detailed with catch timing, rigging, presentation methods, and fly selection. Tim will also share some of his secrets for successfully tackling big fish.
- The BC Flyfisher’s Gances-On-The-Go fundraiser mentioned in last week’s week ahead post has been cancelled. Stay tuned for a similar event with Doug’s Fish Fry.
Fall will start off with a bang this week. A cold front will pass through our area on Sunday evening, bringing thunderstorms, rain, and a big drop in temperatures. Monday’s day-time high will only hit the mid-50’s. But after the stormy start to the week, the rest of the week will be warm and sunny, for the most part. Daily highs will climb to the mid to upper 70’s by the weekend. Let’s hope the rivers absorb any heavy rain we receive quickly and that flows and clarity remain good into next weekend.