For the readers out there following along consistently, I am sorry. I have done a mediocre job of keeping up to date with the blog this spring. I've been fortunate to stay busy on the water, which is great for me, but not so great for the blog. It's been fun for me, meeting eager anglers new to fly fishing, and seeing old friends from previous trips and years. I hope everyone has had a great spring/early summer and has been able to get out and wet a line, hopefully a lot of line.
The spring season was consistent. Fly fishing in Central New York was decent and conditions were consistent throughout the course of the spring. We started the year with low water and that trend continued all spring. In times of "higher" water, the fishing was very good, but those days were very numbered. Deeper runs, holes, and troughs fished better than the faster pocket water, which really stinks because I like fishing fast water. Nymphing was, and still is, the game 95% of the time. We found trout looking up and taking dries on rare occasions, but fish were holding tight and hiding more times than not. Early in the spring, we did well jigging streamers as well, but that hasn't been a productive option in many weeks. Low and clear water now has fish deep under the rocks, logjams, and root-balls, and only out in low light conditions.
Despite much lower than normal water levels, water temperatures on the freestone streams were pretty good all spring to keep the trout happy. Until recently, there was only a handful of days we needed to be mindful of warming water temperatures. Even if we had days in the 80s, nights were in the 50s and morning water temperatures were fantastic. Early morning water temperatures are always the best water temperatures of the day. Some evenings can cool down, but it is unlikely as you're only a couple hours removed from the hottest part of the day. Please be mindful of summer water temperatures when catching and releasing trout. Always use your thermometer and lay off when the water is over 68 degrees. There isn't much point to fishing in warm water anyhow. Trout aren't as active and if you do hook a trout in warm water, there is very little fun factor as they are pretty listless, lethargic, and aren't going to fight you. You'll be able to tell if the fish are stressed pretty quickly.
Be cognizant of water temperatures on spring creeks and tailwaters as well, but the freestones are the ones that heat up quickest. If you're favorite trout stream does heat up, consider trying out bass, pike, panfish, carp, and other warm water species. They are all fun to catch, eager to take a fly, and more than happy to give your fly rod a workout!
As much as I talk about low water and high water, I should point out that I like fishing higher water on our streams. Occasionally I forget that, as an experienced fly fisherman, I am comfortable wading around here in higher water conditions. I know the streams like the back of my hand and where I can and cannot wade or cross. Water levels that I like to fish, may be intimidating to new anglers. While I like high water for a number of reasons, I have to remind myself that low water is safer and more comfortable for anglers new to wading and new to the sport. There have been a few times I have been kept in check this spring with guests telling me they thought the water levels were great and they wouldn't have been comfortable in higher water.
I've spent the majority of my time in the Central New York area. As I alluded to earlier, nymphing has been the best way to put fish in the net. I've had some experienced anglers with me to learn contact/euro nymphing, which has been effective. For anglers new to the sport, it's been a mix of indicator nymphing and throwing a dry/dropper rig. Regardless of technique, drifts have needed to be precise and slow. Small pheasant tails, mayfly nymphs, caddis pupa, caddis larva, and small stonefly nymphs have been effective in size #16-18. When we have found fish feeding on top, it's been mostly tiny blue-wing olives, sulphers, and a few caddis. We've been fortunate to have some nice trout come to the net. A few fish pushing 20" found the net earlier in spring. Unfortunately, as the summer progresses, shots at those fish are getting tougher. We've had a few on the line, but they've broken off. Fly fishing takes practice and patience. Reading water, casting, mending, making a good drift, and making a good hookset are all things to learn, but that's only half the battle. Fighting and landing trout, especially larger trout, is an entirely separate skill set to learn.
I've only spent a handful of days this year out chasing stripers, though I will be heading out to have some fun a couple of times in the next several months. I was out to Cape Cod for the annual Cheeky Schoolie Tournament in May, however. I always enjoy taking 4-5 days and fishing hard with my brother and cousin. I look forward to the tournament every year and this year wasn't any different. We didn't find many big fish this year, but we had fun with the fish we did find. We couldn't break out of the mid 20" class. Tournament numbers proved that it wasn't just us either. We filled our score card and came in 22nd (I think?) out of more than 250 teams. Better luck next year! It was a challenging year, but always enjoyable.
As we go through the rest of the summer, trips will have to be a bit more flexible and creative with finding cold water to fish. I'll be spending more time on West Canada Creek (until that gets too warm), Ninemile Creek, and the Catskill tailwaters. If we get rain, coupled with cool night temperatures, the local freestones could be options and in decent shape. However, expect low and clear conditions wherever you go. Some striper fishing is thrown in here for me as well. Flats time!
I will keep trying to work on new posts and product reviews as I've had a lot of positive feedback from the few rod reviews I have done. I'll do more with rods, reels, waders, boots, etc. I'll try to keep the posts with my recommendations on techniques and tips coming as well. Admittedly, I don't have a great excuse for not keeping up on the posts. The only excuse I have is that I was busy fishing!
For those who continue to read and follow, I appreciate your continued support. Please keep checking back, and don't be afraid to shoot me email if there is a topic you'd like to see me cover, fishing related or baseball related. I will not have another post before Independence Day. Enjoy your weekend, keep cool, and catch some fish!