Prime Fly Fishing Season in Central New York
Here we are, in late April, and I’ve fallen behind updating my blog yet again. However, we’re into prime fly fishing season in Central New York. Opinions might vary some on this, but if you ask me, I’ll tell you that our prime trout fishing on the Syracuse area streams is mid-April – mid June. Were there some really good days in March and early April? Yes, there were some awesome days, especially before the rain and high water. However, the bulk of the awesomeness is just getting started and we’ve had some excellent days in the last week or two.
Late winter and early spring were not bad, but we had to pick and choose days that were favorable to be on the water. March seemed colder than January and February, and with more snow and rain. Stream flows increased with icy waters and we fished days slightly warmer and more favorable with water flows. When timed correctly, days were good. While we had to work for our eats, we were able to generate bites in predictable winter areas. Again, timing was everything. If we fished days a bit less favorable, bites were harder to come by.
Recently, trout have been moving into spring feeding habitat and feeding lanes. We’ve pick up some fish feeding in shallower, knee-deep riffles and runs, which is typical for this time of the year. Water temperature will often dictate their mood/attitude in the early going. Much in the same sense that we are ready for spring and over the 30-degree nights and cold temperatures, the trout are too. However, with the extremely weather swings in the last couple of weeks, water temperatures jumped from the high 30s to low 60s, just within a few days. Then, they tanked and were back to the high 30s in the middle of last week. Thankfully, we’re back to true spring temperatures with water temps consistently in the 40s and 50s this week.
As always in our region, nymphing and jigging streamers remain the best tactics. The streams are loaded with food. Flipping a few rocks, mayfly nymphs and caddis are everywhere. While bugs have been coming off the water, I’ve seen one trout nose looking up so far. Dry fly fishing isn’t a huge part of our game here. I take a more opportunistic approach to fishing dry flies. If I see a few fish clearly looking up, I’ll take advantage. Otherwise, euro nymphing, jigging streamers, or fishing suspended nymphs with a dry-dropper rig are my main approaches.
What else is new? I was a guest speaker at the Iroquois Chapter Trout Unlimited meeting in February and the Madison County Trout Unlimited meeting in March. I really appreciated the opportunity to chat fly fishing with the folks at both meetings. It was great conversation and I met some very nice people. As a speaker, I prefer to present in a Q&A style, leading a conversation and being interactive vs. lecturing. I just enjoy talking about fishing.
I fished a competition in NJ. Conditions and fishing were tough. Missed opportunities hurt my placing badly. In the first session, I managed 3 eats, but I was only able to put 1 fish in the net. All 3 in the net would have won the session, but… mistakes hurt in competition. As the bite was tough, admittedly, I lost focus and was late on the hookset. It’s easy to be lulled to sleep when the bite is tough, but being laser focused on each drift is important. Whether fishing in competition or not, it is important to focus on each drift. If you need a mental break or just want to enjoy your surroundings, do it while you don’t have a fly mid drift. You never know which drift might be the difference between a fish in the net and being skunked.
Continuing with the traveling to fish theme, my brother and I made a little day trip to fish a river in Massachusetts with our cousin. It was cold and we knew conditions would be tough, but we wanted to make a little trip, see some new water, and hang with our cousin for the day. We were greeted with icebergs and slush in the morning to really make things difficult. It was a beautiful river and great area I’d make the trip to fish again. We got skunked and didn’t even touch a fish. We were not out of beer, however. The grill was brought out and we had sausages for lunch and shared a couple of beers.
For three weeks in row, I travelled out of state to fish. The next weekend, I made a day trip to Pennsylvania to fish with some friends. It was either freeze in Central NY with 32 degrees and snow, or drive to Pennsylvania to chase browns and get sunburnt and wind burnt in 55-degree sunshine. I’ll take the latter. It was a fun day and we did not get skunked.
Notice that I have not mentioned ice fishing. It never happened this winter. Oneida Lake was never to the point where I was comfortable leading clients out with me. All ice fishing trips this winter were cancelled. There is no doubt the winter ice fishing season on Oneida Lake seems to be trending shorter and shorter these days. I fished one day myself on 4” of ice. The following two days were 40 degrees with rain. I packed my gear away early, without much of it having seen the water at all this year.
Once I made the decision to pack the ice gear away, my attention shifted toward trout fishing and net building, trying to build my supply of Edgewood Outdoors nets. If you’re in the market for a new fishing net, I have plenty available on my Edgewood Outdoors website! You can order directly through the site, or feel free to contact me with any questions or to purchase directly. More will be added throughout the spring as I complete them, though production will slow a little bit as I get into prime guiding season now.
Speaking of guiding, plenty of dates are still available for spring trips, though weekend slots/sessions are getting limited through the end of May. A lot of good dates remain available on weekdays throughout the spring, and there are plenty of weekend and weekday dates available in June. All said, it is a very busy spring as I do have trips on the calendar most days. If you’re reading and interested in joining me for a day on the water, please reach out about your preferred dates and I’ll be happy to work with you!
Spring is here! Break out that fly flinging gear and get it ready to go! The best is still to come, but we are in prime season. The wild fish in the creeks all have a lot of new roommates now that streams have all been stocked. Streams will continue to be stocked through the end of the month and into May a bit. It’s trout fishing season. My waders and boots won’t have a dry day for the next couple of months.
Thanks for reading, and check back in the next couple of weeks for an update on local conditions and what’s new!