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  • Writer's pictureBrian Lansing

Good Rainy Summer

With the blink of an eye, the summer season has come and gone, for the most part anyways. Most of September is still pretty summery. But, as we approach the unofficial end of summer with Labor Day weekend quickly approaching, I figure it’s time to give an update on what’s been happening during the summer months, current conditions, what to expect (or hope for) during the fall season, and how to prepare for the fall months of fly fishing.

If you may recall my last blog post, way back in the beginning of June…, you may also remember my plea for rain. We got rain. I think water levels in the creeks during June, July, and August were some of the best levels I can ever remember for the summer months. The trout had a pretty good summer. The springs actually had water in them this year and the main creeks stayed pretty cool, for the most part. There were a few weeks we still watched water temperatures carefully, but most mornings were fishable. We’re going into the end of summer and early fall with water levels on some creeks nearly double what historical values are, which is nothing short of fantastic!

With the better than usual summer water levels came better than usual fly fishing. Yes, it was, and still is, summer conditions with trout hiding under rocks, holding tight to structure, and being moody about daylight, but there were a few more willing to eat and move to eat a well-placed nymph than usual. Overall numbers and catch rates were just better than I typically expect for the dog days of summer. My expectations for catch rates in the summer months are usually pretty low and I frequently have to work my mind to keep my expectations in check. I can’t expect the same number of fish to eat during outings in July – mid September as I do in May and June. In looking back, I have to say the number of trout eats we had each day this summer were good comparatively to what we’ve seen in past years. I was pleasantly surprised by the conditions and the health of the trout this summer.

A fly fishing angler releasing a wild brown trout
They don't get much prettier than this Central NY wild brown trout.

The health and condition of the trout themselves is of note. More water, and cooler water, means a better life for our finned friends. They’ve looked good and been spunky. That’s great news for the population as a whole. It’s been really good for the wild yearlings to thrive through these summer months. It’s been really good for the stocked fish to hold over and establish a new life outside of a concrete pen. It’s just been really good for the entire population and they are in good shape going into fall and going into the spawn months a little later in the fall. That said, I’m hopeful the weather pattern stays fairly wet and stays cool. It would go a long way in the creeks and for the fishery to have a great spawn this year after last year’s was a little wonky with low water conditions.

Aside from the fly fishing, summer was (is) pretty nice. Summer is always a little slower on the streams. Oddly enough, due to the previously mentioned rain, I had a number of cancellations this summer with high and unfishable water. The cancellations stink, but I haven’t figured out a way to control the weather quite yet. I’ve spent some time regrouping from the spring season and prepping for the fall season. I’ve spent some mornings at the rifle range and spent time at camp, and some time drinking beer around a campfire. I’ve spent a lot of time working out and training. Unfortunately, I’ve spent time watching the Yankees play the worst brand of baseball I’ve seen them play in my lifetime. I’m also trying to get more shop time in each week. More nets are coming in the next couple weeks. More tree ornaments, flies I mean, are being whipped up in the vice. I really need to spend a week in production mode and just crank out the flies I need for the rest of the year.

So, what’s in store for the next few weeks until the fall season really heats up? There are some personal trips coming up and more fun and relaxation at camp, for sure. As I mentioned, more wood shop time is on the agenda, as is more vice time tying flies. The fishing gear is ready to go. Trip planning and scheduling is heating up. If you’re reading this an interested in a fall trip, I recommend jumping on your preferred date(s) quickly. Weekends book quick, but I always have plenty of availability and flexibility with weekday trips.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I’m hopeful and looking forward to a fun fall on the creeks. What should you expect on the creeks in the fall? The answer to that is anything and everything. The spawn for brown trout locally is still a long way off, though if cooler and wetter conditions continue, I wouldn’t be surprised to see fish start looking to spawn earlier. I don’t usually see many brown trout start looking to spawn until November and December around here, but that could change depending on conditions. While the fish are still in summer “hide” mode at the moment, they will start moving around by the end of September as long as water conditions are elevated. The fish are more comfortable hanging in feeding lanes and migrating under the cover of higher water levels. Right now, you pretty much have to put the fly on their nose in order for them to eat, but they’ll start feeding with a little more ambition when we have the sustained cooler fall flows. My fly patterns won’t change much. With higher flows, I’ll start jigging streamers again. Later in fall, I’ll add eggs back to lineup.

Mops are always in play. Admittedly, my top fly for guiding this summer has been a green mop. If you’re reading this and you’re rolling your eyes as at the preposterous sentence you just read and thinking I’m some type of heathen… I can’t say I blame you. Like you, I also used to despise mopping. I’ve never been a purist, but I’ve always felt a little dirty throwing a mop. I still feel a little dirty, but I like catching fish. It’s been summer mopping for the win this year, except yesterday (eye roll) … As I said, be ready for anything and everything. On Wednesday, it was frenchies and mops. On Thursday, they wanted nothing to do with a mop. Change flies and change flies often. What works one day may not work the next, and what works in one run may not work in the next run. Brown trout are moody.

That’s a wrap for today. I do really appreciate all of you folks who take the time to read my little posts and visit my site. Expect another post in mid-late September. I hope you all enjoy the remainder of your summer and have a great Labor Day weekend next week. Get ready for the fall season and keep hoping for rain. Rain is a good thing, as long as it’s not all of the rain all at once.

Thanks again!


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