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  • Writer's pictureBrian Lansing

Mid-Fall Fly Fishing Report for Central New York

A nice striper I caught recently fly fishing out to Cape Cod
A nice striper I caught recently fly fishing out to Cape Cod

October was a fast month and a busy month for me on the local streams and creeks. Dry September conditions carried into the beginning of the month here in Central NY. A mild bout with covid shut me down for 10 days early in the month. Fortunately, I have some great guests who were understanding and willing to reschedule for later dates. A quick trip to Cape Cod yielded some fall run stripers and some fun days on the water with my cousin, Alan. Each October, I make my way out to chase stripers for a weekend. I’m usually met with 45-50 degree temps, 25mph winds, gale warnings, and stinging rain. However, I was greeted with 70 degrees and sunshine this trip. All bites were a low light deal. Once the sun was up high, the stripers weren’t having any part of it. Upon returning to Syracuse, it was immediately back to the trout streams where we were greeted with even lower water conditions. The low and clear water conditions have now carried into November with our lack of any measurable rainfall.

At this point, I sound like a broken record. Lack of rain in Central NY has been the story for much of the year. Aside from a handful of days since May, it’s been low flows and clear water. I like higher water and higher water means better fly fishing. I’m not talking about Amazon River monsoon season high water, but high enough water to get the trout to move. As we are now into November, I’m not confident we’ll see any ideal conditions before the weather and water temperatures take a turn.

Central New York fly fishing at its finest.  A dandy brown trout caught and released by Ed
Central New York fly fishing at its finest. A dandy brown trout caught and released by Ed.

While I continue to whine about low water and hope for rain, the fly fishing conditions haven’t been that bad. It’s been tough and it’s been challenging, but it’s been consistent. The low and clear water makes it tough to fish a run and have multiple shots or multiple hook-ups with trout. Most of the pools and runs have a fish or two willing to participate, but a fish or two is all you’re getting a shot at. Once a fish is hooked and spazzes out, it’s put the others to rest pretty quickly. As a result, covering water and making the most of each opportunity has been important. With the lower water, nymphing has been the ticket, as it generally is in the area anyhow. Hunting larger trout with streamers hasn’t been an option. Some really nice trout have made their way to the net, but they’ve been glued to the bottom in deeper runs with very subtle and light eats. Working thoroughly through a run has been important as well. The fish haven’t been moving an inch and your drift has to hit them in the nose.

A beautiful Central NY wild brown trout caught fly fishing.
Rose and I with a beautiful wild Central NY brown trout on her first time fly fishing. This was a late September day just after a bit of rain. Conditions were excellent that day, but they did not last long.

Suddenly, we’re into November. It sure doesn’t feel like November with 70 degree days and bugs and crickets still making noise at night (yes, the windows are still open most days). As you’re on the water this month, be sure to be on the lookout for redds and spawning trout. Please be sure to not walk through redds as these hold the future of our fisheries. If you happen to see fish actively spawning, let them be and keep moving to another area. There are plenty of other areas and/or streams to fish. There is no need to disrupt spawning trout. Typically in our area, the brown trout spawn pretty late. I have not seen any redds or spawning fish yet, but some of the fish we’ve brought to the net have shown they are getting close. With low water, redds should be pretty easy to pick out.

What’s ahead? I still have trips lined up early this month. As we get into mid-late November and into December, conditions are a bit more touch and go. As the weather starts to turn a little more bitter, guided trips will still certainly continue to be an option, but classes will wait until the spring if it’s going to be a rotten day. The post-spawn bite, despite typically colder weather, can be very good and I enjoy being on the water throughout the late fall and winter. I’ll be spending a bit more time in the woodshop too. More nets will hit my woodworking website soon. In addition, I’ll have a few other things up for sale as well such as small fly-tying stations or caddies.

Walleye on a stringer from fishing Oneida Lake
A stringer of Oneida Lake walleye for dinner.

From a personal standpoint, I’ll start getting a little more time on the water myself in the next couple of months before we get ice on Oneida Lake for the ice fishing season. Lately, I’ve been chasing walleye at dark with jerk-baits with some success. I’ve been out three times. The first time was practice casting as the fish either weren’t interested or weren’t there. The second time, I was out with my brother and put four walleye on the stringer to take home. The third time, I was out with my dad and we also put four walleye on the stringer for dinner. I’ll venture to the tributaries (Lake Ontario & maybe Lake Erie) as well for some contact nymphing steelhead action. While I didn’t hunt the first split of duck season, I’ll get out for the second split.

For the remainder of the week, I’m a Philadelphia Phillies fan. Go Phillies! As always, I appreciate everyone’s time and thanks for reading. Hope to see you out on the water soon and please feel free to reach out with an email if you’ve got any questions.



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