new season, opening day, and what's new
It’s the start of a new season and it’s “opening day”. No, I’m not talking about Major League Baseball, though I should be. I have my opinions about MLB right now, but today is the “official” start of trout season in Central New York (and all of New York) and it marks the start of the new season. Many true diehard fly anglers know NYS inland trout streams are open to year-round catch and release fishing, using artificial lures/flies only. April 1st marks the start of statewide harvest season for inland trout and the opening of the finger lakes tributaries. For me, April 1st is more of a nostalgia driven date these days as opposed to an official start date since I catch and release fly fish and guide for trout year-round, hence the quotations around “opening day” and “official”.
While April 1st may have lost some of its grandeur, at least for me, it still does carry some representation. I tend to associate April 1st more with the changing season and transitioning fully into fly fishing mode, though I’m never really out of it. During warm days recently, there have been some bugs out. I haven’t seen rising fish yet, but bug life is a welcomed start. It means going forward over the course of the next couple of months, conditions will improve each day. Hopefully, it means I can start losing the winter layers of jackets, long johns, heavy wool socks, and I can start fishing without losing feeling in my fingers and toes. April 1st, to me, represents the unofficial start of spring fishing fun and when the weather SHOULD be changing.
As I write this from the warmth of my kitchen table, sipping hot coffee and watching it rain/snow/sleet/whatever the heck it’s doing out there, I’m pretty satisfied in my decision to stay inside and continue catching up on things like writing this post and continuing to tie flies to whip into trees. Conditions haven’t been great recently. While we’ve had some warm days in the 70s, winter has been reluctant to move on and we’ve had snow and days in the 20s as well. Many streams are pretty high yet with very cold water temperatures. With the snow and cold temperatures, comes more salt on the roads. Salt on the roads, means salty runoff and trout hate it. It’s been 70 degrees one day and 30 degrees the next. We need a little consistency to help us out. However, while rain and snow continue to contribute to higher water, I’m not necessarily going to complain as I hope it means more groundwater and higher flows extending further into spring.
When I have been out, I’ve been sticking to smaller creeks and headwaters that aren’t as susceptible to high water. It’s good to explore at this point in the season as the thick undercover and brush that line a majority of our streams has not popped yet. Once the leaves are on the trees and new growth take hold, the brush and thorns will swallow and chew an angler up to the point they get spit out back to the road and vow to never return, all while pulling ticks off. The brush can get thick. I’ve been having fun with some of these areas while the season allows, nymphing and jigging small jigged buggers and catching wild trout.
I’ve been tying flies and filling boxes with patterns I trust and use most often. I find tying to be a little tedious and monotonous. I’d rather be fishing. I try to get it done early in the year so I don’t have to do as much during the months I’d prefer to be on the water. During the early season, I’ll be going through a lot of small tungsten jigged buggers, different color variations of frenchies, caddis larva, eggs, and that’s pretty much it.
The lines have been stripped off the reels, cleaned and dressed, and spooled up again. They are ready to go, awaiting fresh leaders. The waders have been leak checked and cleaned. Boots have new studs in them to help clients keep traction and stable footing on slippery rocks. As I mentioned above, the fly boxes are in the process of being filled and I’ve assembled the small assortments of flies I give to anglers who join me for the beginner fly fishing classes. Rods have been checked to make sure they are in good order and I am ready to get the season started!
Last but, certainly not least, I’ve been working toward getting my small woodworking business running. Edgewood Outdoors (www.edgewood-outdoors.com) is up and running and I am taking orders. I’ll have a more specific post about this next week, a grand opening post if you will. I hand-craft wood fly fishing nets, the same ones that I use on the stream each day. Nets are all hand made by me, right here in Central New York. They are crafted of a variety of hardwoods and selection on the website changes from time to time as I get my hands on different species of hardwoods to work with. If you’re in the market for a new net, or know someone who is, please head over to the site and check them out!
If you’ve not gotten the gear out quite yet to hit the water this year, it’s still early and the best is yet to come. However, when you start going through your gear and getting things ready to go, be sure to change your leaders and tippets. If there is one thing you do as a fly angler to get ready to hit the water for the first time each season, adding a fresh leader and tippet section is probably the most important. While I go through leaders and tippet more frequently than the average angler, they do degrade and go bad over time. Each spring, I start fresh both on guide rigs and personal rigs. I change them regularly throughout the year as well. The last thing anyone wants is to lose a fish because of leader or tippet that broke when it should have been replaced. There are some things we can’t control on the water, but having a good leader and tippet is one that we can, until a mean old brown trout with shark teeth chafes or cuts you off. It happens. Sometimes fish win.
Good luck on the water! I can’t wait to see everyone and connect with everyone this spring! I’ll be out there this weekend. As I mentioned previously, look for a post next week about Edgewood Outdoors and my hand-crafted nets. I have not posted as frequently as I intended, but I am working to change that this spring with more stories, trip summaries, gear reviews, how-tos, and other fishy things. In any event, have a great weekend and try to avoid being skunked. Thanks for reading!