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  • Writer's pictureBrian Lansing

weekly fly fishing review

We’ve reverted back to winter in Central New York and seen snow each of the past few nights. Because of this, spring fly fishing hasn’t gained much traction. Water temperatures have fallen and as we had trout eating dry flies two weeks ago, they’ve fallen back to lethargic ways. Inconsistent conditions aside, I’ve been fortunate to have some nice days on the local streams, land some quality fish, get my butt kicked by others, break a rod, and lose flies to the ever-abundant tree trout.

With heavy pressure on streams, I’ve been exploring water new to me or I’ve been flinging flies on the more popular creeks when the weather is less than ideal. A week ago, I fished one of the more popular streams in the area in the rain, snow, and wind. I didn’t see another human. Nobody was around, thankfully, to see me hook a nice trout and have it role into some faster water, throw the fly as I chased the fish down, and have said fly rocket into a tree beyond reach of retrieval. I picked through some fish nymphing, but as the water slowly started to come up and drop in temperature, it was quickly apparent a tactical change was in order. Switching to jigged streamers, I put some healthy wild browns in the net, but this is also where the previously mentioned butt kicking comes into play.

I never saw the fish and the butt kicking was over quickly. Upon hook-set, the fish rolled into deeper water, violently shook its head twice, and proceeded to go on blistering run down-stream as if it had been shot out of a cannon. I wish I saw that fish. Regardless of whether it was a big brown or a big spawning sucker (tis the season after all), it was a fish I wanted to land. I sipped some hot coffee, retied, and moved on.

fly fishing in central new york for native brook trout
A small native brook trout I caught recently on new water.

I explored new streams a few other days. Small wild brown trout and native brook trout were the prizes. I love exploring new water and finding wild trout, especially when I go into the endeavor questioning whether or not trout even exist or if the stream can even support trout. If nothing else, trying new areas put my curiosities and questions on whether or not there are trout to rest. I tried some dry flies to no avail, but nymphing and jigging micro-buggers proved successful. Some streams were better than others, but I did find wild trout in each one, aside from the one that dried up and disappeared a hundred yards downstream from where I initially started searching. Overall, I call that success.

The exploration was not without casualty. I don’t like breaking rods, especially rods I enjoy, but they inherently take some beating fishing tight, tangled, gnarled, and difficult locations. I wish I had a colorful story about breaking a rod as I heroically tamed a five-foot long native brook trout, which ran me a half mile into my backing and brought me on a 5k run downstream and up a mountain, but it was rather unceremonious as I broke it trying to pull/break 7x tippet off a snag, spooking the small pool of trout in the process.

Central New York fly fishing guide, Brian Lansing, with a wild brown trout
My Brother, Brandon Lansing, snapped this shot of me admiring a nice Central New York wild brown trout before I released it.

Another day, my Brother and I fished an area we know well for a couple hours. Conditions were difficult as the water temperature had plummeted the previous night and we were fishing pressured trout as several people had fished the area prior to our arrival. I landed a nice wild brown my Brother fought and landed a nice sucker. Spring fly fishing in CNY means a probable fight with a big spawning sucker. Suckers move up the streams each March, April, and May to spawn, occupy some of the same lies as trout and eat the same bugs rolling across the bottom. They don’t typically run or jump like a wild brown trout might, but they do bull-dog in the current leading you to wonder if you’ve got a big old stocked brown. While suckers are almost never the intended target species, a five-pound sucker makes for a fun by-catch.

fly fishing in central new york
spring suckers on the fly

My fly choices lately have been jigged buggers. I’ve mentioned them previously in this post. I’ve been tying quite a few in recent days in part because I keep losing some and they’re effective. They’ve worked on everything from big butt kicking trout to four-inch native brook trout. I’ve been working on different sizes, colors and materials to see how each works. Size, color, and material does matter and different colors fish better on different streams than others. This is the topic of my next post and I’ve started working on this already. I should have it up early next week.

For anyone hitting the streams in Central New York this weekend, be ready for cold water. Snow is in the forecast, yet again, tonight and I don’t anticipate fish to be moving around too much until they get a little warmth. Low and slow is still the game plan. While I cannot travel to fish for them, I also eagerly await the stripers to hit Cape Cod and New England. I know some folks out there who are getting antsy, as I would be ordinarily as well, and I hope for their sake the linesiders arrive in the coming days.

Good luck on the water this weekend and stay safe. Thanks for reading!

Brian Lansing


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