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Memorial Day Weekend: Fly fishing update

Anglers should take a moment and remember that Memorial Day weekend is more than just an extra fishing day.
Anglers should take a moment and remember that Memorial Day weekend is more than just an extra fishing day.
Bob Bruns

Memorial Day weekend offers most anglers a chance for an extra day of fly fishing. Before writing on the potential fly fishing opportunities, let's make sure we understand what the weekend is about. Memorial Day was first referred to as 'Decoration Day' and was established as a day to remember the Union and Confederate soldiers and sailors who died in the Civil War. It was later expanded as a day to honor all who have died while serving in the Armed Forces. If fly fishing is on the agenda for the weekend, please remember that freedom isn't free.

Fishing looks a little mixed for the long weekend ahead. Water levels are still on the high side on many streams and rivers. Creeks, however, have settled down nicely. For the most part, the warmwater rivers are still too high for good fly fishing. Here's a summary of fly fishing opportunities:

  • Warmwater rivers: Most of the warmwater rivers will be too high to fly fish, but there are still ways to fish for smallmouth. Finger Lake tribs are an option. The tribs are running at nice levels currently and some big smallmouth are likely in the tribs to spawn. Another option is tribs to the big rivers. Fishing the lower end of Owego Creek, Nanticoke Creek, or Choconut Creek, for example, could be productive.
  • Catskills: The Catskill rivers are generally high with limited wading depending on the river. The tailwaters may be wadeable later in the weekend. The West Branch of the Delaware is particularly high right now, flowing at 2,000 CFS, and may not be safely wadeable until Monday. The freestone rivers such as the Beaverkill and the Willowemoc are both wadeable. Caddis, March Browns, and BWO's are the hatches to fish. Streamers are also an option on the higher water rivers.
  • Ponds / lakes: Local ponds and lakes will be in great shape for fly fishing. Having a boat is always best, but shore fishing is also possible. Water temps are high enough now where popper fishing can be good, particularly in the early evening. But streamers can also be a good option, stripped deep and slow. Nanticoke Lake, Greenwood Lake, and the flood control ponds in Broome County are all great stillwaters to fish. All of these waters receive good stockings, as well.
  • Creeks: Most creeks are in excellent shape. Owego Creek, Cayuta Creek, Nanticoke Creek, and the Genegantslet are all wadeable, running at nice temps. All of these creeks have received good stockings but also have holdover browns and wild browns. Nymphing with patterns that imitate caddis and march browns should work well. It never hurts to use the venerable pheasant tail, hare's ear, or wooly bugger patterns on these creeks. Attractor and general mayfly and caddis dry fly patterns will also work well.
  • The Douglaston Salmon Run: Anglers must pay a $20 pass for each day, but the DSR recently had the run stocked with brown trout from 8" to 22". Flows are a very easily wadeable 300 CFS and conditions could be good for nymphing and dry fly fishing. In addition, there's always the chance, though dwindling in probability, to catch a steelhead, and a much better chance to catch a smallmouth bass that are in the river to spawn.

The weather for the weekend is looking good for fly angling. Friday is forecast to be cool with a high in the low 60's and a low in the low 50's. There's a chance for occasional showers as well. Saturday will be better, weather-wise, with highs in the low 70's and a 30% chance of showers. Sunday and Monday will be even better with partly cloudy conditions with a low chance of rain and temps in the mid 70's to low 80's.

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