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Southern tier fly fishing: Fishing report, May events

Cayuta Creek, shown here, is in perfect shape for spring fly fishing.
Cayuta Creek, shown here, is in perfect shape for spring fly fishing.
Bob Bruns

The past week featured some cold nights, but in general, the week gave spring a chance to continue its advance. Most creeks and streams had been pretty high, swollen, and discolored, but are now on the mend. Catskill waters are also dropping. The big warmwater rivers are generally below historical norms - a promising sign for a possible pre-spawn smallmouth bite!

Fly fishing is slowly coming into its own, now that we are past 'water, water, everywhere'. Local creeks and streams are dropping and clearing and water temps are also coming up. As of Friday, both Cayuta Creek and Owego Creek were looking very good - a little full - but wadeable and only slightly murky with that wonderful snowmelt green color. As of Friday, Cayuta Creek had a temp of 45 - 47 degrees and the trout were very eager to take a streamer fished on the swing. Some black stoneflies were about as well. The West Branch of the Delaware is also slowly dropping, with spillover finally over. Streamers are still a good way to go, but blue quills, quill gordons, and black stones are also taking rising fish. The Douglaston Salmon Run is reopened after a spate of dangerously high water. Anglers are taking fish on big flies due to the stain present in the water. It might be another week before the river is low and clear for optimum dropback steelhead fishing. And the Finger Lakes trib runs of rainbows continues. Cold conditions and high water definitely helped to extend the run well beyond the traditional spring opening day.

May is a great fly fishing month but is also just as big on events. Following is a summary of near-term events:

  • April 29: Gander Mountain re-opens. A grand opening is planned sometime in May. The store has been completely re-modeled inside after being closed for over 2 years.
  • Trout stocking continues in May. Most area creeks and streams will get infusions of 1 year old browns (8"+) but May is when a smaller number of much bigger 2 year olds are added to creeks and streams.
  • May 3 - 4: A&G Outfitter's Coaltown Throwdown. This is the second annual fly fishing tournament in the Scranton area, featuring fly fishing experts competing on local waters. Volunteers are needed, from controllers who monitor each angler to general volunteers who help run the event. Volunteers get free lunch both Saturday and Sunday, giveaway prizes, and a chance to watch professionals ply their trade. Contact the fly shop if interested in being a volunteer. Watch the pros and learn from them!
  • May 3 - 4: Catskill Fly Casting Rendezvous (IFFF Wild Trout Fly Rodders). This event is being held at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum in Livingston Manor, NY. Fly casting and fly tying instruction will be given for a $10 fee or $20 for both.
  • May 5: Twin Tiers Five Rivers IFFF Meeting. Speaker will be Aaron Jasper, presenting "Successful Fly Fishing". A fly tying demo starts at 6 pm - the presentation starts at 7 pm. Location for the event is the Big Flats Community Center on Maple Street in Big Flats, NY. This will be a great way to learn from a master fly fisherman while enjoying the company of anglers from a wonderful IFFF chapter.

The 15th Annual Ausable River 2 Fly Challenge is a new addition to the May event calendar. Mike Norton, a local fly fisherman, won the event last year, along with another local fly fisher, Tim Barrett, who took second in the competitive division. More on this event will be posted in a future article.

Get some fishing in now if you can. The week ahead could be wet, come mid-week, thanks to a major outbreak of storms and a front that will sweep eastward. The heaviest chance of rain is forecast for Tuesday, with rain continuing on Wednesday and tapering off on Thursday. This could reverse the nice settling we have had in water flows and make for difficult fly fishing conditions, once again. The good news is that daily highs will edge up into the 50's and 60's while daily lows will be in the low to mid 40's. This warmth should help get hatches going.

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