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Southern tier fly fishing: Fly fishing report, May events

Brooks, harboring native brook trout like this one in Vestal, are in great shape thanks to a cold and snowy winter.
Brooks, harboring native brook trout like this one in Vestal, are in great shape thanks to a cold and snowy winter.
Bob Bruns

The hills and woodlands are starting to green up. Soon it will be hard to spy on one's favorite piece of water where it is not located directly road-side. Bugs continue to hatch with some frequency and trout are responding by rising a little more often. And all flowing waters are dropping and remain clear and very fishable. Ponds are starting to show a little aquatic vegetation.

Fishing is really starting to heat up on trout waters. Creeks and small streams were recently stocked again and the trout are eagerly rising to blue quills, hendricksons, and caddis thanks to some warm spring temperatures. A recent outing on Fall Creek witnessed a nice hatch of midges, caddis, and blue quills and the trout were happily rising to them all. Swinging a pheasant tail emerger pattern also worked very well. If you are planning to fish a local creek or stream, have a good selection of pheasant tail and hare's ear nymphs, soft hackles / wet flies, and small streamers. Small wooly buggers are also a great pattern to bring creek-side. Water temps in creeks are in the range of 52 degrees to 60 degrees.

The warmwater rivers were getting temptingly low for a while. Rain last week and this weekend temporarily halted the drop and added to flows. Of the 'Big Four' in our area, the Tioughnioga and the Chemung are the best choices for pre-spawn bass fishing. The flows and clarity in both of these rivers should make for safe wading and good fishing. Another option is the Finger lake tribs. Fall Creek and Salmon Creek are both fairly low and clear right now. There are some reports that landlocked salmon have been on the prowl and it's just a matter of time, with water temps in the low 50's, for big pre-spawn smallmouth bass to move in.

The Catskill Rivers have been fishing great. In combination with some nice moderate flows and warm weather, hatches of hendricksons, caddis (apple and chimarra), and blue quills have been getting the trout up to rise. Unfortunately, rains this weekend have the West Branch rocketing upward in flows and well over 1,200 CFS. Water is reported to be spilling over the top of Cannonsville Reservoir. Streamer-addicts might want to fish the river provided the wading is safe (< 1,200 CFS). Streamers in white are always good under these conditions.

The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting good fishing for dropback steelhead. Flows have been high for wading, but were reduced to 1,200 as of Saturday, 5/10. Egg imitations and egg sacks were reported to be catching steelhead but swinging streamers is another good way to take these lake-bound fish.

Remaining May fly fishing events include the following:

  • May 16 - 18: A&G Outfitters Shad Trip. This event will be held on the Delaware River by reservation only. For $350, stay at the Roebling Inn in Lackawaxen and fish the river for 'baby tarpon'. Meals included. Contact the shop to reserve a spot.
  • May 16 - 17: The Ausable River 2 Fly Competition begins on Friday at noon with registration and an afternoon of fly fishing. On Friday evening, a fly-tyer's reception is held where anglers can share fishing stories and learn new fly tying skills and techniques from talents fly tying demos. New for this year is a fly casting competition at the reception! Saturday morning starts with check-in followed by a full day of fly fishing. The event finishes with a banquet, prizes, raffles, and a guest speaker.
  • May 20: Al Hazzard TU monthly chapter meeting. Speaker to be announced!
  • May 29: BC Flyfishers monthly chapter meeting. Speaker and agenda to be announced.

The week ahead has some summer characteristics to it. Look for highs in the low 80's for Monday and Tuesday, followed by gradual cooling down to the mid-60's by week end. There will be a 30 - 40% chance of precipitation, mainly in the form of scattered thunderstorms from Monday through Friday. It's always good to check local USGS water gages before fishing to get a read on water flows.

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