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Southern tier fly fishing: Labor Day weekend

Rainbow trout, like this healthy specimen, will be on call for Labor Day weekend anglers wishing to fish the Catskill rivers.
Rainbow trout, like this healthy specimen, will be on call for Labor Day weekend anglers wishing to fish the Catskill rivers.
Bob Bruns

Labor Day weekend is a transition point for fly fishermen. The true start of fall is still a few weeks away, but the long weekend marks the point where many anglers start planning for fall fly fishing. It makes good sense - fall is one of the best - perhaps THE best - of all fly fishing seasons. But don't rush in. Take time to enjoy what summer has left.

The Southern Tier is blessed with ample fly fishing opportunities. Among them, the following could provide some great fly fishing for anglers more interested in a tug on the line than the smell of BBQ:

  • The Catskills rivers are in terrific condition and crowds are lighter with the onslaught of fall. The cold front(s) forecast for this week and weekend should help keep water temps cool. The sulphur hatch is winding down but these bugs are still around. The same goes for isonychia, yet thee bugs in nymph form can present a great meal for trout. Olives and flying ants, in particular, can produce well. Terrestrials can also be good and early and late streamer fishing will get better with time.
  • The warmwater rivers are dropping and clearing. All but the Susquehanna in Binghamton (and below) are wadeable and fishable, but the Susky should be in good shape by the weekend. Conditions should be excellent for topwater and subsurface fishing. Early and late and low light conditions are best, but as the water cools the bass will become more aggressive in feeding and can be caught almost any time of the day.
  • The Salmon river release is down to 750 CFS, clearing the way for anglers. Reports of salmon are few and far between, but there have been some sightings. For those eager to catch an early run salmon, the weekend is a good time to wet a line, but expect others with the same goal in mind. There are also stocked trout in the DSR and the river has smallmouth bass in it as well. Keep in mind that the DSR will be holding its Annual Season Opener BBQ on Saturday, August 30, from 11 am to 2 pm in the DSR Welcome Center parking lot.
  • Lakes and ponds are a mainstay, as always. Bass are actively feeding, particularly in the evening, as the water is still relatively warm. Topwater is always a good way to go at this time of the year, but a big streamer with lots of movement is good too.

The forecast looks pretty decent for the Labor Day weekend. For early weekend starters, Friday will be a nice day with no rain and decent temps. The high will only reach the mid-70's under mostly sunny skies. Saturday will be more of the same with partly cloudy skies. Come Sunday, get ready for rain. There's an 80% chance of the wet stuff in the form of thunderstorms, but the probability will lower into evening. Monday will be a repeat of Saturday, but with a high in the mid-80's and a low chance of rain.

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