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Southern tier fly fishing: Rains blow out warmwaters, fly fishing report

Fishing is very good on the West Branch of the Delaware, with the bonus of less fishermen.
Fishing is very good on the West Branch of the Delaware, with the bonus of less fishermen.
Bob Bruns

It turned out being a wet week. A series of thunderstorms rumbled across the Southern Tier beginning on Wednesday and most flowing waters are showing the results. Heavy rains brought creeks and rivers up but the relatively dry ground and previously low summer water levels helped in dissipating the effects.

Give warmwaters a break for now. Area warmwater rivers are generally high and clarity is off. Here's a summary of current levels with comments on "fishability":

  • Tioughnioga River - this river is the first choice to fish when rain brings rivers up as it's the first to drop. The Tioughnioga is settling down quickly and should be down to the 2.0 foot gage height this week along with decent clarity.
  • Chenango River - it will be a few days before Chenango River flows cross the 1,000 CFS mark. Look to fish this river by week end provided the week remains relatively dry.
  • Upper Susquehanna River (Windsor) - like the Chenango, the Susquehanna has to drop below 1,000 CFS before it's prime for fly fishing. Weekend fishing is a real possibility for the Upper Susquehanna.
  • Chemung River - the Chemung has settled down to the 1,000 CFS mark and is a good fishing option for anglers anxious to wet a line for smallmouth.
  • Susquehanna River (Binghamton) - as previously mentioned here, the Susquehanna drains a huge watershed. Flows must drop in half before the river is fishable for wading anglers. Look to fishing this river next week.

Fly fishing is mixed right now. Following is a report:

  • Trout fishing remains very good in the Catskills, with the added bonus that the number of anglers on the rivers drops this time of year. Hatches remain the same - olives, sulphurs and steno's, with smaller numbers of iso's, caddis and flying ants mixed in. 'Yours truly' witnessed quite a hatch of BWO's right before leaving the river on Saturday evening. All other bugs were very sparse. Iso nymphs, believe it or not, were the best way to go subsurface.
  • Flows on the salmon river remain relatively high. There are some reports of salmon moving up but it is hard to judge with current flows. There may be more salmon in the river than most anglers realize. For now, it's a waiting game.
  • Bass and panfish will remain a good choice on ponds and lakes. As longs as daytime temps remain warm, fishing will be good. Topwater (poppers and terrestrials) will remain a good choice in morning and evening. Streamers and nymphs can work well during daylight.
  • Warmwater action is on hold for now. As mentioned above, the smaller rivers may be fishable this week, with larger waters requiring mosr time to settle and clear. Stained water can offer good fishing if weighted flies with large profiles in dark or very bright colors are used. The white fly hatch is off until waters recede, however, at this point, the hatch would normally be fading out. Once waters drop, be prepared to fish bigger flies for smallies feeding up in advance of winter.

The week ahead will be dry with mixed sun and clouds. Daytime highs will hit the mid-80's by Wednesday but will then cool as a front passes through. This weather should allow rivers to drop and clear. As always, always keep an eye on possible thunderstorms and stay off the water if lightning is a possibility.