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Southern tier fly fishing: Warmwaters heating up, end of July fly fishing events

members of the BC Flyfishers IFFF chapter talk before heading out on the Tioughnioga and Chenango rivers.
members of the BC Flyfishers IFFF chapter talk before heading out on the Tioughnioga and Chenango rivers.
Bob Bruns

For the most part, the week was a good one with regards to the weather. We received some rain to kick the local creeks up, but not enough to send the warmwater rivers higher. The Catskill rivers also benefited. And the cool weather no doubt helped keep water temps, well, cool...

Summer fly fishing continues to be good. Warmwater rivers are coming into their own for those who like to pursue smallmouth bass. All of the area rivers are dropping and clearing. Right now, the Tioughnioga, the Chenango, the Chemung, and the upper Susquehanna are all fishable. Smallmouth can be taken on large nymphs, crayfish patterns, and streamers, and in some cases poppers and large mayflies can also be effective. Be aware that a lot of other gamefish can also be taken when fishing for smallies, including walleye, fallfish, carp, and channel cats. With clearing water, lighter colors and brighter colors can be fished, but it still pays to bring patterns in the old standby colors - olive, brown, and black. Bass and panfish continue to fish well. Topwater is the best way to go towards evening. During the day, bass can be tricked with large streamers or nymphs, but the bigger fish, in particular, are generally very spooky. It pays to experiment with presentation and retrieve. Sometimes half-hearted follows on a slow retrieve mean they want something that's fleeing. I've personally seen bigger bass sprint after a fast retrieved streamer after passing up the same fly fished slowly. Trout fishing is also reportedly good. Summer hatches are on - sulphurs, stenos, isonychia, light cahill, caddis and BWO's. It's also flying ant time and terrestrials, in general, can work well. River levels and temps have been great. Currently the West Branch is flowing a perfect 700 CFS. Meanwhile, the Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting decent fishing for trout and smallmouth bass. The staff at the DSR are all anxiously waiting for the salmon run, which is 3 or so weeks away now.

While July is winding down, there's still a bunch of activity going on over the next week:

  • A&G Outfitters of Dickson City, PA, will continue to hold Orvis Fly Fishing 101. This event is held at the shop and is free. It is specifically designed for beginners and novice fly fishers. Contact the fly shop at 570-489-1650 for more information. They also have a Savage River Trip scheduled TBA.
  • The Beaverkill Anglers Fly Shop in Roscoe, NY, will be holding Orvis Fly Fishing 101 on Saturdays and Sundays this summer. The Beaverkill Angler is also offering a "Summer School" fly tying course starting on Saturday, July 19th. The course will consist of 3 classes and over 9 hours of instruction. If you take this summer course you will learn the basic skills you need and can spend the whole winter tying flies for the next season! Contact the fly shop at 607-498-5194 to register for either of these fly fishing classes in the beautiful Catskills.
  • The 7th Annual Fishing with the Blind Day will be held this Thursday, July 31st. For the past 34 years, a group of approximately 30 blind and partially blind folks have spent a week in July at a local resort called The Land of the Vikings. This year the event will be held at Scott's Resort on Oquaga Lake. Among many events held during the week at the resort is a day of fishing on a one acre private pond. BCFF member Kurt Nelson has been a big part of this event in the past and is asking for volunteer "guides" to help a blind / partially blind person enjoy some fishing. Following a buffet picnic lunch and socializing, "guides" will have the opportunity to fish the West Branch or other local rivers. See the BCFF fly fishing calendar for information.

The week ahead looks like a pretty decent one in terms of the weather. Temps will drop significantly, thanks to a cold front passing through. Daytime temps will gradually warm over the week from a nice 70 degrees to the low 80's. Night-time lows will do the same, starting out 50 degrees and warming to the low 60's. After today's precip, there's a good chance of isolated to scattered thunderstorms towards the end of the week. Remember to keep an eye out for thunderstorms. The news of several lightning strikes on people at the beach and on the golf course in California this past week should be a good reminder of the danger of waving a graphite "conductor" on open water. Think safety first!