Spring has sprung! Fishing has been exceptional the past few weeks. Your biggest angling dilemma may be where to fish. Or, it may be squeezing time into your busy schedule to find time to fish! This is the time of year when fly fisherman are in a quandary with too many choices for promising fishing. It’s tough to choose from so many attractive options.
Talented national photographer Lucas Carrol presented at the Upstate Fly Fisher’s meeting this past Wednesday. While he spent a number of years in ROC, he is now located in Northwest California. He shared a beautifully photographed presentation from his two week fishing trip in Upstate New York last year. While Lucas has the benefit of traveling extensively and documenting various fisheries across the United States, he’s still keen to come back to ROC for the fishing. He specifically commented on the overall quality of our Upstate New York fishery. He praised the diversity of species, the variety of waters, the uniqueness of fly fishing possibilities and encouraged us not to take it for granted. We have exceptional fly fishing opportunities that are year round. Few other regions can boast such fly rod targets (salmon/steelhead/bass/pike/inland trout/carp/warmwater/coldwater) within an hour’s drive. I don’t take for granted our wonderful fishery, but it’s nice to be reminded from another expert how superb our fishing is.
Speaking of superb fishing, over the past three weeks I’ve enjoyed great steelheading, dry fly fishing for trophy trout and smallmouth action. The pictures in this post are all from the past two weeks. Just yesterday, I passed up the chance to tangle with a massive swarm of spawning carp, in favor of steelhead. Some of the shallow water carp I saw were well thicker than my thigh and likely over 25 pounds. These were beefy, Lake Ontario fish in a tributary to spawn. I wasn’t interested in them, as I was still targeting steelhead. Just think, it’s May 11th and we’re still talking steelhead. This season, we’ve been treated to nearly 8 months of tributary steelhead! With the exception of Salmon River, steelhead should be quickly winding down with the warming water. That said, there are a myriad of attractive fly fishing options. If you like choices, here are a few to consider:
- It’s hendrickson and blue quill time on our trout streams. Look for blue winged olives on overcast days.
- If you want stellar, predictable hatches, travel 3 hours to the Delaware System. Hendricksons, blue quills, blue winged olives, apple caddis and more are happening. Within weeks the hatches will progress to a darker caddis, march browns, flavs, drakes and sulphers towards June.
- Irondequoit Creek, Oatka Creek and other local trout streams have both stocked and wild fish. If nothing is hatching, consider prospecting with a streamer and cover plenty of water. I’ve enjoyed fine streamer fishing with your basic, weighted white or black wooly bugger imitations.
- Smallmouth bass are in at Oak Orchard, Sandy Creek and other warmwater fisheries. There’s nothing wrong with a three or found pound smallie on a fly!
- Local ponds are just starting to warm up and look for brim to be bedding soon. Smaller ponds warm up quicker than larger, deeper ponds.
- Canadice and Hemlock Lakes offer superb, early season shoreline fishing, especially from a canoe/kayak. The topwater bite will pick up soon and try to hit it during low light conditions, or close to dawn/dusk.
- The Lake Ontario shoreline and piers/jetties/inlets host perch, bass, pike, roaming browns (low light), drop back steelhead and more.
- Pike are in lower estuaries feeding on suckers and whatever else.
- Carp are in shallow water spawning and feeding. I’m really regretting not casting for that massive pod of spawning carp that I witnessed.
- The canal has water again (think rock bass, walleye, carp, smallmouth and largemouth bass).
- Take a young kid fishing in Powder Mill Park. For the closest thing to fishing in a goldfish bowl, consider fishing the designated “Catch and Release” hatchery pond (kids 12 and under/artificial bait only/debarbed-hatchery permission) water.
- The Salmon River has actively spawning steelhead, drop back steelhead and plenty of cooperative fingerling salmonids looking to put on weight.
There’s plenty of choices and even more options that I left out. Share the water and leave it cleaner/better than when you found it. Now that warmer weather is here, you might also invite that newcomer to fly fishing to one of your favorite fishing spots. Or, find a way to introduce a kid to fly fishing.
Lastly my best advice is to get outside and enjoy Spring. We’ve earned it. I know that I’m enjoying these days. Hope to see you on the water and tight lines!
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