New York’s opening day debuts Monday, April 1. Many anglers fish the opener as part of a tradition; rain, snow, or shine. Past openers have ranged in ‘fisherman friendliness’. Last year, for example, featured relatively mild conditions and May-like water temperatures. This year looks like it will be more normal for April in upstate New York – look for a rain/snow mix, with a 50% chance of precipitation and highs in the low 40’s.
The weekend’s warmth should bring water temps up a little. Cayuta Creek registered an icy 36 degrees F on Friday, however, by Saturday afternoon, with the help of very sunny conditions, there were reports of black stoneflies hatching and in some stretches the trout were rising to them with gusto.
Most Southern Tier waters will be in excellent condition for opening day. Flows on area creeks and streams are perfect with good clarity and just a hint of that snow-melt green in the water. Most snow and shelf-ice is now gone. The only obstacle to fishing access might be muddy bank-sides. As always, wade carefully, particularly with water temps so cold. Bring a spare change of clothes in case of a dunking.
Where to go? There are many opportunities for opening day fly fishing. Following are some local waters to try:
- Catskill Rivers – West and East Branch of the Delaware, Beaverkill, Willowemoc
- Oquaga Creek
- Nanticoke Creek, Dudley Creek
- Owego Creek – East and West Branches as well as the Main Stem
- Cayuta Creek, Buttermilk Creek, Enfield Creek, Salmon Creek, Fall Creek
- Chenango Valley State Park, Nanticoke Creek
What to use? Following are some options to try:
- Outfit – for the smaller creeks, a 7′ to 8′, 3 or 4 weight fly fishing outfit. For the Catskill rivers, a 9′, 4, 5, or 6 weight out fit is fine. Leaders should be 3X down to 5X depending on conditions with apropriate tippet, but generally nothing less that a 5X.
- Techniques – on colder cloudy days, nymphing or the use of wet flies works well. On bright days later in the day, dry fly fishing could be an option. Streamers work well, especially if the water is up or dirty. Another option is a worm imitation.
- Flies – nymph patterns that imitate stoneflies, caddis, or midges are best. The picket pin or similar wet fly can also be deadly as they imitate a drowned stonefly. The wooly bugger in black, brown, or olive can be dead drifted like a nymph or stripped like a streamer. Streamer patterns that imitate dace and chubs can be effective.
Prepare appropriately. Remember to dress for the weather and wear layers. Bring a soft shell and hard shell jacket, finger-less gloves (multiple pairs), warm hat, and waders. Sunglasses are a must as is a change of clothes, towel, extra pair of socks. And one thing NOT to forget – your fishing license.