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Fly Fishing Report for the Upper Delaware and Catskill Rivers

Surface Action for Smallmouth Bass is hot!

Over the last few days all of our guides have been busy. We have been fishing the East and West branchs for Trout but most of our trips have been focusing on Smallmouth Bass. Over the next few days we have about a dozen smallie floats scheduled and the action is hot! If you have not ever fished the Delaware for these exciting game fish now is the time to plan a trip. The action is almost totally on the surface now.


First the Trout - Over the last few days we have had trips on both the East and West branches. Guide Matt has been on the West daily and I have been on both the East and West. The insect action remains pretty constant and reliable. There are trico's in the mornings and some action if you know where to find them.

There are sulfurs, Olives, and Midges about from mid day onward. The hatch varies in intensity a bit but you should have no problem finding heads to cast to. Towards dark Isonychia, Cahills and some Yellow Drakes have been on the water. It is nice to see the larger bugs but the heavily fished trout on the branches rarely fall for the big stuff until right near dark.

Overall the action is very rewarding if you like the challenge of working a fish through many rounds of tinkering with long leaders and different flies. If this is your game now is a good time to head out for an evening float trip with one of our guides.

Here is what we have been successfully feeding the fussy trout on the East and West Branches. #18 and smaller BWO - both traditional and CDC knock down duns, #16 and #18 Sulfur-Knock Downs, Cripples and Thorax Duns, #18 and Smaller Rusty Spinners, Tricos, and #20 and smaller MIdges,

As you would expect the key to takes is the ability to get totally drag free. I have been running at least 15 feet on the leaders down to 6X. In addition to just about perfect floats you will also need to be patient and repeat good casts over and over again. The fish at this time move about quite a bit and in most instances what we perceive as a lack of interest in the fly is actually the fact that the fish has not even seen the fly.

Now the Bass Action -

The lower Main Stem and Lower East Branch are warm now and the bite is on! The majority of our recent trips have been chasing Smallies and the action has been quickly moving from good to great. Right now it's all surface action. Guide Zach and I have done several full and half day trips recently. Zach has been mixing between the lower East and Lower Main Stem while I have been mostly on the Main. I have recently fished every beat of the Main Stem from Junction Pool down to the Lackawaxen. The action is good everywhere but it increases in a big way the warmer the water gets. Right now the Big "D" above Long Eddy is not giving up big numbers but the fish you will take average much larger than down river.

This area call for patience while you work streamer flies deep for large hard fighting fish. In the late day we have taken some pretty impressive smallies here on poppers but you really need to pay attention to the areas where the shallows drop off. It is right along this contour line where we have been taking the most fish.

From Long Eddy downstream it is game on for numbers. I have been below Callicoon most days and fishing water above 75 degrees. The surface bite is on and we have been having some explosive action. On my last 2 trips each angler has easily had 25+ quality Smallies on the Poppers. Right now the bright colors are getting it done. Fire Tiger and Florescent Orange have been the best by far. I have also been switching up and experimenting to see what else they will eat. Dahlberg Divers, Dahlberg Zonkers, Mice, Gurglers and large saltwater poppers have worked at times.

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Udovich with some popper eaters!

On all of my recent trips I have been rigging my poppers on very fast action #5 weight rods. These rods punch the flies out well and really match the size of the smallies perfectly.

Under the surface I have always liked buggers and zonkers but recently I have been tinkering with some flies that clearly out perform the old tried and true patterns. The best overall pattern has been small rubber leg crayfish in burnt orange. This fly is a smallie killer. My other confidence pattern down deep is a small zonker sculpin with the sculpin head. This also has some rubber legs for motion.

The fly below is my rubber leg crayfish in a success pose

The last few years I have also been doing a lot of experimenting down deep as well. I have been running all of my south Florida shrimp patterns along the bottom and the smallies seem to enjoy them very much. One theme that seems to run consistent in the effective patterns is the rubber legs. The more the wiggle the more they eat.

We have some openings for this coming weekend if you want to get out. We are also taking booking for the remainder of July and August for both smallies and trout. 607-290-4022

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