Fishing Report for the Upper Delaware and Catskill Region
As we enter August we find the Upper Delaware and Catskill Regions still in the grips of a summer heat wave. We have had a few weeks of temperatures in the high 80''s to low 90's. During this period most of the rainfall that has been hitting other areas in the east has missed us. We have been getting some passing thunder storms but no real lasting rainfall. Overall a pretty normal summer.
Currently we have low water conditions around the region.
There are a lot of options for anglers at this time. Trout fishing is very reliable in our tailwater rivers. The East Delaware, West Delaware and Neversink have great fishing conditions in the sections directly downstream from the icy cold reservoir releases. In these areas both Trout and the insects they feed on are very active. There are also some trout fishing options in the head waters of our freestone creeks and in the smaller tributaries for Brook Trout.
Summer is also time to fish the Main Stem Delaware and our larger freestone rivers for Smallmouth Bass. This fishing is red hot right now and the catching is almost guaranteed.
July and August are also prime time for fishing our large reservoirs for both Trout and bass. There are also lots of smaller lake and ponds that offer great fishing for the warm water species.
Now the Specifics...
Our guides never stop fishing and we have have a few Trout trips going out every day. The main areas our guides are targeting remain the West Branch and East Branches directly downstream of the dams. This is where the icy cold water is. This is also where the bugs and fish are in a reliable daily routine. Every day now you can expect to target rising fish during 3 distinct feeding periods.
The first is shortly after day-break and lasts until the heat of the sun shuts the activity down. This action is with Tricos and other spinners that choose this time of day to beat the heat. This action is great but if you are looking for giant fish it might not be your thing. I rarely find giant fish feeding on tricos in the Delaware. If you just want action there are tons of 15" and smaller fish that earn a living during this activity. The fish are normally not very selective and any dark tiny spinner will keep your rod bent. Long light leaders are a requirement.
The second period of action is in mid-afternoon. This period can at times be the best action of the day but it is also the most unpredictable period. Most days there is a fluctuation in starting time and duration. The actual emergence also varies from light to blanket hatches. The difference between the two extremes might be just a few hundred yards of distance in the river. The anglers who excel in the afternoons are the ones who spend a lot of time on the water and move around to hunt the action.
In general, the areas closer to the dams have the best action. Sulfurs and Olives are the main staple in the fishes diet and the size ranges from #16 to #20. Having a wide range of dry fly patterns is a must since the trout in these areas get hyper selective due to the fact that the hatches and insects are the same for several months straight. Angling pressure also adds to the selectivity. Perfect drag free floats on light long leaders are the recipe for success.
Dusk and into darkness is always the grand finale. Every day ends with a solid emergence of Sulfurs and Olives. Spinners are normally on the water in heavy numbers as well. This time period usually brings out the larger fish and you will find them taking up the lies along seams and areas that condense insects into funnel points.
In addition to the Tricos, Sulfurs and Olives there are also Cahills, Isonychia, Caddisflies, Midges and Terrestrials on the water at times. Tough fish are sometimes suckers for a Ant or Beetle.
For anglers who like to go sub surface there is some great but technical nymph fishing in both the east and west branches. Like the surface fishing you will need to go with light tippet and fish small flies. Bead head nymphs #16 through #20 will bend the rod. At this time our guides are fishing Trigger Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Ice Pupas, Hot Spots and Midge Larva. Drag free drifts are just as important subsurface. Constant attention to changing habitat conditions and tinkering with your rigging will produce more strikes. Look to fish the upper 2 thirds of the water column for fish that are looking up.
Our guides are also now taking guests out for morning streamer trips and after dark fishing with mice, poppers and other creatures. These trips have been very exciting lately since the bigger trout are getting bored with tiny olives and sulfurs.
Now is prime time for working over the Bass waters. Our resident Smallmouth Bass are in their busy season now. This is when they are in high gear, eating all they can while the waters are warm. All of our guides have been spending time in the warmer water and the trips have been great.
Most days it is pretty easy to run the numbers up. We are fishing both Fly and Spin tackle for bass and using several techniques. Most days we are fishing both surface and sub surface with both types of rods.
Summer is popper time and every day there is exciting action with bass exploding on flies and lures worked on the waters surface. The only downfall to the surface action is that we raise mostly average sized fish. We always mix it up and go deep for some portion of the day since this is where the bigger fish tend to eat. With the fly its, buggers, zonkers, Crayfish, and small articulated baitfish on sink tips. With spin tackle its all soft baits. Senkos, Twisters and Kei-tec keep you hooked up.
Some specifics on location,
For numbers the Main Delaware below Callicoon is where it's at. We regularly fish from Callicoon down to the Lackawaxen launch. This area is loaded with fish and angler catch rates are very high. Catches of several dozen fish are normal here. The average size through the stretch tends to run on the smaller size. Lots of 10" to 12" fish and the occasional larger one.
Targeting larger fish is better in the up river stretches. Buckingham to Callicoon - Here the overall populations are lower but the size tends to run bigger. In this section you have to really work over the rocky sections and weed beds of the larger eddies but the more technical, tedious approach will yield results. Smallies 14" and above are the norm here and every day you will encounter a few slabs.
Our guides also have some great spots on lesser know local waters where the populations are not as high but every fish is big. These are custom planned trips of one angler per boat. Smallies in the 18" range are common in these areas.