Tailwater Road Trip

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Gettin’ lost in the fog on the West Branch.

A little over a week ago, Austen and I jumped in the car for 4 hours to check out the West Branch of the Delaware. As with most of our adventures, it was a last minute throw some plans together type of thing. It was supposed to rain like hell in our area that weekend, so we decided to dodge it by checking out what’s probably one of the largest fishing destinations in the east. For good reason too.

I’m always up for a couple days on the run searching for fish in different water. It seems the crew I run around with is the type where we just get in the car and go. We figure out where we are gonna spend the night when it gets dark, and worry about more important things first, like getting on the water.

I haven’t spent near as much time as I should on the Delaware river system. And that will be sure to change, I fell in love with the area last weekend.

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It’s easy to love a hard fighting rainbow from the West Branch of the Delaware.

Are there a lot of other anglers? Yes. Are the fish really technical and tough to catch? Yes. And, that’s sort of the point. Everyone seems quick to point out that the fish are really tough to catch, and there are a lot of anglers around.

But, there are some other questions that I think are more important. Is the water cold even in the middle of a dog day of summer? Yes, thanks to the tailwater bottom release. Are there large wild trout? Yes, tough to catch, but the opportunity is there for both browns and rainbows. How about hatches? Yes, like most tailwater fisheries, the bugs are awesome. To be able to fish summer Sulphurs in July is like a Pennsylvania fly fisher’s dream.

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Some fish don’t need a caption.

Stream etiquette should be a priority all the time, but on a technical, slower moving river with a lot of anglers around it is absolutely a must. Here is a link to an article posted on Hatch Magazine about drift boat etiquette that was actually written by a guide from the Delaware. There a a bunch of other articles out there on stream etiquette, just use your best judgement.

If your looking for a campground, hotel, or a cold beer check out The Beaver-Del. It’s all of those things that fly fisherman need, and it’s located right along the East Branch. It’s a really nice atmosphere, and the owners were great. Make sure to try the Catskill Brewery Devil’s Path IPA. It’s phenomenal, but one too many might jeopardize those early morning plans to get on the river at first light. Spoken with a bit of experience, possibly…

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A very solid brown Austen caught sippin’ a Sulphur.

Austen and I had an absolute blast on our “tailwater road trip”. I’m already looking forward to getting back up there again. The Delaware River system is definitely worth the hype. It’s also a great option for anglers in Pennsylvania if the water temperatures get borderline in the summer. Go fish.

 

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Waneta Lake

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I never would admit that I grow completely tired of catching trout in moving water, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace. A few weeks ago I was given an opportunity to fish new water for different species of fish. I’m very lucky to have a significant other that also consider a fishing trip and a vacation as one in the same. After finishing up guiding on Sunday June 21st, we set sail for Waneta Lake.

I am always excited to fish new water since I feel that it is a great way to test your angling abilities. I was even more excited to fish new water for a type of fish that I do not have much experience with. Fishing for primarily largemouth bass in a lake that was new to me was sure to present it’s fair share of challenges, but these challenges will also provide the option to grow as an angler.

Waneta Lake is a small lake (3.5 miles long, .5 mile wide) in the Finger Lake region of New York located between the towns of Wayne and Tyrone.  It is only 6 miles from Hammondsport, NY which is a small town located at the southern end of Keuka Lake (one of the Finger Lakes). When we arrived Sunday evening I was pleased to see Waneta Lake was at a very “fishable” water level. The lake was closed to boaters the entire week prior to our trip due to heavy rain that resulted in very high water. The lake being closed this period would have given the fish plenty of time off from angling pressure, which we were thankful for.

Although we were there primarily to catch largemouth bass, it was also a slim option to catch smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, and muskie. This trip was truly the best largemouth bass fishing I have experienced, although I will admit I have a very limited amount of experience fishing for largemouth bass. I was very impressed in terms of both the quantity and quality of the fish we were catching. We did not necessarily catch any “lunkers”, but 14-17 inches was the average size of the fish we were catching. For those of you that have not fished for bass, you are missing out on a very hard fighting fish that can give you about everything you would ask for, size considering. I was not able to catch a muskie, but those of you that have fished for muskie are already aware that it is not for the faint of heart. I was able to catch chain pickerel, which was very new and exciting. I have never fished for chain pickerel before so it was cool to cross that species off of my bucket list. I am a true believer that having the ability and experience of catching many different species of fish will make a much more complete angler. If nothing else, this trip was a great change of pace from the trout grind that I have been hard after lately through guiding as well as my own personal time spent on the water.

The best tactic I found for the largemouth bass of Waneta Lakewas fishing Bass Pro Shop Stick-O Worms Texas Rigged around weeds, docks, and points on the edges of the lake (This has proven to be successful in every lake I have fished for largemouth bass). I prefer fishing these worms still with a twitch every second or so with no weight added to the line. If this method does not seem to be the best I prefer adding a 1/32 bullet shot weight 6 inches above the worm and practicing a jigging action with the worm. Although I carry a wide variety of the colors, I found Houdini, Sprayed Grass, Sure Things, Watermelon Red Flake, Smoke Purple Flake, and Baitfish colors to be the best, in both 3″ and 4-1/4″ sizes. I have gotten to the point where I have settled on fishing Bass Pro Shop Rods exclusively. They do absolutely everything I have ask them to and are a joy to fish. While using the Stick-O worms I prefer to fish the Bass Pro Shop Johnny Morris CarbonLite Rod in a 6′ 6″ Medium Light Action.

Along with a great fishing trip, Watkins Glenn State Park is only located around 30 minutes from where we stayed so we decided to spend an afternoon there. Walking through the gorge was a nice hike up (or down) 823 steps on a path full of beautiful scenery such as waterfalls and cascades. If you have never been to Watkins Glenn or any of the Finger Lakes, I would definetly recommend putting that on you to do list. The biggest problem that I had all week was that there may have been several days that I was “out-fished” by a girl. As far as I am concerned having your girlfriend catch more fish than you is a pretty good problem to have, so I was not too disappointed. As always, I had an awesome time fishing with her as well as her family. I owe a big thanks to her and her family for asking me to tag along. Below are some pictures from the trip, enjoy!

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