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Best days for fishing - and how to tell

Judy Van Put
Posted 9/19/23

The rivers and streams in our area continue to be in great shape - and above the average flows for this time of year, providing great growth opportunities for the trout.

On Sunday September 17, …

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Best days for fishing - and how to tell


The rivers and streams in our area continue to be in great shape - and above the average flows for this time of year, providing great growth opportunities for the trout.

On Sunday September 17, 2023, the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls registered 300 cubic feet per second,which is well above the median average flow on this date of 129 cfs based on 110 years of record-keeping. With the cooler nights and mornings we’ve had, water temperatures, as expected, have remained cool for this mid to end of September period, ranging from a low of 56 degrees to a high of 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

September fishing has been great this year, and for many, this end-of-the-season period is especially anticipated, with the fall foliage just starting to color up and comfortable “one sweater weather” temperatures. There are still fairly good fly hatches occurring - with Isonychias providing good fishing especially on September afternoons, along with some Light Cahills, small Blue-Winged Olives, and various caddis flies.

Terrestrials, such as ants, beetles and hoppers can also produce good fishing in September.

Along with favorable temperatures, hatches and water levels, we are in the midst of September’s “best days for fishing” according to The Old Farmers Almanac! Checking the chart for 2023, September 14 - 29 are the “best fishing days”. This timeframe represents the time between a New Moon and a Full Moon. The Farmers Almanac bases its best fishing days on a bit of science, using observations of the phases of the moon, the sun, the tides and the weather. They explain that the best times to fish are when the fish are naturally the most active, stating that fish tend to feed more just after sunrise during the “morning rise” and just before sundown and the hour or so after, the “evening rise.”

For saltwater fishing, they consider the best times to be one hour before and one hour after high tides, and one hour before and one hour after low tides. Inland, or for freshwater fishing, the times for high tides correspond with when the Moon is due south and low tides are halfway between high tides. In addition, they suggest “just before the arrival of a storm, although the falling barometric pressure will eventually slow down the rate at which fish feed. (But even during stormy periods, the fish aren’t going to give up feeding. The smart fisherman will find just the right bait!) 

Angling can also be good when the pressure is either steady or on the rise 1 to 2 days after a storm. High pressure accompanying clear weather can bring on sluggishness and reduced activity.”

Although there are probably not many trout fishers here in the Catskills who would be checking the tides, another aid in predicting good fishing that many farmers and long-time residents are familiar with is observing the direction of the wind. The Farmers Almanac states when the breeze is from a westerly quarter rather than from the north or east, fishing will be good, as it may be when the water is still or slightly rippled, rather than during a wind.

Interestingly, in The Notes And Letters of Theodore Gordon, which I’ve been reading lately, Theodore Gordon, known as the Father of American Dry Fly Fishing, offers his suggestions on what conditions are best to fish. He states:

“On the streams I have fished most frequently of recent years an upstream wind appears to be in one’s favor, probably because it usually comes from the south, yet I have had great sport in a gusty northwest wind with cold showers of rain at intervals.”

Other less scientific suggestions for best fishing days came from readers of the Old Farmers Almanac - one of whom states: “I’m 68 years old and fish every chance I get. My daddy always told me to watch the cows. If they are up and eating, go fishing. If they are down resting, you might as well stay home. So far this has worked pretty well.” – Edna James

And these words of wisdom from another reader: “Try it all, love the outdoors, and keep a bait in the water. You won’t catch anything if you aren’t out there!” –Jody Wolf

Mark your calendar for this Saturday, September 23. The Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum is sponsoring its annual Emerging Anglers Dinner at the Beaverkill Valley Inn, Lew Beach, from 5:30 - 9:30 pm. This event is their most important fundraising event of the year, and this year’s dinner promises to be a great one, honoring John and Patricia Adams. John, born in Roscoe, and Patricia are long-time area residents. The Adams are founders of The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a national organization with more than three million members and are long-time conservationists, supporting environmental protection initiatives nationwide.

For more information and to purchase tickets for this event, please visit https://cffcm.com/eventscalendar/2023/9/23/emerging-anglers-dinner or call 845-439-4810.


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