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New York Fishing, Fly Fishing, Boating

By Francis Betters

The month of August saw exceptionally good fly fishing on the West Branch of the AuSable. The first good hatches of Isonychia Bicolors began hatching the last two weeks of August and the continuing cool nights kept the water temperatures at an ideal range, in the mid sixties. This resulted in good hatches and ideal fishing conditions, which are continuing into September. You can look for excellent hatches of Isonychia for the entire month and right into October. There are also good hatches of caddis and olives coming off during the same period along with an abundance of very large Stoneflies that can be fished both in the nymph stage as well as dry. For best results, fish the riffles, pockets and faster currents of the streams where the majority of these insects hatch.

The catch and release section of the stream has produced well but its magnetic attraction to tourists and occasional fly fishing enthusiasts has resulted in it being greatly overfished. The good side of the equation is that it has lessened the pressure on the better sections of the river and resulted in some great fishing opportunities for those more adventurous fishermen who donÕt mind walking a little and exploring the more remote sections of the stream. The best fly fishing water on the West Branch is downstream of the village of Wilmington for a distance of about two miles, the section of fast water below and above the old AuSable Forks paper mill dam, and the section of fast pocket water one mile upstream and downstream of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center bridge about a mile outside the village of Wilmington. DonÕt forget to stop at the Adirondack Sport Shop in Wilmington and pick up a free map of the river listing all the pools.

One great thing about September fishing (incidentally, itÕs the best month of the season) is you donÕt need a lot of different patterns. Four patterns that will produce consistently the entire month are the AuSable Wulff, the Isonychia Bicolor parachute, the dark dun Haystack pattern and a small parachute olive dun size 16. One other fly I might recommend is the olive body Usual. This is another pattern that I originated about twenty years ago that has proven extremely effective over the entire season and especially so when the small olives are coming off.

Once more a reminder that September is by far the best month of fly fishing on the AuSable as well as the other Adirondack streams. The trout are fattening up for the winter. TheyÕre full of fire and feed readily as the water temperatures cool more to their liking. Add to this the beauty of the region in the fall and the fact that there are far fewer people on the stream and you have the ultimate in fly fishing conditions.

For up to the minute information on the hatches and stream conditions, call the Fishing Hot Line number at (518) 946-2605.
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The last week of July has seen some exceptional fly fishing on the West Branch of the AuSable. Although the stream has been low, nighttime temperatures have been in the forties and low fifties, keeping the water temperature around the mid sixties. As a result, there are some good hatches of early morning Caddis and very good late evening hatches of caddis as well as lots of large Stoneflies that the fish so readily rise to. There is some excellent morning fishing from five until around nine and great evening fishing from about seven til ten. You can expect good hatches of micro caddis and large Stoneflies (both nymphs and dries) late into the nighttime hours. It is important that you concentrate your efforts on the fast water sections of the stream and stay away from the flatter and slower moving water that is less productive during the hot summer months. When fishing the West Branch, the best fishing water is from the dam in Wilmington downstream for a distance of about two miles. Another very good section is that area from the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center bridge upstream to the High Falls Gorge. This is fast tumbling currents and produces many large trout during the summer months.

Best patterns are the AuSable Wulff, the small caddis (sizes 16 and 18) and the large dry orange Stoneflies (sizes 10 and 12). Another good producer is the small (size 16) beadhead Stoneflies in olive and rust colors.

Later on in August, look for the Isonychia Bicolors to begin coming off the river during late afternoon hours. A size 12 dark haystack is a good imitation or a dark dun parachute to imitate both the swimming nymph and the adult Isonychia.

A brief update on the Catch and Release area of the stream: The faster sections will continue to produce but most of these fish present are stressed from over catching and the number of fishermen who flock to this area. On the plus side, however, that section draws fishermen and tourists alike and takes the pressure off the better producing sections of the river. I recommend finding other areas where there are more native fish and more space between fishermen to pursue your sport.

For those wishing up to the minute updates, feel free to call the hot line fishing number (518) 946-2605. Those visiting the region for the first time, stop in at the Adirondack Sport Shop and pick up a FREE map of the river and Fran Betters or his competent staff of instructors and guides will be happy to tell you the better sections to fish. This service is FREE to all requesting it.


The month of June on the West Branch saw spectacular fly fishing with reports of many fish in the fifteen to twenty-three inch range taken, both on the catch and release section and the area downstream from the dam in Wilmington. The first week of July has proven almost as good with hatches of Potamathus (creme variants) and olives coming off as well as some sporadic hatches of light cahills. Despite some recent heavy rains, the river level remains fishable and water temperature is staying below 70 degrees. The fishing is excellent during early morning hours (5:00 AM until around 9:00 AM) and again during evening hours (7:00 til 9:30 or 10:00). Caddis have proven most effective with the tan caddis (tan body) and the golden caddis being most effective. Look for these hatches throughout the remainder of the month as well as some large Stoneflies which will come off during late evening hours. Golden Stoneflies (dry) in sizes 10 and 12 should produce well into the month of August.

For those fishing the slower sections of stream (which is not recommended during this period) use small emerger patterns or small size 16 light olive bead heads. A bit of advise here. The majority of the larger trout taken during this period will be in the faster sections of the stream. Fish the currents, pockets and riffles with caddis, AuSable Wulffs, and haystacks for best results. Best sections of the river during the last couple weeks of July are the section downstream of the dam in Wilmington and the section between the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center bridge and the High Falls gorge. ÊFor those visiting who donÕt have a map of the stream, stop in at the Adirondack Sport Shop in Wilmington and get a FREE map of the river with all the pools listed. IÕll be happy to direct you to the better fishing spots. Either myself or one of my four certified casting instructors will be happy to give you a free fly casting lesson if needed. DonÕt pass up the fly fishing during July. It can be most productive on fast moving streams like the West Branch.

Special Ausable River Update - June

The month of June so far has been one of the best ever on the West Branch of the AuSable. Hatches began coming off the first week in June and have been heavy all month to date. The Green Drake was a few days late - last year they came off the lower section of the river the eighth of June and this year, because of the colder temperatures in May, they didn't appear on the lower section until the 12th. They moved upstream at their usual rate of about a 1000 yards a day and at this writing (June 25) there are still some spinners coming down late on the upper section of the stream in the Wilmington notch. This coming week, light Cahills are starting to come off below the dam and there are good hatches of light sulphurston notch. This coming week, light Cahills are starting to come off below the dam and there are good hatches of light sulphurs as well as some olive duns.

The hot producing flies this week are the light olive Usuals, the creme Caddis and creme Haystacks been producing well. For the more adventurous fisherman or woman not wishing the crowds, the sections of stream downstream of the Dam in Wilmington offers the best chance for a trophy fish or native fish. Lots of large trout in these fast water pools andtied on size 14 hooks. The Ausable Wulff is still accounting for the majority of the big fish on both the AuSable and the Saranac rivers. The rivers have been heavily stocked this year with two and three year old fish ranging from 12 to 18 inches and there have been some phenomenal catches.

The "catch and release" section of the river, despite the over abundance of fishermen, there have been some phenomenal catches. The Potamathus (large Creme Variant) will be the next big hatch and can appear any time now. A large creme variant or creme haystack in sizes 12 or 10 is the answer when this happens.

When visiting the area for the first time, the West Branch Fishing club is holding FREE Barbecues and Fly-Casting Clinics on Saturday afternoon. You are welcome to attend or just stop in a the Adirondack Sport Shop in Wilmington and Fran will be happy to give you a free map of the river listing all the pools as wt the Adirondack Sport Shop in Wilmington and Fran will be happy to give you a free map of the river listing all the pools as well are also invited to watch a custom fly rod in the making at his shop and get a free casting lesson.

For any questions on hatches or if you just want stream information or tying instructions on a certain pattern, you an call the Fishing Hot line Number at (518) 946-2605. Fran will be happy to assist you. Watch Fran tie one of his famous AuSable Wulffs, Haystacks or the Usual. These flies were originated here in the Adirondacks by Fran and continue to be the top producing flies on the river. He is in his shop seven days a week most of the time until eleven or twelve in the evening, working on custom rods and tying flies.

Good Fishing!!

- Fran Betters


The month of May in the Adirondacks was one of the coldest on record. There was literally no dry fly action on the river until the very last week. The Hendrickson hatches that normally arrive the end of the first week in May did not appear until the third week. Although the dry fly fishing was nonexistent most of the month, bead heads were the predominant takers of trout during this period. During one ten day period in the middle of May, I tied 1,000 beadheads and sold all of them in my shop. Lots of nice trout were taken but the poor quality of fishing during the month can be viewed as good news for those visiting the river in June.

The first week of June saw good hatches of Hendrickson still on the river and as of this writing (June 8th) the March Browns are beginning to come off and some excellent fly fishing is taking place right now. Lots of trout from 12 to 18 inches were taken this past weekend. The most productive flies were and still are the AuSable Wulff, the Haystacks in sizes 12 and 14, and the Usual in sizes 14 and 16. You can expect the Green Drake hatch to come off within the next couple of days. Last year, it appeared on the sixth, seventh and eighth with the Coffin spinners returning a few days later. By the tenth or twelve , we should have some very good hatches of Green drakes. The most productive imitation of the Dun Drake is a large size 10 or 12 Haystack tied with a light olive body. The best imitation for the spinner or coffin fly is a large Haystack with a white body or the old Bergman Coffin fly. I usually tie and sell around four or five hundred of these during the week to ten days that the Drake is on the river. Remember all of you visiting the river that the fly first emerges on the lower section of the stream and gradually makes its way upstream, giving the fly fishermen lots of water and time to fish the hatch. Many large trout are taken in the late evening hours by the fisherman who is wise enough to stay on the river into darkness. Those who leave the stream early will miss the large spinner fall and the rises of the larger trout.

After the Green Drake hatch, you will find good hatches of olives, grey foxes and lots of caddis to give excellent dry fly fishing during the entire month. June is the month of prolific fly hatches - the time for catching that trophy trout.

A little advise here. Since the introduction of the five mile catch and release section, it has been inundated with scores of new fishermen. There are lots of stocked fish in that section but also wall to wall fishermen. If you want a chance to catch a trophy fish or native fish, I suggest the section downstream of the dam in Wilmington or the Bush section from AuSable Forks upstream for a distance of about five miles. Also the section below the old paper mill dam in AuSable Forks is an excellent choice to catch the early hatches. Feel free to stop in the Adirondack Sport Shop and get a FREE map of the river, which will show all the pools. I'll be more than happy to direct you to the best fishing spots. For those of you who tie your own, tie up lots of Haystack patterns, AuSable Wulff patterns, Usuals and AuSable Caddis. If you need these flies, I carry an adequate selection (over 100,000 flies in stock) and gear my tying to those patterns that are coming off the water.

Right now, the fishing is great and I expect this June to be one of the best ever. There are lots of large trout in the river and the hatches should be better than ever this year. Hot line number to call for up to the minute information is (518) 946-2605.


The West Branch of the AuSable River is in excellent condition for opening season. The first hatches of Hendrickson should be coming off around the eighth to the tenth of May and good hatches of caddis all month. Perhaps some early March Browns near the end of May and also some Light Cahills. Best patterns to fish for the entire month are the gray Hendricksons in sizes 12 and 14 and gray caddis in 14 and 16. Your most consistent fly patterns for the early part of May will be the AuSable Wulff in sizes 12 and 14, Hendrickson emergers and Hendrickson deadheads. Bead head patterns in sizes 12 and 14 produce well before the trout start hitting dries.

The AuSable Caddis is deadly the entire month (probably the best all around pattern to use the entire month and actually throughout the entire season.) Best sizes are 14 and 16. The Catch & Release section (five miles) draws fishermen like a magnet to this area so if you want more privacy, the best sections to fish are downstream of the dam in Wilmington. Keep in mind that the early hatches come off downstream first and then work their way upstream.

While in the area, stop at my shop and get directions for the best fishing spot for the time you are here and the most appropriate patterns to use for that period.

A new series of small bead head patterns developed especially for the Catch & Release area have proven especially productive last season. Stop in and pick up a couple of these patterns to insure a more enjoyable and productive trip.

The consensus of opinion among many of the old timers who have fished the AuSable for many years is that the last year was the best year of fishing on the river they have seen in the past twenty. Lots of big trout were caught and released so this year should be a banner year as well.

Back To the Fishing

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