Well folks, little has changed with the lack of any discernable precipitation. Prior runs have moved into their upstream comfort zones, and all but a few fish are above the campground here at Folly's End. The unseasonably warm temperatures that have dominated the entire fall are expected to continue through the month. This appears to be the mild winter that we have not seen in years. With very little precipitation so far, and most likely little increase on the way, all eyes are on the bigger waters.
The Cattaraugus continues to provide the greatest opportunity for quality fishing. As long as it stays ice free, one can expect it to keep fishing well. The situation of runs likely being over on the smaller P.A. tribs is no concern on the Catt, as runs of wild fish occur at any given time, and the chambers creek strain of steelhead that New York stocks typically run late. As well, Ohio's Manistee strain are pure winter runners, and are beginning to show in their home rivers. Manistee fish have a serious propensity to stray, and runs will occur both in P.A. and in the Catt. Slow swinging and deep "long and lean" indicator rigs will prove effective for these well adjusted winter fish.
One of the difficulties lately on the smaller tribs lately has been fishing on colder days. These days have been out of character for the bulk of the fall season, and the fish do not react to it positively. Some of the toughest bites have been on the heels of days that struggled to get out of the thirties, especially when overnight lows plummet. Steelhead feed very well under consistently cold conditions, but spiraling downswings in water temperature make for tough fishing. Avoid fishing during or on the heels of cold snaps. Stabilizing colder temps will get the winter bite going, but it hasn't been cold enough long enough yet.
To the angler that didn't adjust, this fall has been a tough one. Low, clear water has demanded different tactics than many are used to. Those who fished the same areas and tributaries as creatures of habit often do found punishment. The shift to bigger water was simply an imperative for all but those that truly embraced low water tactics and fished at the next level. Beyond that, the decision as to where to fish was equally imperative. The lower reaches had about two weeks of decent fishing and that was it. The upper waters were the right choice, even though they were practically dry.
The fall 2015 season will not be remembered fondly by many. Unless you spent the bulk of it on the Catt, it really didn't offer up many big days. Low, clear water dominated, and continues to dominate the landscape. Do yourself a favor and go fish bigger water. You may find that it's not as big as you had imagined.