Northeast Fishing Report: 8/23/19 - The Compleat Angler

August 22, 2019

Greeting Anglers! Things are picking up across the Northeast for the saltwater anglers! Bonito have moved in and the fishing has been exceptional if you are at the right place at the right time. Big Bluefish have arrived and fly anglers have been taking full advantage. Striper fishing remains good with freshwater trout fishing starting to really tail off. Low water and warm conditions have made fishing challenging. Now is the time to switch it up to saltwater for some of the best fishing all year!

New York

Freshwater

Catskills

The Catskills are low and warm. Our anglers and guides have been avoiding the Beaverkill and Willowemoc, giving these fish a rest. The recent rain cooled things down a bit but it was not substantial enough. The fishing conditions this weekend will be marginal at best and at this point we recommend fishing elsewhere. Be aware that effective July 1st, the Beaverkill River from Horton Bridge downstream to the highway overpass is now closed to all angling.

Delaware

Not much of a change on the Delaware. Water temperatures on the Upper West are great but the water is still quite low. There are still Sulphurs and other various lightly colored mayflies hatching. Isonychias and BWOs are hatching as well. The Upper East is plenty cold to keep the trout happy. Simmilar to the West, Sulphurs, Isos, and BWOs are the hatches to focus on. The Upper East is too low to float but certainly wadable. We are hearing that the fishing has been quite challenging but the cool water makes this one of the “only games in town.” If you are looking to do some trout fishing this time of year, the Upper East and West branches of the Delaware are as good an option as any. Expect to work for eats though. Fishing has been challenging to say the least. If you want the best dry fly fishing then be on the water in the afternoons unless it is cloudy. On those cloudy days expect BWOs all day long and for the fish to be on them.

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Saltwater

Long Island is fishing quite well. Montauk, especially, is seeing some great fishing. We are approaching the Full Moon which should kick things into overdrive. There is a lot of bait in and around Montauk at the moment. All manner of bait such as Butterfish, Spearing, Bunker, Sandeels, and Silversides are being harassed by a wide verity of fish at the moment. This is creating some great fly fishing opportunities with a lot of different species accessible. There are still plenty of Harbor Blues and Schoolie Stripers around. Early in the morning look for showers of smaller bait and birds working the fray. This will more than likely be smaller Stripers and Blues. There are Bonito off of Montauk as well. They are being caught fairly constantly and can be mixed in with the Blues and Stripers. Take the time to investigate all bait balls you come across. Casting along the edges and way outside of the main bait ball will often result in a Bonito. The larger Bonito seem to hang on the outside as well so always lob a cast way to the outside of the blitz. Spanish Mackerel are also around. They are typically hanging out with Bonito and Harbor Blues. Granted this is a long shot, if you are looking to get the Slam or have never caught one; try a full sinking line. Spanish Mackerel have a tendency to stay down deeper and can be much more selective. Try a fly that is as close to the forage as possible and let that fly get down deep. If the fly does not get intercepted on the way down you have a much better shot at hooking one of these Macks. Big Blues are still being found in good numbers on Bunker Schools. Keep an eye peeled and have that 10 weight ready.

Connecticut 

Freshwater

Farmington

The Farmington is low, clear, and technical. The water level has been below 200 CFS for over a week now and the fish have responded accordingly. Word from the river is that there is work being done on the dam. This has not been confirmed but if that is the case, that could be why we are seeing the low releases recently. The water has dropped to 85 CFS at the dam. That coupled with very little substantial precipitation is making things a bit tougher on the Farmington. The low water presents an opportunity however. Any deeper hole will hold fish and expect to find fish up in that faster stuff looking for oxygen. It is typically a bit easier to find fish when the water is low. If anglers fish responsibly, making sure the fish are brought in quickly and returned to the water immediately; the fishing can be quite good. We want to stress how important it is to get those fish back quickly. Water temperatures on August 18thin Riverton peaked at 69 degrees mid-day according to the gauge. Now, take this with a grain of salt. Who knows how good these temp gauges are. If this is accurate however, that is at the upper threshold for trout. It is better to be safe than sorry. Please be cognizant of water temps and get your fish back in the water as soon as possible. Especially on those warmer and sunny days. With that out of the way, it is all about small bugs. Tricos, BWOs, and Midges are taking the majority of the fish. One of our customers went out this past weekend and caught over 20 fish all on dries. He reported that nymphing was essentially unproductive and small dries were they key. Dropping down to 6 or 7x and fishing 20s and 22s in a variety of patterns proved to be the most effective method. That is what we are hearing from a lot of anglers as well. Subsurface presentations seem to be less and less effective (with the exception of soft hackles). That does not mean nymphing won’t take fish but it seems that early in the morning is really the best nymphing window. After 10 or 11 it may be time to switch to dries or swing wets. It has been tougher conditions recently though. It is really low and until conditions change expect to work hard for fish. Keep an eye on those gauges. When the water bumps back up to 300 or better hopefully fishing will pick back up too.

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Housatonic

The Housatonic has bumped up a bit this past week. The trout fishing is still not a viable option if you plan on releasing any fish. It is just too hot with mid day water  temperatures above 80 degrees depending on the day. We highly recommend leaving the trout alone until that water temps drops. The Smallmouth fishing has been lights out however. The fishing has remained consistent and it seems that everyone who has been out there recently has been putting up great numbers. Small streamers are taking most of the fish and poppers have been pretty effective early in the morning. We have rain on the way so we should see the Pike fishing pick up as well. The Smallmouth fishery on the Housatonic is probably your best bet for a great of fishing at this point. All other trout fisheries are becoming quite technical so if you are looking for some consistent action then this if your spot. The bite has been strongest in the morning with the slightly cooler water temperatures. We are seeing things slow by mid-day and pick back up in the evening. We recommend getting to the water early. That morning bite has been stronger than the afternoon and most of your fish will come in the mornings. The Housatonic is also less crowded than other rivers this time of year as well. You will run into other anglers but it won’t be combat fishing. That alone is worth the drive. Again, keep in mind: The Thermal Refuges for trout are in effect, and will be for the rest of the Summer.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

We are starting to see more and more smaller bait in Long Island Sound. This is a good omen for things to come. Big schools of peanuts seem to be quite prevalent and if you do find the bait, expect to find Schoolies and Harbors on them. Using small Peanut Bunker flies will be productive if you are able to locate these schools of bait. Birds will more than likely be all over these schools so running and gunning as you look for clusters of birds is the best way to get in on the action. Early morning and late evening is when you will find these fish on top so focus your attention there. There have been sightings of Bonito but it is a real long shot. They pop up every once in a while, and are gone just as fast as they appear. However, this is the time of year when you have a chance. A well-known and constant spot is the bank off of Port Jeff. If they are going to show up it is very likely that they will show up here. Bonito like that rising tide so, if Bontio is your intended target; be at the bank on that low slack and keep an eye out. Any small bunny style fly or epoxy minnow should do the trick. Big Bluefish have been quite constant but will take a bit of searching to locate. Fish are being caught out in the middle as well as on bunker schools closer to shore. They are spread out quite a so do not be afraid to cover water. If big, hard fighting fish on the fly is your objective be prepared to run, keeping your eyes on the water for any disturbance. These fish are often milling around just under the surface and may not be actively feeding on bunker.

Massachusetts 

Freshwater

As we wrote last week, the main rivers in Western Massachusetts are in typical mid-August conditions with increased pressure on the few remaining trout options around. In addition to the upper stretch of the Deerfield, the Swift is still viable though it tends to get pounded this time of year so be prepared for a crowd, especially on the weekends. Until things start to cool off a bit, we also recommend giving the trout a rest and doing some smallmouth bass fishing in the area.

Deerfield River

It's all about the uppermost section of Deerfield at Fife this time of year and be prepared for a little more competition fishing cooler water. Anglers have been having some success with terrestrials during the day, and that's a good option outside of the early-and-late windows. As always, keep a thermometer handy, and if the temps climb too much, give the fish a break until they're less stressed.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01168500 

Saltwater (Cape Cod & The Islands)

Monomoy is still going strong. Great numbers of good sized Stripers are still being taken by fly anglers. It seems that the action has not slowed at all. Weather fishing the rips, beaches, or flats; the fishing remains just as good as it was a few weeks ago. The primary forage on the rips are Sandeels with Mackerel coming in second. Sandeels are going to be the primary baitfish inshore with some bunker mixed in as well. Early morning with a moving tide will have fish willing to take a popper. Poppers will often out produce subsurface flies so make sure to have a floating line ready to go. As the sun gets a bit higher switch to a sub-surface pattern. There are some really big Blues around Monomoy right now and even some Bonito. Really there is not much more to say other than, the fishing is rock solid off of Monomoy at the moment. 

Martha's Vineyard

The Bonito are just becoming more and more prevalent. This is your best option at the moment with plenty of fish around. It seems like they are popping up everywhere. From Wasque Point, to Oak Bluffs, to Tashmoo; the fish are crushing bait in strong numbers. Provided that you have favorable wind and sea conditions; you should have no problem locating fish. Keep in mind that an East, or ever worse; a West wind will shut fishing down. So, keep an eye on that forecast. Bonito seem to have an affinity for a rising tide. That afternoon rising tide is when you should be on the water hunting for your best shot at these fish. However, that early morning falling tide should prove fruitful as well. There are plenty of Schoolies and Harbor Blues around to keep you occupied and some larger Blues being caught as well.

Nantucket

The Bonito Bar has been fishing very well on the incoming tide. There are plenty of Bonito being caught right now. Despite their smaller average size which it typical for this time of year, the action has been constant. Any smaller bunny fly in white, pink, or chartreuse is a good option. These fish are typically not too selective but can get picky as the sun gets higher. The Bonito Bar is not a “run and gun” location. If you are thinking about going out there for the first time, you will want to anchor on the bar and wait for the fish to come to you. Running around after fish will only put the fish down and make it harder for other anglers. This will also make you no friends on the water. So, do as the locals do. Anchor up and wait for the fish to come to you. You can also motor up current and drift down with the engines off. Blind casting while on anchor or drifting is very effective and can yield some of the larger fish. Big Blues are certainly around as are Harbor Blues and Stripers.

Rhode Island

The Bonito bite is starting to pick up in a big way. From Newport West to Point Judith seems to be the epicenter of the action. We are a week or so away from the peak run but the action has been consistent this past week. The Rising tide off of Narragansett and Point Judith has brought the bait in and with it, the Bonito. These fish are definitely around and worth the effort to locate. Now is really the time to focus on these fish. They will be gone before you know it. Many anglers will bypass Blues and Stripers this time of year as those fisheries will only improve in Fall. However, a good way to locate Bonito is to find Harbor Blues. These smaller Blues are more prevalent and Bonito are often in the same areas. Blues and Bonito often intermingle on the same points, rips, and bait schools. If you land on a blitz and are hooking Harbor Blues one after another, try casting outside of the blitz. This will often result in a Bonito hookup. The Schoolie Stripers are still being found early in the morning crashing on bait. There are also large Blues on Bunker schools. Rhode Island is fishing very well right now. We recommend getting on the water early. From dark until 11am is the sweet spot. You will find Blues a Bonito on bait a bit later and then later in the day but things will slow down until the afternoon. Around 5pm things will pick back up so be prepared once fish show themselves again.

Maine and New Hampshire

Freshwater

Cooler temps have given the trout (and trout anglers!) a boost in Maine and New Hampshire. Instead of the usual early-and-late this time of the season, this should provide a longer window of quality fishing. Take advantage! It's an especially good time to think about doing a float on the Andro, for example.

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Saltwater

We only had spotty reports from Maine this week, but what we did hear was that folks are still catching big stripers up and down the coast, and that cooler weather (shorter days, longer and cooler nights) have helped conditions overall. The action is still steadily inconsistent, if that makes sense. There are plenty of bait and predator fish around, but anglers have been reporting hit-and-miss action. The takeaway is that whether on shore or by boat, you'll need to keep your eyes open and be opportunistic when you find fish. And moving around and covering water will likely put you in the best position to run into a big pod.


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