Northeast Fishing Report: 10/16/2020 - The Compleat Angler

October 16, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! Rain has helped a bit on many of the rivers we know and love. From our local streams up to the Ontario Tribs, the action has been pretty good, with angler reporting the fresh shot of rain making the fish more active. Just keep in mind that some fish are heading into their spawn, so please be respectful of that when you are on the water. In the salt, the False Albacore season is largely winding down and it was pretty hit-or-miss depending on location. However the striper action has been fantastic of late and likely will continue to stay so in the weeks ahead. Read on for details...

New York

Freshwater

The rain that the East Coast received was not as substantial in the Catskills. The Beaverkill is still looking ok, but it is dropping. The Willowemoc is low and probably not a great option at the moment. Even though the rain was not substantial, we did get some and the fishing this week was great. The fishing should be very good this weekend. The Beaverkill is looking better than the Willow as it has more water but both should be fishable. As the water levels fall, nymphing will still be productive but be sure to downsize your flies. Small midges, caddis emergers, and BWO emergers will still be effective as well. Swinging soft hackles should be very productive too. For dries, it depends on which river you are fishing. The Isos are still a factor but the fish will be much more selective on these larger bugs than say a small caddis or BWO. Tan Caddis are a safe bet. Size 18-20 caddis will be a fly you definitely want to have as well as s20 BWO. Have these in both emergers and Duns/Adults. They should account for the majority of your takes. Terrestrials will still take a few fish on warmer days but downsize to flying ants. S14 in a cinnamon color will do the trick. White flies should be productive right before dark. Size 12 or 14 White Wullfs are all you need. It looks like we have more rain on the way later this week which should kick things back into high gear.

The West Branch was certainly negatively impacted by the Dam repair. We saw photos of dead Trout Parr all over the West and while the larger fish seem to have made it out alive, the number of dead Parr is very unfortunate. It wasn’t a few fish here or there, it was piles of dead trout, sculpin, and dace. On the bright side, the work was done quickly and normal operations resumed late last week. So, a big thank you to NY DEP and USGS for doing the best they could to return flow to the West Branch as quickly as possible. There were going to be negative effects regardless of when this happened. Initial reports were that no larger trout died and my feeling is that although this was unfortunate, it could have been much worse. There have been complaints that the work was not done during a rain that could have compensated for the shut down and prevented the river from running dry. But again, without all of the information it is hard to point fingers. In any event, I would say that it is safe to assume it will be weeks (or more) before the West returns to “normal.” The East and Main will be the best bet for good Fall fishing. BWOs and caddis are still really the only decent options for dries. Some Isos are coming off but they are dwindling. I would not rely on Isos but rather have them handy just in case. With all of the dead fish flowing in from the West, dead drifting a smaller trout or sculpin streamer could be deadly on the Main Stem.


Ontario Tributaries

Rain is on the way and will most likely spur another big push of fish. The Salmon run is still going strong. It is at the tail end for sure, but plenty of fish are still being caught. Kings and Cohos alike will be the most numerous fish in the system and it's looking good for the next week. The buzz right now are the lake run Browns that are pushing in. They have been caught in reliable numbers, so much so that anglers are going up there to specifically target them. They are big and will take a wide variety of flies. The Steelhead are becoming more numerous as well and while the prime time for Steelhead is not until mid-to-late-November, they are a real possibility at this point. The fishing has been stellar of late and with the forecast we have, anglers are licking their chops. With rain predicted, the smaller tribs should light up as well. There have been fish literally waiting to push up and any decent amount of water will bring these fish in thick to the smaller streams. This coming week should be lights out fishing. Now is the time to get up there. Before you know it, the Salmon run will be over and it will be a long hard slog of winter Steelhead fishing.

Saltwater

Montauk has been fishing exceptionally well. We are at the tail end of Albie season, and, while numbers are dwindling, they should still be a worthwhile target in the week to come. At the end of the season, it is not uncommon to see some larger groups of fish pop up. A last gasp of the run, these monster sized blitzes are not prevalent but can provide some of the best fishing all season. This will be the week to get in on some of the last good hardtail fishing of the year too. The Stripers have been everywhere. Everything from schoolies up to the 40” cows have been blowing up on bait. It has been phenomenal fishing to say the least.

The smaller Bass seem to be on Bay Anchovies while the larger fish are keyed in on Bunker. There are Gator Blues in the mix as well. You can’t miss off Montauk right now. The beaches and back bays have a ton of Bass to play with and if you get a good weather window, the fishing will be great. The Larger Bass are also moving in toward shore. The cooler water has them tucked in pretty tight so if they are your target, no need to run far into deep water. Teasing them up with big plugs and throwing large flies should prove fruitful. There are Gator Blues in the mix as well. They tend to be in deeper water so making a move offshore or out to the Race is a good game plan if you have toothy critters on the brain. 

Connecticut

Farmington River

Keep in mind: As of September 1st, almost the entirety of the West Branch of the Farmington River is now all catch and release. From the Goodwin Dam, 21 miles down to the Route 177 bridge is all catch and release only from now until the second Saturday in April. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.

Rivers across the Northeast got a good shot of rain this week and the Farmy is no exception. The Still River came way up adding some much-needed water into the system.  They dropped the flow from the dam but the Still made up for it. Make no mistake however, the water is still quite low at around 130 CFS. In any event, with the bump in water, the nymphing should light up and larger patterns should take a bunch of fish. When the water comes up patterns like stoneflies tend to fish better and Hothead Pheasant Tails and brighter patterns will work well too. Anything that is easily noticed from a good way off is typically productive. Now, with the bump in water, the streamer bite would typically be good, however, as we said last week, the Browns and Brookies are getting ready to spawn any day now. As such, we recommend staying away from spawning areas, or, at the very least, avoid throwing streamers or big reaction-strike-type flies. Ripping these fish off redds and beating them up while they are trying to spawn is a lame thing to do and can negatively impact their spawning behavior. The wild fish on that river are special and the most sought after. Without them, it’s just another stockie bashing stream. So, please do your part and pick the fishing back up in November. If you do fish the Farmy, please use tactics that aren’t targeted specifically at wild spawning fish. We have all year to catch these fish. Let them be for 2 weeks. The river was recently stocked and will have plenty of non-spawning rainbows or smaller browns to play with. There are also plenty of holdover fish left as well. They will be in the deeper holes and runs that are annual stocking locations. They will be extremely receptive to a wide variety of patterns and it is not uncommon to catch well over 15 fish in a single spot. They are much more aggressive than the wild fish and are a blast to fish for. If you fish the Farmington on a regular basis and appreciate the larger wild fish that it is known for, then do your part and leave the spawning fish to their own devices. It will translate into more productive spawning and more wild fish in the future.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

The Housey got a good shot of rain this week. While it was not as much as we were hoping for, 319CFS (as of Thursday the 15th) is a good flow for this river. It’s in the high 200s at the moment. The Housatonic has really been an example of textbook Fall fishing at its finest. Despite rampant poaching, drought, and very low/hot water, these amazing fish hung in there and have kicked into high gear. They are very active and taking a wide variety of flies fished a multitude of ways. Everything from streamers to dries are working right now. It is very much up to the individual in terms of flies and techniques. With the higher water, banging the banks with streamers will no doubt produce plenty of fish. As the water subsides, nymphs and dry droppers will be the top producers. We are hearing that dries are still taking fish and that plenty of fish are coming up. Small BWOs in a size 18 are killing it. Emergers seem to be the favorite but duns, cripples and even small spinners are taking fish too. We haven’t heard anything about the October Caddis and I would suggest opting for smaller dries as opposed to swinging for the fences with a monster caddis. If you do fish caddis dries, keep them small. Size 16-18 tan and olive is all you need. Subsurface have been taking their fair share of fish as well. The fish seem to be more on smaller patterns such as midges and smaller beadhead caddis or mayfly patterns, as the angling pressure has been substantial. Swinging wets and other emerger type flies will be a sneaky way to get on fish in areas that are more pressured as well. A s18 BWO type fly should be in your fly box at all times no matter where you fish, and the Housatonic is no exception. The Smallmouth are still plenty active and should be quite easy to fool in the coming weeks. However, many anglers have transitioned to trout so we are not hearing much. What we have heard is that any concerted effort to target these fish has paid off. The Northern Pike are still feeding very well and with the increase in water, the bite should turn on in a big way. Anglers are reporting aggressive fish and good action throughout the day. The Housey is fishing extremely well and should continue to stay that way for the rest of the month. If you were thinking about going, now is the time!

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Well we are approaching the end of the False Albacore run and while it was a great year in many locations, that was certainly not the case for Long Island Sound. The fish never really showed up. I’m confident that a few schools made it down here but no one we have talked to caught one. There was talk of hardtails off Bridgeport this week but I doubt it was anything worth running for. Most didn’t even see them and while there is still a glimmer of hope for their appearance, most savvy fly anglers are cutting their losses for more dependable opportunities. It’s late in the season and while they could show in the coming weeks, banking on that will most likely be futile.

On the bright side, the Striper fishing has picked up in a big way and will continue to get better for the next month. We are just getting started with the Fall Run and there are plenty of fish around. There have been 30+ inch fish blowing up adult Bunker fairly close to shore. And while shore-based fly anglers more than likely won’t get a shot at these fish, anyone on a boat can certainly capitalize on the opportunity. The shore fishing has improved substantially and while we are hearing that it is still inconsistent, if you are there at the right time the fishing has been awesome. The beaches, coves, and salt ponds are full of fish and will take a well presented peanut pattern. The Gator Blues have been in the mix as well. We are seeing less of the smaller Blues and more of the larger fish. A great sign. These will be a blast on the fly and unless you really don’t want to catch them, if you come across a Gator blitz, fish it. They will not be here for long. From now until mid-November is the peak of the Fall Run. Now is the time to focus on every good weather window and put time on the water. The fishing will be spectacular in the weeks to come and this is arguably the best time of the year to fish the Sound. We have great New Moon tides right now and even though the forecast looks iffy this weekend, it will be worth getting out there. It is all starting to happen right now! No time like the present! 

Rhode Island

Stripers, Stripers, Stripers! As the False Albacore slowly disappear,  the focus has now turned to the monster Bass Blitzes all along the coast. Aside from Montauk, Rhody has been the place to be for consistent Striper fly fishing. All along the beaches, Bass have been pushing bait up against shore and hammering them. It has been a decent mix of larger fish and schoolies. The size of the fish is more dictated by the size of the bait than anything else. Larger bait such as Bunker or even smaller Peanuts will tend to have larger fish on it. The opposite holds true for Bay Anchovies. For the most part the smaller Blues have moved on only to be replaced by their larger brethren. Again, these fish seem to be primarily in deeper water. The Race has been the hotspot for both larger Bass and Blues. While it has been sporadic, there are still Albies there as well. it seems as though most fish are West of Point Judith. Really, running and gunning is the move right now. Look for surface activity. Birds are dead giveaway however, blitzes without birds often indicate larger fish and adult Bunker. The birds physically can’t eat the large Menhaden and as such, won’t typically key on them. So, if you come across a blitz without birds, bust out the big rods! Shore based fly fishing has been spectacular and will remain as such for the next week at least. The Bass and Blues are doing everything they can to pin the bait against shore. An ideal scenario for fly anglers. Have a few different styles of flies to accommodate the various bait in the area. Bay Anchovies, Peanut Bunker, and Adult Bunker are all flies that should be on you at all times right now.

Massachusetts

Cape Cod & The Islands

Most of our anglers have left the Cape and the Islands so reports are getting pretty thin. As such we are removing these sections from the report moving forward. There are plenty of schoolies and some Blues to keep anglers occupied. A pop of Albies here and there are still being reported but the Hardtail season is largely done. It was another great year off the Cape and the Islands. Many of our customers spent a lot of time out there and we appreciate all of the information you provided us. I would like to preface this by saying the fishing is by no means over. Shore based Striper fishing has been great lately. The last report we got was that fish are blitzing on bait right along the beaches and it was very easy to pin them down. They are mostly schoolie sized but still a blast on the fly. This fishing will continue until sometime in November when they all vacate the area completely.


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