Northeast Fishing Report: 10/2/20 - The Compleat Angler

October 02, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The first weekend in October is looking phenomenal for fly anglers across the Northeast. Whether you are fishing fresh or salt, targeting trout or False Albacore, the fly fishing should be spectacular. With a recent band of storms that hit the Northern states, much needed precipitation fell and raised the water in our rivers. The levels are looking great for the weekend and the fishing should be nothing short of awesome. The conditions are ideal for trout and the Pike and Smallmouth will have put the feed bags on. The Salmon are running up the Salmon River by the hundreds with Browns and Steelhead nipping at their heels. Here at the shop anglers have been pouring in getting ready for the first great condition window of the fall. After a prolonged drought and an arduous summer of tough fishing, this weekend’s forecast has everybody smiling.

The Saltwater fishing will be just as good. After a vicious, week-long Easterly blow associated with a cold front on the back side of a dying hurricane, we were all wondering if the fishing would recover. It has, and then some! Montauk and Rhode Island have seen the best False Albacore all year. The fish are everywhere and they are big! The big Stripers and Blues have moved in tight and are readily available to the savvy fly angler. The back bays and marshes are holding tons of bait making for some spectacular shore-based fly fishing for Schoolies with some really nice fish mixed in. It’s all happening right now. There are no bad options. Pick a species, choose a location and send it!  

Read on for details...

New York

Freshwater

The Beaverkill and Willowemoc got a much-needed shot of rain this week. The Beaverkill topped out at just shy of 3000 CFS. That was way too high to fish but it is dropping fast as is typical. It should have perfect, fishable conditions this weekend! The Willowemoc is the same story and the weekend is looking great! With the higher water, full nymph rigs will be very effective. Big stoneflies and larger nymphs will be productive as the water will have blown out a ton of bugs. Small midges, caddis emergers, and BWO emergers will still be effective as well. 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 the warmer days but downsize to flying ants. They have been all over the water recently. 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. With a little bump in CFS expect streamer fishing to pick up as well. Both the Beaver and Willow will be at a great flow to throw streamers.

Rain, rain, rain. The Delaware bumped up quite a bit this past week. It is on its way back down but water levels are great right now and the fishing should be as well! The CFS on the West is all over the place. The East Branch is more consistent with a good gradual bump in flow. The Mainstem at Lordville was 2020 CFS (Ha!) as of October 1st. On the D Hatches remain relatively unchanged: Isos s12, Cahills s14, White flies s12-14, BWOs s18-20, Tricos s20-24, Tan Caddis s18-20, Sulphurs s18, and ants. The Tricos, Midges, and BWOs will be in the cooler water on the Upper East and West. Caddis will be on the entire system. The Main Stem, Lower East and Lower West will obviously be a bit warmer than the branches. Expect mostly tan caddis, Sulphurs, Isos, and White Flies. There are also Dorotheas s18 hatching as well. The slight increase in turbidity should not affect the fishing at all. With the increased CFS, the next few days will be a good time to bang the banks with streamers, especially on the Main and East Branch.

Ontario Tributaries

Good news for the Salmon run! The water is low but they did get some rain on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with more predicted this coming week! The water is rising which means one thing -- a giant push of Salmon! The bump in water has caused huge numbers of fish to begin their run and the fishing should be lights out in the coming days. I saw a video of 50 or more Kings shooting up the DRS that was taken on Wednesday. The Salmon River will be loaded with fish this weekend and fishing should be nothing short of phenomenal. This will be the big push so if you were on the fence about when to go, now is the time! Before the rains fishing was still very good. Kings and Cohos are making up the majority of the fish caught, and some really big ones at that. Nice, fresh and bright fish continue to push in and seemingly everyone is reporting great fishing with lots of fish brought to hand. There have been a few Atlantics caught as well as big Browns and early season Steelhead. The majority of the action has been down low toward the mouths of these rivers due to the low water but with this rain and the raise in water level, the action will heat up well upstream. It’s no secret that many of these fish simply won’t make it that far up the river before being harvested and the lower sections typically have the “fresher fish.” However, with a bump in CFS the fish will push deep into the rivers and fishing will be great in all but the upper most reaches. Egg patterns have been the hot fly right now. Hot orange, chartreuse, red, and hot pink Estaz flies in a size 6, 8 and 12 will get the job done. Really any egg pattern in a variety of colors and sizes are best practice. It is good to have a few brighter hot-head Woolly Buggers in size 4, 6, and 8 as well. Heavy tippet and heavy rods are a must. 12 to 20lb tippet and 8 to 10wts are pretty standard. 

Saltwater

This past week off of Montauk the fishing has been spectacular! The False Albacore have amassed off of the Montauk Lighthouse and surrounding area. Phew! In typical fashion, Montauk is now the epicenter of the Albie run and will most likely remain so for the rest of the season. The rest of the Northeast is not seeing much, but it seems that Montauk is the exception. Saturday was pretty slow but the Sunday reports were great. There were fish blowing up right off the Lighthouse and many anglers took advantage. The boat traffic was substantial as is typical this time of year but the fish did not seem to mind. Plenty of Albies were brought to hand and some anglers reported double digit days. That carried on throughout the week despite some nasty conditions Wednesday and Thursday. So for the next few weeks this will more than likely be the hot spot. It always seems to be due to the high concentration of fish in a relatively small area. We heard, almost unanimously, that these fish were very selective. Albies can be notoriously picky at times. For whatever reason, anglers had to downsize their flies quite a bit to get bites but, most were able to crack the code and fishing was lights out. It seemed that a very natural pattern was the key. Small anchovy flies in natural colors were what the fish were looking for. It is a relief to us, as well as many anglers, that the False Albacore showed back up in strong numbers. Hardtails aside, the Striper fishing was just as good. Really, across the whole of Long Island the Striper action has been very consistent. Striper Blitzes were a common occurrence this past week. It seems like both the North and South side are fishing phenomenally well. The action has been both East and West as well. Really, there is no bad option if you are targeting Stripers on the fly off Long Island. On the beaches Bass were busting on anchovies and Peanut Bunker. Depending on where you were, these fish were schoolie sized all the way up to 40+ pounders.

One of our customers reported the best day on a fly he has ever had fishing off Long Island bringing double digit 20+ pound Stripers to the boat on the fly with Albies mixed in. Some fish were over 40 pounds and some too big to ethically bring into the boat. That is crazy! (And Congratulations buddy. That’s an epic day!) We are hearing the same thing from other anglers along the entirety of Long Island on both sides. It just depends on whether you come across them or not. Any concerted effort to locate fish on top should prove fruitful. It will be a bit tougher from shore simply because it is harder to cover water. However, the beaches, rock piles, and coves have been fishing well and it is a safe bet that locating fish should not be that difficult. The Bluefish are around as well. The larger fish that were filtering into the Sound seem to have cut and run. However there have been big fish around Montauk and Block Island. In the Sound on the North shore smaller fish up to 8 pounds have been numerous. Locating larger Blues will take a bit of effort if you are in the Sound.

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.

The rivers across the Northeast got a good shot of water Tuesday into Wednesday morning and the Farmington is no exception. Finally, the much-needed precipitation we were hoping for! The Still River topped out at around 150 CFS with a small bump from the dam for a total of around 240 CFS. The Still is rapidly descending so expect fairly low water under 200cfs this weekend. This will get those fish fired up and moving around. Water previously too shallow to hold fish will now be deep enough to fish with good results. When the water goes up after prolonged periods of drought, the fish tend to move quite a bit and spread out. Competition for food is high when fish are consolidated into deeper pools and runs. When that water bumps up fish spread out in search of their own feeding lies. This is not necessarily the case for the stocked fish but will certainly hold true for the larger wild fish. We tend to see larger fish push up tight to the banks and move into what most anglers would consider “B” water. A proven tactic is to move just up or down from the major holding water and pick apart the pockets. You may be surprised what you find there. As for the stockies, Junk flies are still doing well and Mops, worms, and eggs are all taking fish. Even with the increase in water, the bigger wild and holdover fish are still taking tiny flies. Midges, BWO and caddis emergers, and other soft-hackle style flies have been the go-to patterns for many seasoned Farmington anglers. With the current conditions the fish will let their guard down a bit and can be a bit more grabby. By that I mean fishing will not be as technical as the previous week but be prepared to have your ducks in row for any reasonable chance of success. Light tippet, small flies, and perfect presentations are still critical. Longer leaders are beneficial as well. 12 footers are not out of the questions and many anglers swear by dropping down to 3wts or 4wts as they tend to be a little stealthier.


It certainly feels like Fall at this point, meaning that it is time to change it up to Fall tactics on this river. Smaller bugs will be the majority of the forage. If you tie flies, getting creative with midge nymphs can pay dividends in the months to come. Size 18, 20, and 22 are where I have typically found my sweet spot. Unweighted midges have been deadly this time a year. A simple black bodied midge with red wire rib and a black dubbing collar (no flash) in a s20 can be very effective right about now. Tie them with no bead but fish them with shot to get them down. As it gets cooler and the days get shorter the browns will begin to think about spawning. That means it’s time to fish egg flies. These trout eggs are small, around a size 14. If you are in the right area, these flies are very productive and will take fish well into late October/November. Having a few colors is preferable. The most popular will be pink, orange, natural (aka cheese), and chartreuse. Hatches are flying ants, Isos, BWOs, Caddis, and maybe some Cahills. Size 18 spinners fished in the evenings should take fish and never discount a White Wulff in a size 10 or 12 fished right before dark. The streamer fishing should improve as well and despite the bump in water it’s not high at all. That tends to lend itself more to smaller flies and deeper runs as opposed to banging the banks and covering a ton of water simply because it’s still pretty shallow. An increase in water will open things up and provide a lot of options as far as flies and approaches are concerned. As I previously mentioned, a raise in water is typically followed by some great fishing so this weekend should be no exception. Don’t be afraid to try some different patterns, a few larger flies, and get creative. There will be plenty of water to fish.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

Wow. The Housatonic went from 100ish CFS to 1160 in just 2 days. This is exactly what we have been waiting for. Once the water clears and comes down to about 400 CFS the fishing should be lights out. The Housey has been on fire the past week and reports are phenomenal from the anglers who have been out there recently. The trout are feeding well on the surface making for some awesome dry fly fishing. The temperatures have been dropping leading to ideal conditions. Early morning and late afternoon when the water is coolest seems to be when most of the activity is taking place, but with this bump in water expect the fishing to hold all day. The streamer fishing will almost certainly pick up in a big way. The water levels are perfect for it. if you can get on a drift boat, the fishing will be spectacular and fishing from the bank won’t be much worse (provided you have the right lines and flies). Floating lines won’t cut the mustard. For hatches, there have been caddis, BWOs, Isos, Cahills and White Flies coming off. The larger bugs will show up in the evenings, while the smaller insects will pop all day depending on conditions, so have smaller dries such as BWOs, smaller caddis, and midges at the ready. Late season Sulphurs are also prevalent. Having a few of these smaller bugs in s18-20 is recommended for the next week or so. There are still some flying ants around as well but they won’t last long with the cooler nights we have been having. Nymphing will obviously take fish and will arguably be the most productive method in the weeks to come. We do need some water up there no doubt about it. Once we get a good shot of water expect the streamer fishing to pick up in a big way. The October Caddis is around the corner as well. These bugs are big. Size 8, 10, and 12. Once they pop the fish will typically gorge on them as it is the last “big bug” hatch of the season. The recent stocking has been making heroes out of pretty much everyone who has been out there. Lots of fish are being caught, no doubt about it. Long story short, we highly recommend fishing the Housey right now. The Smallmouth fishing continues to improve as the temperatures drop and water levels rise. The fish are very active and will whack a well-presented streamer. Many anglers are targeting both species. They are hitting trout water in the morning, smallies mid-day, and going back to trout in afternoon. Smallies will take a nymph just as readily as a trout will so no need to switch up the leader. The bottom end of the TMA has great water that holds both Trout and Smallies making it a great place to start. Worms, stoneflies, bigger mayfly patterns and even Wooly Buggers nymphed under indicators will take both bass and trout making for an action-packed day of fishing. If you are eager to so some early Fall trout fishing, the Housatonic is a great option. The Pike fishing has picked up as well. This week should be incredible fishing associated with the influx of water. The cooler temperatures and increased CFS are a welcome change for the die-hard Pike anglers. These fish will be feeding well and will be much more active. Any concerted effort to target these toothy critters should pay off big-time. We are hearing that the Pike bite has been very good and only getting better! Now is the perfect time to get on these fish. The housey is my top pick for freshwater this week. The only caveat is we have been hearing it has been “mobbed.” That is no surprise. With the Farmington a zoo, small streams low and devoid of fish, and short windows of opportunely on the Housey, expect there to be quite a few other anglers out there. If everyone plays nice and gives each other adequate space, the fishing should be great for everybody. 

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Connecticut has been fishing well as of late! The Albies have yet to show up and are taking their sweet time in doing so. Nothing reported throughout the Sound as far as False Albacore. We have heard of a few unconfirmed reports of anglers who “maybe saw them pop up for a second.” But, you know how that goes. The Albie hunt this season has been a long hard slog thus far. This is about the time they should show up. Realistically, going out East has been the game plan for most anglers who are serious about getting on these fish with fly rods. Let’s hope they push toward us in the next week or so. The Stripers, on the other hand, have been constant. They are seemingly everywhere. While these fish are almost all schoolie sized, they are on top and feeding on bait making them a blast to target. They are feeding on anchovies so use smaller flies. In fact, patterns you would use for Albies will be perfect.

The Blues are around as well and again, while not big, they have been a welcome sight when things are on the slow side. There are peanuts tucked in tight and once it gets cold enough to push the peanuts out, things will go off in a big way. The best thing to do right now is hit your confidence spots when time and tide are ideal and then exchange fuel for nautical miles in an effort to come across some surface activity. The inshore fishing has also been great. The shore-based fly anglers are reporting strong numbers of Stripers tucked in tight. They are feeding on the Peanuts and on the right day, the fishing has been awesome. I say that as the fish are seemingly there one day and gone the next. The water is still a tad warm. A good cold snap should change that and keep those fish in tight.

Rhode Island

False Albacore fishing off Rhodie was slow to recover but is on its way back. Last weekend into early this past week, there was absolutely nothing to report on the Albie front. However, Tuesday afternoon a strong push of fish came through and anglers were getting them on fly from the West Wall and surrounding area. This is arguably the best shore-based spot for Albies in the all of the Northeast. It is about as consistent as it gets and later in the week it lived up to its reputation. Anglers were getting lots of fish, some with double digit days. It seems they are filtering in well and unless we get hit with another substantial Easterly blow, it should hold out for the next few weeks. The Striper fishing has rebounded as well. There have been plenty of fish around busting on top making for some spectacular fly fishing. They have been smaller bait so any fly that you would use for Albies will be adequate. They seem to be all over the beaches on both the rising and falling tide with the falling tide being the more productive of the two. The fish are that schoolie-size with a few of the nicer fish pushing 30” at the higher end. These are great fly-rod size and make for an action-packed day. Smaller Blues have been in thick and are taking quite a few flies so be sure to stock up before a day of fishing. Down toward the Race and off of Watch Hill, gator blues have been around and will take almost any well-presented fly. Block Island has come into its own as well. If big Stripers are the goal, this is a great place to target them. They have come in tight as the water cools down and teasing them up with poppers and throwing a big fly behind it will almost certainly yield hook ups. The forecast looks great for the weekend so it’s time to get back out there! Finding all three species in good numbers is all but certain.

Massachusetts

Cape Cod

The Cape has been cooling down. That goes for both water temperatures and for False Albacore. We have heard that the fishing is getting tough. A few fish here and there but it seems as though these are the last few pushes of fish and the next few weeks should see these fish disappear completely. The Stripers have been making up for it. Anglers have seen plenty of action just off shore and the beaches have been giving fly anglers a run for their money. There have been some nicer fish taken in and around Buzzards Bay, primarily by anglers teasing them up with poppers. The Bluefish have been prolific as well. Gators are around for sure. Although difficult to locate at times, running and gunning on Bunker schools should allow you to locate them. Smaller Blues up to 8 pounds are a dime a dozen, easily spotted as indicated by birds overhead.  

The Islands

Same information for the Cape holds true for the Islands. There are some Albies still around but they seem to be thinning. Schoolie Bass and small Blues are all over the beaches, with larger Stripers in deeper water and cooling water temp areas. The highlight is the uptick in larger Bass off of Nantucket. There have been some nice fish around willing to take a well-presented fly. Bigger flies such as Hollows and Beasts are a safe bet. Most anglers will opt to tease these fish up off of Bunker schools as it is the most consistent way to get bites.


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