Northeast Fishing Report: 10/30/2020 - The Compleat Angler

October 30, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! Well the rain finally arrived and most rivers have seen nice big bumps of water. Of course we anglers are a choosy bunch, so we want some water just not too much! The impact the rain has had varies a bit by the river so check out the details below for whichever you are headed off too! For those saltwater anglers closest to us here in Connecticut the saltwater fishing has been fantastic - finally, after all that waiting! We even had anglers with reports of hardtails this week along with prevalent (and sometimes sizable) bass. It's been great. As always read on for the details!

New York

Freshwater

Ontario Tributaries

The Tribs are holding their own and while the general consensus is that we are in a transitional period the fishing has been pretty good considering the abysmal waters levels up there. As with all rivers across the Northeast, the water levels on the Great Lakes tributaries have been very low. Drought throughout the Summer and not much in the way of substantial rain for the entirety of the Fall thus far, has stunted the Steelhead runs. We are hearing that it’s tough working through crowds for a few hookups. We desperately need some substantial water up there. The remnants of Hurricane Zeta that whacked the coastal Northeastern region never quite made it up to the lakes. They had some of the outer bands drop a tiny amount of rain but that was it. Darn. Fortunately, it is not quite prime time for early run Steelhead just yet so while it would be nice to have those big early pushes of fish, the majority of the Steelhead don’t even think about moving in until well into November. So there is still hope. The worst case scenario is that we get no rain and precipitation that transitions directly to snow before any water makes it into the rivers. Now, I don’t want to scare you off. It certainly still worth going up there and all things considered, the rivers are fishing well. But with the conditions we have, adjusting your approach will be key. You will need to be very methodical about where you fish and picking your spots carefully and adjusting for conditions is critical. It seems like the name of the game has been focusing on the deeper holes. With the water so low, many of the fish that are in the system have been congregating in the deepest water. There are still Kings and Cohos being taken on a fairly regular basis despite the decline in numbers. This past week has historically been the last week of the run and after that, it’s the occasional spawned-out zombie here and there. However, with the low water and the resulting reluctant fish, we could see a late push of both Salmon species provided we get some water. The Browns have been making up for the lack of Steelhead in a big way. Some really nice fish have been taken in the lower sections of all of these streams some of which have been just enormous. Oak Orchard in particular has been lights out. Giant lake run Browns have been pushing in despite the low water and we are hearing that the crowds have not been crazy. While the Salmon River has been even more of a madhouse than usual, there have been some really nice Browns taken on this river as well. The big news on the Salmon River is that the lower fly is opening on the 31st. On a normal year it would have been open, however due to low water and concerns about the number of fish making it to their spawning areas or the hatchery, the Lower Fly Zone has been closed to all anglers. That alone highlights the tough conditions we have had. However, the NYDEC has determined enough fish have made it up and fishing will commence on the 31st. We are hearing that there are plenty of fish throughout the entire river and with the Lower Fly being completely unpressured all Fall, we are expecting the fishing to be the best on the entire river. At least for the next week. Let’s hope we get a good shot of rain up there! We desperately need it.

Saltwater

The fishing continues to hold off of Montauk. The Stripers are making up the majority of the action and when weather has allowed, the fishing has been great. There is really no change to last week’s report which means the fishing is still red hot with maybe a slight decline in surface activity. The Stripers are all over the place. It should take very little searching to get on the mother of all Bass Blitzes. All along the Long Island coast on both the North and South sides we are hearing the same thing. Bass everywhere.

They are mostly the schoolie sized fish, however whether you are fishing the bays, beaches, or just offshore from a boat, the action has been essentially nonstop. Remember that the falling tide is the Striper tide. As long as you time your fishing accordingly then it should be awesome. There are some Blues still in the mix just offshore but we are seeing the numbers thinning by the day. It is all about the Bass until the season ends sometime in late November.

Connecticut

Our local streams are fishing very well. All across the state, the small streams have been stocked, making this a perfect time to dust off the 3wts and get in some great Fall fishing. Streamers have been the name of the game with anglers reporting double digit days throwing streamers of all sizes and colors. Nymphs will become more productive as the fish get continued pressure. These fish will become educated quickly and we are hearing that in many of the rivers, it is already all about nymphs at this point. We are also hearing that many rivers have fish that are already taking dries! Pretty cool and fun thing to do this time of year. The water in many of these rivers is still quite low. Low CFS and leaves in the water have made things a bit technical but with the rain we received on Thursday and Friday we expect water levels to be great or even a bit high. The increased flows means that the fish will more than likely spread out. It also means that the water turbidity may increase for the next few days. Brighter flies, darker flies, larger patterns and bigger streamers will be the best options for these conditions. The Naugatuck and Shetucket also received Atlantic Salmon so if bigger fish are your fancy, then this is a golden opportunity as they stocked both the upper and lower sections. Flashy streamers in a wide variety of colors are generally the best option. Purples, reds, yellows and pinks are the colors to use. Size 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 coneheads are perfect and can be stripped or swung to great effect. The fishing is great all across the state right now with plenty of options. For the smaller streams short 3wt rods are perfect and for salmon, generally and 9’ 8wt is what you want. You can get away with a 7 or even a 6wt but do not go any lower than a 6. You run the risk of breaking a rod or killing the fish. As a reminder, all Trout Management Areas (where the DEEP has stocked) are all catch and release only as of August 31st. It is also Single Hook – Artificial only. The majority of fly anglers are catch and release anyway. However, if you do see any poaching going on, call 800-842-4357 and report it to the CTDEEP. That way the fishing will remain good all Winter. All TMAs will remain catch and release until mid-April of 2021.

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.

Same story for the Farmington this week. The dam began to release more water on Monday and the Still jacked up with Wednesday through Friday’s rain. As such, expect the streamer bite to turn on. Hopefully the Browns are done with the spawn as many anglers will converge up there to take advantage of the increase in water. A wide variety of streamers will work and both articulated and smaller patterns should all get their fair share of attention. Yellows and oranges are popular colors this time of year but do not discount white and lighter colors as well. Water turbidity and cloud cover will play a big part in what colors are more productive so keep that in mind. Dry fly fishing has been tough and we are not hearing much to get excited about on that front. If we get an abnormally warm day the caddis should pop and rainy or cloudy days will have BWOs fairly consistently. Nymphing has been all about midges and egg patterns. Smaller zebra midges and egg flies in various colors are very productive this time of year and, while a big stonefly nymph will occasionally take fish, drifting smaller flies will be a more productive approach. Dry droppers and wets have had their moments recently but with the water being as high as it is, save these approaches for slower and shallower sections of river. A tan beadhead caddis is always tough to beat on the Farmington as are Frenches. Keep in mind that most of your nymphs should be size 16 or smaller. With the bump in water, try some larger stuff down deep and see if there are any takers. Tan, cream, light orange, and peach-colored Mop Flies do a decent job of imitating a ball of trout eggs. If you are in a lull dropping a bigger fly down there can be a slump buster.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

What a great few weeks on the Housey and the fishing is still great. Water levels have been just perfect, allowing anglers to hit a wide variety of locations. Last Monday with flows around 500 CFS the streamer bite was hot. Smaller conehead patterns seemed to be the most productive however we did hear about some really nice fish taken on articulated stuff as well. The rain on Thursday and Friday has the water coming up and we will see where things end up. It’s 970 CFS as of Friday 9/30 and still going up. Please be very careful if you decide to fish this weekend. If you have a hankering to get out there, sinking lines and big streamers will be the best use of your time. If you float the river, flows will more than likely be good. The dry fly fishing was a little tougher earlier in the week but came back strong as the water subsided. BWOs seem to be the favorite right now with caddis coming in at a close second. All styles of these two bugs seem to be working. Emergers, cripples, spinners or spents, duns or adults, and nymphs are producing. We are approaching the end of dry fly fishing so if you want to get in some last-minute surface sips, now is the time to do it. If we get a nice warm day in the near future, that is the time to go. The fish will be up and feeding and should make for some awesome dry fly fishing. The Pike fishing is still going strong. Some nice fish have been taken and the water temperature looks good! While it is a niche thing within fly fishing as a whole, Pike are awesome on the fly. It is a great time of the year to cover water with big streamers and tie into a 30+ inch fish. Especially with the bump in water, it is reasonable to expect that these fish will have the feed bags on. 

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

We are in the meat of the Fall run right now and fishing has been stellar! While many of the Northeastern states to the East are seeing the tail end of their fishing season rapidly approach, Connecticut is just getting started! The Stripers are front and center with blitzing fish all along the coast. However, just when you thought it was over, hardtails were caught locally this past weekend and all this week. And it was not just one or two fish. A strong push of fish came through and a bunch were caught. One confirmed Bonito and numerous Albies were brought to hand. Crazy. While I would expect these fish to be gone any day now, heading a bit East of the Housey might just give you one last crack at the Hardtails.

Shore-based fly fishing is also as good as it gets right now. There are plenty of Stripers around and still tucked in tight. We are seeing more and more fish 30” plus as the days pass. While getting past the schoolies can at times be futile, there are definitely larger linesiders in the area. Same stuff as last week for flies with smaller bunker patterns being the name of the game. If you are fishing from a boat the best practice will be to look for birds and/or surface activity. The bait will be on the move and the Stripers will be in tow. The majority of the baitfish will be Bunker so be sure to have plenty of Bunker style patterns to choose from. Everything from peanuts all the way up to full sized adults are on the menu. Often matching the size of the bait can make or break a trip so again, have plenty of flies to choose from. Gator Blues have been making appearances as well. Around the outside of the Norwalk Islands, off of Bridgeport and Stamford, as well as out in the middle at the buoys have all been constant Gator spots. These fish have been moving fast following bait so be prepared to run with the fish to get the shots you need on a fly. They have been on smaller peanuts making them uncharacteristically picky. Sure, they will take anything reasonable but giant poppers are not really the ideal fly for this scenario. I recommend a size 2/0 flashy bunker pattern about 3 to 4 inches long. That will be attractive enough to get bit while still being a close enough size to the natural forage to prevent refusals.

Rhode Island

Rhody seems to be hanging in there. Shore-based fishing has been pretty darn good this past week. Beaches, bays and structure have all been fishing quite well. Schoolie sized Bass are all over the place. There have also been some nicer sized fish mixed in 30” or better. However, we are hearing that the schools of Bass are becoming more fractured and less frequent. This is the first sign that the Fall run is coming to an end. While the fishing is still very good at the moment, things are winding down for sure. The water temperatures are dropping and the bait is on the move. The forage is making its way South and as such, the predators are in hot pursuit.

These fish are vacating the area by the day and in two or three weeks the fishing will decline dramatically. It’s hard to believe that we are already talking about the end of the run for the year, but here we are. There have been very big Bass and Blues in tight on adult Bunker recently and some very nice fish have been taken on the fly. The best action has been reported around Weekapaug, Watch Hill, and out to the Race. Plum Gut is still seeing a good number of blitzing fish and occasionally a pop of Albies. The next two weeks will start to see fishing tail off substantially, so there is no time like the present! 


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