Northeast Fishing Report: 10/9/2020 - The Compleat Angler

October 09, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The angling was a mixed bag this past week, with tough conditions in some places but still plenty of action out there. Besides a crazy fix to the Cannonsville Reservoir which resulted in virtually no river flow for a full day, most anglers had pretty good conditions on the water. And certain areas, particularly Montauk, have been absolutely lights out for the saltwater crowd. Keep an eye on the forecast but we should have some pretty good fishing over the next two weeks. Read on for details...

New York

Freshwater

The Beaverkill and Willowemoc are still looking good and the fishing this week was great. The water levels were perfect and although they are dropping, it should be very good fishing this weekend. The Beaverkill is looking better than the Willow as it has more water but both should be fishable. As the water falls, 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 really 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 they will for 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’s. 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. S14 in a cinnamon color will do the trick. White flies should be productive right before dark and 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 big news on the Delaware was the reduction of water to the West Branch to zero CFS on Tuesday. Yes, you read that right. Flow was completely cut to one of the best wild trout tailwaters in the country. This is how it went down.

“DEP will temporarily reduce the downstream release from Cannonsville Reservoir for three days starting tomorrow. The reduction in flow will allow DEP to fix a leaking pipe in the release chamber, and it will let the U.S. Geological Survey calibrate its gage immediately downstream of the reservoir. The current downstream release from Cannonsville is set at 150 cubic feet per second (97 mgd). The following flow changes will happen starting tomorrow. Monday – DEP will reduce the flow to 40 cubic feet per second for several hours in the morning while USGS takes readings to calibrate the gage in Stilesville. The release will increase to 150 cfs by noontime.

Tuesday – DEP will ramp down the release to zero flow by 5 a.m. The shutdown is necessary for DEP to safely repair a leaking pipe in the release chamber. The shutdown is expected to last the majority of the day. DEP will also work with USGS to remove debris from around its gage. DEP will ramp back up to 150 cfs when the repair is complete. Wednesday – DEP will again reduce the downstream flow to 40 cfs in the morning while USGS takes additional readings to calibrate its gage in Stilesville. DEP will then ramp back up to 150 cfs.”

The dam has been repaired and the water is on its way back up but I would not be surprised if the fishing will be negatively impacted for the next few weeks. With all that in mind, I’d guess that the East Branch and Mainstem will be the only game in town for the next few weeks. Those fish on the West will most likely fall back to Deposit at the highest and many may scoot all the way down to the Mainstem. At the very least, the fish on the West will be displaced to some extent and the severity of that will become clearer in the coming weeks. The Main will drop but should be plenty fishable. The East release was increased to offer decent angling opportunities and to protect the Main. They will remain relatively unaffected and should fish well this weekend. It’s all about Isos and BWOs with a few Cahills here and there as well as some caddis. The streamer fishing was good this past weekend and has subsided on the Main. With the increased CFS on the East the streamer bite should be pretty good this weekend. Regardless of where you fish, I would expect challenging conditions.

Ontario Tributaries

The Ontario Tribs fished nothing short of spectacular this past weekend. As predicted, the rain brought hordes of salmon into the system. Reports of double digit Kings and plenty of Cohos were the norm. The fishing was lights out. There were a good number of Browns and Steelhead caught as well. Ever since the rain, the fishing has slowed a bit and things have mostly returned to their pre-rain conditions. The water is up a bit which is plus and there are fish filtering in every day. The stronger pushes of fish seem to be in the mornings with fresh fish entering the system. The Kings still keep coming and will for the next 2 weeks. After that the run will die off fast. The Cohos are still pushing in, as are the Browns. The Steelhead however, have been pushing in thick. Lots of fresh fish have been taken recently and now is the time to get into those dime bright Chromers that fight like champions. Later in the season they will color up and lose a lot of their fight so the next two weeks is your window. It is also a great time to get into a great mixed bag and all four species are a real possibility. What is nice about the next two weeks is that while many anglers are determined to fish lower down in the rivers, fishing up high can often be incredible. There will be tons of fish up top and they are typically less pressured than the fish further down. There will be a lot of spin anglers down at the bottom that are meat fishing too, hell-bent on killing fresh fish. If you go up a little higher you can get away from that nonsense and have a great day of fishing without having to deal with a lot of the malarkey these rivers are known for.

Saltwater

Montauk is the place to be right now. The fishing is so hot we can feel it from here! The main focus by most anglers has been False Albacore which have shown up in the thousands. Whereas many other locations across the Northeast have been waning or devoid of Hardtails altogether, Montauk has been lights out. Fly anglers have been taking full advantage, many of whom are from Connecticut and Rhode Island. They refuse to wait and see if it is going to happen on their home water and the strategy has paid off big. 16, 20, 29 fish boated are recent reports from our customers out there. Those are hero numbers and it’s been that way for over a week. It has been a textbook Albie push with fish balling up at the lighthouse and crashing bait on both sides of the tide. It has been so good that running and gunning has not been necessary on most days. Fly anglers are setting up on the rip and drifting. That has provided plenty of shots per-drift as obvious by the catch rates we are seeing.

Pink and white baitfish patterns have been the hot fly of late and a surprisingly large size has been the most productive. Something 1/0 or 2/0 around 3.5 to 4” long has been deadly. Now it has not been great every day, there have been a few slow ones here and there. But if you go out there any time soon, blanking on Albies is highly unlikely. It seems like the fish have been reluctant to push farther West into Connecticut but are more than happy to sit off the lighthouse and gorge themselves. It has been a phenomenal week and won’t stay like this for long. NOW is the time to go. Don’t wait. They will be gone before you know it! In between all of the False Albacore insanity, the Stripers have also been going nuts. They are feeding on the same bait, Bay Anchovies, and will take the same flies you are throwing for the Hardtails. If the Slam is what you are looking for then get a few Bass on the fly because more than likely you will run into Blues as well. Everything from the 3 pounders all the way up to full sized Gators have been prevalent off Montauk. They are also feeding on the anchovies but any big and flashy fly will get smoked. There have certainly been some big Bass caught off the point as well, however these fish are typically in deeper water. If you get your fill of Hardtails in the morning, run a few miles off to any decent piece of structure and you have a good chance of finding some bigger Stripers. You will more than likely have to tease these fish up but if you're successful doing this, a well-placed beast fly should get hammered. It will actually be more advantageous to target the Bass in the mornings and then transition to hardtails in the afternoon. Shore-based anglers have been doing quite well on Stripers along the beaches with some Blues mixed in. But really, the fishing is so darn good that if you can get out on a boat, that is much more advantageous. Montauk is our top pick for this week. It is fishing incredibly well and as long as the weather cooperates the fly fishing should be phenomenal.

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 Farmington fished well this weekend. Many anglers had great success using a wide variety of techniques. The streamer bite was reportedly pretty darn good with some nice fish caught. Nymphing was good as well. The majority of anglers reported that going subsurface was the key to success whether with streamers or nymphs. Not much in the way of dry fly action. A few fish were coming up in the morning and in the afternoons but things are slowing way down for dries. The hatches will be the same as the past month. Isos, Cahills, BWOS, assorted Caddis and maybe a few October caddis flying around. The October Caddis will be the last gasp of decent dry fly fishing for the year. If you hit the OC just right the fishing can be quite good. A spent caddis in a s8 or 10 fished blind should get hammered in the coming weeks. The river came down quite a bit after the rain so expect the bite to slow quite a bit until the next rain. The Browns and Brookies are getting ready to spawn any day now. As such, we recommend fishing elsewhere for the next few weeks and staying away from spawning areas. 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 at the wild spawning fish. The river was recently stocked and will have plenty of non-spawning rainbows or smaller browns to play with and there are also plenty of holdover fish left as well. They will be in the deeper holes and runs that are annual stocking locations and extremely receptive to a wide variety of patterns. 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 water is down and the fishing has been hot! Anglers are reporting awesome fishing. The nymphing has been very productive, the streamer bite was great but has tailed off since the weekend, and the dry fly sips have been numerous. What a great time to fish the Housey. Water levels are great, water temperatures are great, and the fish are very active. For hatches, there have been caddis, BWOs, Isos, Cahills, and White Flies coming off. The larger bugs will be in the evenings, while the smaller insects will pop all day depending on conditions, dries such as BWOs, smaller caddis, and midges. 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. No word on the October Caddis yet. The stockie bashing has been great. The recently stocked fish are uneducated and hammering pretty much any fly that floats by. 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 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 do some early Fall trout fishing, the Housatonic is a great option. The Pike fishing continues to build. The cooler temperatures and increased CFS are a welcome change for 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, so 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” which is no surprise. With the Farmington being a zoo, the small streams low and devoid of fish, and shorter windows of ideal angling more concentrated on the Housey, expect there to be quite a few other anglers out there. If everyone plays nicely and gives each other adequate space, the fishing should be great for everybody.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Tough fishing this weekend on the Sound. The 2020 Tight Lined Slam Tournament was this past weekend and the 30 boats with over 100 anglers unanimously agreed that the fishing was fairly poor. Our boat “Team Compleat Angler” was close to the top after the first day of fishing but was overtaken in the last hours of the tournament. However, we did manage to take the “Top Striper on Fly” award with a fish caught by team member Chad Phillips. Chad, along with Captain Roger Gendron, and I fished well and were in the running but that’s how tournament fishing goes.

There were no Albies or Bonito taken all weekend proving without a shadow of a doubt that they are just not here yet in fishable numbers, despite the rumors flying around. They could be further East toward Groton but we have not heard anything actionable. At best, it is fairly sporadic. If you want to fish locally then the best place will be Port Jeff. That at least has a decent shot of holding fish if they are in the area. The Bluefish are out in deep water, the same story as last week. They are feeding on anchovies but are still willing to take larger flies. No Gators seen or reported this weekend. The Blues are generally between 19 and 28 inches. A great fly rod fish, expect to have to tease them up and toss a fly when they get close. If you locate these fish it should be lights out fishing. Schoolie Stripers are making up the bulk to the action Sound-wide. They have been everywhere from tucked in tight to deeper water. Any effort to get on these fish should pay off. It is looking like we have some nasty weather on the way so the fishing could be tough the next couple of days. Let’s hope things calm down. Bait is everywhere, and on the backside of Penfield Reef the Rainbait has piled up thick. Large Bunker are milling around unmolested just offshore and the Peanuts are tucked into the harbors and back bays too. The Fall run is fast approaching and expect things to get very good in a week or two.

Rhode Island

Rhodie has been holding quite a decent number of Albies. Reports are ranging from mediocre to good, depending on the day. Shore-based anglers have been doing well on the West Wall which tends to be about the most consistent Albie spot on the East coast mainland. From Point Judith west to Watch Hill is the epicenter of the fishing at the moment. There are a few spots further West but beyond Watch Hill reports are sparse at best. However, the fish are certainly thick along the Rhode Island coast, and they have been a bit less selective so larger flies have tended to be more productive than smaller ones. Crease flies, Mushmouths, and even Deceivers are taking fish. If you do plan on fishing Rhode Island, starting at Point Judith will be the move. That will provide you the option of working Further East if, for whatever reason, the point is a bit slow. This strategy has been paying off for die-hard Albie anglers. The Striper fishing has been awesome as well and there have been Bass on top in many of the same locations. It has been very good fishing with Stripers taking small anchovy flies. The Blues have been around as well but mostly on the smaller side. I would assume that the Gators are around in deeper water, however with the Albies in town most anglers are staying in the Albie zone and foregoing shots at big Blues. That being said, any real effort to target these fish should pay off.

Massachusetts

Cape Cod

Most of our anglers have left the Cape and reports are thin. What we do know is that Albies have pretty much vacated the area. To the West around Buzzards Bay there has been a bit of activity but it seems as though things are thinning quite a bit. There have been plenty of Stripers to make up for it. The Striper fishing is just getting hot now and should be for the next few weeks at least. We’ve also had reports of some Blues and Gators mixed into the fray. 

The Islands

The Islands are tapering off as far as hardtails go. They are thinning by the day and aside from a potential last gasp, expect the fishing to transition to Stripers and blues for the remainder of the season. It is crazy to think we have about a month and a half left before it’s all over. There have been some nice Stripers caught as well as some Gator Blues the past week. The majority of the action has been sub 30” Stripers and sub 10 pound Bluefish. A wide variety of flies will work so don’t be afraid to experiment. A bunker style fly is tough to beat right now.  


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