Northeast Fishing Report: 11/13/2020 - The Compleat Angler

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November 13, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The saltwater fishing has remained hot in our area and anglers have reported lots of bass when the conditions are right. Montauk, too, continues to remain a hotspot, with plenty of action on the fly. I ventured up to the Salmon river this week and our timing was perfect, no small thing given the up and down conditions so far this season. The action was amazing though with lots of steelhead, salmon, and browns in the mix. As always read on for the details!

New York

Freshwater

Ontario Tributaries

Low water has been the talk of the town in terms of the Great Lakes tribs. We got a much-needed shot of water this week which should improve fishing. Not much in the way of rain last week. Oswego county got hit with some good snow on Monday and 40mph winds. That made things challenging but as it warmed up the fishing got very hot for a few days before tailing off at the end of the week. The quality of the fishing depended on where you were, which seems to be a common theme up there right now. Hot fishing bordered by slow periods of maybe a fish or 2. I went with two of my buddies up to the Salmon River last week and had a spectacular trip, but again, it was slow before we went and then began to tail off as we left (timing is everything!). There are still fresh Kings all over the river with a few Coho mixed in. While that is not unheard of, it is certainly rare to have fresh fish pushing in this late.

Despite the tough fishing, there are plenty of Steelhead in the rivers right now if you know where to look. These fish are very bright and despite the low water, there seem to be plenty of them. The trick is getting them to eat. It has been a funny year, a story of ebbs and flows thus far. Right now, it’s all about being at the right place at the right time. Conditions are playing a huge role in fish activity and cracking that code is key. On the Salmon River, we heard great reports coming in from the Lower Fly Zone, mid river and down in the DRS alike last week. This week has been the opposite. Don’t despair though, as there are still quite a few fresh Kings to keep anglers occupied in between Steelhead. There were also some stud Browns caught while we were up there as well and it seems that they are still prevalent. The general consensus from anglers and shop guys is that moving around until you locate fish is the best course of action. To the West, Oak Orchard has been on fire. While the water is low there as well, the monster Browns are moving in and feeding well.

There are good numbers of Steelhead in the river as well along with the last gasp of the Salmon run. Whilethe crowds have been tough, if you can go during the week, you should have no problem getting some water to work. The smaller tribs have been tough, however with this shot of rain I would expect the fishing to be very good in the week to come. The fishing before the rain has been quite poor and there was just not enough water to keep Steelhead in the systems. There are certainly fish waiting to move up so this weekend into next week should be rockin’ on the smaller rivers. Some of the smaller streams have been loaded with monster Browns as well which have been the saving grace for guides and anglers alike. It is a great “Plan B” if all else fails. As is always the case with Steelhead, color choice of fly is very important. Blue was the hot color when I was up there but that can change daily. It is imperative that you start with confidence patterns and colors while still being willing to switch colors and flies constantly. If you systematically go through your box and fish a little bit of everything, you will hopefully be able to determine what the fish are reacting to and go from there.

Saltwater

Montauk and the entirety of Long Island is still fishing well! The Bass are in thick and while it is the tail end of the season, the fishing continues to impress. There have been some big fish busting on top lately. Around the Lighthouse and surrounding areas, big bass have been blowing up on Adult Bunker. These make easy targets for fly anglers and if you come across these fish, a large Hollow or Beast fly will get the job done. Fishing from shore has been great as well. It seems the further West you go, the better the fishing is. The beaches have been loaded with schoolies that are keyed in on Peanut Bunker. We are hearing that in many places the fish are there one day and gone the next so moving around is key. If you are in a boat, stay close to shore and look for any bird or surface activity. If you are shore-based, cover water as much as you can. Spot check your honey holes and keep an eye on the surface for any disturbances. The back bays, salt ponds and harbors are still holding plenty of fish as well as bait, so if all else fails try these spots. Out in deeper water gators are being seen on adult Bunker. They are thinning as they make their way to the Carolinas, so it takes a bit of luck to run into them. We have a few weeks left before the season ends. Time to get in some late season Striper fishing before the long Winter. 

Connecticut

The local fishing has been awesome recently. The water levels have come up a bit and with freshly stocked fish around it has been darn good. Many of the smaller streams across the state have received one or two stockings so provided that poaching is not rampant, there should be plenty of fish for a great day on the water. You will want to vary your flies depending on where you are fishing and when the last stocking took place. If the fish are relatively “fresh” a wide variety of flies will work. Streamers are a good starting point as these fish are not yet selective. Small Wooly Buggers in a variety of colors are a go-to fly for uneducated fish. Once the fish receive a week of constant pressure they will turn off all streamers and it then becomes a nymph game. For a week or so many different patterns will work. Larger Pheasant Tails, Prince’s, beadhead caddis, Hares Ears, Mops, and Squirmy Wormies will all work. We are hearing that dries are working as well. Cinnamon ants are taking fish as they most likely mistake them for Trout Chow. BWOs and Adams Parachutes will take fish as well. Once a few weeks have gone by it’s time to downsize substantially. These fish will be educated and tiny nymphs will be the name of the game. Fish these on 6x tippet and you should be right back in the game. If the poachers don’t get in there and ruin the fishing for everyone, these small streams can fish very well all winter. Right now is a great time to get out for half a day with the 3 weight and get out on some local water. 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.

The Farmington got a kick of water from the dam this week and the CFS went up to 246 CFS with the Still putting in an additional 61 CFS on Monday. The water level is very good and should lend itself well to streamer fishing. We are hearing the streamer bite has been good. The dry fly fishing has tapered off significantly and while mornings and afternoons should have some fish rising on Olives and caddis, it’s safe to say that dry flies should be a backup at this point. Nymphing will continue to be the top producer and has been all about midges and egg patterns. Smaller zebra midges and egg flies in various colors are also 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 as well 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

After a blowout last week, things have returned to normal on the Housey. It is fishing very well and anglers have been having a blast. There is still some decent dry fly fishing which is a bit surprising. We have had a mild November thus far which has resulted in a somewhat extended dry fly season. BWOs and Caddis emergers are a sure thing on any given day and anglers are reporting some great takes on dries or dry-droppers. The foreseeable forecast looks great with mild temperatures, some rain on the way, and no overnight freezes. That should keep the trout nice and happy for a while and it is safe to assume that the fishing will hold for a bit longer (that is, of course, we don’t get too much rain and the river blows out again!). The streamer fishing was very good this past weekend. The water levels were perfect for swinging and stripping all types of steamer patterns. It seems that smaller patterns have been producing better than larger articulated ones so keep that in mind. Don’t fish anything too small. Sizes 4, 6, and 8 will be a good starting point. Yellow has been a hot color as has white. Choosing the right color will depend on cloud cover and water clarity more than anything. Indicator nymphing seems to be the way to go right now. The Housey does not lend itself well to tight lining in most places. It's wider than the Farmington, and, as such, indicators are the way to go. Eggs have been producing well but midges, small caddis, and BWO’s seem to be the hot flies. As I mentioned before, the fishing should hold for the next few weeks provided we don’t get hammered with a ton of rain. The Pike fishing has been strong. Anglers are reporting consistent action and some big fish being caught. It seems as though they are at the peak of their activity level. That bodes well for the next few weeks. Plenty of water, great water temps and Fall conditions means any weather window has a high probability of success. The Smallies have been overlooked for the most part so we have not had a ton of reports but suffice so say that if you wanted to get into them it should not be too hard. What a Fall we have had on the Housey so far and by the looks of it, the fishing will be good for a while!

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Fly fishing in Connecticut is on fire right now. Depending where and when you fish, chances are that the fishing will be darn good. There are huge numbers of adult Bunker around at the moment. While that is great to see, one common mistake that many fly anglers make is spending all of their time working these bait schools. Don’t get me wrong, there will occasionally be some large Bass or Blues on these fish. However, it is fairly rare. Especially this time of year when there are a huge number of Bunker balled up in the Sound, it is more effective to run around at a good speed and look for big sprays. That is a sure sign that the adult Bunker are being preyed upon. If you see Bunker just milling on the surface with their tails out of the water like hundreds of tiny sailboats, it is best to move on. If larger fish is your target, bust out the sinking lines and head out to the middle. If you can locate Bunker schools in deep water around the buoys, there is a better chance that the larger predatory fish will be on them.

There have been bigger Bass and Blues around so if you are in deep water, keep an eye out. That little blip of Albies we had last week has subsided. We have not heard anything about hardtails anywhere so it is probably safe to leave the anchovy box at home. Schoolie Stripers are making up the majority of the action and when the bite has been hot, it has been really hot. Double digit days are the norm if and when you locate the fish. However, we are also hearing that it has been feast or famine. Some anglers are hammering fish while others are struggling. The fish are tucked in tight for the most part. While a boat provides ease of movement and the ability to cover a ton of water, shore based fly fishing is just as productive if you are in the right place at the right time. The mouth of the Housey, Penfield Reef, Compo, Burying Hill Beach, and Sasco Beach are all having their moments. Long Beach in Bridgeport has been good as well. It seems like there are no bad choices right now provided you go at the right times. Low light is always best unless it is overcast. The last two hours of the rising tide and the entirety of the falling tide are key. If you are fishing during these tides, when the light is low and the wind is NOT out the East, you should have no problem getting on fish. It may take trying a few spots to locate fish but once you do, it should be lights out fishing. Another mistake is that anglers use too big a fly or do not let it sink enough. Make sure you are matching the fly to Peanut Bunker and allow that fly to get down if you are blind casting. Those two things can make all the difference. We have awesome tides right now on the back end of a New Moon so the fishing should be awesome. Just remember to keep moving, fish the falling tide, no East wind, and fish the right flies deep down.

Rhode Island

While schoolies are still a player, things have been quiet in Rhody. The occasional blip of bigger Bass and Blues cruising through have made for some exciting fishing, though this is certainly not the norm at this point. It seems many spin anglers are bottom fishing for the most part and with Striper numbers thinning by the day, we recommend fishing to the West. If you are a Rhode Island local then it is certainly worth fishing the beaches and back bays. There should be plenty of schoolies around to keep the rod bent. However, if you live out of state then traveling to Rhode Island will not afford you any better fly fishing than Connecticut or elsehwere. As such we will be removing this section from our report until mid-April 2021. What a season it has been off Rhody though, a spectacular season with a few lows and plenty of highs. The Albie season was incredible as was the Bonito. The Bass fishing was lights out earlier in the Fall with some of the largest blitzes we have seen in years. While the Gator Bluefish were tough to come by due to years of overfishing, there were some great moments with them as well. Thank you to all who contributed to the reports this year. It was a great year in Rhode Island and we look forward to another strong season in 2021.


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