Northeast Fishing Report: 12/8/2020 - The Compleat Angler

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December 08, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! Ah yes, December is upon us. The holidays are rapidly approaching, signaled by the Christmas Tree strapped to the roof of the family van and Santa outside of the supermarket collecting for charity. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and with shopping being the primary focus of most this month, many anglers are packing it in for the winter. Waders are hung, in the garage with care, in hopes that trout season soon will be there! However, rest assured that there are still plenty of options for determined anglers. As the mercury continues to drop and weather becomes less bearable, fewer anglers muster the gumption to get out on the water. And while that is understandable, this does provide a golden opportunity for those who do brave the cold. That’s probably even more true this year given that many of our fisheries were overrun with anglers during the prime fishing season. With the last vestiges of the Striper run still an option, phenomenal fishing occurring on the Great Lakes Tributaries, and Northeastern trout streams still very favorable, there is no shortage of options. This season is busy for everybody and for a wide variety of reasons, but if you get a free day, or even a few hours, it is worth wetting a line. You may be surprised at the quality of fishing.

New York

Freshwater

Ontario Tributaries

The Great Lakes Tribs are looking very, very good. There was a good shot of water last week and the CFS has come up to historic average levels across the board. A welcome site by anglers, we are hearing that with the increase in water, the Steelhead are flooding into both small and large rivers. This time of year, there are no bad locations when the water levels are like this. With the increased water, you can expect to find fish pretty much everywhere. The lower, middle, and upper sections are all fishing well at this point. There will be fresh fish at the mouths and down low as well but it seems as though most of the fishing action is in the middle or upper stretches. On the Salmon River, the Lower Fly Fishing Only Zone has been hot. More fish are pushing up and things seem to be the most consistent in the upper reaches of the river. However, with the good bump of water I would expect more fish to begin filtering into all sections.

Down low, the DSR is reporting decent fishing but maybe a bit lackluster compared to the rest of the river. Fish could be moving through quickly which is why the reports seem to be more inconsistent than the rest of the river. The higher water will also open up pocket water. My personal favorite, these smaller pockets will hold fish for a time before they continue upriver. These are great spots to get on some unpressured fish and get away from the crowds. You can also cover much more water which is always a good practice on any Great Lakes river. Egg imitations are still the go-to but Stoneflies, nymphs, and baitfish patterns will work as well. The fish have begun transitions to a more opportunistic feeding behavior. Any reasonable subsurface offering has the potential to be the “hot fly.” The big buzz has been the smaller rivers. The multitude of smaller streams have really come into their own over the past week or so. Great reports from anglers fishing the more obscure and less known fisheries means that we are in the thick of it. Steelhead season is in full swing and any effort to hook up with one of these fish will more than likely result in at least fish or two brought to hand. December signals the beginning of swing season. Spey and switch aficionados have been waiting patiently in the background for the crowds to die and the fish to transition to other food sources aside from eggs. And that is happening right now. While numbers are never the goal when swinging intruders and tubes, we have been hearing very promising reports from our anglers. The water levels have opened up the spey/switch friendly water and the fish are there. In our opinion, this is the coolest way to catch Steelhead and the most respectful to the fish. And the season has just started. With the conditions we have had this season, the next month bodes well for two-handed anglers.

Saltwater

That’s a wrap folks. While these are still some Bass around most have packed it in for the season. Without the wintering rivers that aggregate Bass this time of year, things have slowed considerably on Long Island. The one caveat is down toward the Hudson but few anglers are even going out at this point. If you are local then it is certainly worth a shot messing around on a nice day. But the Fall Run is all but over. As such, we are removing New York Saltwater until the Spring. Thanks to all of those who helped us out this year with info and photos! It was a spectacular year and we can’t wait until the Spring.

Connecticut

No change to the local fishing report. Local streams are fishing well across the state. We are hearing from beginners and seasoned vets alike that the fishing has been awesome. There are plenty of fish in the smaller streams and with a good shot of rain, water levels are great at the moment. The last stockings were 3 or 4 weeks ago and, while a streamer may take a fish or two, it is time to switch it up to nymphs. There will be no more stockings for the rest of the year and that means it is time to switch up your tactics. The majority of our smaller streams have received a good amount of pressure at this point so assume the fish will be educated. Smaller nymphs will be the most productive for these educated fish, and you should adjust your fly selection based on the amount of angling pressure the fish have received. Generally, less pressure equals larger nymphs with more flash, while more pressure requires smaller flies with little or no flash. I tend to find that a s16 or 18 beadhead caddis variation is tough to beat when we have these conditions. A wide variety of colors will work but tan, brown, and black are my go-to’s. The key is a perfect, drag-free drift and getting the fly deep enough. That fly should be right on the bottom. Add split-shot to get the fly down if the area you are fishing is deep and constantly switch flies. Give it about 10 good drifts and if you don’t get bit, switch. Keep in mind that as the weeks pass these fish will only get more selective. Then as it cools down they will become much more lethargic. You will need to adjust for that but, correctly doing so will keep the fly rod bent all winter. 

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.

No change to the Farmington report. Things continue to slow as it gets colder. The rain we got blew the river out but as a result there was a good little uptick in the streamer bite late in the week. This lasted about 2 days and things returned to normal. The highest water temps will be midday and, as such, focus the majority of your fishing around these highest water temperature periods. No need to be first on the water or last to leave. Fish activity will slowly build around 11 and peak around 2 depending on the day. Savvy anglers will plan on only fishing the Farmington during the warmest days. Overcast days are a good option as well especially if they are a little warmer. But if it's bright sun and cold, say below 40 for a high, it may be best to pick another day. With all that in mind, nymphing will be the most productive. No surprise there. The trout will begin to move less and less for a morsel of food. When the water temps are cold this time of year getting a foot of travel out of a fish is about all you can ask for. As such, hitting the fish in the face becomes the name of the game. And because you will more than likely be fishing blind, lots of drifts per-fly is a must. Nothing new on patterns. 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 a few exceptions. You can 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. Pat’s Rubber Legs will take fish in the faster water at times but don’t be stubborn with larger flies. Smaller patterns will be the most productive. As always, midges are the go to. If you are tightlining, there should be a midge somewhere in the trotline you are dropping down there. If you are indy fishing, a reasonable attractor with a trailing midge is tough to beat.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

The Housatonic is becoming more and more challenging by the day. The rain last week jacked the water up to almost 3000 CFS. Until the water drops, the trout fishing is on hold. Once it drops, though, we should see a good increase in fish activity and the streamer bite should pick up for a day or two. With mild temps the conditions still look good for the Housey, but we are certainly at the tail end of the phenomenal Fall fishing. I would venture to guess we have about 2 weeks before the fishing begins to get pretty tough. Keep an eye on the water levels and once it gets below 1000 CFS, try and get your last trips in. Now on the flip side of that, if you have a drift boat and can get out on the Housey, the streamer fishing should be pretty darn good. The increase in water flow will get the Pike fired up as well. We are hearing the Pike fishing has been darn good, and that anglers are getting at least a few fish a day with plenty of short strikes. While things will slow considerably in the weeks to come, right now is a great time to go.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Well it seems like we are reaching the tail end of the Fall Run. How fast it comes and goes. We are hearing that Striper fishing is hit or miss across the board. At this point, it is more about location than anything else. Location is critical for any chance at success. The mouths of our larger rivers and surrounding areas are where you can get into the last fish of the season. The Housey, Thames, Connecticut, and Pawtucket Rivers are where you should be focusing your attention. Some of the larger stragglers are migrating through but it’s a real gamble trying to locate them. If you still have a boat in the water, head West and look for birds. If you are fishing from shore, focus on the rivers.

The rivers have been fishing well provided you go at the right times. Low light is always best unless it’s overcast. The last 2 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. Just remember, keep moving, fish the falling tide, no East wind, and fish the right flies deep. We have about 2 more weeks of decent fishing before it gets quite slow. This next week will fish well and now is a great time to get one or two more trips in before it gets really cold.

 

 


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