Northeast Fishing Report: 5/17/19 - The Compleat Angler

May 17, 2019

Well folks, the roundup this week is fairly similar to last weeks. All of the pieces are in place to usher in what is the best part of the fly fishing year. The migration is on, the saltwater action is in full swing, and in most places the rivers are in that “just right” zone with decent flows and fish-friendly temperatures. All we need now is for the weather to warm up and actually, you know, feel like spring! If it does - when it does - we expect the angling to be fantastic throughout the region. Already here in Connecticut and in the Catskills the fishing has been really really good on rivers where the flows have settled, and that trend should roll northward as the weather improves.

New York

Freshwater

Bob Delaware Trout

Catskills

The Catskills have been fishing consistently well as of late. The water flows have been fluctuating quite a bit due to the rain and remain a bit on the high side. Especially on the Beaverkill, it has been a bit too high to wade but the Willowemoc is certainly fishable. When the water has been low enough to fish, the fishing has been great! Hendricksons, Apple Caddis, and Tan Caddis have been popping off in the afternoons but the predominant hatch has been the Hendricksons. The hatch has been spectacular. We are in the meat of the hatch and anglers who have hit it right have done exceptionally well.

The Croton watershed has also been fishing well but the recent rain has jacked up the CFS to over 600 on the West Branch and over 300 on the West Branch. As of right now we need the water to come down before it is wadable. Keep an eye on the gauges. Once the water subsides, the fishing should be great.

Delaware

The real story is the Delaware. Two days ago (5/15) was some of the best fishing they have had all year. The water levels for the East, West and Main are all great right now. All three are floatable but it is still a bit high to wade. The Hendrickson hatch is in full swing. There was a phenomenal hatch on the Upper West Branch and the fish were keying in on them in a big way. Anglers caught plenty of fish up to 22” throwing dries. The main stem has seen some March Browns and Tan Caddis already but not in any significant numbers. The Upper East Branch has a good Hendy hatch as well right now. There are some Apple and Tan Caddis hatching so be prepared for that. The BWOs and Paraleps are still a factor depending on the weather but again, the predominant hatch is the Hendricksons. Long story short, It is time to get up there! We would recommend the West Branch as the best option for dries at the moment

Flows

USGS Water-data graph for site 01427207

Saltwater

The big Stripers have moved up into the Hudson for their annual spawn. There are plenty of big fish around as well as schoolies. There are a lot of fish being caught and some really nice fish as well. It seems like it has been a been mostly a boat game as of late. A lot of these nicer sized fish have been in deeper water and inaccessible to wading anglers. However, if you do have access to a boat, New York is fishing very well. Gravesend, Jamaica, and Great South Bay have seen some great fishing. Long Island seems to be epicenter of the action and is beginning to come into its own as the 30+ migratory fish trickle in. 20 and 30 pound fish are beginning to be caught with some regularity, predominantly at night or during first and last light. There are also Bunker around. If you find the bait there is almost always Bass on it. There have also been some Bluefish caught off Jamaica Bay as well. Granted they are few and far between, it is a good indicator that we will have a good late Spring and Early summer.  

Connecticut

Connecticut Brown Trout

Freshwater

Our local streams have been fishing very well as of late! Recent stockings have kept the fishery viable throughout the month. With the rain we have been having and the water flows as a result, the fish are happy and actively feeding. With some decent weather forecasted for the weekend, expect some good fishing in the coming days! If you were thinking about getting out, this weekend will be the perfect time to do so. The Norwalk is the most consistent river at the moment. Reports from the river indicate that they just put more fish. Merwin Meadows, Schenck’s Island, and the Wilton YMCA are the hot spots. There are plenty of fish in these locations and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try and hit them all. As always, move around and hit multiple spots. Most of these stocked fish will be pooled up together and once you locate them you can spend time trying different flies. The Mianus River is also fishing well. This river is hit very hard by spin anglers so we recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds. The farther upstream you go the better chance you have of finding a good hole of fish as the lower sections get cleaned out first. The Fly Fishing Only section on the Saugatuck is another good option right now. This section will typically fish well into June as most fly anglers catch and release their trout. We have seen some poaching going on recently by spin anglers but reports from the water are good. Anglers are catching fish and in decent numbers. So, regardless of where you are thinking about fishing; get out there! Remember to switch flies on a regular basis. Err on the side of caution and consider using those smaller nymphs. Zebra Midges in a size 18 or 20 have been doing very well. Smaller beadhead caddis are a good option as well. There are some caddis flying around with some BWOs and Midges mixed in as well. Have a few dries in a size 18, 20, and 22 ready to rock and roll if the fish start coming up.

Our Wild Trout Management Areas are fishing as well as you could hope for. There has been plenty of water recently and the fish are happy. Regardless of which stream you decide to hit, chances are you will in for some great fishing. Remember that these fish are not big so downsize your gear. A 1-3wt 7’6” rod or shorter is ideal and 6x or 7x tippet is key. Go small with the flies as well. A S20 or 22 BWO or Griffith’s Gnat is as good as anything. There are some ants around as well so consider throwing those too.

Farmington

The Farmington is fishing very well! Despite periods of higher water, when the water comes down a bit, the fishing has been lights out. Big fish, wild fish, and multiple year holdovers are all on the chew. With a strong Hendrickson and Paraleps hatch going on right now, we highly recommend getting up there. This spring has been a timing game on the Farmington. We seem to be getting a lot of rain recently which has increased the flow to the Still River and, in turn, jacked up the Farmington. As the Still recedes, the Farmington has become more manageable. So, if you can make it up as the Still comes down that will be your best bet. However, regardless when you get up there, it is still fishing very well. The Farmington has been stocked multiple times this year so at the very least you have the opportunity to catch plenty of fish on this beautiful stretch of water. If you do time it right and get water at 700CFS or below, be prepared for some incredible fishing. Our favorite stretch up there is the Catch and Release section but the water temps are great right now so it does not really matter where you decide to wet your boots. Nymphing early has been producing some really nice fish. Bigger Browns have been taken tight lining the faster water at the head of deeper pools and runs. If you get there early this is the best option. Indicator nymphing is also taking its fair share of fish. Be sure to change flies frequently and mix it up in terms of size and style of fly. Try something flashy and dull. Something big and small. Fish higher in the water column and get down deep. Try it all until you figure out what the fish want and keep in mind that this will change as the day progresses. Move around, find the fish, and get crazy with your fly selection. These fish see a lot of flies and often it is just about throwing something they have not seen before to get eats. As far as hatches are concerned, Hendricksons are the big one at the moment. The hatch is in full swing and has moved up to the Catch and Release Section. Be sure to have emergers, Duns, and spinners at the very least. Cripples are also very effective. Having both male and females is also recommended. There are also Paraleps flying round and the old faithful BWOs. The dry fly fishing on the Farmington can be nothing short of spectacular this time of the year, especially when the fish key on Hendys. Get up there. It is happening now!

Water Flows 

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Pogo Pike Fish

Housatonic

The Housatonic is still too high to wade. I know we are starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to the Housey but it’s the reality. We have had a tough spring when it comes to this river. It remains constantly high so we have had very little in the way of reports from the river. It is looking like we may need to wait until the Fall to get decent fishing conditions unless something changes. We will keep you posted if conditions improve. If you are looking to do some trout fishing then the Farmington is a far better choice at this point. Now, with that being said, the Housatonic is certainty driftable. If you are targeting Smallies or Notherns, it has been fishing very well. Water temperatures are prime right now and both of these species are active, feeding, and very susceptible to flies at the moment. Some really nice Smallmouth and Pike have been taken recently by our buddy Pogo Pike. Here is his report on the Housey:

Will it ever stop raining! Flows are way up. The alternative has been guide trips on lakes and bigger sections of the Housatonic River here in CT, and it has been paying off! (see pic from Monday's guide trip) Water temps are still fluctuating between 52 and 60 degrees. Pike, smallmouth bass, and largemouth are active and moving in and out of the shallows depending on the day.

Water Flows

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

As the action at the mouth of the Housatonic begins to peter out, our coastal fishing continues to improve. All along the Connecticut coast the fishing has just been getting better and better. We have plenty of stripers around right now and you have not been on the water yet, it is time to go. Everything from schoolies to 30+ inch bass have been caught this past week. The schoolies are thick when you find them and will readily take a well-presented fly. The falling tide seems to be the best time to target these fish from shore but reports from other guys getting out there have indicated that any moving water will produce fish. In regards to bigger fish, it is all about timing and location. First light, last light, and night missions are they key in connecting with bigger Stripers. A moving tide in conjunction with low light as well as being in the right place will make all the difference. Move around and hit multiple locations. You will know pretty quickly if the bigger fish are around. Also, be sure to throw bigger flies. A 2/0 Clouser won’t typically do it. Something 5” or longer is what you should be throwing if you are targeting these bigger fish. Regardless of what size fish you are targeting, the fishing is great right now!

Massachusetts

Freshwater

We’re into one of the best parts of the trout season in Massachusetts, with rivers settling into more reliable flows and hatches starting in earnest. With some of the state’s best rivers fishing well (including the Deerfield, see below) anglers should be dusting off their dry fly boxes with an eye toward upcoming hatches. BWO’s, Caddis, Hendricksons, and a few other early season bugs should be coming off once the temps climb a bit. As it stands now the subsurface action has been pretty good for lots of people.

Kat Deerfield River Trout

Deerfield River

The action on the Deerfield this week is virtually the same as last week, which is to say excellent! Flows are still a tad on the high side but have settled in a bit and are more reliable than during the past few weeks. Cooler temps have kept the hatches from really popping off, but the occasional Hendricksons are there and streamers and nymphs are producing really well. The fish are hungry and ready for action! Eric Gass, of GS Outfitting, has relayed doing very well on streamers during the past week, including solid double digit days. Earlier this morning he texted us a few photos (see above) of Kat, age 11, who was an absolute wizard on the water and into her 25th fish of the day!

Water Flows

USGS Water-data graph for site 01168500

Saltwater (Cape Cod & The Islands)

The big event for many cape fly anglers this weekend is the Cheeky Schoolie Tournament which is now in it’s 9th year and has grown into the largest fly fishing tournament in the world(!). Registration is currently sold out but hopefully you are one of the folks who locked in a place early and will be at the West Dennis Beach parking lot bright and early on Saturday ready to get out there and make it happen. As always, there is plenty of fun to be had in addition to the fishing itself, and you can find the full rundown here.

From Buzzards Bay to the Outer Cape to Cape Cod Bay, we’re hearing reports of schoolies around and even the occasional lunker. The biggest challenge at the moment has less to do with the fish themselves and more to do with the cold, rainy weather that has persisted, which has kept many anglers off the water and also kept the fish a little less active than they would otherwise be. The forecast ahead is a bit of a mixed bag, with continued clouds and occasional precipitation but slightly warmer temperatures. If we can get a few good sunny days to raise water temps a bit, it should kick things into action. But rest assured the fish are there.

From Corey Gammill of Bill Fisher Outfitters on Nantucket:

No keepers yet, but fishing is improving, especially with some sunshine yesterday and today. The fish got incredibly active last night chasing bait and lots of fish were caught in the low 20's and some had some real girth on them. Probably eating some squid on the way in. The fish are now consistently being caught in both Madaket as well as the main harbor. Fish are also being caught off the beaches as well, so the fish are spreading out, which is a normal pattern but they are still staying close to shore, which is great for beach anglers. The other upside for anglers, is these fish are NOT picky right now. Flies, stickbaits, topwater... a decent presentation should land a whack.

Maine & New Hampshire

If it feels a little bit like groundhog day for anglers in Northern New England that’s because it has  been at least with the weather we’ve been having. Saltwater fishing hasn’t really kicked into gear yet and for freshwater anglers it’s still a matter of streamers and subsurface flies. The fish are definitely as ready for spring as anglers are and all it should take is a solid week of sunshine and warmer temps to really catapult the fishing into gear.

Freshwater

White Mountain Brook Trout

Here's the latest from our friend Nate Hill at Hill Country Guides:

With continued cold and rain into May it’s felt like we’ve been on the verge of spring for at least a month now. Although it is snowing on Mount Washington as I write this we are on the verge of warmer weather and next week is looking, dare I say, pleasant.

I finally got a chance to chase wild brook trout yesterday. I always try to balance exploration with check in’s on my older finds. After exploring a new stream with no luck I stopped by one of my favorite wild brook trout streams and landed three feisty fish in short order before the wife called me to ask what was for dinner.

The Saco:

With continued rain the Saco is still floatable for chasing large browns. Our last outing resulted in more missed fish than landed fish but that’s how it goes. This fishing is challenging, with only a few shots a day, but the rewards are worth the effort. I’ll be out again on Thursday with hopefully better results.

The Andro:

Right now the Andro has just dropped down from flood stage. We are crossing our fingers that it will continue to drop and be fishable by memorial day weekend. When the water does drop we are predicting good fishing for the hungry rainbows, brookies, browns and salmon that have been waiting for spring to come.

It’s getting to that time of the year for me where my personal fishing time is dwindling as I get ready for the busy month of June. I was, however, able to get out and explore some new water with my Good friend Brian last weekend. We were happy to find some wild fish in a less known stretch of water. I still have a long list of water I’m dying to explore . Most of which will need to wait until I get a day off.

Speaking of which, we do still have dates available but they are going fast so be sure to give us a call asap if you want to get in some spring fishing.

Saco River

Current Water Flows

USGS Water-data graph for site 01064500 

Androscoggin River

Current Water Flows

USGS Water-data graph for site 01054500

Saltwater

While the bulk of the saltwater action is still further south, there are reports of schoolies edging up into Southern Maine. We’ve heard of the odd fish showing up in the Saco along with a few shad. Over the next few weeks we’re expecting to see fish showing more readily in estuaries along the southern coastline. Stay tuned.


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