Northeast Fishing Report: 6/18/20 - The Compleat Angler

June 18, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers!

Your weekly reminder that we are now open to foot traffic and as long as you wear your mask, you are more than welcome to come into the shop and browse. As always, stay safe. And again, thank you so much for your support and patronage over the last few months. 

The fishing has been very good overall this past week. Some rivers, such as the Housey, could use a shot of rain to freshen them up a bit, but trout anglers are still finding plenty of action and with strong hatches for the most part. Saltwater fishing has also been good with customers and friends reporting plenty of schoolies, shots at trophy fish, and cruising blues. As always, you may have to search a bit to find fish but if you do - game on. Read on for all the details!

New York

Freshwater

The Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Esopus, and Neversink have come down and are back to their beautiful and fishable conditions. The rain we had last week blew all of these rivers out but gave them a much needed shot of rain. The Sulphurs are the main hatch at the moment. There are also caddis all over the place and the fish have been taking s18 tan and olive, providing targets all day. The dry fly fishing has been rock solid and providing some of the best fishing we will see all year. There are also Isos hatching. Don’t be surprised if you see Cahills as well. BWOs are always a safe bet early and late and will often take fish when nothing else will. Terrestrials are also coming into play with ants taking their fair share of fish and a good beetle imitation will start to become more productive. All four rivers are clear, cold-ish, and very easy to wade at the moment. Provided you find a good holding area, the fishing should be awesome. There are also some Coffin flies popping as well. They are showing up later in the afternoon and will become more frequent earlier on as the week progresses so definitely have some in the box. We have a veritable smorgasbord of insects right now making the dry fly fishing exciting, at times challenging, and definitely worth the drive. Keep in mind that all of these rivers are warming. So if you are nymphing, early morning will be most productive and the dry fly action will pick up in the afternoon. Mid-day will see a lull in activity unless it is unusually cold or overcast.

The Delaware continues to impress. No surprise there. There are a wide variety of bugs coming off making things challenging but a blast as well. Right now there Sulphurs, Sedges, BWOS (light and dark) Isos, Light Cahills, Green Drakes, and Slate Drakes all coming off at various times. The Caddis are also coming off quite strong in typical fashion. Tan and olive caddis all in 16 and 18 are also very important flies to have at the moment. The fish can often move off the big bugs and switch to caddis halfway through a hatch so be prepared for that. I would say having a good and diverse selection of caddis patterns is critical for this river. When in doubt, throw on a caddis of some sort. The water is warming and at this point the Upper Mainstem, East and West branches are where you want to be as they will have the coldest water and happiest fish. If you have fished the Delaware before you know that the hatches you see will vary greatly depending on where you are in the system. This is dictated by water temperatures and if you plan on moving around you must have all of the bugs listed above. The Sulphurs seem to be the most prolific of the mayflies so go deep on that fly. Caddis and BWOs will be very important as well. The Delaware is fishing incredibly well on the right day. Anglers who are technically proficient are doing very well up there right now and the fishing should hold all summer. For trout fishing, this is our top pick for this week.

Saltwater

New York saltwater fishing has picked up in a big way. The majority of the action is now well into Long Island and all the way up to Montauk. The Western end of New York is fishing well, sure, but it’s really lighting up out East. Big Stripers are all over. They have moved in and are slowly making their way East to their summering locations. A steady stream of large bass can be found on the flats, just offshore on structure, and in deep water on bunker schools. This is a great time for fly anglers because you can choose what type of locations you prefer to fish with a high probability of success. The Schoolies are in thick as well but stereotypically inconsistent. It’s a searching game at this point but a concerted effort will typically yield great results. Birds will be on these fish as they key in on bait and force them to the surface. Early mornings and late afternoons are when anglers are seeing most of the action. There has been great fishing in the mornings along the beaches.

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The Blues have been crashing the party and while the larger fish are sparse, plenty of Harbour Blues will provide exciting action on an 8wt. Schoolies will often be mixed in and the fishing can be awesome if you can locate the melee. Big Blues are in too. This time of year, they tend to hold in deeper water of 40 feet or more. Off Montauk they are on the rips and around any bunker schools you come across. A full sinking line and a big flashy fly fished blind can yield results but the best practice is to find them on top. On the Sound side, they will be finning on the surface or crashing through Bunker schools. The fishing is awesome right now regardless of where you decide to fish. We have a lot of options right now and getting out there should be time well spent.

Connecticut

Farmington River

The hatches continue on the Farmington and the water temps are perfect! Sulphurs are the big one as far as numbers go and are the most prolific mayfly. They are coming off around 1pm and continuing through until late evening. The hatch is very strong at the moment and is a pretty safe bet as far as dries go. There are also their larger cousins flying around as well and Isos and the last few March Browns can be seen on any given day depending on where you are. The Isos are working their way up and should hit the Catch and Release area shortly. Don’t be surprised if you see a Cahill or two flying around as well. These hatches will occur later in the day with some of the best fishing being right before dark as the spinners fall. Be sure to have a few different options in terms of style of flies. As we keep saying, the Farmington gets a ton of pressure so often a unique pattern is the key to success. We recommend emergers, duns, cripples, and spinners - as you know these fish are educated! Terrestrials are also becoming a factor. Ants are especially effective this time of year so during the midday lull, lob an ant out there. If fished correctly, it should get smoked.

No change to nymphing tactics. Cooler water temperatures are definitely becoming the windows of opportunity so focus on early morning and late afternoon nymphing. Tight-line or indicator methods will all yield fish. The Farmington has become a tight-lining stronghold and this method will produce more fish than the indicator due to the amount of pressure this river gets. All bets are off with pattern selection as a result. Caddis, stoneflies, mayflies, worms, mops, sculpins, and midges are all on the table. Perdigones are taking a ton of fish and a core style for most tight liners. The Farmington has great diversity in term of insect species so don’t be afraid to fish all manner of flies. What most anglers have indicated to us is that unique patterns are often the key to success. You need the right size and profiles to imitate a particular type of insect, sure, but often getting creative with colors and materials can be the difference between a few fish and a lot of fish. A tan beadhead caddis is a staple up there and will produce a lot of fish. A large stone is notorious for fooling a larger fish or two up in the fast water and fishing midges somewhere in the system are a must. You might be surprised how selective these fish will get. There will be days where a black beadhead Zebra Midge will be the only thing that gets bit and will be the top producer. Red midges are a good backup as well especially when the sun is high. Don’t discount those wet flies either. Swinging flies will yield good results especially early and late.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

Be aware that thermal Refuges are now in effect for the Housatonic. As of June 1st no fishing of any kind is allowed near any stream flowing into the Housatonic. 100 foot exclusion zones are established to keep the fish alive through the warmer months. It is imperative that these exclusion zones are respected and left alone so that we all have fish to catch this fall.

The Housey is getting pretty low. We are seeing fish beginning to seek out cooler water and a good shot of rain would be great to see. At this point we are recommending that anglers let these fish rest. The water temperatures are creeping up into the mid 70s meaning that these fish will be pretty stressed and catching one of these fish will almost certainly end up killing it. Far better to seek out other colder fisheries such as the Farmington. If you absolutely HAVE to fish this stream for trout, please do so during the morning and call it a day around 11am.

There is some hope however, in that the Smallmouth fishery is at its peak right now. The bite has picked up substantially and now is a great time to target these fish. Temperatures are good and a lot of Smallies have been caught by anglers targeting trout with streamers this past week. Any concerted effort to specifically target Smallmouth should pay off big. Nothing fancy with Smallmouth as far as flies are concerned and any reasonable streamer will work. Clousers are a solid go-to fly in a size 1 or 2 and anything in that family will produce fish. So will Crawfish patterns.

 

The Pike fishing has remained solid. The water temperatures are still good and the fishing should remain very good too great for the next few months. Plenty of fish are being taken on big streamer flies. Water levels are a bit low but this will concentrate fish into deeper holes with good ambush points making them easier to find. Be sure to still cover water though and to switch flies often. Focus on fishing the deeper runs and holes. These fish will begin to seek out the coolest water that they can find and often a few degrees difference is all it takes to concentrate the fish.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Well the big fish are here, no doubt about it. Lots of really nice fish have been taken on fly in the last week. We have a narrow window to target these fish so take advantage while you can! Word from the water indicates that there are fish all over the bunker schools out in the middle as well as rocked up tight on shore. You just need to find them. Your money will be made with your ability to predict where these fish will hole up if you are fishing tight. Fly selection and casting are important but you can't catch them if they are not there. For the large fish, birds and bait mean little. Often there will be no signs of life. You simply need to probe and cover water. But don’t get discouraged. There are large Striped Bass in places that would probably surprise you. They are on the move as well, so keep that in mind. Sure, good holding areas will typically have fish on them this time of year, but it is entirely possible that they could be there one day, gone the next. As for the Blues, they are in deep water terrorizing the Bunker. Most of the fish are in that 5-8 pound class, however there have been some Alligator sized fish also caught this week. This is an exchange of fuel-for-nautical-miles game. You will need to run to find these fish and it could take a fair amount of searching but persistence has a high percentage of success. Schoolies are all over but very sporadic. It’s a searching game. Whether from shore or boat birds, bait, and busting are fish are the signs to look for. These fish are moving a lot right now and they are rarely in the same spots twice. Not to beat a dead horse but make sure to cover water. Check the usual haunts but if you don’t get a bite in 15 minutes, move. 

Rhode Island

We are still hearing of Cinder Worms here and there but as we pull away from the Full Moon expect the action to die off. However, the fish are still back in the salt ponds and will now take a reasonable baitfish pattern. Fly anglers are also getting into plenty of fish right off the beaches right now. East Beach and the surrounding area has had Stripers and Harbor Blues on a regular basis making for some awesome fishing. Granted most the Stripers are Schoolie sized, but they have been plentiful and double-digit days are common. It has been an early morning and late afternoon bite just like everywhere else. By 10 am the fishing has been dying off and picking back up around 6pm, so keep that in mind. The larger migratory Stripers have begun to trickle in and are around in good numbers that are growing by the day. As with elsewhere along the Northeast Coast, these fish can be rocked up tight or out on Bunker schools and everywhere in between. The Gators are often in close proximity and we are hearing of Big Blues in and around the Harbors as well as out in 100 feet of water. Again, it’s all about the search. Spending time on a plane with all hands searching or working lots of water from shore will be a better use of time than blind casting one spot for hours on end. 

Massachusetts

The Squid bite is still going strong on the rips. A mixture of Bass from schoolie sized to Big Females are being taken by fly anglers right now, making for some awesome fishing. Lots of fish are being taken on tan and white squid patterns up to 8 inches long. The flats off of Monomoy are lighting up as well. There are lots of fish cruising the shallows. Notoriously finicky, this is a low percentage game but about as fun as it gets. Big Bluefish are around the rips as well and are taking poppers on top. Schoolies have been prevalent on the beaches early in the morning as well as the afternoon. The back bays and channels have been holding fish as well. Although the action has been sporadic, on the right day the fishing has been great. There have also been some bigger fish back there as well.

Martha’s Vineyard is fishing phenomenally well. Plenty of Bass and Blues are being had by all. The mornings have been great for throwing poppers and the beaches are providing action all day. There are Harbor Blues, schoolie Stripers, and larger Stripers all over the place. There are also Gators cruising around in deeper water so things are looking great! The most prevalent bait right now are Sandeels so be sure to have plenty of these in your fly box. An olive and white Clouser should do the trick too. If you fish on the Vineyard early morning and late afternoon, you can’t miss! The Squid run is still going strong. And again, full sinking lines are a must - you’ve got to get down.

Nantucket is fishing similar to the rest of the Cape, with lots of fish around. The arrival of Mackerel has brought some very big Stripers with it and Gator Blues have been amassing as well. It is no secret that Bluefish populations are down due to overfishing, so finding these larger fish may take a bit of searching. But if you do run into them, they are spectacular on the fly.


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