Northeast Fishing Report: 7/2/2020 - The Compleat Angler

July 02, 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. 

Trout fishing has officially entered the summer doldrums, so your best bet these days is to target tailwaters and places that have cooler water temps. Sure other rivers are still tempting but it's very hard to fish these ethically, and if we want good fishing this fall, it's on all of us to do our part. In the salt, there are definitely big fish around though they can be tricky to target on the fly. The action has definitely shifted north and east with Rhode Island, Cape Code, and Montauk all fishing extremely well.  Read on for all the details!

New York

Freshwater

The Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Espous, and Neversink are getting pretty warm at this point and we recommend fishing elsewhere. The Beaverkill is doing a little bit better but is very marginal during mid-day. We need some water up there badly and until that happens, let the fish on the Beaverkill rest. There was a good shot of rain up there on the 28th which provided a much needed respite for the trout. However, unless we get a substantial deluge, please consider fishing elsewhere.

The Delaware is living up to its reputation as an extremely technical river. Fishing has been tough up there this past week. The fish in the Upper East and West are extremely educated and anglers have been having to work very hard for each fish. In the West especially, the amount of angling pressure has been especially high this year. The fish are a bit beat up and are extremely selective. There are still good hatches up there however. Right now there are Sulphurs, Sedges, BWOS, Iso Bicolor (Slate Drake), and Light Cahills all coming off at various times. The Caddis are also coming off quite well in typical fashion. Tan caddis in 14, 16, and 18 are very important flies to have at the moment. The fish can often move off the big bugs and switch to caddis so be prepared for that. I would say having a good and diverse selection of caddis patterns is critical for this river. That includes the Blue Sedges in a 12-16. When in doubt, throw a caddis of some description. The Isos are coming off well in the evenings and will be the biggest mayfly around. Cahills will be mixed in as well. The water is warming and at this point the East and West branches are where you want to be. They will have the coldest water and the happiest fish. If you have fished the Delaware before you know that what 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 bugs listed above. Caddis and BWOs will be very important as well. Terrestrials are also taking quite a few fish at this point. An ant or beetle drifted over a stubborn fish just might get hammered. Of course despite the angling pressure, the Delaware is still fishing incredibly well on the right day. Technically proficient anglers are doing very well up there right now and the fishing should hold all summer.

Saltwater

Things on the Western End and Sound Side of Long Island are similar to that of Connecticut, namely, settling into a typical Summer fishery. Big fish are scattered, Harbor Blues are all over, Schoolie Stripers are chasing bait early and late, and Gator Blues are around but inconsistent. There are still some larger fish around but as we approach a Full Moon expect these fish to become essentially nocturnal. However, out East off Montauk and the Hamptons things are lighting up! The big migratory fish are off the rips and rock piles, many of which will call Montauk and the surrounding area home for the summer. Deep, cold water rich in nutrients smacks right into Montauk creating an ideal environment for baitfish of all types. As such the bait tends to congregate here so it is no surprise that the Blues and Bass do too. July is one of the best months to fish Montauk because of the sheer number of fish that hold there. The Bathymetry and currents create an ideal location to target these fish with a ton of structure and locations to choose from. If you want to target these larger Stripers on the fly, Montauk to Block Island is the spot for the next month. They are there in large numbers and mixed in with some really big Bluefish. Plenty of Harbor Blues are mixed in as well along the schoolie Stripers which will be in tighter to shore. You really can’t miss off of Montauk right now. As long as you pay attention to time, tide, and wind direction the fishing should be off the charts. If offshore action is your thing, the tuna are here as well and the bite has been phenomenal. A difficult endeavor on the fly definitely -- these fish move fast, they are often larger than you would want to hook on fly, and tend to be boat shy -- however guys are definitely getting some. 40 to 80lb Yellowfin are very prevalent and some smaller Bluefin are around as well. This is our top pick for this week. Montauk is fishing extremely well right now!

Connecticut

Farmington River

Well, it’s official. The Farmington River is the only viable trout fishery in the State at this point. All other non-tailwaters are just too warm to fish ethically. The water temperatures on the Farmington are perfect and the fish are quite happy. This is a great time of year to fish this river as there are plenty of bugs hatching and action pretty much all day. The fish are educated and a lot of anglers will fish up there during July. But if you are persistent you can do very well catching happy and healthy trout. The Isos and Sulphurs are still going. The Attenuata have shown up as well and can be very effective this time of year. They have an almost fluorescent green/yellow body that fades very quickly to brown so if you grab one it will not appear green. If you fish the Attenuata be sure to have them in a fluorescent green body and in a size 18-20. As we keep saying, the Farmington gets a ton of pressure so often a unique pattern is the key to success. There have been Light Cahills popping as well. These will come off late in the afternoon so as the light begins to fade be prepared to tie on a large lightly colored mayfly. We recommend having emergers, duns, cripples, and spinners. As you know, these fish are educated. So, having a few unique patterns is highly advantageous. Terrestrials are also becoming a factor and ants are especially effective this time of year. During the midday lull, lob an ant out there. If fished correctly, it should get whacked.

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 are a core style for most tight liners. The Farmington has great diversity in terms 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 make a huge difference. A tan beadhead caddis is a staple up there and will produce a lot of fish. So will a Frenchie. A large stone is notorious for fooling a larger fish or two up in the fast water and 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 often the top producer on others. Red midges are a good back up 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. 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. That way we all have fish to catch this Fall.

The Housey finally got some much-needed water. The water is still very warm however and the trout are stressed. At this point you should not be targeting trout on this river. The water temperatures are creeping up into the high 70s meaning that these fish will most certainly die if caught. For that reason, we advocate fishing 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 10 am. Keep the fish in the water at all times and return the fish immediately. We still do not recommend it however.

There have been a ton of Smallmouth caught recently. The bite has picked up substantially and now is a great time to target these fish. Water temperatures are good for smallies and it’s a good way to get into some great fishing while taking pressure off of the trout. Any concerted effort to target Smallmouth should pay off. Nothing fancy with these guys 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. Crawfish patterns should too. Early in the mornings these fish will whack a popper and as the sun gets high switch to sub-surface presentations. Later in the afternoon you can switch back to poppers. These topwater bites are awesome and it is some best fishing around.

The Pike fishing has slowed. It is getting a bit warm but these fish will still actively feed in the morning and afternoons. They will be seeking out the coldest water and deep holding areas at this point. Cover water with big flies and the fishing should be quite consistent.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

We are now solidly in the summer fishery. With warming water temperatures and the migratory fish well on the move, tide and time of day are more important than ever. This is especially true when it comes to the Striped Bass. The schoolie Stripers are now acting like larger fish as well, typically feeding early and late. As such, your windows of opportunity will be early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and at night. The larger Blues are still around but seem to be thinning a bit. There are plenty of harbor blues around that will eat all day but aside from that, not much is going on mid-day unless conditions are cloudy or overcast. The big Stripers are still moving through but we will be at the tail end of the push in the next few weeks. While we are seeing most of these fish deep there are plenty of larger fish in tight to shore if you know where to look. If you are targeting these larger fish then covering water is the name of the game. The larger Bunker have moved in thick and are beginning to hunker down in the harbors. It seems as though they are working their way inshore and becoming more prevalent in shallow water. Targeting Bunker schools is always a proven tactic but as you may know, it’s all about finding the right school with fish on it. This is done by simply checking as many schools as possible. There have been schoolie stripers on the surface consistently this past week and they have been on some type of smaller bait, potentially spawning Bay Anchovies or Silversides. These fish are giving anglers who have been on them great action on the entirety of the falling tide. These blitzes have been very mobile and fractured at times so if you do find them, anticipate where they will be, lead the fish and shut down the engines. It will make a big difference. The Terns will also be a dead giveaway as to the location of these blitzes. This past weekend saw Terns 100 plus strong working these bait schools so spotting them should not be a challenge. They have been tight to shore so that is where you should focus your attention. Persistence pays off this time of year. Be rigged for Blues, Big bass, and Schoolie Stripers. 8, 9, and 10+wts all ready to go will pay dividends when you need to grab the right rod if something unexpected pops up. Be willing to cover water, check the fishy spots, and make the most of the falling tide. If you are fishing from shore, it has been tough lately. It is “beach season” and many of the early spring spots that were once open to the public are now locals only, a reality of shore-based fishing in Connecticut. Some of these areas allow you to pay-to-play which will certainly cut down on the crowds so it can be worth it. Sea Bluff Beach in West Haven is public and a decent shore spot. Really any public beach is a good starting point if you are looking for some shore-based stuff. 

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is fishing very well right now. The big migratory Stripers have moved in thick and are about as prevalent as they will be. We are approaching the Full Moon so expect these fish to feed almost exclusively at night as we get closer to the full. They will be everywhere from in tight to out in 100 feet of water on bait. So move around during a falling tide to locate them. Big Bunker sized flies or hollow-style patterns are where you want to be. The Blues are numerous off of Rhode Island as well. Off of Watch Hill, East Beach, and Point Judith there have been everything from harbors to gators. Early mornings off the beaches have had a mix of blues and bass but typically nothing huge. However, the action has been great with birds working and fish pushing bait right up onto shore. Block Island has also been very strong as far as the big Bass go. Early in the mornings and late in the afternoon these fish can be teased up with big poppers or plugs and tricked into whacking a big fly. The same can be said for the Gator Blues, and with a faster presentation this technique will yield results. Blind casting structure has also been very effective recently and taking some cows. Full sinking lines with big flies are proving very effective if you can get away from the fleet and fish unpressured stuff. 

Massachusetts

Cape Cod & The Islands

The Cape, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket are all fishing well! The Macks are around as well as Bunker and some Large Stripers have been on them. Action has been a bit inconsistent off the New Moon but expect things to pick back up as we approach the Full. Off of Monomoy the schoolies and harbors have been providing tons of action early and late. There have been a few 30+ inch fish mixed in, but the majority are that sub 30” fish which are very accommodating to fly anglers. Shore fishing has been solid off the beaches and back in the bays. Buzzards Bay and Vineyard sound have had some Gators on top and should see those fish around for the next month. If Gator Blues are the target then be prepared to do some searching but they are certainly around. Really, whether you are fishing the beaches, bays, open water, structure, from a boat or from shore, the fishing is very good at the moment. There are tons of opportunities for fly anglers and even some Bonito around already! Things are really heating up out East. Now is the time to get out there. The Cape, Vineyard, or Nantucket are all solid options right now.


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