Northeast Fishing Report: 8/21/2020 - The Compleat Angler

August 21, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! We are still *mostly* in the summer doldrums though we are starting to see some new signs of life, especially out in the salt. The majority of the action still lies to the east, but there are some nice reports of hardtails, and even the odd Albie, showing up here and there. A good sign that we are edging out of the slowest part of the season and it's a great time to catch our collective breathe and gear up for the early autumn action. Read on for details!

New York

Freshwater

The Beaverkill and Willowemoc are too warm to fish at this point. The trout are lethargic and trying to survive the Summer. Please fish elsewhere.

On the Delaware the flows have not changed much, and the hatches remain relatively unchanged. Sulphurs mid-day have been a sure thing in the West and Upper East. Caddis are becoming a bit more prevalent after a good 2-week lull. There are still some Cahills and Isos coming off later in the afternoon/evening. Caddis, Sulphurs, and BWOs are the primary flies to have and make sure your presentations are perfect. These fish are educated. That takes care of the waterborne insects. As far as terrestrials, ants and beetles are taking fish as well. Black and cinnamon ants in both flying and non-flying patterns have been productive when nothing else seems to work. Same can be said for beetles. Every now and then, a beetle will take a fish that is refusing everything else.

Saltwater

The Western End of Long Island has the same story as Connecticut. However, out East toward the Hamptons and Montauk the fishing has been very good. Things have returned to normal and there are plenty of options right now. Out around the Race, Gator Blues, big Stripers, and Bonito have been prevalent. With the New Moon tides, the bait has been getting pushed around and the predatory fish have been on the move. The back bays are still holding schoolies and Harbor Blues making for great shore-based fly fishing. The Beaches are still holding fish in the morning and afternoons. It has been hit or miss at times, though if you are willing to move around and look for birds or surface activity, things have been very consistent as a whole. We are slowly moving toward the hot Fall bite. We are seeing things starting to happen and the next month should see fishing rapidly improve by the day. There have also been reports of Albies beginning to show out further East. Get those 10wts ready! 

Connecticut

Farmington River

Well the rain we had on the coast never quite made it up North and the Farmington remains low. We were hoping that the storm might swing up toward Northwestern Connecticut but, alas, it was not to be. As a result, there is not much new on the Farmington to report. You will need to move around quite a bit and find good holding water. A lot of the nicer fish that have been holding and feeding in the faster riffles will be forced out into the deeper holes. Water this low will limit your options and consolidate angling pressure. But the water is nice and cold and the fishing should hold provided it does not drop even further. BWOs and Caddis are a safe bet. Smaller sizes in both these bugs are where you should start, 20s on the BWOs and 18s on the Caddis. If you don’t get any fish on those sizes then drop down further. The Trico hatch has been strong lately and many anglers have dropped down to 7x to fish these flies. They are well into the C&R section. Terrestrials have been the go-to strategy for most dry fly anglers. There are still Isos hanging around. They have dropped down in size to a 12 or 14 but still very much a factor. Ant, beetle, or hopper style flies have been taking a good number of fish. These are also big enough to hold up a decent sized nymph so try a dry dropper if you are fishing terrestrials, a technique that can be deadly in the dog days of summer. Swinging Wets has been producing as well. With the water so low, you will be somewhat limited in where to swing but there are certainly a few runs that will hold really nice fish just waiting to suck down a soft hackle. As we’ve mentioned the last few weeks, if you want to have some fun and do something different, now is a great time to go mousing. More and more anglers are doing this and it is a surefire way to get into some of the nicer fish on the Farmington. Many of these larger fish are tough to fool on anything else and often feed primarily at night, so a mouse can be deadly. Tight-lining will continue to produce but downsize the flies significantly, especially in lower water. Subtle presentations are key. 

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 within the TMA. 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 water is too warm to ethically trout fish. Please respect that these fish are trying to survive the Summer.

No fresh water for the Housatonic either, unfortunately. As the water drops expect things to get a bit harder and the bite to slow a bit. The water is getting pretty warm and the fishing has been on the challenging side. If you have the right lines and flies you can still do well on the Smallies but be mindful that these fish will typically shut down mid-day if the sun is high. Early morning and late afternoon is when you want to focus on Smallmouth and Pike. If you get an overcast day that is on the cooler side you can expect the bite to stay steady all day. It seems that the lower sections of the Housey below the TMA are where the majority of the larger Smallies are holding. However, the whole river will hold fish. They tend to hold toward the back of holes around rocks and logs. So if you look for areas like that you should find a few players.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

In Connecticut, the farther East you go the better the fishing will be. It seems as though we are creeping out of the Doldrums with an uptick of activity throughout the week. We are hearing that Bonito are beginning to show up on the Eastern Edges of the Sound and into Connecticut. Although they have been quite scattered, expect the next 2 weeks to have an increase of activity (of course, that is provided no major fronts come through). Sound-wide, it has been a story of feast or famine. Down on the Western end of Connecticut it has been a bit of a desert out there. There are masses of Bunker around but few fish on them. The only real consistent bite has been Harbor Blues which can be found on the surface during the moving tides. They are seemingly everywhere, especially on rips and deeper rock piles. Schoolies are still around too, but difficult to locate on any given day, especially by the fly anglers. Again, rock piles and rips are good places to check but be sure to hit these spots early and late. The bite will shut off as that sun gets high. Out toward Niantic, it is a whole different fishery. The beaches have been producing some great action in the mornings with Bass up top crashing bait. There are larger Blues lurking offshore on the schools of bait with some larger Stripers mixed in. These larger fish will be in the deeper water at this point as water temps in tight are pretty warm. On the CT-RI border the Bonito have been starting to filter in. It has been quite sporadic but you could come across them on any given day. Be prepared and have the Bonito/Albie rod ready.

Rhode Island

Ah sweet, sweet, Rhode Island. The fishing has been great all along the Rhode Island coast and with its close proximity to the Islands, The Race, and Montauk, there has been no shortage of options. In and around the Race, Gator Blues have been terrorizing bait making them susceptible to fly anglers. Large poppers and flashy baitfish patterns are a sure thing if you get on these larger fish. 10wts are a must if you want to beat these fish in under 20 minutes and even on 10s it can take a while. Explosive and hard-fighting, Blues are a favorite for fly anglers and Rhode Island has plenty of them right now. Rock piles and rips are holding Stipers at the moment too, and it has been a mixed bag in terms of size. Everything from schoolies, all the way up to the big Cows are being caught on any given day. It seems as though that “slot fish” size has been tough to come by but Rhode Island is as good a place as any right now to target Stripers of all sizes. It has been primarily a boat fishery for the larger fish but make no mistake, the beaches and close-to-shore structure have been holding fish accessible to wade anglers as well. Light-tackle and fly anglers have been doing well on poppers early and late. There have also been quite a few blitzing fish around as well. Surface activity has picked up since the storm and if you are able to locate fish on top, then the fishing should be lights out. The only caveat to that is if these fish are on micro-bait, which has often been the case recently. They can get super picky when that happens and, although it’s worth a few casts it’s often more advantageous to move on in search of a different school of fish to save time during a good tide or bite window. In and around Watch Hill the Bass have been up on top and feeding on large anchovies and Peanut Bunker. The bite is shutting down as the sun gets high so be sure to get out on the water early! The buzz right now is the influx of Hardtails. Bonito have moved in from Watch Hill up to Newport with even a few Albies mixed in. The next few weeks should prove to be some great fishing. Unless something dramatic happens weather-wise, we are on the cusp of Hardtail season! If you are fishing in and around Rhode Island, it is time to have a hardtail rod ready to go at all times. A 9’ 10wt with a 15lb Fluorocarbon leader is the standard. For flies, something in the Surf Candy/Bonito Bunny family will be adequate. Size 2, 1, or 1/0 is a safe bet. These fish will be in tight and offshore a bit. That 40’ mark seems to be a good place to start the search but keep an eye on the shoreline. Anglers often miss the action right up on the beaches which is just as likely a place to find these fish.

Massachusetts

Cape Cod

The Rips off of Monmoy have been the go-to spot for both Stripers and Blues. Bonito have been showing in strong numbers in the rips as well. The Cape Cod Canal had thousands of Bonito moving through it this week which bodes well for the weeks to come. We don’t really cover the canal for obvious reasons, but it is worth mentioning in terms of Hardtail progress toward the West. The beaches have been producing some great schoolie action early and late with some Bluefish in the mix. Nobody was fishing during the storm so reports are spotty at best but it should pick right back up any day now. It will be interesting to see what this storm has in store for the Hardtails. The Bonito were filtering in fairly consistently off the Cape and the Islands so hopefully the storm’s passing will bring these fish in tight rather than drive them out. Keep an eye out for these toothy and speedy members of the Scombridae family in the weeks to come. Hopefully, we are right on the cusp of the big Bonito push!

The Islands

Wow, how a few weeks can change the whole fishery. The Hooter has been putting up some great numbers of Bonito recently and the fish are becoming more numerous by the day. Because of the Hooter’s proximity to the Vineyard and Nantucket it is no wonder that the fish are there too. The Hardtails will continue to filter in with the big push only weeks away, so right now is the time to begin the honest search for Bonito. 9wts or 10wts are the rods we recommend when targeting Bonito and Albies. They are strong enough to fight the fish in a reasonable amount of time, but more than that they punch into the wind much better than an 8. That is critical for those longer distance casts. There have also been some False Albacore showing up in the mix as well. Granted it is early, and odds are slim, but there is a real possibility of getting into the first few smattering of Albies now. In and amongst these Hardtail will be harbor Blues as well as Schoolie stripers to keep the action going all day. The Gators are another fairly constant target as well. They have been thinning a bit but still abundant enough that they are a real possibility. The Cows are the same story. Early morning/late afternoon tease and switch techniques have been accounting for those larger fish on fly. 


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