Northeast Fishing Report: 8/28/2020 - The Compleat Angler

August 28, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! A few cooler days this week has signaled what many of us have been waiting for - a respite from the heat and a sign that fall is just around the corner. The trout fishing is still highly concentrated, but we are definitely on the cusp of one of our favorite times of the year - bonito and albie season! We're already getting excellent reports of fish in Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and it won't be long before these fish push east and south. It's time to get ready, so 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. Hatches remain relatively unchanged and fishing remains challenging. Sulphurs mid-day have been a sure thing in the West and Upper East. Caddis are becoming a bit more prevalent with tans and olives in a size 18 and 20. 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 as these fish are educated. As far as terrestrials go, 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

For the Western End of Long Island, it is the same story as Connecticut. Things have been picking up as the temperatures drop a bit. The amount of bait out there right now is crazy so it is only a matter of time before things really pop off. It is still a bit on the slow side but conditions are steadily improving so it is definitely worth getting out there on a good tide and spot checking a few places. Out East toward the Hamptons and Montauk the fishing has been very good. Out around the Race, Gator Blues, big Stripers, and smaller versions of each have been prevalent. The back bays are still holding schoolies and Harbor Blues which is making for some great shore-based fly fishing. The Beaches are still holding fish in the morning and afternoons. It has been hit or miss at times, however, 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 and the next month should see fishing rapidly improve by the day. There have also been reports of Bonito beginning to show around the lighthouse as well as the South Side. Get those 10wts ready!

Connecticut

Farmington River

No change to the Farmington report. The water is still low. We will see what the remnant of Hurricane Laura does but until then expect nothing significant to change. Water this low will limit your options and consolidate angling pressure. Fortunately 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 are a good starting point and drop down from there if need be. The Trico hatch has been strong lately and many anglers have dropped down to 7x to fish these flies which are well into the C&R section. There are still Isos hanging around. They have dropped down in size a bit to a 12 or 14 but are still very much a factor. Terrestrials have been the go-to strategy for most dry fly anglers and ants, beetles 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. That technique 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. 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. Tightlining will continue to produce but downsize your flies significantly. Subtle presentations are key, especially in lower water.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

Be aware that thermal refuges are 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 so that we all have fish to catch this Fall.

As of this writing, the water is too warm to ethically trout fish on the Housy. Please respect that these fish are trying to survive the Summer.

The Smallmouth fishery has been holding steady. Anglers are reporting awesome fishing late into the season. Some really nice fish have been taken as well. It has been mostly a streamer bite recently with a wide variety of patterns working. The beauty of this fishery is that these fish are very accommodating in terms of fly selectivity. When the bite is on it seems like they will hit anything. As long as the fly size is reasonable and the fly color is appropriate for the weather and water clarity, the fish will respond aggressively. Fishing deeper holes with sinking lines and weighted flies has been very productive with double digit days being common. Poppers are still taking fish as well. This has been primarily an early morning/late afternoon bite or when conditions are overcast. This fishery has been holding strong despite the low water and warm temperatures. Now is a great time to target these Smallies and expect things to improve as the water cools down a bit. We are already getting a bit of a break in the weather with some cooler temps and even cooler nights which should help.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

No real change for Connecticut, and the story is essentially the same: 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. Sound-wide, it has been a story of feast or famine. Down on the Western end of Connecticut things seem to be slowly improving. There are masses of Bunker around but few bigger 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. A new development was the fairly frequent appearance of Spanish Mackerel this past week. They have been mixed in with the Harbor Blues so it is certainly worth checking any Bluefish activity. They have been pretty far West as well. They have been popping up around Compo Beach so keep your eyes open. This is a pretty rare fish for the Sound. Once quite prevalent, Spanish Mackerel have been a treat on the Connecticut coast for a number of years. The Schoolies Stripers are picking back up. They can be difficult to locate on any given day but it seems that the cooler nights are getting the fish excited which has made it easier to find them. They have been on small bait making them perfect targets for fly anglers. Again, rock piles and rips are good places to check but be sure to hit these spots early and late as the bite will shut off as the 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 also 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 still pretty warm. On the CT-RI border the Bonito have been starting to filter in with more regularity. 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

The fishing has been great all along the Rhode Island coast and with its close proximity to the Islands, The Race, and Montauk, there have been no shortage of good 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. 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. It has been a mixed bag in terms of size with everything from schoolies all the way up to the big Cows 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 those larger fish but make no mistake, the beaches and close-to-shore structure accessible to wade anglers have been holding fish 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 and surface activity has picked up significantly over the past week. If you are able to locate fish on top, then the fishing should be lights out. The only caveat to that is if the fish are on micro-bait, which has often been the case recently, and can make them super picky. When that happens, you must downsize your fly at least enough to get it in the ballpark. 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. They are still sporadic but are bound to go off any day now and have been seen off Newport with increasing regularity. 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

There are really no bad choices off the Cape right now. There have been plenty of fish around, in a bunch of locations, and on a wide variety of bait. Blind casting the rips has been yielding good results but the fish have also been on top, making for some great sight-fishing blitzes. The Bonito have been showing in strong numbers in the rips as well. Off of Woods Hole and the surrounding area the Bonito bite continues to build as the fish push East. Now is the time to target these fish. Albies are filtering in as well. They are becoming more numerous and are a real possibility at this point. The beaches have been producing some great schoolie action early and late with some Bluefish in the mix. Back in the Bay the Striper bite has picked up as well. Gator Blues are still hanging in there and can be located with relative ease. The beach fishing is still going strong in the mornings and afternoons giving shore-based anglers some phenomenal action. The only fish that is lacking a bit are the larger Stripers which have been a bit difficult to pin down during the past week.

The Islands

If you want hardtails then the Islands are where you want to be. All around Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard the fishing has been good and getting better. The Bonito have moved in thick and are a really nice average size. The Hooter is loaded with Bones and although Blues have been a bit of a problem in cutting off flies, expect the fishing to be very good. It seems like this latitude is where most of the fish are. Pushes of fish have been found further West but the current epicenter is certainly the islands. Some larger Albies have also been caught in and amongst their toothy brethren. They are filtering in well and although we have a major storm front on the way in Hurricane Laura, as long as a serious cold front doesn’t precede it, we should get away clean. This weekend will be choppy and confused but things should stabilize by Tuesday.


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