Northeast Fishing Report: 9/11/2020 - The Compleat Angler

September 11, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The fall fishing really started to pick up this past week with great reports from guides and anglers here in Connecticut all the way out to Cape Cod and the Islands. The Albies have come in strong around Rhode Island and anglers who were out there has exceptional fishing. It's not just Albies either. The overall scene is picking up too, with more striper action and Bonito, along with Blues and (still) the occasional Mack. It's the action we've been waiting for! Read on for details...

New York

Freshwater

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

On the Delaware the hatches remain relatively unchanged and fishing remains challenging. We had a good bump of water on Wednesday, so things should improve for the weekend. Caddis are a sure thing, tans and olives in a size 18 and 20. There are still some Cahills and Isos coming off later in the afternoon/evening. Caddis, Isos, and BWOs are the primary flies to have and make sure your presentations are perfect as these fish are educated. As far as terrestrials, ants and beetles are still taking fish as well. Black and cinnamon ants in both flying and non-flying 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.

Ontario Tributaries

The Kings and Cohos are beginning to filter into the numerous rivers that flow into Lake Ontario. Rivers like the Salmon River in Pulaski are beginning to see their first fish of the season. While the run is still a bit early, now is a great time to get into some early season salmon. For these larger fish, we recommend a 9 or 10wt. These fish are very big, often 20 pounds and larger. A heavier rod will also allow you to control the fish a bit better as it can get very crowded up there this time of year. Hothead Wooly Buggers in size 4, 6, and 8 are a good starting point in terms of flies. Egg patterns will also be productive when weighted with split shot. Egg sucking leeches are another go-to pattern as well. As for terminal tackle, 15 to 20lb test leader with a deep bellied floating line are all good options. These fish can be taken on the swing or by indicator nymphing and it depends more on what water you are fishing rather than what the fish “want.” There have even been some Steelhead caught already. The runs will continue to build, typically peaking during the last week of September/ first week of October. It is a fun time of the year and many anglers prepare for these runs all year. If you want to pull on some very large freshwater fish and have the time to spend a few days up there, we highly recommend giving these rivers a shot. They are a blast on the fly. There is also a real possibility of catching a King, Coho, Brown, Steelhead, all in one day. That would be a Western NY Grand Slam. Get the “Domestic Rainbow” and you have the Western NY Super Slam. If you get an Atlantic Salmon as well then you have the ultra-rare Fantasy Slam. All of these fish are a real possibility right now which really emphasizes the diversity and quality of the fishery up there. And it will only get better in the next few weeks!

Saltwater

Montauk has now had its first good push of False Albacore. Granted it was a fleeting push, but they were caught this past weekend by quite a few anglers. It’s only a matter of time before it really explodes. There are tons of bait around making conditions prime for the Fall run. The Stripers are beginning to pick up as well. The beaches have been very productive recently and stripers blitzing on anchovies have been a regular occurrence. The rip off the Lighthouse and surrounding area has been a hotspot for Blues as well as Stripers but the boat traffic has also been crazy. If you want your best shot at good fishing at the Light, go during the week. We are in a bit of a transitional period off Montauk but it is all beginning to happen. The next few weeks should see things pick up in a big way! 

Connecticut

Farmington River

Keep in mind: As of September 1st, almost the entirety of the West Branch of the Farmington River is now all catch and release. From the Goodwin Dam 21 miles down to the Route 177 bridge is all catch and release from now until the second Saturday in April. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.

No change to the Farmington River report. The water is still quite low. BWOs and Caddis are a safe bet for dries in the morning. Smaller sizes in both these bugs are where you should start, size 20s on the BWOs and 18s on the Caddis. If you don’t get any fish on those sizes then drop down. The Tricos are still a factor but be sure to drop down to 7x to fish these flies. They are well into the C&R section. There are still Isos hanging around and they have dropped down in size a bit to a 12 or 14 but are still a productive fly in the afternoon/evenings. The terrestrials are beginning to tail off. If times are tough, try a dry-dropper. This method will often take fish in the shallower sections where fewer anglers tend to fish. Swinging Wets has been producing as well but again, smaller flies are the key. S18 and 20 caddis or BWO emergers will get bit if fished properly. With the water so low, you will be somewhat limited in terms of 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 that 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. Smaller poppers have been taking fish too. Frog and baitfish style patterns in black are becoming more popular. Much smaller than a mouse fly, these can be very effective. Tight-lining will continue to produce but downsize your flies significantly. Subtle presentations are key especially in lower water. The biggest challenge is finding fish that haven’t been hammered all season and the anglers who seem to be doing well are the ones fishing the fringe water. The sections of water in between the popular holes like Halfords, Boneyard, Church, Greenwoods, Chair, are holding fish that see far fewer flies. You may need to walk a bit and pick apart pocket water but this will often be more productive than holding a spot in the deeper holes and fighting off other anglers.

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. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.

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

Cooler temps have been leading to some great Smallmouth fishing on the Housatonic. The Pike fishing has picked up a bit as well. Especially on an overcast day, fishing overall has been very good. Nothing new to report in terms of fly selection or where to fish, it’s all pretty standard stuff. As long as the fly colors are appropriate for the water clarity then the fishing should be quite good. There are Smallies pretty much everywhere on the river but the larger fish tend to be below the TMA. If you are targeting larger fish then downstream is where you want to be. As things cool down expect the trout fishing to pick back up. The Smallmouth will pick up as well and the Pike fishing will get really good in late September/early October.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

The Western end of Long Island Sound is beginning to come into its own and we are hearing very promising things from guides and anglers alike. The Striper bite has certainly picked up. The schoolies are beginning to feed well as the water temperatures get further away from 80 degrees. They are still feeding heavily during the low-light hours of dawn and dusk but expect that to shift closer to mid-day as fall progresses. This will happen because the fish will transition toward seeking out warmer water, as opposed to the cooler water that they are still seeking right now. The Harbor Blues have been all over the place with some Spanish Mackerel mixed in. The Macks were thick the past few weeks and seem to be fading. There is still the possibility of running into these fish around Norwalk Island on the outside. We are not hearing much in the way of larger Blues and Stripers. A few Gators have been reported but it is safe to assume that we won’t see those bigger fish for 3 weeks or so when they begin moving through for the Fall migration. Bonito should be on the way. With the way they blew through Rhodie, they could be here any day now. Keep your eyes peeled as it could pop off any day now. Check the typical spots but also check anything on the surface. The Bonito can often be mistaken for smaller Blues so it’s worth probing everything on the surface (you never know!). It’s all starting to happen in Connecticut. Out East should begin to fish exceptionally well in the weeks to come and off Groton and Mystic, the Bonito should be thick. When we get a good weather window, go out and search. Odds are high that the fish will be there.

Rhode Island

The Albies arrived and they were thick! Last week there was a serious push of Bonito and anglers were putting up double digit days. However, it seems like the Bonito moved through quickly. A few were caught over the long weekend but not many. They were around but very sparse, a blow up here, a blow up there but that was about it. However, the False Albacore made up for it in spades. They were everywhere. It was a run and gun game but they were all over the place, and not balled up very tight yet. We saw one monster blitz and boated a triple-header. But for the most part it was smaller schools providing one or two shots at a time. Other anglers we spoke to out there reported the same thing. One or two shots a day at the mother of all albie blitzes with numerous shots at smaller schools. Regardless, it was action packed all day. They were on anchovies as well as peanuts depending on where you were fishing (it seems further West Anchovies are more prevalent while out East Peanuts are the primary forage). But make no mistake, the False Albacore are thick off Rhode Island right now. It would be safe to assume that the Bonito pushed through fast and are well West of the typical hot spot. There is always the chance of another push, but with with Albies this thick, one can assume they have pushed west looking for a bump in water temperature.

The Striper Blitzes have been insane as well. The falling tide was opposing the wind this weekend jamming the bait up in turbulent water against the shore, leading to Montauk-style blitzes. Giant schools of Stripers were feeding on balls of anchovies that stayed up for over 2 hours. If you had a smaller fly on it was automatic. You could catch as many as you wanted. You will need to cruise to find them but once you do, it's light-out fishing. There were some smaller Blues mixed in with the Albies and Stripers that would cut you off occasionally so be sure to have plenty of flies with you. Peanut bunker imitations and anchovy flies are both a must. A few brighter flies in case the Bonito show back up is a good idea as well. Another note, these Albies are big! 8 to 10 pounds was the average size. Some were 12 to 15 pounds. The Bonito are big too. Because of that we highly recommend 10 weights. That is what I was using this weekend and even a 10 felt a bit light. These fish are XL models. An 8wt will be way too light. A 9 is pushing it. Keep that in mind. 

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 been on top as well making for some great sight-fishing blitzes. The Bonito are still around. Off of Woods Hole and the surrounding area the Bonito bite continues to hold with a slight decline in numbers. They are still catching them in Buzzards and off Monomoy on a regular basis.

Albies are thick right now and the toast of the town. It seems like they are everywhere. And they are big! 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 in the past week.

The Islands

The Islands are inundated with False Albacore. They are all over the place at this point. Both the Vineyard and Nantucket are the epicenter of the False Albacore run at this point. The Bonito are thinning and have seem to have pushed farther West. The best we can figure is that the storm cooled things down quite a bit and the Bonito pushed out in search of warmer water. They are still around but not like they were a week ago. It’s all about Albies now. Albie fever has taken hold and now is the time to capitalize on the first strong pushes of fish. There will be plenty of Stripers around to keep the rods bent as well as Harbor and Gator Blues mixed in.


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