Northeast Fishing Report: 9/25/2020 - The Compleat Angler

September 25, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The weather this week was a major curveball for most anglers who were itching to be out on the water. All but the most intrepid of us were waiting things out. And now, of course, the question is what the fishing will be like thanks to the shake up. Hard to say, but we will know soon enough. While we wait on the Albies, the striper fishing has been very strong, with cooler water temps making fish active and frequently close in to shore. Exciting times! As to what happens next, we have a few guesses, but we will have to wait and see to know for sure. Read on for details...

New York

Freshwater

There are few changes to the Beaverkill and Willowemoc reports this week. The water is still low but temps are goods and Fall fishing is underway. Dry-droppers will be very effective in the shallower sections while nymphing will prove most productive. Small midges, caddis emergers, and BWO emergers are a good starting point. For dries, it depends on where you are fishing. The Isos are still a factor but the fish will be much more selective on these larger bugs than say a small caddis or BWO. Tan Caddis are a safe bet. Size 18-20 caddis will be a fly you definitely want to have as well as s20 BWO. Have these in both emergers and Duns/Adults. They should account for the majority of your takes. Terrestrials will still take a few fish on warmer days but downsize to ants. White flies should be productive right before dark. Size 12 or 14 White Wullfs are all you need.

No change to the Delaware report either. All of the same information last week still holds true. With the dropping temperatures things are picking up. Hatches remain relatively unchanged. Isos s12, Cahills s14, White flies s12-14, BWOs s18-20, Tricos s20-24, Tan Caddis s18-20, Sulphurs s18, and ants. The Tricos, Midges, and BWOs will be in the cooler water on the Upper East and West. Caddis will be on the entire system. Main Stem, Lower East and Lower West will obviously be a bit warmer than the branches. Expect mostly tan caddis, Sulphurs, Isos and White Flies. There are also Dorotheas s18 hatching as well. The Upper West has been a bit turbid as the Reservoir begins its Fall Turnover. The slight increase in turbidity should not affect the fishing at all. Keep an eye on the CFS. If we get a good bump of water it will be a great time to bang the banks with streamers. The real challenge lately have been the water levels. That is a recurring theme for all of our trout fisheries across the Northeast. It has been a game of inches. Literally. Fish are educated and spooky. All we can do is hope for a good shot of rain.


Ontario Tributaries

The Salmon Run is pretty much in full effect at this point. The water is very low but the runs are now constant, with fish pushing in every morning on the larger rivers. The smaller tribs are too low and have seen few, if any, fish. In larger rivers like the Salmon, it is a different story. Kings and Cohos are prevalent. There are Steelhead being taken infrequently as well as those large lake-run Browns. It has been good fishing this past week. Rain is predicted for Monaday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. If that holds true the fishing should be spectacular during and after the rain, as we can expect a big push of fish as the water rises.

The majority of the action has been down low toward the river mouths. It’s no secret that many of these fish simply won’t make it that far up the river before being harvested. When the run is on the weaker side, like it is now, it is best to fish as low as you can. There will simply be more fish. Salmon are also (typically) much more grabby in the first few miles of river. They tend to actually eat flies more readily. Farther up, these fish will not grab anything and most anglers will have to “floss” them to get hook ups. Keep that in mind. Egg patterns are still hot right now. Hot orange, chartreuse, red, and hot pink Estaz flies in a size 6, 8 and 12 will get the job done. Really any egg pattern in a variety of colors and sizes are best practice. It is good to have a few brighter hot-head Woolly Buggers in size 4, 6, and 8 as well. Heavy tippet and heavy rods are a must. 20lb on the leader/tippet and 10wts are pretty standard. 

Saltwater

As with the rest of the Northeastern Coast, recent weather kept pretty much everybody off the water. Some anglers were brave enough to fish from shore or stay tucked in on their boats, but not many. Things only started to calm down Thursday so the jury is still out on how this system will affect our fishing in the short-term. The Stripers and Blue will not be nearly as affected as the False Albacore will. If anything, this system might have helped our Striper and Bluefish fly fishing. By stirring things up, cooling down the water, and forcing bait around, I would not be surprised if the fishing was awesome this weekend into next week. The fishing before the storm was already trending well to begin with. Stripers were blitzing on bait close to or on shore, Gators were a frequent site around the race, and the Hardtails were just beginning to show up in low but reliable numbers. During the Easterly blow, many of the Striper anglers were reporting some bigger Stripers close to shore as the water temperatures cooled down. This is what many shore-based anglers wait for every year. It’s a little known secret that the first good Fall storm associated with cooler temps tends to get those bigger Stripers fired up. The big fish move in tight and feed aggressively. That was certainly the case earlier this week as lots of bigger fish were caught right off the rocks and beaches. As of 9/24 there were no False Albacore to be found off Montauk. Anglers out there were reporting that it was “dead”. On the bright side, the forecast looks good for this weekend. We have a good wind direction for the rising tide at the Lighthouse and while the tides are a bit weak, conditions look very conducive to an Albie pop. It all depends on whether or not they are in the area. 

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 only 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 report. It has been low for quite a while now and a bump in CFS is much needed. On the bright side, the DEEP just stocked up there so you can bet on some quality stockie bashing if you locate a fresh net full of fish. There should be no guesswork as to where the fish were dumped since the water is so low. Deeper holes throughout the permanent Catch and Release area are safe bets. Small streamers will take fish for the first few days and as they get wise to what’s going on you’ll want to transition to junk flies. Mops, worms, and eggs will be very effective. As for the bigger wild and holdover fish, nymphing tiny flies has been the most productive from what we are hearing. Midges, BWO and caddis emergers, and other soft-hackle type flies have been the go-to patterns for many seasoned Farmington anglers. It’s technical fishing right now, no doubt about it. You will need to work hard for each fish and dropping down those fly sizes and fishing light tippet is a start. The dry fly fishing has been slowly dwindling. The Trios are still coming off but many of the larger bugs will begin to disappear as the temperatures cool off. It certainly feels like Fall at this point so it is time to change it up to autumn tactics on this river. Smaller bugs will be the majority of the forage. If you tie flies, getting creative with midge nymphs can pay dividends in the months to come. Size 18, 20, and 22 are where I have typically found my sweet spot. Unweighted midges have been deadly this time a year. A simple black bodied midge with red wire rib and a black dubbing collar (no flash) in a s20 can be very effective right about now. Tie them with no bead but fish them with shot to get them down. As it gets cooler and the days get shorter the browns will begin to think about spawning. That means it’s time to fish egg flies. These trout eggs are small, around a size 14. If you are in the right area, these flies are very productive and will take fish well into late October/November. Having a few colors is preferable. The most popular will be pink, orange, natural (aka cheese), and chartreuse.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

The shining light for Connecticut’s trout fishery has been the Housey. The temperatures have been dropping and the fishing is improving. Early morning and late afternoon temps are good for trout fishing as they are cool enough to ensure the fish survive post-release. The water is low but there is plenty of good holding water that will fish well. There have been caddis, BWOs, Isos, Cahills and White Flies coming off. The larger bugs will be in the evenings, while the smaller insects will pop all day depending on conditions, so try some smaller dries such as BWOs, smaller caddis, and midges. Late season Sulphurs are also prevalent. Having a few of these smaller bugs in s18-20 is recommended for the next week or so. There are still some flying ants around as well but they won’t last long with the cooler nights we have been having. Nymphing will obviously take fish and will arguably be the most productive method in the weeks to come. We do need some water up there, no doubt about it. Once we get a good shot of water expect the streamer fishing to pick up in a big way. The October Caddis are around the corner as well. These bugs are big, think size 8, 10, and 12. Once they pop the fish will typically gorge on them as it is the last “big bug” hatch of the season. They have also stocked the Housatonic. The entire TMA received fish on 9/22 and if you come across an area that was recently stocked you should have no issue hooking up. These fish will be undiscerning and will take almost anything for the next few days. After the initial onslaught, they will begin to behave more like wild fish and downsizing your nymphs will be the name of the game. The Smallmouth fishing continues to improve as the temperatures drop. The fish are very active and will whack a well-presented streamer. Many anglers are targeting both species. They are hitting trout water in the morning, smallies mid-day, and going back to trout in afternoon. Smallies will take a nymph just as readily as a trout will so no need to switch up the leader. The bottom end of the TMA has great water that holds both Trout and Smallies making it a great place to start. Worms, stoneflies, bigger mayfly patterns and even Wooly Buggers nymphed under indicators will take both bass and trout making for an action-packed day of fishing. The Housey typically has very short windows where conditions are ideal for trout and even though we need water, we are approaching one of those windows right now. We should have great fishing between now and November provided the river does not blow out. So if you are eager to do some early Fall trout fishing, the Housatonic is a great option. The Pike fishing has picked up as well. The cooler temperatures are a welcome change for die-hard Pike anglers. These fish are feeding well and becoming much more active. Any concerted effort to target these toothy critters should pay off. Early morning and evening seem to be when the majority of the action takes place but as the days get shorter and the water cools off even more, expect that bite to hold all day with peak windows being when the water is warmest. That will go for Smallmouth and Trout as well. It’s all starting to really pick up on the Housey. We love this river in the Fall. It’s a phenomenal fishery with a lot to offer as far as angling options are concerned. Dries, nymphs, streamers, trout, smallies, pike -- the Housey has it going on right now. 

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Wow, what a nasty weekend out on the Sound. We were seeing NOAA marine forecasts predicting 7 to 9 foot swells mid-sound with gusts up to 30knts out of the East. Not even marginal conditions by any reasonable measure. I highly doubt anyone was out there this weekend. If they were, they would have been tucked in tight. The remnant of Hurricane Teddy “hit” us Tuesday/Wednesday adding insult to injury. As it passed, however, it changed the wind direction to a West Southwest. Not ideal but much better than East. What happens next is anybody’s guess. We have been holding our breath here at the shop. The effects this weather system had on the False Albacore remains to be seen. They do not like nasty weather like what we just experienced, so hopefully this came through early enough to avoid a detrimental effect on our Hardtail season. We will know more after the weekend and keep you posted. The one silver lining is that we did not have any rain associated with the storm that would undoubtedly make the rivers turbid. This cloudy water will flow into the Sound making it even more turbid than the wind and waves alone. Albies HATE turbidity so we dodged a bullet in that regard. Fingers crossed that we see these fish pop up again soon. Before the weather hit we had some unconfirmed reports of Bonito and Albies in the area but that was a soft murmur and by no means actionable intel. If it were a normal weather year, this would be the week that they would show up. The water has cooled down enough that they should be filtering in (provided they are still in the area).

The weather should not negatively affect the Stripers or Bluefish which have been becoming more prevalent with the passing weeks. There have been quite a few Gators out in the middle that are feeding on Bunker schools. They have been easy to trick on a fly and once things calm down it is a safe bet that they will still be where they were a week ago. The storm's effect on the Bass will be net positive. It stirred up the water, cooled things down, and shuffled bait. This weekend should be great for targeting Stripers on the fly. Thursday there were schoolies busting on bait in the mornings all along the coast. Blues were mixed in and there are plenty of adult bunker around. If any larger Bass or Blues show up on these Bunker schools, they will be very easy to spot. 

Rhode Island

This past weekend and early this week it was pretty nasty off of Rhode Island with Small Craft Advisory, 30knt gusts, and 10ft swells reported in some places. Not good. It seems as though things are finally calming down. We have been receiving quite a bit of information about the past week and, long story short, things seem slow. The weather came at a critical time in the False Albacore migration and as such, we still do not know how it will impact our fishing for the rest of the Run. This week Albies and Bonito have been sparse off Rhodie. There have been a few fish spotted but they are nowhere as numerous as they were a week ago. We talked to one angler who ran from Watch Hill to Point Judith this week and saw nothing. Now, before this spell of nasty weather, the Albies and Bonito were thick off of Rhode Island. The epicenter seemed to be East, toward Point Judith. With the amount of fish being caught off the Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Cape that was no surprise. However, this weather almost certainly pushed these fish around. If the fish stayed in the Northeast, I would not be surprised if we see major changes in fish density. Areas that previously had fish may have far fewer and others that were devoid of fish may now be inundated. It is anyone’s guess where these fish will pop up thick. On a more optimistic note, we can safely assume that the Striper and Bluefish will not be negatively impacted by the weather. Things will rebound quickly and this weekend’s forecast looks ok. The Bass will be on the blitzing and boiling surface feeding heavily on Anchovies, Sandeels, or Peanuts. Look for surface activity fairly close to shore. That’s where the majority of the bait will be. Shore-based fly fishing will pick up substantially in the next few weeks all along Rhode Island. That is especially true for fishy areas like Watch Hill and Point Judith. The bait is now on the move and the predatory fish will be waiting. All along Misquamicut, East Beach, and Watch Hill the Stripers and Blues should be right up on the beaches giving shore-based anglers a shot at the action. These are also prime areas for Albies from shore. You need to get a bit lucky, but it’s a real possibility here if they are in the area. We will have more information after this weekend so keep an out for next week’s report. We will do our best to get these fish nailed down for all you fly anglers! 

Massachusetts

Cape Cod

With the weather last week the fishing was tough off the Cape. However some areas like Buzzards Bay were shielded from the East wind and offshore swell allowing anglers to get out and stay tucked in. The fishing tapered off hard during the Easterly blow and has been quite slow to recover. It was a major system that rolled through and changed the water temperature and clarity for almost a full week. That is a lifetime when considering our Albie season is a month and half! We are hearing that there are still Albies around which is a great sign. Even if you don’t fish the Cape, it is a useful barometer for locations farther west. As such, the savvy anglers always keep tabs on what is going on around the Cape. After this weekend, we will know far more about where the Hardtails have gone. Let’s hope they show up in strong numbers off the Cape! On the bright side the Stripers remain unfazed and are back to their usual frivolity. These fish are back to forcing the bait close to shore and blitzing. For the time being that will be your best bet. If you find Stripers on the surface it may be worth staying with them as efforts to find Albies may prove fruitless. Fingers crossed that these fish pop back up in numbers like we were seeing a week ago!

The Islands

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket did not fare any better than the rest of the Northeast. Water temperatures have dropped significantly. The Menemsha Bight, West and East Chop, and Great Point were all hot spots for Albies and Bonito but things have seem to have quieted down quite a bit. I think a few more days of calm seas will reveal the true impact of the storm. There have been a few Albies and Bonito taken recently on the Vineyard but it has been on the sparser side. The Stripers and Blues are still going strong and probably the best use of your time. Still, keep a 10wt rigged with an anchovy fly tied on just in case. You just never know if the Albies or Bones will pop up but passing up a good Striper or Bluefish Blitz in search of Albies may not be the best use of your time. 


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