Northeast Fishing Report: 9/4/2020 - The Compleat Angler

September 04, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! Remnants of Laura notwithstanding, the conditions just keep getting better and better out there. Though the fishing epicenter still lies to the east - Cape Cod and the Islands in particular - all signs point to a steady buildup to that great fall bite. The fish are more active, the hardtails are a regular sighting in many places, and even the odd Albie has been reported here and there. While we aren't quite yet in prime time, we certainly aren't that far away either. 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 hatches remain relatively unchanged and the 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 taking fish as well, black and cinnamon ants in both flying and non-flying patterns have been productive when nothing else seems to work. The 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 a bit as the temperatures start to drop. Cooling water and lots of bait means it is only a matter of time before things really pop off. It is still a bit on the slow side but steadily improving so it is definitely worth getting out there on a good tide and spot checking a few places. However, 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 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 however, if you are willing to move around and look for birds or surface activity, things have been very consistent on the 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 Bonito beginning to show around the lighthouse as well as the South Side. Get those 10wts ready! A good place to spot-check is the famous Port Jeff rip. If there are hardtails around, they always pop up there. Remember that the rising tide is critical. These fish love that cooler water flooding in and typically get out of dodge when that warmer water ebbs out. 

Connecticut

Farmington River

Keep in mind: As of September 1st, almost the entirety of the West Branch of the Farmington River is now 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.

Nothing all that new to report on the Farmington. The water is still low. No surprise there. There was a much needed bump in the Still with the rain that they got up there on Wednesday but the water is still quite low despite the additional flow from the still. 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. The Trico hatch has been strong lately and many anglers have dropped down to 7x to fish these flies. There are still Isos hanging around. They have dropped down in size a bit to a 12 or 14 but still very much a factor. They are well into the C&R section. Terrestrials have been the go-to strategy for most dry fly anglers and an ant, beetle, or hopper style fly has 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. 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 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. Tight-lining will continue to produce but downsize the flies significantly. Subtle presentations are key especially in lower water.

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.

The Smallmouth fishery is still going strong. The rain on Wednesday provided a much-needed shot of cooler water and the bite turned on right after the rain despite increased turbidity. 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 cooler temps and even cooler nights, which should help a bit.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Down on the Western end of Connecticut things have certainly picked up. The Harbor Blues are all over the place and can be found crashing bait on the surface during the moving tides. They are seemingly everywhere, especially on rips and deeper rock piles. Spanish Mackerel have been mixed in with relative abundance and a rare treat for us this year. It is certainly worth checking any Bluefish activity to see if some Mackerel are around. Fish on the outsides of any blitzes you see. It’s also helpful to get a bit deeper as these fish tend to stay down below the fracas. Again, they have been popping up around Compo Beach and surrounding areas so keep your eyes open. The Schoolie Stripers are picking back up and with this cooler water from the remnant of Laura, expect things to get good in the coming week. They can be difficult to locate on any given day but it seems that the cooler water is getting the fish jazzed up and more easily found. They have been on small bait too, making them perfect for the 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 that sun gets high. There are masses of Bunker around but few bigger fish on them. However, there has been an uptick in the Gator Blues. The WICC was this weekend and some really nice fish were caught. Although we advocate releasing these larger fish as the population is in decline, it’s good to know there are some larger fish around. Farther East 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 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 and they could be everywhere. Be prepared and have the Bonito/Albie rod ready.

Rhode Island

The weekend was pretty much a bust off of Rhode Island. The remnants of Laura led to some pretty nautical conditions out there and most anglers opted to stay off the water. This week, however, has been a different story. The fishing off of Block Island has picked up significantly as the big Stripers put the feed bags on after the storm. The fishing was lights out. The early morning and late afternoon plug-and-switch yielded some very nice fish. The schoolies and harbor blues were all over the beaches busting on bait. They have been on both anchovies and peanut bunker. It has been mostly an early morning-late afternoon bite but if there is a good tide mid-day expect the action to hold all day. Monster sized blitzes with hundreds of Stripers have been a frequent sighting. They are often right on shore making shore-based fly anglers very happy indeed. Bonito are being caught all along the coast but they are still a bit sparser than we would like to see. It seems as though the Bonito push has stalled over Nantucket and the Vineyard like a land-fall hurricane. Great for them, bad for us. Watch Hill did have a small push of fish this past week, though it seems that it is still just a bit early for these fish for most of Rhode Island. Newport sightings have been more numerous and consistent. The Gator Bluefish are still around as well. The Race is a good place to start the search. Find the adult Bunker schools and you have a good chance of finding these larger fish. There are no shortage of options in Rhode Island right now and, if all else fails you can go park on a giant blitz of bass and have a great time stretching out your fly line!

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 though the fish have been on top as well making for some great sight-fishing blitzes. The Bonito have been showing in strong numbers in the rips too. 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 them! Albies are filtering in as well and are a real possibility as they become more numerous. 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 this past week.

The Islands

All around Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard the fishing has been awesome. The Bonito have moved in thick and the average sized fish have been quite nice. The Albies are becoming more numerous by the day and when conditions are right, the fishing has been spectacular. The Hooter is loaded with hardtails and double digit days are not uncommon at this point. We had a bit of a lull this weekend with Laura churning things up out there. Things have stabilized now and with some cooler temps this week, as well as a slight drop in water temperature, things are kicking back into high gear. Striper activity has increased as well and the fish are actively feeding thanks to the drop in water temperature. They are slowly trending into the shallows where they can be found blitzing on bait. Most of these fish will be schoolie sized with a few nicer fish mixed in. The Gator Blues are still prevalent, especially off Nantucket. They are often on large Bunker schools and teased up with poppers. If you are looking for the Grand Slam then the Islands are where you want to be!


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