Hello Compleat Angler friends! Due to rainstorms this past week most of our freshwater fishing is contending with high water. There are still fish to be had in the Mianus, Saugatuck, and Mill rivers, and with high flows on the Housatonic these are a more viable option. The Still River is adding quite a bit of water to the Farmington, so focusing your efforts above the Still should result in average flows. Temperatures this week are in the low to mid 30s with snow/rain showers expected. While the saltwater scene has slowed down, anglers are still steadily picking away at holdover stripers upriver on the Housatonic. Look for an improvement in the fishing and water clarity once the flows drop. On the Salmon River most anglers are reporting single digit numbers of Steelhead this past week, however with the increase in flows this will push more fish into the system.
With all of our TMAs stocked earlier in the fall, the areas on which to focus include the Mill, Mianus, Saugatuck, Farmington, and Housatonic. Try an assortment of smaller nymphs and streamers in the morning. And look for Blue Winged Olive hatches during the afternoons. Trout have been rising in the afternoons to tiny Blue Winged Olive emergers and Midges. High water conditions continue on our local rivers due to rain, with the Saugatuck reading 207cfs.
The last Atlantic Salmon stockings occurred on January 11th and the 3rd. Try focusing on the TMAs and swinging streamers for these fish in combination with a polyleader. Getting the fly into the strike zone is essential, especially during the cold mornings. Try a variety of gaudy and drab colored streamers, as well as traditional Atlantic Salmon flies. Areas to focus on include the deepest section of slow pools and the tailout of runs. The trout fishing can also be good on the Naugatuck, and is a good alternative for areas with more crowds/pressure. The flows are currently high, registering 1130cfs at Beacon Falls.
The prevalent hatches this time of year are Blue Winged Olives, Winter Caddis, and occasional midges. With colder temperatures, most of the action will occur in the afternoon. The West Branch Riverton gauge is at 379cfs from flow cuts in the dam release with the Still adding another 397cfs from rain, so you’ll see high water conditions when fishing downriver of the Still. Water temps are in the mid-to-high 30s. In terms of the quality of the fishing, anglers that have been successful have been really working for their fish. For dry fly anglers, the trout are continuing to rise, and most hatches are occurring in the late morning and into the afternoon. Look to fish Blue Winged Olives, Winter Caddis, and midges as the most prevalent hatches. Winter Caddis will hatch in the early-to-late morning. However, the majority of bug activity will be in the afternoon during the warmest part of the day. Small flies down to size 26 seem to be the norm. This means that presentation is key, with longer leaders and stepping down tippet size to 6x, while also being mindful to have a drag-free drift. The church pool can be a consistent option this time of year if you are hunting for rising fish. Small nymphs will also continue to produce. For Trout Spey anglers, swinging wet flies can be productive, but don’t be afraid to throw larger intruder style patterns. There is no shortage of options as far as techniques go. With the colder mornings, try fishing streamers and nymphs until most of the hatches start up in the afternoon. For nymphs, bring a variety of small stuff, like a zebra midge, olive hare’s ear, perdigon style, caddis larvae, etc. During high water bringing some larger nymphs and junk flies (mops, squirmies) is a good tactic. Black stonefly nymphs will also fish all winter. Try a larger fly (mop, stonefly) for your dropper followed by a smaller offering (size 18-24), this will get your rig down to the trout’s depth as they become more lethargic. Switching up streamer techniques and trying the low-and-slow approach may be the key to success. Spend time fishing the deeper and slower runs, as the lower temperatures have the trout in their winter lies and expect subtle takes. Remember to not high or low hole anyone. Let’s be respectful to other anglers. Good luck! Keep in mind: Please report any suspicious activity and poaching to DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Again, we have high flows at 2650cfs on the Housatonic at Falls Village gauge. Water this high can prove tough for wading, so another option to consider is fishing the Shepaug or Naugatuck. Bring a variety of small nymphs: Caddis larvae and Pupae, Stoneflies, Zebra Midges, etc. Focusing on areas by the park, especially if you’re looking for rising trout, and the TMAs should result in some fish during the warmer afternoons. The most prevalent hatch will be Blue Winged Olives, Midges, and Winter Caddis, so I would bring a variety of sizes in the adults and emergers, as trout have been sipping on emerging BWOs frequently. Focusing on your small sizes 20-24 should result in some success. Presentation is key, so using longer leaders, stepping down to 6x tippet, and focusing on a drag free drift are key to success. Areas with medium to slow flows are the likeliest water in which to find rising fish. Focusing on nymphing during the colder mornings is a good strategy and look for rising fish in the afternoon and into the evening. Focus your efforts on the deeper pools as trout are pushed into the slower and deeper winter lies with the drop in water temperature.
The Housatonic River is continuing to produce holdover Stripers. These fish are staging and moving upriver to winter over, so further upriver North of the I-95 Bridge (as opposed to the mouth) should result in the most activity. The water should be stained from the higher flows, so look for improvements in water clarity as flows decrease. Bringing Clousers, as well as some Peanut Bunker imitations and Silversides in the 2-4” range should cover most of the fishing. Coves and entrances into salt ponds are also producing fish. Fishing low and slow is the name of the game, so use more aggressive sinking lines, or heavier flies, to get down to the fish that are in large pods in the deeper holes. This is a tough time of year for fly anglers, however there are still fish to be caught upriver as Stripers move up river towards the dam. Other areas to target holdover Stripers include the Connecticut River and the Thames River. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Flows have been increased on the Salmon River with the Pineville gauge reading 1920cfs. Now is also a good time to fish the tributaries, as Brown Trout and Steelhead will have pushed into all of them. The Steelhead fishing has proven consistent with chrome fish pushing in daily along with the occasional Brown Trout. Steelhead are spread throughout the river. Every day has been different, with anglers bringing a couple of Steelhead to hand on most days, with a few great days producing double digits. When fishing upriver focus on winter holding lies, the slower deeper water. For these fish, try using egg patterns: Glo-bugs, Estaz, Sucker Spawn, as well as Egg-Sucking Leeches. Don’t forget about Stonefly patterns and San Juan Worms either as those will continue to work all winter as the Salmon activity dies off. Being adaptable and switching up techniques/flies often results in the most success. Don’t be afraid to fish the faster water either, especially in the lower river where fresh fish are still pushing in daily. For our Spey anglers a variety of colors including black, purple, blue, brown, and pink should all work well. During the coldest mornings, slush has been an issue on the lower river however it will dissipate once air temperatures start to increase during the late morning, which makes the lower river still a viable option. With the colder morning temperatures underway, make sure you have a good layering system and gloves to stay warm! A mix of rain/snow is expected over the weekend into next week, with average air temperatures in the low 30s.
With colder temperatures, the mornings have been a nymphing-based game. West Branch flows are 1070cfs at Hale Eddy, while the East is 1960cfs at Fish’s Eddy. The Mainstem at Lordville is flowing at 3860cfs, so overall flows are higher than average. Current average water temperatures are in the mid 30s. Please be mindful of trout spawning beds (Redds), since these eggs are susceptible to being crushed by wade anglers with the fishery now open all year round. In general, the most prevalent hatches continue to be BWOs in the afternoon on warmer days. Look to fish Olive nymphs in size 18-24, as subsurface has been the most productive especially in the mornings. For dry fly anglers try small Rusty Spinners, BWO emergers, and focus on the slower pools and tailouts this time of year during the afternoons. Blue Winged Olives will be the main hatch with some Midges and Small Black Caddis. Trout are in their winter lies now so focus on the slower and deeper pools. For wading anglers using Trout Spey rods, a slowly swung fly is a good tactic during colder water temperatures. Fishing streamers and nymphs in the morning is also a good approach until the hatches become prevalent in the afternoons. Other considerations for this time of year include the Neversink, Willowemoc, and the Beaverkill.
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