January 26, 2024 7 min read

Hello Compleat Angler Friends, we hope you have been getting out and enjoying the warm (but overcast and drizzly) weather this week. These air temperatures will hold up into Sunday until they drop back into the 30’s for this upcoming week. The good news is that flows are slightly high but certainly fishable with good water clarity for our local options. The Farmington River is now slightly below average from dam flow cuts, while the Housatonic is still high but fishable in some stretches. Keep an eye on flows, since more rain is expected into the weekend. For our trout anglers the fishing has mainly been a subsurface game, so streamer and nymph fishing will be your most productive methods. Be sure to fish slowly and methodically through a run since trout metabolisms will be slower and they will eat less frequently. Being at the river during a good bite window can result in some good fishing. Our local options are still viable as trout are holding over from Fall and Winter stocking. Read on for more…


Local Rivers

Flows have been slowly dropping on our local rivers and streams but are still high - the Saugatuck, for instance, is flowing at 249 CFS. Water clarity will be good but use caution when wading. Anglers that have been able to get out have reported good fishing. If you can’t wait to fish, stick to the inside seams as trout will be pushed towards the slower flows, and try using flashier and larger nymphs, such as Mop Flies, Squirmies, or Flashback variations. Larger streamer patterns will also stand out among the high water, and some colors to consider are Black, Yellow, White, or any fly that incorporates a lot of flash. Flows are currently good for streamer fishing, and some patterns to consider are conehead Woolly Buggers fished on a floating line and larger articulated patterns paired with a sinking or sink tip line. One of our favorite streamer lines for this technique is theAirflo Streamer Max Short,as well as theScientific Anglers Sonar Trout. The Short head loads rods well for our smaller rivers when targeting the opposite bank and needing to sink the fly quickly into the strike zone. The most productive technique is going to be nymphing. Patterns to have with you this time of year include Zebra Midges, Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Caddis Larvae, Hare’s Ears, and Perdigones in sizes 14-24. A double nymph rig is a good way to cover multiple columns of the water or offer multiple options. Fishing a larger fly as your point fly will help get your dropper down to an appropriate depth without the use of split shot. During these flows it helps to use nymphs with a tungsten bead as they will plummet faster getting you to the strike zone quicker. Once flows approach more average levels you may encounter Midges hatching in sizes 18-24 during the afternoons.When nymphing and dry fly fishing in our smaller rivers and streams we like having a shorter leader such as theRio Powerflex in 7.5ft. Both 5x and 6x will have you covered for most dry fly and nymphing scenarios. In addition, at the end of your dead-drift let your nymphs swing to the bank as this will imitate an emerging insect. Trout will be spread out during these flows, so covering different water types and holding lies will improve your success. Areas to consider include the Saugatuck, Mianus, Mill, and Aspetuck Rivers. There are still fish to be had from Spring holdovers and Fall stockings. And our anglers are reporting the Saugatuck and Mianus are still fishing very well.

Naugatuck River

Same story on the Naugatuck, flows are slightly high but dropping at 771 CFS, and conditions are now ok to fish. Bringing some junk flies will catch trout in high water, and look to fish the offerings we are using on our local streams: Caddis, Blue Winged Olives, and Midges. With respect to other insects, having a range of sizes from 12-24 in nymphs/dries will have you covered, and egg patterns are still working. Overall, your fishing will be most productive with streamers and nymphs. Fishing drab colored Woolly Buggers and streamers 3-5” will be working for the more aggressive fish. The Naugatuck is a good alternative for areas with more crowds/pressure. When targeting the Salmon, your traditional Atlantic Flies and hairwing streamers will work: Grey Ghosts, Blue Charms, and Mickey Finns. Don’t be afraid to throw some larger intruders and flashy streamers in Pink, Black, Blue, and Purple, especially after they’ve finished stocking. Try swinging these streamers slowly as you first fish the pool, and if you don’t get any takes, switch to a faster retrieve/swing. The fish will let you know what they prefer. Atlantic Salmon fishing will be tough as most of the fish have moved downriver and area spread out during these high water events.

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Farmington River

Significant flow cuts at the dam on the Farmington River has the West Branch currently reading 268 CFS while the Still has settled down to 187 CFS. Conditions are now average and clear, which should improve the chances for hatches and fish looking up. Trout will now start to concentrate in the deeper pools, so it will pay off to fish slowly and methodically. Temperatures near the Riverton gauge are fluctuating in the high 30s with colder temperatures downriver from the Still.  The main hatches to look out for this time of year will be Winter Caddis in sizes 18-20 during the morning hours, and Midges in sizes 18-24 during the afternoons. Again, subsurface will be the most effective technique. For streamer fishing try using jigged streamers under a tight line system, weighted flies (cone head Woolly Buggers, Sculpin Helmets) under a floating line, or neutrally buoyant articulated streamers with a sinking line or sink tip. Trout will be looking for a large meal to stock up on calories and vary retrieve speed to gauge their activity level. Now is a good time for our Trout Spey anglers to break out theSkagit Heads andT Tips which will turn over larger intruders and streamers. Fishing a wet fly swung on aless aggressive sinking tip can pull additional fish during the afternoon when insects will be emerging. For nymphing, junk flies (Mops and Squirmies) will catch the recently stocked Trout in addition to Stoneflies in sizes 8-12. One technique is to use these larger flies as your point nymph paired with a smaller dropper nymph: Pheasant Tails in sizes 12-20, Caddis Larva 14-18, Perdigones 12-20, Hare’s Ears 14-18, and Zebra Midges in 18-24. These nymphs are all safe bets as they imitate most of a trout’s Winter diet, and nymphing will be the most productive method. Eggs should still work too, especially Cheese, Yellow, and Pink). Most of your smaller nymphs will be more productive this time of year, especially with these average flows. In terms of rigging, look to use 5x-6xFluorocarbon when nymphing. As water temperatures continue to become colder, strikes will be more subtle to detect. 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.

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Housatonic River

Flows are improving on the Housatonic and we’re almost at comfortable levels to fish in most spots. Falls Village is currently at 1560 CFS and holding steady. When flows hit 1000 CFS or below it will be safe to wade in most areas. Once the river is more accessible, hatches you may encounter include Midges in sizes 18-24, however the dry fly action will be slow this time of year. Streamer fishing and nymphing are going to be the most productive technique. Anglers that have been streamer fishing are swinging flies on a floating or sink tip line with either single handers or trout spey rods. If you are fishing articulated neutrally buoyant streamers (Mini Dungeons, Drunk and Disorderly, Circus Peanuts, etc), you will want to pair these with asinking line and a short 5’ leader tapered from20lb to 10lb. For our floating line Streamer Anglers, consider drab colored Conehead Woolly Buggers paired with a 9ft 2x leader. Now is also a good time for our Trout Spey anglers to consider throwing larger patterns during the afternoon in combination with swinging soft hackles in the mornings and evenings. During the mornings nymphing still remains the most effective method. For nymphing with an indicator (we’ve had great feedback on theOros Stike Indicators), a 9ft taperedfluorocarbon leader in 5x-6x is recommended. Nymphs to consider bringing include Caddis Larvae, Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ears, Waltz Worms, Perdigones, and Yellow/Golden Stoneflies in sizes 12-18. For smaller nymphs, Zebra Midges in 18-24, will fool fish all throughout Winter. While the spawning season is over, egg flies are continuing to produce, and consider more washed-out colors like Tan, Light Pink, and Cheese.

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New York

Salmon River

Slush is just starting to show up on the lower end of the river during the early mornings when air temperatures are in the teens. Air temperatures will drop back down to the 20s starting Monday. Flows were decreased and are currently holding steady at 688 CFS at the Pineville Gauge. Flows are slightly below average with good clarity, and Steelhead generally prefer consistency in flows such as these. All sections of the river are holding Steelhead, and there are still fresh fish pushing into the lower sections daily. While swinging flies will still attract the most aggressive fish, the most productive method in the cold weather will be nymphing. Low and slow is the name of the game, as fish will be less willing to expend energy, and often the strikes will be subtle. Focusing on the deeper and slower pools will be a good start as these sections are typical Steelhead Winter holding areas. Estaz Eggs, Glo Bugs, Squirmy Worms, Stoneflies, Steelhead Slammers, and Sucker Spawn will all take fish. Having a variety of colors and sizes, as well as switching flies often will help you determine what they are keying in on. The surrounding tributaries will also hold Brown Trout and Steelhead.Beads in different colors will also work well (such as Chartreuse and Mottled Tangerine), so switching up flies/colors and techniques will be the key to success. As a bonus, these flies will also work on Brown Trout. Having amicro barrel swivel incorporated into your leader will help avoid splitshot sliding down your leader, and will aid in quicker rerigging during breakoffs and snags. For our two handed anglers, Skagit has been the most productive method, and we like Rio’sSkagit Max Power head combined with either amono orcoated running line. Having a variety ofMOW Tips is very helpful in fine tuning the depth of your fly based on flows, depth, and current speed. For tippet, we like usingMaxima Ultragreen in 10lb when swinging flies. Having a variety of colors to rotate between is the name of the game: Brown, Olive, Black, Blue, Purple, and Pink are all good considerations. Now that the weather is getting colder and into the low 30s, it will be beneficial to bring a goodlayering system as well as a pair of warmfingerless gloves.

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