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October 23, 2020 13 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers! While most trout rivers in New York are shut down at this point, our local streams have received a fresh shot of stocked fish, including the annual broodstock atlantic salmon stocking. Be mindful of wild spawning fish, but otherwise there should be plenty of good fishing to be had. The Housatonic has been a go-to recently and should be at the top of your list. The Fall Run is also here in full effect and we are now facing some of the best bass fishing of the season. If you've been tempted to pack things in after the False Albacore run, you may be missing the best window all year! Read on for details...
The majority of the rivers in New York State are closed. Some sections of the Beaverkill are open but the majority of that river is now closed until the Spring. The Delaware is the same story. The entire East Branch is now Closed and most of the West as well. The border-water with Pennsylvania is still open which includes the Mainstem. Fishing has been tough recently and with the closures in effect, we are removing this section from the report until the Spring. It was, by and large, a great season on the Delaware. It had some phenomenal moments with some amazing dry fly fishing which is what makes this river system so special. It is one of the best dry fly rivers in the country and certainly the best in the area. A bunch of beautiful fish were caught by our team and customers both this year which always puts smiles on our faces. The buzz in the shop this season was the sheer number of anglers on the water. The drought during the latter part of the season in the Catskills made it a technical one, so let’s hope for more consistent rain next season. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the reports for the Catskills. We appreciate the information and photos. We are already counting down the days until spring!
How fast the Salmon run ends. Reports are that most of the Salmon have made the run and the numbers of fresh fish entering the river are dwindling by the day. There are still decent numbers of fish trickling in but the bulk of the run has now passed and the fishing is not what it was a few weeks ago. As such, we will see King and Silver Salmon numbers decrease by the day. This coming week will be the last hurrah and after that it will be all Browns and Steelhead. Not a bad consolation prize if you ask me. Many anglers are licking their chops waiting for the Salmon run to end. After this week, the numbers of anglers dramatically decrease and the Steelhead begin their push into the countless rivers along the Great Lakes. November and December are the two best months to target big and chrome Steelhead as well as giant lake-run Brown Trout. Mid-November into mid-December will see the most fish as the hordes of Steelhead move in to the river to winter over and feed on eggs before their spawn in the Spring. Serious fly anglers will brave snow and freezing conditions for a shot at these incredible fish.
Some Steelhead are pushing in now and, depending on conditions, will continue to do so over the next few weeks. We are hearing that the numbers are thin right now but a few fish have been brought to hand. It is just a tad too soon. It seems like the lower-than-average water has stunted the early run of Steelhead which is often the case. If the water is low then the fish will be reluctant to push into the rivers. There is no rush for them to go upstream as opposed to the Salmon that are forced by their urge to spawn. As such, Steelhead will wait until conditions are perfect. There is hope however! Monster Browns have made up for the lack of Steelhead and are moving in for their annual spawn. Some will stay in the system while others will fall back into the lake. Now is a great time to target these fish. It seems like the majority of the action is down close to the mouth of all these rivers, so keep that in mind. The water has been low and as such, few fish are venturing too far upstream. There is rain forecasted for Ontario and Erie so the smaller rivers should fish well in the weeks to come. We are in a bit of a transitional period right now. It’s late for Salmon and early for Steelhead but prime time for Brown Trout. The Browns are often overlooked and while not nearly as numerous as their lake-run counterparts, they are a great option right now and any effort to target these fish in the next few weeks has a reasonable chance of success. Oak Orchard, a Monster Brown Trout mecca, is coming into its own right now. While the majority of the fish caught have been Salmon, the Browns are pushing in and some really big fish have been taken recently. We still have a little way to go before Steelhead mania but here at the shop there is a palpable buzz in the air. Estaz and McFly Foam is flying off the shelves as anglers frantically tie in preparation for the big Steelhead push only a month away!
The Bass blitzes off of Montauk have been exceptional. At the lighthouse, literally acres of Bass have been putting on a spectacular show as they amass to feed and bulk up for their migration South. They are busting on Anchovies and Bunker like it’s their last meal. Reports are coming in of ridiculous numbers of Bass being caught and released in a given day. 30, 50, 70 fish days are the norm. It sounds like if you really wanted to, you could hit triple digits between 3 rods right now. That is crazy fishing by any measure. Now, I preface that by saying these fish are mostly on the schoolie size side of things and that kind of action does not happen every day. But with the New Moon tides we had last week, it was pretty much a given. It is a similar story for most of Long Island East of Westhampton and Mattituck. Huge schools of Blitzing Bass that stay up for hours. There are some nicer 30” fish mixed in and even a few cows to make things interesting. Blues will be mixed in along with marauding schools of Gators just waiting to tear into your backing. It is safe to say that the Fall Run has arrived in force! Any good weather window in the next few weeks will provide arguably the best saltwater fishing all year. It always seems funny to us that once the Albies leave many anglers pack it in for the season. I have never understood that. Right as the best Bluefish and Striper fishing of the year commences, many anglers are suddenly off the water. That is great for those anglers who stay on it, and it is not uncommon to have a whole school of fish, beach, or rock pile all to yourself. To the West things are heating up as well. While the schools of fish tend to me more fractured and smaller in size, they are still numerous. Blitzing fish are the hallmark of the Fall Run and we are seeing fish all over the surface along the entirety of Long Island so there really are no bad options right now. Shore-based fishing has been great, fishing from a boat has been great, and there are fish in tight and offshore. It’s all happening right now. Peanut Bunker flies are the best option for patterns at the moment. They are quite prevalent and beginning their migration South so the predatory fish are gorging on them. It is a critical pattern for the Fall and if you had only one fly to throw, a peanut imitation would be it.
Finally! The local streams got some love from the CT DEEP and our streams are fishing very well. There was enough water to put fish in and, although levels are still quite low, one can expect the fishing to be great. It will be stockie bashing at its finest for the next few weeks and these fish will not be selective whatsoever. A wide variety of flies will work and about the only thing that won’t work is dries. Mops, worms, and all manner of assorted nymphs will take fish. So, go get em! You can check the CTDEEP website to see if streams near you have been stocked. This comes at the perfect time as larger rivers such as the Housey and Farmington have been a zoo. Hopefully this will disperse some of the angling pressure and make for a good day on the water for everybody.
The Naugatuck has also received its first shot of Atlantic Salmon. If big fish is your fancy, then this is a golden opportunity. They stocked both the upper and lower sections. Flashy streamers in a wide variety of colors are generally the best option. Purples, reds, yellows and pinks are the colors often used. Size 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 coneheads are perfect and can be stripped or swung to great effect. The fishing is great all across the state right now with plenty of options. For the smaller streams short 3wt rods are perfect and for the salmon, generally and 9’ 8wt is what you want. You can get away with a 7 or even a 6wt but do not go any lower than a 6 as you can run the risk of breaking a rod or killing the fish. As a reminder, all Trout Management Areas (where the DEEP has stocked) are all catch and release only! The majority of fly anglers are catch and release anyway. However, if you do see any poaching going on, call 800-842-4357 and report it to the CT DEEP. That way the fishing will remain good all Winter. All TMAs will remain catch and release until April of 2021.
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.
Not much new to report on the Farmy. Dry fly fishing has dwindled. There is not much happening on the surface. There will be fish taking tiny midges and BWOs in the morning and afternoon but expect to work for them. Nymphing will be the best use of your time moving forward and a wide variety of flies will work with smaller patterns being more productive. Midges and soft hackles are great options this time of year and that will hold true for the rest of the Fall and Winter. There was a nice bump of water from the Still this past weekend keeping water levels reasonable. Things have since subsided and it is low once again. Egg patterns will become much more of a factor in the week to come as Browns and Brookies are getting ready to spawn any day now. As such, the non-spawning Bows and stocked browns will take eggs readily. We strongly recommend staying away from spawning areas, or, at the very least, avoid throwing streamers or big reaction-strike-type flies. Ripping these fish off redds and beating them up while they are trying to spawn is a lame thing to do and can negatively impact their spawning behavior. The wild fish on that river are special and the most sought after - without them, it’s just another stockie bashing stream. So, please do your part and pick the fishing back up in November. If you do fish the Farmy, please use tactics that aren’t targeted specifically at wild, spawning fish. We have all year to catch these fish. Let them be for the next 2 weeks. The river was recently stocked and will have plenty of non-spawning rainbows or smaller browns to play with. There are also plenty of holdover fish left as well. They will be in the deeper holes and runs that are annual stocking locations. They will be extremely receptive to a wide variety of patterns and it is not uncommon to catch well over 15 fish in a single spot. They are much more aggressive than the wild fish and are a blast to fish for. If you fish the Farmington on a regular basis and appreciate the larger wild fish that it is known for, then do your part and leave the spawning fish to their own devices. It will translate into more productive spawning and more wild fish in the future.
The Housey got a good shot of rain this week and flows are looking perfect! The fishing has been stellar by and large. With warmer temps than the Farmington and less angling pressure throughout the year, the Housey is the place to be right now. Typically, it is a more technically demanding fishing and wading river, making it a great Fall option for fly anglers who like to cast and work for fish. The dry fly fishing has remained strong this past week. The fish are on smaller bugs such as BWOs and Caddis but if you are able to match the hatch and present the flies well, dry fly fishing will be great. Dry Droppers are proving very effective of late and are the go-to option for many anglers we have spoken with. Emergers of all types are another good option and everything from big Isos to smaller caddis have their time and place this time of year. When and what to throw is more a function of conditions and time of day so pay attention to what the bugs are doing. When in doubt, default to smaller bugs and you should be able to hook plenty of fish. Indicator Nymphing has been taking a bunch of fish, as expected. The main difficulty anglers have with this river is that it is very wide and deep which tends to make nymphing more difficult. As such, get down deep with split shot and be sure to throw big mends. With the higher water, banging the banks with streamers will no doubt produce plenty of fish. As the water subsides, nymphs and dry droppers will be the top producers. Swinging wets and other emerger type flies will be a sneaky way to get on fish in areas that are more pressured as well. A s18 BWO type fly should be in your fly box at all times no matter where you fish, and the Housatonic is no exception. The Smallmouth are still plenty active and should be quite easy to fool in the coming weeks. However, many anglers have transitioned to trout so we are not hearing much. What we have heard is that any concerted effort to target these fish has paid off. The Northern Pike are still feeding very well and with the increase in water, the bite has been great. Anglers are reporting aggressive fish and good action throughout the day. The Housey is fishing extremely well and should continue that way for the rest of the month. If you were thinking about going, now is the time!
The Striper fishing has picked up in a big way and will continue to get better for the next few weeks. The Fall Run is upon us and things are starting to happen all over the Connecticut coast. Schoolie Stripers are everywhere. It seems like no matter when you decide to fish, there will be plenty of Bass willing to take a fly. All along the beaches have been very productive in the mornings. The popular spots like Penfield Reef and the mouth of the Housey are fishing very well but by no means are they the only game in town. There have been blitzing fish all over. If you are fishing from shore you may not necessarily see surface activity but that does not mean the fish aren’t there. If you get to a spot that looks fishy it is always best to throw a few casts and see if anyone is home. Shore-based fishing is awesome right now and only getting better! If you are fishing from a boat the best practice will be to look for birds and/or surface activity. The bait will be on the move and the Stripers will be in tow. The majority of the baitfish will be Bunker so be sure to have plenty of Bunker style patterns to choose from. Everything from peanuts all the way up to full sized adults are on the menu. Often matching the size of the bait can make or break a trip so again, have plenty of flies to choose from. Gator Blues have been making appearances as well. Around the outside of the Norwalk Islands, off of Bridgeport and Stamford, as well as out in the middle at the buoys have been constant Gator spots. These fish have been moving fast following bait so be prepared to run with the fish to get the shots you need on the fly. They have been on smaller peanuts making them uncharacteristically picky. Sure, they will take anything reasonable but giant poppers are not the ideal fly for this scenario. I recommend a size 2/0 flashy bunker pattern about 3 to 4 inches long. That will be attractive enough to get bit while still being a close enough size to the natural forage to prevent refusals.
Fly fishing for Striped Bass is about good as it gets off of Rhody right now. Whether you are fishing from shore or from a boat, you can’t miss. We are well into the Fall Run and the fishing is exceptional. We are hearing that the majority of the action has been from the thousands and thousands of schoolie bass that have been blowing up on bait tight to shore. They are on a combination of Anchovies and Peanut Bunker so be sure to have both patterns in the box. Mixed in with the schoolies are some much larger Bass. There have been plenty of 30+” fish in the mix though these fish are typically more selective. Also, trying to weed through the schoolies can be a challenge. The best ways to do that are to either use a full sink line in an effort to get below the smaller fish or use a larger fly. It still may not be enough but that will give you a fighting chance at larger fish. The larger Blues have been around as well. They will typically be in the deeper water around 40+ feet of depth. However, anglers are reporting that these Gators are on the outside of Striper Blitzes and that there even a few Blues feeding on the smaller bass! The beaches have been the hot spots as of late. From East Beach to Watch Hill any concerted effort to locate blitzing fish should pay off. Remember that the falling tide is best for Stripers, however with the amount of bait and fish in the area both tides should fish well.
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