Greetings Compleat Anglers! The fishing has settled a bit this week across the region. The Great Lakes tribs have resumed normal conditions and have concentrated the fish slightly, and cooler temperatures on most trout rivers has made it more of a "choose your window" endeavor. Our pick this week is the Housey, which is fishing very well with anglers reporting some fantastic days. And while the bass season is winding down there are still a few worthwhile days to be had on the water before the season closes down for good. As always read on for the details!
After a gangbusters week, things have returned to “normal” on the Great Lakes Tribs. With an initial good bump in CFS and lots of fresh fish pushing in hard, over the last week the water has been slowly falling and the fishing has been on the tougher side. Ones and twos are what we are hearing from most anglers with 5 and 8s from some of the seasoned veterans. That is typical for this fishery and by no means “bad fishing.” It is just a bit of a downgrade from what the rivers had been producing. This time of year there are no bad options as far as locations go. Regardless of where you are fishing there will be fresh fish at the mouths, plenty pushing through the center sections, and even fish up top.
On the Salmon River the upstream Fly Fishing Only Zones have still been hot. More fish are pushing up and things seem to be the most consistent in the upper reaches of the river. There was a good bump of water on Monday and with rain for most of the week, I would expect more fish to begin filtering in and the middle sections should light up soon. The DSR is reporting decent fishing. With the bump in water, fish could be moving through quickly which is why reports there seem to be less consistent than the rest of the river. The higher water will also open up pocket water. My personal favorite, these smaller pockets will hold fish for a time before they continue upriver and are great spots to get on some unpressured fish and get away from the crowds. You can also cover much more water which is always a good practice on any Great Lakes river.
Egg imitations are still the go-to and will be for the next month or so. Stoneflies, nymphs, and baitfish patterns will work but tend to come into their own later in the season. The smaller streams are coming into their own as well. Great reports from anglers fishing the more obscure and less known fisheries means that we are in the thick of it. Steelhead season is in full swing and any effort to hook up with one of these fish will more than likely result in at least fish or two brought to hand.
Things seem to be slowing down on the East end of Long Island. Montauk light is becoming less and less consistent. While there have been some good days this week from shore, the strong winds and dropping temps have most anglers pulling their boats or staying close to home as the fishing has been great further to the West. If you are local then my no means is the season over. Beaches and bays have been loaded with bait and plenty of schoolies around to keep fly rods bent. Some straggling larger migratory fish will be pushing through in the next few weeks so focus on good holding structure that will corral larger bait. To the West and especially on the North shore, the fishing has been very good from Smithtown Bay, West. There are Bunker everywhere, including Peanuts which has the Stripers on the move. They have been tough to pin down however, there one day and gone the next. As the bait migrates, the Bass will follow so on any given day it's anybody’s guess where these fish are. A good game plan is to focus on large obstructions that funnel or hold bait. Points, rips, and drop-off are all great places to look. From shore, harbor mouths, jetties, points, and channels will all force bait into certain areas. The likelihood of finding fish here is much higher than on a featureless beach so keep that in mind. If you are willing to move around and try multiple spots, the odds are high that you will run into fish.
Local streams are fishing well across the state. We are hearing from beginners and seasoned vets alike that fishing has been awesome. There are plenty of fish in the smaller streams and with a good shot of rain for all but coastal Connecticut, water levels are great right now. The last stockings were over two weeks ago and while a streamer may take a fish or two it is time to switch to nymphs. There will be no more stockings for the rest of the year and that means it is time to change your tactics a bit. Most of the smaller streams have received a lot of pressure at this point so you should assume the fish will be educated. Smaller nymphs will be the most productive method for these educated fish. The amount of angling pressure will influence what flies to use and generally less pressure equals larger nymphs with more flash. Conversely, more pressure requires smaller flies with little or no flash. I tend to find that a s16 or 18 beadhead caddis variation is tough to beat when we have these conditions. A wide variety of colors work but tan, brown, and black are my go-to’s. The key is a perfect, drag-free drift and getting the fly deep enough. That fly should be right on the bottom. Add split-shot to get the fly down if the area you are fishing is deep and constantly switch flies. Give it about 10 good drifts and if you don’t get bit, switch. Keep in mind that as the weeks pass these fish will only get more selective. Then as it cools down they will become much more lethargic. You will need to adjust for that but, correctly doing so will keep the fly rod bent all winter. As a reminder, all Trout Management Areas (where the DEEP has stocked) are all catch and release only as of August 31st. It is also Single Hook – Artificial 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 CTDEEP. That way the fishing will remain good all Winter. All TMAs will remain catch and release until mid-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.
The general consensus is that things are slowing down on the Farmy. Water temps are dropping, the spawn is over, and the fish seem to be settling into a more winter-typical behavior pattern. Now, that is not to say that fishing cannot be good at times. It certainly can. However, there will be more slow days than hot days moving forward. That is typical for any river. The water temps on the Farmington are dropping to around 47 at night and gradually falling. The highest water temps will be midday, and, as such, you should focus the majority of your fishing around these highest water temperature periods. No need to be first on the water or the last to leave. Fish activity will slowly build around 11 and peak around 2 depending on the day. Savvy anglers will plan on only fishing the Farmington during the warmest days. Overcast days are a good option too, so long as they are warmer. But if it's bright sun and cold, say below 40 for a high, it may be best to pick another day. With that in mind, nymphing will be the most productive. No surprise there. The trout will begin to move less and less for a morsel of food. Getting a fish to move about a foot or so this time is about all you can ask for. As such, hitting the fish in the face becomes the name of the game. Because you will more than likely be fishing blind, lots of drifts per-fly are a must. Every drift is different and as a result, it may take 20 or more drifts to get your fly right on the beak of a willing trout. While switching flies is also advantageous, many anglers don’t give a particular pattern enough soak time. Very deliberate and methodical fishing is key this time of year. Fishing fast through your fly box is important but not that the expense of soak time. Really work each section of water until you are positive that the fish are refusing the offering. Only then should you switch. That sounds pretty intuitive but it's amazing how many anglers I have seen switching flies like it’s going out of style and not giving each pattern the bottom time it needs when the fish are slowing down. Nothing new on patterns. A tan beadhead caddis is always tough to beat on the Farmington as are Frenches. Keep in mind that most of your nymphs should be size 16 or smaller with a few exceptions. You should also try some larger stuff down deep and see if there are any takers. Tan, cream, light orange, and peach colored Mop Flies do a decent job of imitating a ball of trout eggs. If you are in a lull, dropping a bigger fly down there can be a slump buster. Pat’s Rubber Legs will take fish in the faster water at times but don’t be stubborn with larger flies. Smaller patterns will be the most productive. As always, ZEBRA MIDGES! If you are tightlining, there should be a midge somewhere in the trotline you are dropping down there. If you are indy fishing, a reasonable attractor with a trailing midge is tough to beat. If you are going to fish streamers, downsize your flies. Smaller Sculpin patterns in olives and browns ought to do the trick. While mornings have their moments, mid-day and afternoons are proving to have the most action with actively feeding fish. As long as these temperatures hold out, the fishing will continue to be good. As always, tie on a Zebra Midge if times are tough. There were a bunch of bigger Rainbows stocked from the Dam down to the Riverton Bridge on the 4th. As a result, the fishing has been pretty good in this stretch of water. These fish will be less selective than the wild or holdover fish so if you have been struggling a bit, head North.
Ideal water flows and great water temperatures make the Housey the place to be right now. The forecast looks great with mild temperatures, some rain on the way, maybe some snow but nothing too cold. That should keep the trout nice and happy for a while and it is safe to assume that the fishing will hold for a bit longer. That is, of course, provided we don’t get too much rain and the river blows out again. The dry fly fishing has dwindled quite a bit. There just is not much hatching. That said, on warmer days there are s18 and 20 caddis coming off and when it is also overcast BWO’s will pop as well along with tiny midges. So maybe keep a small box of dries in the vest just in case. The streamer fishing was very good this past week and I expect that to continue. The water levels are perfect for swinging and stripping all types of steamer patterns. It seems that smaller patterns have been producing better than larger articulated ones so keep that in mind. Don’t fish anything too small. Sizes 4, 6, and 8 will be a good starting point. Yellow has been a hot color as has white. Ideal color will depend on cloud cover and water clarity more than anything. The water has cleared up quite a bit so more “natural” colors will be most effective. Indicator nymphing seems to be the way to go right now. The Housey does not lend itself well to tightlining in most places. It's wider than the Farmington and as such, indicators are the way to go. Indy nymphing has been the most productive of all methods lately. Eggs have been producing well but midges, small caddis, and BWOs seem to be the hot flies. Larger stones have been having their moments as have larger mayfly imitations. Anything reasonable as far as size and color has a good shot on any given day. It is less about pattern and more about presentation. Setting up the drift correctly and mending like a maniac is key. As I mentioned before, the fishing should hold for the next few weeks provided we don’t get hammered with a ton of rain. The Pike fishing has been strong. Anglers are reporting consistent action and some big fish being caught. It seems as though they are at the peak of their activity level which bodes well for the next few weeks. Most anglers are bringing a fish or 2 to hand every outing. While fly fishing for Esox is never a numbers game, odds are high that any effort to come tight on Pike will prove successful. Plenty of water, great water temps and Fall conditions means any weather window has a high probability of success. The Smallies have been overlooked for the most part so we have not had a ton of reports but suffice to say that if you wanted to get into them it should not be too hard. What a Fall we have had on the Housey so far and by the looks of it, the fishing will be good for a while!
Well it seems like we are reaching the tail end of the Fall Run. How fast it comes and goes. We are hearing that Striper fishing is hit or miss across the board. At this point, it is more about location than anything else and it has become critical for any chance at success. The mouths of our larger rivers and surrounding areas are where you can get onto the last fish of the season. The Housey, Thames, Connecticut, and Pawtucket Rivers are where you should be focusing your attention. Some of the larger stragglers are migrating through but it’s a real gamble trying to locate them.
If you still have a boat in the water, head West and look for birds. If you are fishing from shore, focus on the rivers. The rivers have been fishing well provided you go at the right times. Low light is always best unless it’s overcast. The last 2 hours of the rising tide and the entirety of the falling tide are key. If you are fishing during these tides, when the light is low and the wind is NOT out the East, you should have no problem getting on fish. It may take trying a few spots to locate fish but once you do, it should be lights out fishing.
Another mistake is that anglers use too big a fly or do not let it sink enough. Make sure you are matching the fly to Peanut Bunker and allow that fly to get down if you are blind casting. Those two things can make all the difference. Just remember, keep moving, fish the falling tide, no East wind, and fish the right flies deep. We have about 2 more weeks of decent fishing before it gets quite slow. This next week will fish well and now is a great time to get one or two more trips in before it gets really cold.