Hello Compleat Angler friends! We hope everyone is having a great holiday season and are able to sneak out for some fishing before the cold front this weekend. Expect precipitation Friday into Friday morning with higher winds around that time. This front will bring in colder temperatures into the low 20s for this weekend. There is still some good fishing to be had in the local streams, with trout rising to emergers during the afternoon. Look to target the deeper and slower pools since water temperatures have lowered. It’s a game of low and slow, as trout will become more lethargic as their metabolisms slow. On the saltwater side, the Housatonic is holding Stripers that are staging to winter. Search for these fish upriver as well as those holding towards the mouth. Just a note that we will be condensing our upcoming reports and focusing them a bit more on areas that are still popular for winter fishing. Read on for more…
With the transition to winter the action has been slowing down off the beaches, and most of the action is going to be near the mouths of rivers, salt ponds, and estuaries. There is a ton of bait in the water, but fewer Bass as a whole. While it has been hard work locating these bass, patience has been paying off for some anglers. When targeting bass in these rivers and salt ponds bring a variety of peanut bunker flies, shrimp imitations, and Silversides. It is a mixed bag in terms of the size of these fish, with the most being 20-30”. The Shad bite can also be good this time of year so look for those as bycatch. If searching for Bass off the beach, locating blitzes can be a hit-or-miss, but persistence and covering ground will put the odds in your favor. Peanut Bunker are still residing off the beaches, as well as larger offerings like Herring and Mackerel, so bring some larger flies. For boat anglers, you should run into fish covering ground off the beaches, with a focus on points that provide some rocky structure, as well as the mouths of bays and entrances to salt ponds.
Flows have receded on our local rivers, with the Saugatuck flowing at 83cfs. As many of you know the latest news has been Seeforellen Strain Brown Trout that the state has stocked in local Lakes and Ponds. These are large Brown Trout averaging 15lbs with some 20lb fish stocked. With all of our TMAs stocked for the fall, the areas to focus on include the Mill, Saugatuck, Farmington, and Housatonic rivers. 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 afternoon to tiny Blue Winged Olive emergers and Midges. The overall trend is that flows are leveling off after dropping after the rain last week.
The prevalent hatch this time of year is Blue Winged Olives, Winter Caddis and occasional midges. With colder average night/daytime temperatures, most of the action will occur in the afternoon. The West Branch Riverton gauge is at 253cfs from the dam release with the Still adding another 129cfs. Water temps are transitioning into the high 30s. Overall flows are average for this week and water clarity will be good into the weekend. In terms of the actual fishing, the anglers who have been successful have been really working for their fish. For the dry fly anglers, trout are continuing to rise, and most hatches are occurring late in the 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. 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. Small nymphs will also continue to produce. For our 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, 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 some time fishing the deeper and slower runs, as the trout should be in their winter lies given the drop in water temperature. 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.
Flows have been steadily decreasing this past week which brings us to 1200cfs, so you will still want to be relatively cautious if wading. However, the water clarity is good. A variety of small nymphs are working, and guys are having success if they can keep their rig clear of debris. Focusing on areas by the park, especially if you’re looking for rising trout, and TMAs should result in some fish. The most prevalent hatch will be Blue Winged Olives and midges throughout the winter, 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, with longer leaders, stepping down to 6x tippet, and making sure that you get a drag free drift all critical this time of year. Likely water to find rising fish will be areas with medium-to-slow flows. 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 their slower and deeper winter lies. For nymphs, bring a variety with the focus being scuds and stoneflies, and maybe try a smaller dropper such as a Zebra Midge.
Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Anglers that are braving the elements are being rewarded with fish near the Housatonic river. These fish are staging and moving upriver to winter over. So searching from the I-95 bridge down to the mouth should result in finding Stripers. 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. Despite the colder temperatures our boat anglers are having good success near shore in coves and harbors, so as a whole it is worth braving the colder temperatures to catch the tail end of the Striper season. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
We have some cold weather forecasted for this weekend on the Salmon River, with temperatures in the mid-to-high 20s. Flows are on the drop, with the most recent reading at the Pineville gauge registering 874cfs which is now about an average level. Most of the Salmon in the river are in spawning mode/dying, so there are plenty of eggs and flesh in the system for our Steelhead anglers. The Steelhead fishing has proven consistent with chrome fish pushing in daily along with the occasional Brown Trout. Steelhead are spread throughout the river. After cold nights slush has been an issue on the lower river, but once the sun comes up it has been melting. Every day has been different, but on most days a couple of Steelhead have been brought to hand, and a few days are producing double digits. When fishing upriver focus on winter holding lies, that slower, deeper water. For these fish, also focus on 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 when 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, especially in the lower river where fresh fish are still pushing in daily. For our Spey anglers a variety of colors such black, purple, blue, brown, and pink work well. The tributaries are also producing big Brown Trout, and Steelhead have also pushed into most. With the colder morning temperatures underway, make sure you have a good layering system and gloves to stay warm!
With colder temperatures, the mornings have been a nymphing-based game. West Branch flows are 337cfs at Hale Eddy, while the East is 758cfs at Fish’s Eddy. The Mainstem at Lordville is flowing at 1380cfs, which is comparable to last week. Current average water temperatures are in the low to mid 30s. Please be mindful of trout spawning beds (Redds). With the fishery now open all year round these eggs are susceptible to being crushed by wade anglers. In general, the most prevalent hatches continue to be BWOs in the afternoon on the 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 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 our wading anglers using Trout Spey rods, a slowly swung fly is a good tactic with colder water temperatures. Fishing streamers and nymphs in the morning is a good tactic until the hatches become prevalent in the afternoons.
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