Hello Compleat Angler friends! After our stint of rain this week the rivers are running high. While the Housatonic is stained for the next few days, the Farmington should have fishable clarity, especially as flows from the Still River drop. On the saltwater, Bass have started their migration which means the bite has been winding down in some areas. The Western sound has still been producing fish, while things are considerably slower on the Eastern side. Our holdover fish are starting to stage at the mouths of rivers and salt ponds to winter over, so areas to consider are the Connecticut and Housatonic Rivers. We have been hearing some great reports from New Jersey as well. Our Salmon River anglers have had another week with high water, however those that have been braving the conditions are still catching impressive numbers of fish. 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 and salt ponds. 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, as well as shrimp imitations. There is a mixed bag in terms of the size of these fish, with the most common sizes 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, know that 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 our 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.
More rain this week! As a result, the Saugatuck is flowing at 438cfs. Overall this week, as well as the upcoming weekend, we will be experiencing higher than average flows. As we’ve mentioned before the most recent news is the state stocking of Seeforellen Strain Brown Trout 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 time, 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. Fishing high water can be challenging, so focus on streamers and nymphs targeting bank seams until the clarity improves.
Connecticut Fish and Wildlife has finished stocking Atlantic Salmon in the Naugatuck and Shetucket. Some of our anglers in the shop have been rewarded with some nice Salmon. Cold mornings can make conditions tough, so make sure you have a good layering system of warm clothes until the sun comes up. The afternoon increase in temperatures will make these Salmon more active. The Naugatuck and Shetucket are also stocked with trout. In high water don’t be afraid to fish junk flies, such as mops or squirmies, paired with a smaller more imitative selection. For Atlantic Salmon try Woolly Buggers in pink and purple, as well as your traditional salmon patterns: Blue Charms, Grey Ghosts, etc. The fish will vary in size from five to ten pounds. We recommend a 9’ 6-8wt rod paired with a sink tip line or polyleaders to get the fly into their zone. Some sections of these rivers are conducive to Spey fishing. Most of these fish are 2-3 years old (2-5lbs), while the older broodstock (10-15lb) are stocked in fewer numbers. For those of you that aren’t new to the Atlantic Salmon game, fish them like you would any other Atlantic salmon fishery, but don’t be afraid to upsize your fly or experiment with nymphs. On sunny days look for fish sunning themselves in the tail-out of pools for a fun sightfishing opportunity. An increase in flows will tend to spread these fish out. During the colder mornings, a slowly swung streamer is a good strategy. The Naugatuck flows have risen to 1420cfs. As a reminder, fishing is catch and release until 12/6 with a single hook fly. Please report any poaching to law enforcement, 860-424-3333.
Now is a great time to fish streamers and egg patterns as most of the Brown Trout have spawned and are looking for a high calorie meal. Hot headed jig streamers such as black with an orange bead, are good flies for this time of year. The prevalent hatch this time of year is Blue Winged Olives with occasional midges. With colder average night/daytime temperatures, the majority of the action will occur in the afternoon. The West Branch Riverton gauge is at 253cfs from the dam release with the Still adding 454cfs from our recent rain but should be on the drop. Water temps remain in the mid 40’s. Overall flows are average for this week and water clarity will be good into the weekend. For dry fly anglers, trout are continuing to rise, and most hatches are occurring late morning into the afternoon. Look to fish Blue Winged Olives as the prevalent hatch, with small Caddis mixed in, as well as a few midges. Small flies down to size 26 seem to be the norm. This means that presentation is key, so try longer leaders and stepping down tippet size to 6x, along with a drag-free drift. 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, 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. Also spend time fishing the deeper and slower runs, since the trout will start to push into their winter lies. Some Brown trout are in late spawning mode now so please be mindful to stay clear of lighter colored patches of gravel, which are their spawning beds (redds). 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 are up to 2440cfs, which can prove challenging for wading in some sections. If deciding to fish, please use extreme caution. The river conditions are stained from all the rain we’ve been getting, so fishing the tributaries or other rivers would be a good backup plan. If deciding to fish the Housatonic, focus on areas with slower water and target the banks, especially with streamers.
Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Peanut Bunker are still the most prevalent bait in the Western portion of the sound along the beaches. The bite is starting to pick up at the mouths of our rivers and salt ponds, and fishing near Stratford will result in running into some Bass blitzes or Bass staging to winter over. Try focusing on a slower retrieve with the colder water temperatures, with a strip and pause to imitate a wounded baitfish. The mouth of the Connecticut river has been great this season, and is still producing Bass blitzes with some over slot size mixed in. Some Bass are being found nearshore on Peanut Bunker and Silversides in the 2-4” size range, and fish are still being caught in Norwalk and Westport. This is good news for our shore anglers still looking to get into Bass, so search the coastline for birds and bait. Both sides of the tides have been consistent. Some other areas to consider right now are the shorelines around Southport to Bridgeport, the Norwalk Islands fishing by boat, Penfield Reef, and Holly Pond. Some of the fish around the Norwalk Islands and Westport have been cruising in shallow water, so look for surface disturbance/tailing. Despite the colder temperatures our boat anglers are having good success near shore in coves and harbors, so as a whole our fall run is still continuing. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
High water continues this week with flows currently at 1510cfs for the Pineville gauge. High water can be good news because it will push more fish into the system and once the flows stabilize the fish will acclimate into their holding lies. Despite high flows the fishing has been going strong, with our anglers reporting multiple Steelhead days. 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. Water temperatures have been fluctuating in the high 30’s to low 40’s. Every day has been different, but on most days a couple Steelhead have been brought to hand, with some days producing double digits. For these fish, 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, 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. For our Spey anglers a variety of colors such as black, purple, blue, brown, and pink should work well. The tributaries are also producing big Brown Trout, and Steelhead have also pushed into most of them. With the colder morning temperatures underway, make sure you have a good layering system and gloves to stay warm!
With colder temperatures, mornings have been a nymphing-based game. West Branch flows are 547cfs at Hale Eddy, while the East is 4190cfs at Fish’s Eddy. The Mainstem at Lordville is flowing at 5760cfs, overall high flows, which is a negative for wade anglers but a positive for our boat anglers. Current average water temperatures are in the low to mid 40s. Please be mindful of trout spawning beds (Redds), because the fishery is 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, with some good hatches reported. Look to fish Olive nymphs in size 18-24, as subsurface has been the most productive especially in the mornings. For our 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 as winter approaches. If fishing the Willowemoc and Beaverkill, try some smaller Woolly Buggers and other streamers. However, with the high flows those rivers are currently unfishable. For our wading anglers using Trout Spey rods, now is a great time to swing emergers and small intruders. Fishing streamers and nymphs in the morning is a good tactic until the hatches become prevalent in the afternoons.
The hot areas for Bass fishing right now are around Fire Island, with a mixed size of fish though the majority have been smaller. As a whole, the Fall run is coming to an end with striper blitzes starting to taper off in the majority of the East End. If fishing from a boat, look for birds and bait which will signal a large school of Bass feeding with Bluefish in the mix, and some anglers have been lucky enough to find them by covering ground.
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