Greetings Compleat Anglers! Cold, cold, cold, that's been the name of the game over the past week. For most of us, that's meant laying low and doing a little tying and gear maintenance. Not surprisingly reports have been on the sparser side, but we do know at least a few anglers have ventured out, choosing their mid-day windows to get a few hours of fishing here and there. If you are thinking likewise, make sure to get the latest word below. Read on for details!
Well, after a solid December and January things on the Great Lakes have slowed appreciably. Some really nasty weather up there, along with shelf ice and slushed up rivers, have been detrimental to the fishing. It has been a grind from what we have been hearing. Anglers who have been on the Salmon River are reporting ones and twos, blanks, or the occasional threes and fives. Now, this is Steelhead fishing and while those numbers are not bad, it seems that most anglers are going all day without a bump. The bright side is that fish are spread throughout the entire system regardless of which river you are fishing. On the Salmon, the typical winter holes such as Schoolhouse and the Lower Fly Zone are fishing well but the lower sections are as well. If you want to avoid the crowds, go downstream, as the fishing can be quite good. With the forecast for the coming week, I would recommend staying home until we get some warmer weather. If you do decide to brave the conditions, small egg flies and stonefly imitations will be your best bet. Get unorthodox with your patterns as these fish have seen a lot of flies at this point. Get down deep and fish walking-pace water. Looking forward, Friday the 19th of February looks like a really good day to fish. It will be much warmer and should have the fish far more active than in the past weeks. Keeping an eye on the weather is key and things are looking good for late next week. If you are thinking about heading up there, this is one of those windows I am talking about. The fish will be much more jazzed up than and it’s a safe bet that the fishing will be good as long as the wind does not kick up.
With freezing day time temperatures and well below freezing night time temps, the fishing has been very slow recently. And with all of the snow we have had recently only a few hardy anglers have made it out on the water. The fish are hunkered down, very lethargic, and have all but stopped eating. They will take a few insects a day if they float by but with slow metabolisms they will not need to eat much to survive. As such, I recommend tying flies for the upcoming spring season. Before you know it, April will be here and the fly fishing should be phenomenal. Stock up on flies, organize your gear, re-line your fly reels, wax your ferrules, and organize your fly boxes. It is a great way to pass the time and will make your spring much more productive. Here is a little pro tip, get any gear you need now! When the Spring rush begins, getting even simple things like Woolly Buggers and 5x tippet can be a challenge. That is likely to be especially true this Spring due to a ton of new anglers that have entered the sport. With record crowds predicted for all fisheries this year, and gear still very difficult for shops to get, it may be smart to spend February loading up on essentials. That is doubly true if you need something specific such as a favorite floatant or tippet. If you do decide to fish this weekend or this coming week, the best approach is to fish mid-day. Always try to be in a prime position during peak temperatures, as that is often the bite window when the fish are most active. Expect little action in the mornings and afternoons with afternoons being slightly better than A.M. hours. Tiny flies are the name of the game. Size 20 or smaller midge nymphs are all you need. Various colors and styles will work but the key will be getting down deep and making longer drifts. If you do decide to go out, good luck and dress warm. Looking forward, the 18th and 19th of February look like really good days to fish. They will be much warmer and, as such, the fish should be far more active than in the past weeks. Friday will most likely be the better of the two days with Thursday night temps of 30 and day time high of 37!
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.
The headline on the Farmington is that it’s tough fishing. Water temps in the 33 degree range does not bode especially well. Snow, wind, and sub 30-degree air temperatures have kept most folks off the water. The fishing is just not that good right now. It will be a long hard slog for a few hookups, if any. The fish are lethargic and hunkered down which means there will be a lot of switching flies and lots of drifts per-hookup. Now, that said, the Farmy has a great variety and number of insects in the system, far different from smaller streams throughout the state, and this volume of insects alone increases your odds of success somewhat. If you do plan on fishing, you have many more options as far as flies are concerned. While smaller midge nymphs tend to be the hot flies during cold months, don’t discount ridiculous stuff like mops or larger patterns like stones or caddis nymphs. Another benefit to fishing right now is that you can normally get holes that are mobbed during the prime month and fish them unmolested. Popular holes like Greenwoods, Legends, Church, Halfords, or the Boneyard will be a realistic possibility for you to get when the weather is like this. These are big fish holes make no mistake about it. Those bigger fish you are looking for are in there and they are seldom a realistic possibility other times of the year with the number of anglers on the river. So, if you have been looking at trying to get into these places, now is a great time to do so. And there are plenty of fish to catch if you spend the time to figure the fish out. One thing to keep in mind: 6 or 7x Fluorocarbon is mandatory at this point if you choose to fish smaller flies. The fish are more lethargic with the water temperature in the mid-thirties and you should have no problem getting the bigger fish to hand with 7x. 7x will also lead to more hookups. There is really no reason not to use it. For the next month or so, there will be very little in the way of changes to the Farmington report. The key is to wait for an abnormally warm day. That will be the best time to fish and when the odds of success increase dramatically. But remember that everyone else will be doing the same thing so it may still be best to get there early and hold your spot. Looking forward, Friday the 19th of February looks like a really good day to fish. It will be much warmer and should have the fish far more active than in the past weeks. Thursday night temps of 26 and day time high of 37 mean the fish will almost certainly be actively feeding. We are letting you know now because if you read our report next week it will be too late. Conditions could change but if they stay as predicted the fishing should be darn good.
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 Housatonic has been running between 600 and 400 CFS the past week. While that’s a great water level to wade, the fishing has been tough. As with the rest of the state, cold temperatures, wind, and significant snowfall have kept all but the most determined anglers off the water. As such, we are hearing very little. A few fly anglers have been giving it a shot with some success. The water temps are close to that of the Farmington. A bit warmer but not by much. 3 to 5 fish a day is about average for seasoned anglers, but make no mistake, it will be a grind. The fish are in the deepest and slowest sections of river trying to make it through the winter. As such, these are the areas you will want to target if you decide to roll the dice and get out there. Long and deep drifts with indicators will be the best use of your time as the fish will not move far for flies. As always, midge nymphs tend to take the majority of fish this time of year. A proven approach is to have an attractor in front of a midge that trails about 15 inches behind it. This allows you to fish 2 flies but will more often induce a strike on the trialing midge. It is a proven tactic that tends to shine in the winter. Fishing small streamers can be productive as well. But this will only work on those days when it warms up quite a bit from the week-long average. You will also need to fish these flies deep and slow. If we do get a window, this method can be very productive on the housey. As with all trout fisheries, the bite window will be during the warmest hours of the day during the winter months. No need to get there early unless you want to beat other anglers to a spot and that is generally not a huge factor this time of year especially during the week. A water temperature increase of 2 or more degrees can get the fish pretty fired up so keep an eye on the weather. Any warmer day, say above 36 degrees, will prove to be pretty good fishing around mid-day. Friday the 19th of February looks like a really good day to fish. It will be much warmer and should have the fish far more active than in the past weeks. Thursday night temps of 26 and day time high of 37 mean the fish will almost certainly be actively feeding.