Hello Compleat Angler Friends! We hope everyone has been enjoying the warm weather this past week. Thanks to the warmer afternoons we have had an increase in bug activity on our local rivers, and the stonefly hatches have started early. Our anglers are doing well on rivers that were stocked in the fall, suggesting that there has been good holdover retention this winter. The overall trend is that river levels are average, and water clarity has been good. Technically we are still in Winter mode, so methodically fishing the deeper pools will pay off. On the Salmon River in NY, water levels are high, so look for an improvement in the fishing as those levels drop (the fishing on the lower river has been relatively slow). Anglers have also been catching Broodstock Atlantic Salmon on the Naugatuck and Shetucket Rivers, so that is still a viable option, especially with the milder temperatures. Read on for more…
As a result of our warmer weather this past week there has been more bug activity during the afternoon. Stoneflies, Midges, and Blue Winged Olives are the most prevalent, and the increase in activity has the fish behaving like its spring. Bringing a variety of these dries and emergers in smaller sizes should cover your bases. Flows are back down to 55.9cfs at the Saugatuck. Average air temperatures continue to stay in the 40-50s into next week. This will be a good time to look for rising fish in combination with using small nymphs in the morning before the hatches start. Some ponds and Lakes were stocked back in January, and with the lack of ice those are a viable opportunity.
The last Atlantic Salmon stockings occurred on January 11th and the 3rd. Try focusing on the TMAs and swinging streamers for these fish in combination with a polyleader. Getting the fly into the strike zone is essential, especially during cold mornings. Try a variety of gaudy and drab colored streamers, as well as traditional Atlantic Salmon flies. The areas to focus on include the deepest section of slow pools and the tailouts of runs. Trout fishing can also be good in the Naugatuck, and is a good alternative for areas with more crowds/pressure. Flows are below average, registering 339cfs at Beacon Falls. With lower flows and warmer days this will increase water temperatures, and as a result both trout and salmon metabolisms.
The prevalent hatch this time of year is Blue Winged Olives, Winter Caddis and occasional midges. Most of the action will occur in the afternoon. Another consideration is the evenings, when water temperatures are high, and as the sunlight diminishes. This can be a good time to hunt for larger fish. The West Branch Riverton gauge is at 189cfs from dam release with the Still adding 115cfs from rain, so the overall flows are slightly below average. Water temps are in the mid-to-high 30s. In terms of the actual fishing, successful anglers have really been working for their fish. For dry fly anglers, the trout are continuing to rise, and most hatches are occurring late in the morning and into the afternoon. Look to fish Winter Caddis and midges as the most prevalent hatches. Winter Caddis will hatch in the early-to-late morning. However, most of the bug activity will be in the afternoon during the warmest part of the day. Small flies down to size 26 seem to be the norm. Church pool can be a consistent option this time of year if you are hunting for rising fish. With warmer temperatures, small Black Stoneflies can be expected. Small nymphs will also continue to produce. Methodically covering likely holding water will be the key to success with cold water temperatures. 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, caddis larvae, waltz worm, etc. During high water bringing some larger nymphs and junk flies (mops, squirmies) with hotspots is a good tactic. Black stonefly nymphs will also fish all winter, and are more active now. Try a larger fly (mop, stonefly) for your dropper followed by a smaller offering (size 18-24), as this will get your rig down to the trout’s depth as they are more lethargic during winter and won’t move as far to eat. Switching up streamer techniques and trying the low-and-slow approach may be the key to success, and sinking lines will help get the fly into the strike zone. Spend time fishing the deeper and slower runs, as the trout are in their winter lies and expect subtle takes. 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 dropped to 1100cfs on the Housatonic at Falls Village so we have average flows and improved conditions for wading. Bring a variety of small nymphs: Caddis larvae and Pupae, Stoneflies, Zebra Midges, etc. Egg flies will still be working as well. Focusing on and TMAs and areas by the park, especially if you’re looking for rising trout, should result in some fish during the warmer afternoons. The most prevalent hatch will be Blue Winged Olives, Midges, and Winter Caddis, so I would bring a variety of sizes in the adults and emergers, as the trout have been sipping on emerging BWOs frequently. We can also expect improved Stonefly hatches in the near future. Focusing on your small sizes 20-24 should result in some success. Likely water to find rising fish will be areas with medium to slow flows. A good strategy is to focus on nymphing during the colder mornings and then look for rising fish in the afternoon and into the evening. Focus your efforts on the deeper pools as trout are pushed into the slower and deeper winter lies with the drop in water temperature.
The Housatonic River is continuing to produce holdover Stripers. These fish are staging and moving upriver to winter over, so further North of the I-95 Bridge (as opposed to the mouth) should result in the most activity. 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. Fishing low and slow is the name of the game, as well as fishing more aggressive sinking lines, or heavier flies, to get down to the fish that are in large pods in the deeper holes. This is a tough time of year for fly anglers, however there are still fish to be caught upriver as Stripers move towards the dam. Getting your fly deep and using a strip/slip technique (stripping, then letting out line to simulate jigging) will keep the fly in the strike zone. Using a fly that inverts will help avoid snags when fishing close to the bottom. This warmer weather will help increase the Striper activity. Other areas to target holdover Stripers includes the Connecticut River and Thames River around Norwich. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Anglers on the Great Lakes are also enjoying the milder weather, and air temperatures this week are expected to be in the mid to low 40s. Now is also a good time to fish the tributaries, as Brown Trout and Steelhead will have pushed into all of them. The Steelhead fishing has been a little tougher with higher flows (1470cfs at Pineville). Steelhead are spread throughout the river. Every day has been different, but the overall trend is that many anglers are bringing a couple Steelhead to hand each day. While the lower river will produce some fresher fish, they are going to be more concentrated further upriver this time of year. When fishing upriver focus on winter holding lies, the slower deeper water. For these fish, try using egg patterns: Glo-bugs, Estaz, Sucker Spawn, Woolly Buggers, as well as Egg-Sucking Leeches. Don’t forget about Stonefly patterns and San Juan Worms, as those will continue to work all Winter and into the Spring. Being adaptable and switching up techniques/flies often results in the most success. When fishing downriver don’t be afraid to fish the faster water, as fresh fish are still pushing in or traveling daily. For our Spey anglers a variety of colors such as black, purple, blue, brown, and pink work well. More aggressive sink tips can help this time of year (water temperatures are in the mid-30s). The morning hours have resulted in the most activity before the sun brightens everything. With the colder morning temperatures, make sure you have a good layering system and gloves to stay warm! A mix of rain and snow is expected this coming week.
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