Greetings Compleat Anglers! We've had a nice little reprieve from the bitterly cold temperatures of last week and the fishing picked up a bit. Those midday windows were back again, with anglers taking trout on nymphs, streamers, and the occasional dry as well. Next week looks fairly promising too, so keep an eye on the thermostat and take your shot when it makes sense. The Lake Ontario tribs have slowed down considerable due to ice and cold weather, and our recommendation this week is to stay put and wait for better conditions. 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 associated with shelf ice and slushed up rivers have been detrimental to the fishing and it has been a grind from what we are 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 too. If you want to avoid the crowds, go downstream. The fishing can be quite good there. 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.
This past week the fishing has been pretty good for our local streams. With temps in the 40s early in the week, the fishing was much better than the previous week. On Tuesday, we were hearing that the stoneflies were popping a bit and fish were on them. That seemed to be the case all over Connecticut. Fish were up and rising on bugs, and were taking dries if presented well. The majority of what was hatching were midges so smaller flies were the most effective dry flies. Nymphs seemed to be the hot method however. Small midges and tiny stoneflies were the most productive. The warmer weather has been a welcome reprieve for trout and anglers both. On these warmer days, it can be very advantageous to swing small wets. Few anglers tend to do this during the winter but it can prove extremely effective, especially if you see fish rising. Size 16, 18, and 20 wets are all you need. Fish them on 6 or 7 x and you should be rewarded with multiple hook ups. The weather looks really good for the next week so if you cannot get out this weekend, not to worry. Next week should be darn good fly fishing too.
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.
Warmer temperatures on the way means things are looking up for the Farmington. Not much to report on last week as the fishing was tough. However, it did have its moments and this coming week looks great. It will be colder than coastal Connecticut but should still have a good bump in air temperature. That means the fish will certainly be much more active. If you do plan on fly fishing, smaller midge nymphs tend to be the hot flies during cold months, though 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 months and fish them unmolested. Popular holes like Greenwoods, Legends, Church, Halfords or the Boneyard will be a realistic possibility for you to get into 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. However, 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 things out. One thing to keep in mind: 6 or even 7x Fluorocarbon is necessary 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 lighter tippet. There is really no reason not to use it. With warmer temps on the way, it may be best to get to the river early. Not because the fish will be active, but because I am sure there will be plenty of anglers out there. If you have a spot in mind and it is normally a popular spot then it may be best to get that spot and hold it until mid-day when the fish will be most active. With the increasing water temps, the fish may also push up into some faster water to feed as well. Now, they may not be in the shallow, faster stuff like in the summer, but they will often edge up into the faster stuff just upstream of the slower holding water. Targeting these areas should yield results.
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 over the past week, which is a great water level to wade. The next week looks very good as far as temperatures go. I would expect the fly fishing to be as good as it's been all winter and the trout should be active and feeding. While it may take some trial-and-error to figure out what the fish are keying on, a concerted effort should pay off. 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 that. This allows you to fish 2 flies but will more often induce a strike on the trailing midge. It is a proven tactic that tends to shine in the winter. Fishing small streamers can be productive as well but this will usually work best on those days where 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 during the winter months, the bite window will be during the warmest hours of the day. No need to get there early unless you want to beat other anglers to a spot which is 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, should have pretty good fishing around mid-day.