February 02, 2024 8 min read

Hello Compleat Angler friends! It has been the Winter of high water so far, and this week has been no exception. However, conditions are currently clear and wadable for our local options, and flows are currently on the drop. Anglers are still finding the fishing good this Winter, thanks to fish holding over from the Spring and Fall stockings. During this time of year your strategy should be nymphing in combination with a little streamer fishing during the warmer afternoons. Finding fish rising to small Midges is always a possibility though generally diminished in these water temperatures and high water. We recommend waiting to fish the Housatonic and Farmington until flows settle and make things easier for wading. Local air temperatures will be in the high 30s to low 40s this week. Your most productive times will be during the afternoon when water and air temperatures are at their peak. All our stocked local options will still be fishing well as many trout have held over from Spring and Fall this past year. If you’re heading up to the Salmon River in upstate New York, use caution when wading as flows are high. That said, high water events will push more Steelhead into the system and fish will be more actively traveling, so it will pay to fish the faster water in addition to your typical slow and deep Winter Steelhead lies. Read on for more…


Local Rivers

After a spike in flows from our recent rain, our local options are now slowly dropping but still high. For instance, the Saugatuck River is reading 307 CFS. Water clarity will be good but use caution when wading. Anglers that have been able to get out have reported good fishing. If you can’t wait to fish, stick to the inside seams as trout will be pushed towards the slower flows, and try using flashier and larger nymphs, such as Mop Flies, Squirmies, or Flashback variations. Larger streamer patterns will also stand out among the high water, and some colors to consider are Black, Yellow, White, or any fly that incorporates a lot of flash. Flows are currently good for streamer fishing, and patterns to consider include conehead Woolly Buggers fished on a floating line and larger articulated patterns paired with a sinking or sink tip line. One of our favorite streamer lines for this technique is theAirflo Streamer Max Short,as well as theScientific Anglers Sonar Trout. The Short head loads rods well for our smaller rivers when targeting the opposite bank and when you need to sink the fly quickly into the strike zone. The most productive technique is going to be nymphing. Patterns to have with you this time of year include Zebra Midges, Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Caddis Larvae, Hare’s Ears, and Perdigones in sizes 14-24. A double nymph rig is a good way to cover multiple columns of the water or offer multiple options. Fishing a larger fly as your point fly will help get your dropper down to an appropriate depth without the use of split shot. During these flows it helps to use nymphs with a tungsten bead as they will plummet faster getting you to the strike zone quicker. Once flows approach more average levels you may encounter Midges hatching in sizes 18-24 during the afternoons.When nymphing and dry fly fishing in our smaller river and streams we like having a shorter leader, such as theRio Powerflex in 7.5ft. Both 5x and 6x will have you covered for most dry fly and nymphing scenarios. In addition, at the end of your dead-drift let your nymphs swing to the bank as this will imitate an emerging insect. Trout will be spread out during these flows, so covering different water types and holding lies will improve your success. Areas to consider include the Saugatuck, Mianus, Mill, and Aspetuck Rivers. There are still fish to be had from Spring holdovers and Fall stockings and our anglers are reporting that the Saugatuck and Mianus are still fishing very well.

Naugatuck River

The Naugatuck is no exception this week to high flows, however it has dropped fairly quickly to high but fishable levels. Flows are currently high but dropping at 974 CFS, but the conditions are now ok to fish. Bringing some junk flies will catch trout in high water, and look to fish the same offerings that we are using on our local streams: Caddis, Blue Winged Olives, and Midges. With respect to other insects, having a range of sizes from 12-24 in nymphs/dries will have you covered, and egg patterns are still working. Overall, the fishing will be most productive with streamers and nymphs. Fishing drab colored Woolly Buggers and streamers 3-5” will be working for the more aggressive fish. The Naugatuck is a good alternative for areas with more crowds/pressure. When targeting the Salmon, your traditional Atlantic Flies and hairwing streamers will work: Grey Ghosts, Blue Charms and Mickey Finns. Don’t be afraid to throw some larger intruders and flashy streamers in Pink, Black, Blue, and Purple, especially after they’ve just finished stocking. Try swinging these streamers slowly as you first fish the pool, and if you don’t get any takes, switch to a faster retrieve/swing. The fish will let you know what they prefer. Atlantic Salmon fishing will be tough as most of the fish have moved downriver and spread out during these high water events.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01208500

Farmington River

We have high water conditions on the Farmington River this week, so be careful wading if you decide to fish. The West Branch in Riverton is currently 1250 CFS while the Still River is adding 260 CFS. Since the water is high, fishing will be the most effective subsurface (streamers and nymphing). Look for flow cuts at the dam in a couple days. Trout will now start to concentrate in the deeper pools, so it will pay off to fish slowly and methodically. Temperatures near the Riverton gauge are fluctuating in the high 30s with colder temperatures downriver of the Still.  The main hatches to look out for this time of year will be Winter Caddis in sizes 18-20 during the morning hours, and Midges in sizes 18-24 during the afternoons when flows return to average levels. Again, subsurface will be the most effective technique. For streamer fishing try using jigged streamers under a tight line system, weighted flies (cone head Woolly Buggers, Sculpin Helmets) under a floating line, or neutrally buoyant articulated streamers with a sinking line or sink tip. Trout will be looking for a large meal to stock up on calories and you’ll want to vary retrieve speed to gauge their activity level. Now is a good time for our Trout Spey anglers to break out theSkagit Heads andT Tips which will turn over larger intruders and streamers. Fishing a wet fly swung on aless aggressive sinking tip can pull additional fish during the afternoon when insects will be emerging. For nymphing, junk flies will catch the recently stocked Trout (Mops and Squirmies) in addition to Stoneflies in sizes 8-12. One technique is to use these larger flies as your point nymph paired with a smaller dropper nymph: Pheasant Tails in sizes 12-20, Caddis Larva 14-18, Perdigones 12-20, Hare’s Ears 14-18, and Zebra Midges in 18-24. These nymphs are all safe bets as they imitate most of a trout’s Winter diet, and nymphing will be the most productive method. Currently eggs will still be working (namely Cheese, Yellow, and Pink). Most of your smaller nymphs will be more productive this time of year, especially with these average flows. In terms of rigging, look to use 5x-6xFluorocarbon when nymphing. As water temperatures continue to become colder, strikes will be more subtle to detect. 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.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186500

Housatonic River

Flows are back up again on the Housatonic, currently reading 2220 CFS at Falls Village. Flows are too high for safe wading, so we would advise waiting until flows are under 1000 CFS. Once the river is more accessible, the hatches you may encounter are Midges in sizes 18-24, however the dry fly action will be slow this time of year. Streamer fishing and nymphing are going to be the most productive technique. Anglers that have been streamer fishing are swinging flies on a floating or sink tip line with either single handers or trout spey rods. If you are fishing articulated neutrally buoyant streamers (Mini Dungeons, Drunk and Disorderly, Circus Peanuts, etc), you will want to pair these with asinking line and a short 5’ leader tapered from20lb to 10lb. For our floating line Streamer Anglers, consider drab colored Conehead Woolly Buggers paired with a 9ft 2x leader. Now is also a good time for our Trout Spey anglers to consider throwing larger patterns during the afternoon in combination with swinging soft hackles in the mornings and evenings. During the mornings nymphing still remains the most effective method. For nymphing with an indicator (we’ve had great feedback on theOros Stike Indicators), a 9ft taperedfluorocarbon leader in 5x-6x is recommended. Nymphs to consider bringing include Caddis Larvae, Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ears, Waltz Worms, Perdigones, and Yellow/Golden Stoneflies in sizes 12-18. For smaller nymphs, Zebra Midges in 18-24 will fool fish all throughout Winter. While the spawning season is over, egg flies are continuing to produce, and consider more washed-out colors like Tan, Light Pink, and Cheese.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

New York

Salmon River

Slush is just starting to show up on the lower end of the river during the early mornings when air temperatures are in the teens. Air temperatures will be in the mid-30s during the day for this upcoming week. Flows are currently high, reading 1860 CFS at the Pineville Gauge. Flows are high due to runoff, but the river clarity has held up. All sections of the river will be holding Steelhead, and with the higher water there are still fresh fish pushing into the lower sections daily. While swinging flies will still attract the most aggressive fish, the most productive method in the cold weather will be nymphing. Low and slow is the name of the game, as fish will be less willing to expend energy, and often the strikes will be subtle. Focusing on the deeper and slower pools will be a good start as these sections are typical Steelhead Winter holding areas. However during high water events don’t overlook the faster water as Steelhead will feel more comfortable in travel lanes and will be moving upriver. Estaz Eggs, Glo Bugs, Squirmy Worms, Stoneflies, Steelhead Slammers, and Sucker Spawn will all take fish. Having a variety of colors and sizes, as well as switching flies often will help you determine what they are keying in on. The surrounding tributaries will also hold Brown Trout and Steelhead.Beads in different colors will also work well (such as Chartreuse and Mottled Tangerine), so switching up flies/colors and techniques will be the key to success. As a bonus, these flies will also work on Brown Trout. Having amicro barrel swivel incorporated into your leader will help avoid splitshot sliding down your leader, and will aid in quicker rerigging during breakoffs and snags. For our two handed anglers, Skagit has been the most productive method, and we like Rio’sSkagit Max Power head combined with either amono orcoated running line. Having a variety ofMOW Tips so you can fine tune the depth of your fly based on flows, depth, and current speed, to aid in your success. For tippet, we like usingMaxima Ultragreen in 10lb when swinging flies. Having a variety of colors to rotate between is the name of the game: Brown, Olive, Black, Blue, Purple, and Pink are all good considerations. Now that the weather is getting colder and into the low 30s, it will be beneficial to bring a goodlayering system as well as a pair of warmfingerless gloves.

USGS Water-data graph for site 04250200