Greetings Compleat Anglers! While we have another decent weekend and week coming up, the early season flurry seems to have cooled down. The fishing will certainly be good, however we are hearing that things are beginning to slow down in many of the rivers that were recently stocked. That could be due to angling pressure or to poaching but is probably a mixture of both. That said, the Farmington is fishing very well. It was the most recently stocked river and reports are great. While most of the fish being caught are stockies, there have been some nicer wild fish caught with the bump in water temp. The Salmon River up in New York blew out this past week and is too high. I would wait until that water comes back down. For the rest of the Northeast, you certainly need to pick your days but provided the weather is 40 degrees or warmer, the fishing should be good or even great. Read on for more…
Our little early season flurry has slowed a bit. The local streams have been hit pretty hard and we are hearing that some anglers are beginning to blank. That is most likely a cause of both angling pressure as well as poaching (especially on the Saug). It seems that spin anglers like to go in there at night and rip out all of the fish, which is a real shame. If you happen to drive by there at night and see worm-drowners poaching fish, please call the DEEP. The Mill seems to be holding up a bit better but has certainly become more challenging than the previous week. The best practice is to move around and try and find pockets of less pressured fish. There are still plenty of fish around though, so it is still worth a trip. The water is likely to be up quite a bit after the rain on Tuesday but should be on its way back down. I would not expect any major issues with wading as these smaller rivers tend to come down quickly. The Stoneflies have been coming off which is a very nice development. There is nothing like early season dry fly fishing. I saw some flying around/emerging two weeks ago and fish were already on them. So, if you want to get a few on dries, this week will almost certainly provide you the opportunity if you are on a river that gets them. We have a custom tied version of this fly at the shop that is deadly. So if you need some flies for that hatch, we have you covered. A word on fishing this weekend. Get there nice and early as being first to the spots will make a big difference on the quality of fishing. The crowds have been substantial and while everyone tends to play nice and give you space, most of the good water will be occupied by 11am. Please be respectful of other anglers and remember to not high or low hole anyone. There are plenty of fish around and plenty of water to fish. Another reminder that the fish will be pretty educated by Saturday so very small streamers, wet flies, or smaller nymphs will be the most productive. Many will go out there and throw flies that are too large. Start with size 10, 12, or 14 with your streamers. Size 14, 16, 18, and 20 for your nymphs or wets. Now with the stocked rivers covered, the other rivers across the state will be fishing very well too with the bump in temperature. Wild trout streams or others with holdovers will see some great conditions this weekend and into next week. However, these fish will still be very educated and spread out so deploy educated trout tactics. Zebra Midges, smaller soft hackles, and other assorted nymphs in a size 18 or below should get the job done. 6x tippet is mandatory for these smaller flies. 7x would not be a bad idea either depending on the size of the fly. Remember, sneaky set ups. You will also want to cover water. The fish have most certainly spread out so a more “traditional” approach to locating trout must be used. Remember that all TMAs are all catch and release until mid-April. Please report any poaching. When the state stocks, there tend to be a lot of poachers that come out of the woodwork, especially spin anglers, so please report any misconduct to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
A quick PSA: The state has removed the “closed season” for the foreseeable future. However, that has led to some confusion. I have heard and seen people saying that it would mean you can kill fish all year long. That is incorrect. What the elimination of the “closed season” means is that all rivers are open to angling all year round with catch and release seasons/regulations still in effect. Gear restrictions also still apply. Historically, rivers other than Trout Management Areas (TMAs) were closed to all angling during the late winter until opening day when all of these rivers would then be reopened to angling. That is no longer the case and all rivers are fishable all year long with catch-and-release only in TMAs until opening day. This has been done in an effort to allow more anglers more access throughout the year and to spread out angling pressure. For fly anglers, it essentially means that we can fish in Non-Trout Management Areas effective immediately. There are still kill regulations in effect on all non-TMA rivers and anglers cannot go out and keep fish indiscriminately. It is very likely that all rivers will be catch-and-release from March 1st until the second Saturday in April. We will know that on March 7th of this year. We urge our readers to educate themselves with all pertinent fishing regulations and pass along this information. While most of us fly anglers do not intentionally kill fish for food, many others do and it negatively impacts our fishing. By knowing the regulations and self-policing we can report those bad actors and keep our fisheries in better condition.
The Farmington has been fishing exceptionally well. The first of many stockings up toward the dam has kept rods bent and anglers reporting plenty of fish caught. Down further into the permanent catch-and-release area there have been some larger wild Browns caught during the upswing in temperature. The fish have been actively feeding by mid-day and it seems like everyone is getting into fish. The flow out of the dam is around 200 cfs. The Still is coming in at 320ish and falling making flows pretty high below the confluence. However, the rain we received this Thursday/Friday could push that back up. The stocking has occurred above that though. That means the stockie fishing should be darn good with perfectly wadable conditions above the Still. Water temps are just north of 38 degrees on the warmer days. Everything has lined up for pretty epic conditions. Nymphs will most likely be the best option. Smaller patterns that closely mimic natural forage are your best bets, however junk flies and attractor patterns should also produce as these fish will be actively searching for food. Streamers are a low percentage option at this point but with the warmer water we could see that bite turn on as well. I would err on the side of caution and use smaller patterns if you decide to strip meat. Fish will still be congregating around those deep holding lies but will certainly begin working up toward the heads of these pools to feed so make sure to target these areas. Walking pace water speed with a nice riffle up top and a deep hole below with froggy water is exactly what you are looking for. There should be some bugs coming off as well. Little Black Stones, Caddis, Midges and maybe a BWO or two should be flying around. I would not be surprised if fish were rising. So, bring those dries just in case. Beautiful weather, perfect flows, and great water temps all indicate that fishing should be nothing short of spectacular. Especially for February. Normally you don’t need to get up early to fish this time of the year but for Saturday, I certainly would. Get to your favorite spot and hold it. Good luck! Keep in mind: all TMAs are catch-and-Release only. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
No positive changes to the Housey. The river is running at around 3000 cfs and slowly plateauing. That is very high and far from ideal for the weekend/week we have coming up. I would recommend staying off the water for safety reasons. Most anglers will be avoiding this river due to flows. If you have a drift boat, that is a different story but do not wade this river at the moment. Remember that 1000 or below is widely regarded as the safe flow. Water temperatures will certainly bump up with the weather we have forecasted but with the Farmington fishing so well with decent flows, I would opt to use the Housey as a backup plan in the weeks to come. If you do decide to give it a shot once the water comes down, later in the day when the water is warmest will be the most productive. With the higher water, the drift boat anglers should have a good opportunity this weekend. Streamers or larger nymphs would not be a bad choice. Junk flies should produce and while any reasonable nymph has a shot of getting hit, larger patterns in the 8 to 12 size range should be best. Not much to report with Pike or Smallies. These fisheries are essentially shut down for the winter. While an abnormally warm day could see a good uptick in fish activity, I would focus on trout for the next few months. Keep in mind: all TMAs are catch-and-release only. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
The Salmon River
Yikes. The Salmon River has jacked up to over 2000 cfs. That is too high to wade most spots. I would say keep off the water until the water comes back down. It is a shame too as there had been some great flurries of fish activity over the past week as the temperatures had slowly risen. Anglers have been reporting really good spurts of activity with the warmer weather. That would suggest the bite should be good once the water comes back down provided the weather stays warm. Egg patterns will still work and are a must have up there. Purples, blues, pinks, chartreuses, oranges and peaches are the colors widely regarded as the go-tos. However, the fish have transitioned to other prey items. You will certainly want to have stoneflies in your box at this point. Worm style flies will work as well. Even smaller streamers will have their moments. Changing flies constantly will be the best way to get on some fish. Some of the fresher fish will eat a wide variety of flies, while fish that have been in the river a while will be far more selective. For that reason, keep a large selection of flies on you.
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