February 09, 2024 7 min read

Hello Compleat Angler friends! This week the most significant improvement has been right in our backyard, as flows have gradually tapered off to near average levels. This means good clarity, easy wading, and an increased possibility that fish may be looking up at Midges or small Black Stoneflies. Air temperatures for this upcoming week will start in the high 40s then dip into the high 30s for the latter part of the week. The overall trend is that nymphing continues to be the most effective method. Streamer fishing is also a viable option during the afternoons when water temperatures reach their peak. The Farmington is back down to average levels thanks to flow cuts at the dam, while the Housatonic is still high. The Naugatuck was also stocked with another round of Atlantic Salmon which is a nice surprise. Steelhead fishing continues to be consistent on the Salmon River in upstate NY as a good number of fish have been pushing through the system. While there are more fresh fish moving in, the highest concentration of Steelhead is towards the upper part of the river. Read on for more…


Local Rivers

This past week flows have gradually settled to below average on our local rivers, for instance the Saugatuck is flowing at 167 CFS. The water clarity is good and wading will be easy. Now that flows are lower, look for fish podding up more in the deeper and slower pools, which is typical of their winter holding lies. Having an assortment of smaller nymphs in sizes 18-24 will now fool fish in addition to the larger and gaudier nymphs that work well on higher flows. Considerations should be: Pheasant Tail, Caddis Larvae, natural colored Perdigones, Hare’s Ears, Zebra Midges, etc in sizes 14-24. Strikes will be more subtle this time of year so pay extra attention to your indicator/sighter. You may encounter some Midges and Stoneflies, however hatches and surface activity will be diminished this time of year. Your most effective methods will be subsurface, nymphing and streamer fishing. Some streamer patterns to consider are 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 especially when targeting the opposite bank and needing to sink the fly quickly into the strike zone.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. 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 the Saugatuck and Mianus are still fishing very well.

Naugatuck River

The Naugatuck is also back down to average flows, reading 629 CFS at Beacon Falls. Look to fish similar offerings 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, fishing will be most productive with streamers and nymphs. Fishing drab colored Woolly Buggers and streamers 3-5” will work for the more aggressive fish. The Naugatuck is a good alternative for areas with more crowds/pressure. When targeting 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. Salmon were last stocked in the Naugatuck on the 5th of this month, which is fairly late compared to previous seasons.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01208500

Farmington River

Significant flows cuts on the 2nd of this month has conditions back near average, reading 315 CFS on the West while the Still River is currently slightly above average at 182 CFS. Therefore, conditions are back to ideal clarity and flows for wading. 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 temperatures are at their peak. 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. 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 (Mops and Squirmies) will still work on some fish 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 more natural looking 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

We have another week of higher-than-average flows on the Housatonic, which is currently reading 1460 CFS at Falls Village. Flows are still too high for comfortable wading, so we would advise waiting until flows are under 1000 CFS. Once the river is more accessible, the hatches you may encounter include 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 low 30s during the day for this upcoming week. Flows are still above average, reading 1010 CFS at the Pineville Gauge. All sections of the river will be holding Steelhead, and with the higher water there are still some fresh fish pushing into the lower sections, with a few nice Brown Trout in the mix. Most of the concentration, however, is towards the upper sections of the river from Altmar to Pineville. 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 may 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. It will be worth bringing some smaller trout sized Stonefly patterns. 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, as well as 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 is helpful for fine tuning the depth of your fly based on flows and current speed. 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 cold, it will be beneficial to bring a goodlayering system as well as a pair of warmfingerless gloves.

USGS Water-data graph for site 04250200