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March 10, 2023 8 min read
Hello Compleat Angler friends! The most significant change for this upcoming week is the drop in temperatures. Our Spring start has been slowed a little bit, and we are hoping for more consistent temperatures moving forward. That will especially help get things started in the Catskills. Nonetheless, the fishing has been consistently good, and a lot of anglers are enjoying some early state stocking for this Spring. On our local rivers the morning has still produced our best nymph and streamer fishing. Most of the hatches have been Black Stoneflies, which can be predicted during the warmer afternoons. The combination of holdover and stocked fish has a few anglers catching double digit numbers on some days. In the saltwater, there has been an increase in Striper activit, and some anglers are starting to fish lower on the Housatonic in anticipation of Stripers dropping back into the Sound. Upstate New York still has Winter temperatures, but our anglers who have been fishing upriver are getting into fish, which is where they’re most concentrated at the moment. Read on for more…
Stoneflies, Midges, and Blue Winged Olives are the most prevalent, and the bug activity will be at its peak during warmer afternoons. Bringing a variety of these dries and emergers in smaller sizes should cover your bases. During the mornings fish will be rising on small emergers, but most of the action remains subsurface on nymphs and streamers. During the mornings your drift is crucial, so make sure your rig is getting down close to the bottom. Flows are 79.8cfs at the Saugatuck, and slowly dropping. Average air temperatures will be colder for this upcoming week: mid 30s to low 40s, with some mornings starting off colder. The state has started stocking on some of our local rivers, as well as the Farmington. In addition, lakes and ponds were recently stocked again, so that is a viable option with the lack of ice. A lot of our anglers have reported good fishing, and on some days are catching into the double digits! Because a lot of the fish are recently stocked, they will be grouped together in many of the primary pools before they spread out. Areas to focus on include the Aspetuck, Mianus, Saugatuck, and Mill River TMAs. Stonefly season has started, and it’s not uncommon to see them hatching by the hundreds on warm afternoons, sometimes in larger sizes (#12). Having the correct size is key, as well as presentation. Try dead drifting the adult forms, and if your offer is being refused, skating the fly across the surface could result in additional fish. For nymphs a variety of sizes and patterns are working from junk flies to size 28 Zebra Midges. Olive and Black Woolly Buggers have been the streamers of choice.
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 the cold mornings. Try a variety of gaudy and drab colored streamers, as well as traditional Atlantic Salmon flies. Areas to focus on include the deepest section of slow pools and the tailouts of runs. Trout fishing is also good in the Naugatuck thanks to recent stockings and is a good alternative for areas with more crowds/pressure. Flows are below average, reading 476cfs at Beacon Falls, low and clear. With warmer days ahead, this will increase water temperatures, and as a result Trout/Salmon metabolisms. Fishing junk flies in combination with a smaller more imitative selection subsurface will yield some fish. There are a lot of techniques and flies that will work from streamers to nymphs.
The state has stocked trout in the following sections: Lower Collinsville to RT177, RT219 to Lower Collinsville, and Hogsback to the West Branch TMA. Attractor nymphs and streamers should work well until the fish become more educated. The prevalent hatches this time of year are Blue Winged Olives, Winter Caddis and occasional Midges. Small Black Stoneflies have also been prevalent, so bringing some dries as well as nymphs (pheasant tails, prince nymphs) is a must. With colder average night/daytime temperatures, most of the action will occur in the afternoon. Current water temperatures are 36F in Riverton, suggesting temperatures into the low 40s downriver. Snow showers are expected Friday morning and Tuesday. If focused on dry fly fishing, pick your warmest afternoons this week. The West Branch Riverton gauge is at 157cfs from dam release with the Still adding 128cfs from rain, overall flows are slightly below average with good water clarity. In terms of the fishing, anglers that have been successful have been really working for those larger fish, while some are racking up numbers from stocked fish. For dry fly anglers, trout are continuing to rise, and most hatches are occurring in the late morning and into the afternoon. Look to fish Winter Caddis and Midges as the most prevalent hatches, and fish should be starting to look up at Stoneflies. 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 for targeting holdover fish. Church pool can be a consistent option this time of year if you are hunting for rising fish. Small nymphs will also continue to produce. Methodically covering likely holding water will be the key to success with cold water temperatures. For 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. Bringing some junk flies such as Squirmies and Mop Flies will result in some Stockie action. Black stonefly nymphs will also fish well and are more active now suggesting hatches on the warmer days in sizes 18-24. Try a larger fly (mop, stonefly in 6-12) for your dropper followed by a smaller offering (size 18-24) as this will get your rig down to the trout’s depth since they are more lethargic during the morning and on colder days. 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 trout are still in their winter lies. 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 are currently 1130cfs on the Housatonic at Falls Village. Below average flows and improved conditions for wading. Bring a variety of small nymphs: Caddis larvae and Pupae, Stoneflies, Zebra Midges, etc. Recently, the Stoneflies have started hatching in full force. Bringing a variety of Black Stonefly patterns in sizes 12-20 will have you covered for the warmer afternoons, which is when you can expect hatches. For nymphs, having different sizes of Pheasant tails and Prince Nymphs (#12-18) will imitate Stoneflies well. Focusing on areas by the park and TMAs, especially if you’re looking for rising trout, should result in some fish during the warmer afternoons. Other considerations will be Blue Winged Olives, Midges, and Winter Caddis, so I would bring a variety of sizes in the adults and emergers, as trout have been sipping on emerging BWOs frequently. 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. Focusing on nymphing and streamer fishing during the colder mornings is a good strategy and then looking for rising fish in the afternoon and into the evening. For streamer fishing, having a sinking line or sink tip is the key to success. Focus your efforts on the deeper pools as trout are still pushed into the slower and deeper winter lies during the colder days and mornings. No stockings have happened on the Housatonic yet, however there are plenty of holdover fish from the last stocking during fall. We will experience some colder mornings this week (high 20s to mid-30s) so nymphing will be the most productive during these times. There is no Spring stocking yet on the Housatonic, so now is a good time to target holdover fish from the Fall.
The Housatonic River is continuing to produce holdover Stripers. These fish are staging and moving upriver to winter over, so further upriver 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. Bringing a couple larger patterns should prove useful, as Herring will be the larger option for these fish. Coves and entrances into salt ponds are also producing fish. Fishing low and slow is the name of the game, and fish 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 has been an increase in Striper activity this past week. This suggests that the lower river will fish soon. 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. Striper activity will be at its peak during the warmest days. Other areas to target holdover Stripers includes the Connecticut River and Thames River around Norwich. Water temperatures in the Long Island Sound have been warmer than average for this winter, so we are expecting an early Striper season as holdover fish drop back into the sound. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Flows are down to 459cfs at the Pineville Gauge suggesting holding conditions for Steelhead. A good gameplan would be to target the deeper pools and larger runs. Anglers on the Great Lakes should expect snow Monday through Tuesday. Air temperatures are expected to be from the mid to high 30s, with colder temperatures in the 20s during the morning. Now is a good time to fish the tributaries and confluences, as Brown Trout and Steelhead will have pushed into all of them. Steelhead are spread throughout the river and in good numbers this season. Every day has been different, but the overall trend is a couple Steelhead have been brought to hand each day (single digits numbers per angler). Most of the action is occurring upriver. We can anticipate Steelhead starting to dop back downriver after their spawn, which will trigger some more aggression. They will be looking to replenish calories that they lost while spawning. Anglers fishing the lower river are catching single digit numbers each day and are really working for their fish. When fishing upriver focus on winter holding lies, the slower deeper water. For these fish, focus on 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, these are good flies to have in your box during Spring. Being adaptable and switching up techniques/flies often results in the most success. Generally, when fishing egg flies in clear low water it helps to bring some smaller flies in more natural dead colors, such as Cheese. For our Spey anglers a variety of colors: black, purple, blue, Brown, Olive, and Pink work well. More aggressive sink tips paired with a Skagit Shooting Head can help this time of year (water temperatures are in the mid-30s). This will give you the option of getting your fly deeper and at a slower swing. 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!
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