Greetings Compleat Anglers! The action is heating up here in the Northeast and it's been an interesting transition. As the fishing has improved, the crowds have also emerged, and certain areas are surprisingly crowded already. A few recently stocked rivers have been hammered pretty hard, so anglers would be wise to plan a little strategically and be prepared to move around a bit even this early in the season. More fish are on the way for certain rivers, however, so stay tuned. Read on for details!
While most of the rivers across New York are closed to fishing until April 1st, the rivers that are open are fishing quite well. Warmer temperatures have made for great early season fishing. Some really nice browns are being caught on undisclosed rivers throughout the state. Parts of the Beaverkill are open to fishing and we are hearing good things. While it is not prime time just yet, and it is certainly a bit colder up there, the fishing has been pretty good. Nymphing under indicators has been taking some really nice fish recently. That seems to be the most productive method. While streamers and even dries will work at times, a nymph under an indicator is tough to beat this time of year. Mayfly nymphs such as Hendricksons are a good starting point. Midges will work as well. We still have a few weeks before the fishing opens statewide but now is a great time to get ready. Being prepared and first to some of these rivers will make all the difference especially if you are targeting larger, wild fish.
The drop backs are imminent. Anglers are stocking up on stoneflies and it is only a matter of time before it pops off. The lower sections of the rivers have slowed quite a bit. Most of the fish are in the rivers now and getting ready to spawn so pre-spawn behavior is to be expected. Targeting areas where these fish will aggregate is the key. They will continue to work upstream in search of ideal spawning habitat. And while we never condone targeting spawning fish, the holding water well downstream of spawning areas are great places to focus your attention. While it could be a bit of a grind, the fishing should be pretty good compared to the last few weeks. The higher sections of any of these rivers will have the highest concentrations of Steelhead and should fish a bit better. Keep an eye on the weather as well. Any rain in the coming weeks that leads to a bump in CFS will drive the last of the fish into these rivers giving you the opportunity to target unpressured fish. While fishing in the Northeast is on the upswing, fewer anglers will make the trek up to the Great Lakes. The crowds should be at a minimum and if you find some good holding water you should be able to tie into some late season Steelhead.
The fishing throughout Connecticut has been great. Similar to last week, multiple stockings are leading to plenty of happy fly anglers. There has, however, been a ton of competition on the water and a lot of bait anglers are killing fish so we are hearing that a few rivers are already fished out. Sad. Your best bet will be to fish one of the recently stocked streams during the week. Be sure to get to the water early and be willing to bounce from river to river if it is a bust. It is a weird year so far. With the early open kill season, a lot of new anglers on the water, and the perfect conditions we have at the moment, it is getting harder to find less pressured areas to fish. Anglers who are doing well are moving around and have a good selection of flies. It is not all doom and gloom however. Anglers who have been getting out early on the weekdays are doing very well and with far less competition.
The Saugatuck, Yantic, Rippowam, Salmon, Norwalk, Aspetuck, Eight Mile, and Fenton have been stocked this week. On these rivers, smaller streamers will take plenty of fish. Really, a wide variety of flies will work making this a great time for new anglers to get some positive feedback from uneducated fish. The fish will be fairly educated at this point so smaller nymphs will be the best option. For the other rivers that have been hammered over the last week and a half, nymphs drifted under an indicator are tough to beat right now. Adding midges may be a wise decision until another stocking occurs. Small streamers will work as well but tend to take fewer and fewer fish as the fish get caught multiple times. I would recommend trying a size 6, 8, or 10 Woolly Bugger first thing and if 20 or so casts does not yield a fish, change to nymphs. These fish will learn quickly so have a good selection of nymphs with you. Often throwing a unique pattern, something the fish have not seen before, is all it will take to induce a strike. Make no mistake, this is not “match the hatch” type stuff. A somewhat random, albeit educated choosing of your flies will do just fine. Really the size will be key. If you are not getting bit, switch to a smaller fly, as that is often all it takes. The Stonefly hatch is in full swing. They are still on the smaller side, around a size 16 or 18, but if you have the right fly, the dry fly fishing should be great! I would recommend having stonefly dries in your box from now on. With the weather we have on the way expect good crowds. The best practice is to get there early and avoid the weekends if possible.
As always, if you do see any poaching or spin fishing in Fly Fishing Only areas please call 800-842-4357 and report it to the CTDEEP. It is a quick and easy call that can go a long way in keeping our fishing good until opening day. Remember that all Trout Management Areas are still catch and release only.
Nothing new to report on the Farmington. Multiple stockings, warming water temperatures and mild weather have kicked things off well. Crowds are increasing by the day, a sure sign that the fishing is improving. Most anglers are beating up on the stockies for instant action. To locate these freshly stoked holes, move fast and cover water with a small streamer if you are not familiar with where the typical stocking locations are. Once you nail down a productive area, switch to nymphs if the bite dies down. Indicator nymphing will yield plenty of fish once you have located a freshly stocked area. When choosing flies for stockies, have fun. Mops, worms, and all manner of flashy nymphs will take plenty of fish. There is no matching the hatch. They will try anything that is reasonable and even some flies that aren’t. While catching 20+ stocked fish in a day is fun, do not discount the larger wild fish that the Farmington is known for. With water temperatures on the rise (in the high 30s), it is safe to assume these fish will be feeding actively. We are rapidly approaching Spring and as the water warms, these fish will begin to transition into feeding locations. The faster sections above deeper holding water are what you are looking for. While it may be a bit early and the fish are still exhibiting wintering behavior, it will not be long before these fish begin to spread out and hold in feeding lanes. The water levels are good, around 400CFS combined making conditions IDEAL for late winter fly fishing. While smaller midge nymphs tend to be the hot flies during cold months for the wild fish, don’t discount ridiculous stuff like mops or larger patterns like stones or caddis nymphs. Even mops flies and wormies will have their moments with wild fish late in the Winter season. With the weather we have, popular holes like Greenwoods, Legends, Church, Halfords or the Boneyard more than likely be overrun with anglers. These are big fish holes and everyone knows it. So, If this is where you want to fish it may be best to get there super early or consider fishing elsewhere. With the increasing water temps, the fish may also push up into some faster water to feed as well. Now, they will not be in the shallow, faster stuff as in the summer, but they will encroach into the faster stuff just upstream of the slow holding water. Targeting these areas will yield results. We will also see the bite windows widen. While a month ago the fish fed almost exclusively during mid-day, we should see late morning and early afternoon produce fish as well. Another reason to get there early.
Keep in mind: Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Conditions on the Housatonic have been improving. The water is at 1600CFS after last nights rain. With the water temps on the Farmington in the high thirties, it is safe to assume that the Housey is a bit warmer. I would expect water temps in the low to mid forties. The fish are becoming more active by the day. Reports are good from the fly anglers we have talked to. Some nice fish have been brought to hand on streamers and nymphs. Anglers are having to work for fish but seasoned anglers are doing quite well. All of next week looks awesome weather-wise. Temperatures in the 40s and 50s bode well. A huge benefit to this river is that there will be far fewer anglers on the Housey than the Farmington, so if you are looking to avoid the crowds this is the far better option. The Housey has not received any fish yet but we are expecting that any day now. The same tactics for the Farmy will hold true. Smaller, sub-surface flies will likely be the most productive. That said, with warming temps and fish being more aggressive, trying larger patterns such as mops or stones may pay off. The rising water temperatures should have the fish creeping into feeding lanes, as they move from slower and deeper holding water to actively feed. While the fastest riffles will be devoid of fish, moderately paced water should be holding fish during the warmest parts of the day. Move around to locate fish with a searching pattern. Smaller streamers or reasonable nymphs are good options. Once pockets of fish are located, then re-rig with a more precise set up. This coming week looks great for fishing and the Housatonic is no exception. You could have some spectacular fishing with fewer anglers to hamper your efforts. Another new development is steadily improving Pike fly fishing. These fish are in the process of spawning but should be post-spawn quite soon. As the water continues to warm, expect the fishing to improve dramatically. Covering water with large flies is the name of the game and while right now may be a bit on the slower side, the fishing should get hot in the coming weeks.