March 15, 2024 7 min read

Hello Compleat Angler Friends! The biggest improvement this week is that flows have dropped to fishable levels on our local rivers and streams. Since they are still a bit high, consider streamer and nymph fishing until trout start keying in on Small Black Stoneflies during more average flows. In addition, a few more areas were stocked this week and in terms of fly selection these fish will be very forgiving. The Housatonic and Farmington are currently high, so consider waiting until the flows drop. On the Salmon River in upstate NY, Steelhead are in transition to drop back to the lake and are spread out throughout the river. They will be more aggressive after the spawn so consider swinging streamers. In the Catskills, anglers are seeing Small Black Stoneflies and Blue Winged Olives with more frequency. Consider fishing subsurface until flows drop and fish start to key in on these bugs. Local temperatures will reach the high 40s this week, so look for more bug activity on our local rivers and streams. Read on for more…


Local Rivers

Flows have dropped back down to clear and fishable levels. And since trout have been recently stocked, anglers are catching fish on a variety of patterns. The streamer and nymph fishing has been excellent, and while there are a ton of Small Black Stoneflies hatching, the fish aren’t keyed in on them yet as the water is still a bit high. For instance, the Saugatuck is currently 390 CFS. Look for trout keying in on naturals a few weeks after they acclimate and when flows are lower. Look to bring Small Black Stoneflies in sizes 16-18. Fish are rising with more frequency even in areas that haven’t been hit by the stocking truck yet. Other considerations are Winter Caddis in similar sizes and Midges in sizes 18-14. In areas that were stocked consider bringing some Squirmy Worms, Mop Flies, as well as your standard assortment of nymphs in sizes 12-18: Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Caddis Larvae and Perdigones. For smaller flies, mix in some size 18-24 Zebra Midges. Stocked fish will aggressively chase streamers from Wooly Bugger in 4-10 to larger articulated flies. Both can be paired with a floating line or sinking/sink tip option.When nymphing and dry fly fishing in our smaller rivers 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. Where you catch one fish you will catch more as stocked trout tend to pod up before moving into different water types. Areas to consider are the Saugatuck, Hammonasset River, Mill River in Hamden, the Mill River in Fairfield, and the Aspetuck River. Holdover fishing has been good in the Mianus River, but they have yet to stock the TMAs.

Naugatuck River

Atlantic Salmon fishing has proven tough due to the fluctuation in flows since they’ve been stocked, as they will travel downriver during high water events. Flows have been steadily improving but are still high reading 1040 CFS. Since trout have not been stocked yet for Spring, any fish you catch will be a holdover. In addition, subsurface will be the most effective, and use similar patterns and sizes in our local rivers report once flows improve. As the water continues to drop, larger Stoneflies, Mops, and Squirmies will stand out in dirty and high water. Once flows approach normal for hatches, look to fish Caddis, small Black Stoneflies, and Midges. With respect to other insects, having a range of sizes from 12-24 in nymphs/dries will have you covered. 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.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01208500

Farmington River

The most recent news on the Farmington River is that the state has stocked the West Branch in Riverton up to the dam, as well as Route 219 to Lower Collinsville. For recently stocked trout a wider variety of flies will be working, from smaller nymphs to larger gaudy flies (Mops, Squirmies, Streamers). Holdover trout will be more keyed in on the natural hatches, Midges in sizes 20-24, Winter Caddis in sizes 18-20, Small Black Stoneflies in sizes 18-20, and Blue Winged Olives in sizes 18-20. Due to dam release, the West Branch is currently high reading 1510 CFS in Riverton while the Still has dropped back down to 266 CFS. Anglers that have been fishing the high water are doing well with subsurface patterns, while hatches will be diminished. Water temperatures have been fluctuating in the high 30s to low 40s, so trout will start to spread out in a variety of water types as the temperatures get warmer. For nymphing, you will want to bring 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. In terms of rigging, look to use 5x-6xFluorocarbon when nymphing. For Streamer fishing you’ll want to bring some Wooly Buggers and jig style streamers in sizes 8-10 in a variety of colors: Olive, Black, White, and Brown. Fishing articulated flies on a sinking/sink tip line can be another useful tool to include in your arsenal. Weighted Sculpin patterns are another consideration and can be fished on a floating line. 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 for the high water. Fishing a wet fly swung on aless aggressive sinking tip can pull additional fish during the afternoon when insects will be emerging. Strikes will still be subtle as average water temperatures are still cold. 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

The Housatonic River is still too high and stained to fish this week. Currently flows are reading 2820 CFS at Falls Village. We recommend waiting until flows drop below 1000 CFS; flows are currently dangerous and unproductive for fishing. When flows return to normal, you may encounter some Midges in sizes 18-24, Small Black Stoneflies in sizes 14-18, and Blue Winged Olives in sizes 18-20, however the dry fly action will be slow this time of year until water temperatures warm. Streamer fishing and nymphing are going to be the most productive techniques. 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. Trout Spey is a good way to cover and search water, especially in the wider stretches. 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 Pheasant Tails, 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.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

New York

Salmon River

Flow cuts throughout this week are resulting in conditions that are still high, but there is improvement. Currently the Pineville gauge is reading 1030 CFS, and anglers are finding Steelhead in a variety of water types and spread throughout the system. Dropback fish are being caught with more frequency which marks the transition for many Steelhead returning to the lake. These fish will be more aggressive as they look for meals to increase their weight after spawning. As a result, many different techniques will be working, whether you are swinging flies with sinking tips or nymphing. For nymphs consider Stoneflies in sizes 6-12, as well as Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, and Squirmy Worms. A variety of egg patterns will be working from Estaz Eggs, Glo Bugs, and Sucker Spawn to 6-10mm beads. Switching flies, sizes, and techniques will help you identify what the Steelhead are keying in on during that day. Anglers from Altmar to Pineville will still be seeing the largest concentration of fish, however anglers fishing lower in the system are still bringing a fish or two to hand. When Nymphing, 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 so you can fine tune the depth of your fly based on flows 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.

USGS Water-data graph for site 04250200

The Catskills

Flows have been gradually dropping on the Delaware River throughout the week but are still high for wading. The mainstem is currently flowing 6670 CFS at Lordville, and temperatures have been fluctuating in the low 40s which is a slight improvement. The West Branch is 2860 CFS at Hale Eddy while the East is 3150 CFS at Fish’s Eddy. Anglers are starting to see more Small Black Stoneflies in sizes 16-18, as well as Blue Winged Olives in sizes 18-20. Other considerations are midges in sizes 20-24, overall dry fly fishing will improve once flows approach more average levels. Most anglers are fishing streamers during the high water and are bringing a few fish to hand so bring some articulated streamers paired with a sinking line while flows are dropping. Some colors to consider are White, Yellow, Chartreuse, Black, Olive, and Brown. For nymphing, consider Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Caddis Larvae, Perdigones, Waltz Worms, etc... In sizes #14-#20. During the warmer afternoons you may have luck swinging soft hackles.