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March 17, 2023 9 min read
Hello Compleat Angler Friends! Rain and snowmelt have many of our local rivers high and stained, however most are dropping quickly and will clear up in time for this week. The good news for the upcoming week is that we should see an increase in air temperatures pushing into the low 50s which will help bring more bug activity to the surface. Some anglers are starting to fish lower on the Housatonic river for Stripers as they drop back into the sound, and the majority are reporting single digit numbers of fish. For trout fishing, the Housatonic is also high for wading, however the Farmington River is at a good flow, and there is an increase of Stonefly activity during the warmer afternoons. While nymphing and streamer fishing continue to be the most productive methods, especially in the morning, bringing dry fly setups should prove useful this week. In upstate New York, the Salmon river continues to see low flows, however we are approaching drop back Steelhead season, so fish will start to move lower into the system once flows increase. In the meantime, upriver continues to be most productive. 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 from rain and snow melt have brought water levels up to 388cfs on the Saugatuck, though it is slowly dropping. Average air temperatures will improve this upcoming week, and should be in the mid 40’s to low 50’s, with some mornings starting off colder. The state has stocked most of our local rivers, as well as the Farmington. In addition, lakes and ponds were 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 double digits! 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) once water levels drop to average. 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 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 sections of slow pools and the tailouts of runs. Trout fishing is also good in the Naugatuck from a recent stocking and is a good alternative for areas with more crowds/pressure. Flows are up, reading 1210cfs at Beacon Falls, but are steadily dropping. With warmer days ahead, this will increase water temperatures, and as a result Trout/Salmon metabolisms. Fishing junk flies in combination with smaller more imitative options subsurface should yield some fish. There are a lot of techniques and flies that will work this time of year 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 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 a possibility Sunday, but the rest of next week will be mild and reach into the mid 40s. If you are focused on dry fly fishing, pick your warmest afternoons this week. The West Branch Riverton gauge is at 181cfs from dam release with the Still adding 212cfs from rain and snow, 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 larger fish, while some are racking up numbers from stockies. 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. This also means that presentation is key, along with longer leaders and stepping down tippet size to 6x, while also being mindful to get a drag-free drift. 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. During 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 midges, olive hare’s ears, 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 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), this will get your rig down to the trout’s depth as 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 often 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 up and holding at 1670cfs on the Housatonic at Falls Village. That kind of high water will make for difficult wading but will open the river for drift boats (if wading, I recommend waiting for safer flows). 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 warmer afternoons, which is when you can expect the hatches. For nymphs, having different sizes of Pheasant tails and Prince Nymphs (#12-18) will imitate Stoneflies well. Focusing on TMA’s and areas by the park, especially if you’re looking for rising trout, should result in some fish during warmer afternoons. Other considerations would be Blue Winged Olives, Midges, and Winter Caddis, and 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. Presentation is key, so using longer leaders, stepping down to 6x tippet, and getting a drag free drift are key to 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 look for rising fish in the afternoon and into the evening. For streamers fishing, having a sinking line or sink tip is helpful. Focus your efforts on the deeper pools as trout are still pushed into those 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 milder weather this week (reaching into the low 40s) so focusing on the warmest afternoons should result in some surface activity.
The Housatonic River is continuing to produce holdover Stripers and these fish are getting ready to drop back into Long Island Sound. While the majority of fish have not yet started their migration, anglers that are fishing towards the mouth are being rewarded with a couple of fish on warmer days. The most productive technique this time of year will be fishing different colored Clousers paired with an intermediate sinking line (1.2-2ips sink rate). Switching up your retrieve speed and pausing between strips should result in fish once you find the pace the fish prefer. Bringing some unweighted patterns, such as Deceivers and Sand Eel imitations will be helpful if snagging the bottom is common with your weighted fly. For this fishery we prefer 20-30lb fluorocarbon leaders around 7’ in length. Having a shorter leader will help sink your fly when fishing an intermediate line, because it will reduce leader hinge, especially with unweighted flies. This rig will also be easier to cast in windier conditions. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Flows are down to 453cfs at the Pineville Gauge suggesting holding conditions for Steelhead. A good gameplan would be to target deeper pools and larger runs. Anglers on the Great Lakes should expect milder conditions this upcoming week, with air temperatures reaching into the low 40s, with morning temperatures in the mid-20s. 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 most anglers have been able to get a couple of Steelhead brought to hand each day. Most of the action is occurring upriver. We can anticipate Steelhead starting to drop back downriver after their spawn, which will trigger some more aggression. An increase in flows should help start the dropback season, as the fish will be looking to replenish calories 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, that 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, as 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 such as 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!
Overall, river conditions are good if you’re planning a wade trip to the Catskills. On the Delaware, the mainstem at Lordville is reading 1950cfs, the East Branch at Fish’s Eddy is 844cfs, while the West Branch at Hale Eddy is flowing at 744cfs. Cold weather and snowy conditions will make the Delaware a subsurface game, so nymphing and streamers will be most productive. Warmer temperatures will bring the Early Black Stoneflies and Blue Winged Olives to the surface, however it is currently a bit early to think of dry fly fishing. Therefore, having a variety of stonefly nymphs, zebra midges, and mayfly nymphs in size 14-24 will be a majority of the menu.
While things are relatively quiet around the Rhode Island Coast, the most noticeable change is an increase in holdover Striper action. Fishing the tidal estuaries and salt ponds will still be the most productive option, and smaller baitfish imitations until the Herring run arrives. Using clousers, and flies that imitate Alewives are considerations when heading out there.
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