March 18, 2022 7 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers! States continue to stock rivers across the Northeast and the fishing has been hit or miss depending on the day. The weather keeps yo-yoing so you will need to pick your days strategically. The Farmington is still fishing very well. It was one of the most recently stocked rivers and the reports we’ve been getting are great. While most of the fish being caught there are stockies, there have been some nicer wild fish caught with the bump in water temp. The Salmon River up in New York went back up to over 1000 cfs so I would wait until that water comes back down a bit. For the rest of the Northeast, you certainly need to pick your days but provided the weather is 40 degrees or warmer, the fly fishing should be good or perhaps even great. Read on for more!
We are officially deep into stockie season. The State has stocked over 61 rivers/streams and another 70 lakes/ponds, most of which have been stocked in the last two weeks. We are seeing 5 or more streams stocked per day so expect the last of the rivers to get hit soon. Once that is done we should see second rounds soon after. The fly fishing in smaller local streams is as good as it will get all year. I cannot stress that enough. If you are new to fly fishing or want to put up some good numbers, now is the time to start fly fishing. There is no shortage of options in terms of rivers to fish. Another benefit to this time of year is that the fish are very willing to hit a wide variety of flies. Mops, worms, PTs, Hares Ears, streamers, soft hackles, and other assorted larger nymphs will work great for these fish. The next month should see the best fishing we will have and, as such, it is wise to focus your attention on these rivers and then move on once opening day occurs and the rivers are fished out. With the recent rain we have gotten, the flows should be very good. The warmer weather is another positive trend as it will warm up that water into the 50s, which provides ideal conditions for trout to feed. For you dry fly anglers, the Stoneflies have been coming off on warmer days. They should be coming off on a regular basis at this point making for some awesome dry fly fishing. There is just nothing like early season dry fly fishing. So, if you want to get a few on dries, this week will certainly provide you the opportunity if you are on a river that gets them. As I’ve noted recently, we have a custom tied version of this fly at the shop that is deadly so if you need some flies for that hatch we have you covered. A word on fishing this weekend. Get there nice and early. Being first to the spots will make a big difference on the quality of fishing. The crowds have been substantial and while everyone tends to play nice and give you space, most of the good water will be occupied by 11am. Please be respectful of other anglers. Remember to not high or low hole anyone. There are plenty of fish around and plenty of water to fish. Remember that all TMAs are all catch and release until mid-April. Please report any poaching. When the states stocks, there tend to be a lot of poachers that come out of the woodwork. Especially spin anglers. As such, please report any misconduct to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
A quick PSA: The state has removed the “closed season” for the foreseeable future. However, that has led to some confusion. I have heard and seen people saying that it would mean you can kill fish all year long. That is incorrect. What the elimination of the “closed season” has implemented is the opening of all rivers to angling all year round with catch and release seasons/regulations still in effect. Gear restrictions also still apply. Historically, rivers other than Trout Management Areas (TMAs) were closed to all angling during the late winter until opening day when all of these rivers would then be reopened to angling. That is no longer the case and all rivers are fishable all year long with catch and release only in TMAs until opening day. This has been done in an effort to allow more anglers more access throughout the year and to spread out angling pressure. For fly anglers, it essentially means the we can fish in Non-Trout Management Areas effective immediately. There are still kill regulations in effect on all non-TMA rivers and anglers cannot go out and keep fish indiscriminately. It is very likely that all rivers will be catch and release from March 1st until the second Saturday in April. We will know that around March 17th of this year. We urge our readers to educate themselves with all pertinent fishing regulations and pass along this information. While most of us fly anglers do not kill fish, many others do and it negatively impacts our fishing. By knowing the regulations and self-policing we can report those bad actors and maybe keep our fisheries in better condition.
The Farmington is fishing quite well. The fourth round of stockings occurred this week which will mean the fishing should be lights-out. Down further into the permanent Catch and Release area, there have been some larger wild Browns caught during the upswing in temperature. The fish have been actively feeding by mid-day and it seems like everyone is getting into fish. The flow out of the dam is around 230 cfs. The Still is coming at 260ish. However, that number will certainly go up with the rain we have predicted for Saturday. Water temps are fluctuating depending on the air temperatures but after Sunday expect them to be just North of 40 degrees. Nymphs will most likely be the best option. Smaller patterns that closely mimic natural forage are the best bets, however junk flies and attractor patterns should produce as well since these fish will be actively searching for food. That is doubly true for the stockies that will try anything once. Streamers are a low percentage option at this point but with the warmer water we could see that bite turn on as well. I would err on the side of caution and use smaller patterns if you decide to strip meat. Fish will still be congregating around those deep holding lies but will certainly begin working up toward the heads of these pools to feed. So, target these areas. Walking pace water speed with a nice riffle up top and a deep hole below with froggy water is exactly what you are looking for. There should be some bugs coming off as well. Little Black Stones, Caddis, Midges and maybe a BWO or two should be flying around. I would not be surprised if fish are rising so bring those dries just in case. Beautiful weather, perfect flows, and great water temps all indicate that fishing should be nothing short of spectacular. Normally you don’t need to get up early to fish this time of the year but for Saturday, I certainly would. Get to your favorite spot and hold it. Good luck! Keep in mind: all TMAs are Catch and Release only. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
No positive changes to the Housey. The river is running at around 2000cfs and slowly coming down. I would recommend staying off the water for safety reasons. Most anglers will be avoiding this river due to flows. If you have a drift boat, that is a different story but do not wade this river at the moment. Remember that 1000 or below is widely regarded as the safe flow. Water temperatures will certainly bump up with the weather we have forecasted but with the Farmington fishing so well, why risk it on the Housey? If you do decide to give it a shot once the water comes down, later in the day when the water is warmest will be the most productive. With the higher water, drift boat anglers have a good opportunity this weekend. Streamers or larger nymphs would not be a bad choice. Junk flies should produce and while any reasonable nymph has a shot of getting hit, larger patterns in the 8 to 12 size range should be best. Not much to report with Pike or Smallies. These fisheries are essentially shut down still. While an abnormally warm day could see a good uptick in fish activity, I would focus on trout for the next few months. Keep in mind: all TMAs are Catch and Release only. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
The Salmon River is still high at 1200cfs. That is tough wading in most spots. If you decide to fish, make sure you are higher up on the river to get lower flows. There have been some great flurries of fish activity on the Salmon River over the last week but recently the water levels have kept most anglers off of the water. The bite should be good once the water comes back down provided the weather stays warm. There does seem to be some precipitation on the way so you will want to keep an eye on that. Smaller Steelhead egg imitations will start to work as the fish are beginning to stage for spawning. However most of these fish have transitioned to other prey items. You will certainly want to have stoneflies in your box at this point. Worm style flies will work as well. Even smaller streamers will have their moments. Changing flies constantly will be the best way to get on some fish. Some of the fresher fish will eat a wide variety of flies, while fish that have been in the river a while will be far more selective. For that reason, keep a large selection of flies on you. The drop-backs are not too far away and we are hearing that the fishing is improving on the whole. If we get a good drop in water it will certainly be worth the drive up.