Northeast Fishing Report: 3/19/2021 - The Compleat Angler

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March 19, 2021

Greetings Compleat Anglers! Fishing here in the Northeast was pretty good this past week especially on many local trout streams which have received plenty of stocked fish. The warmer weather has opened up the windows of activity though water levels have been tricky in certain spots. We're just starting to see the first glimmers of saltwater activity though it's still a tad early, and the great lakes dropbacks haven't quite materialized yet either. In short, it's good in certain areas with more options on the way. Time to get ready and get out there! Read on for details...

New York

Freshwater

While most of the rivers across New York are closed to fishing until April 1st, the rivers that are open are fishing quite well. The warmer temperatures have made for some great early season fishing. 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 and that seems to be the most productive method. While streamers and even dries will work at times, a nymph under and indicator is tough to beat this time of year. Mayfly nymphs such as Hendricksons are a good starting point and midges will work as well. With the warmer weather we have on the way, streamers should be coming into their own as well especially with the rain we had yesterday. Increased water levels will mean these fish should be inch in toward the banks and ambush a well-presented streamer. We still have a few weeks before the fishing opens state-wide but now is the time to get ready. Being prepared and first to hit some of these rivers will make all the difference, especially if you are targeting larger, wild fish.

Ontario Tributaries

No news on drop backs yet. But it has to be close. 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. Pre-spawn behavior is to be expected at this point. Targeting areas where these fish will aggregate is the key and they will continue to work upstream in search of ideal spawning habitat. While we will 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. 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.

Connecticut

Local Streams

No change to last week’s report, which is a great thing. Connecticut has been fishing very well. Multiple stockings are leading to plenty of happy fly anglers, though there has been a ton of completion on the water. 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 has been 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 and on the weekdays are doing very well with far less completion. The Mianus River TMA has finally been stocked! That is one of the closer rivers to our shop with a phenomenal stonefly hatch. We have been patiently waiting for this particular stocking so now is a great time to get out there! Warmer weather on the way means that the Stones will be popping hard and the fish will be on them. The Pequannock, Hall Meadow, Mill, Naugatuck, Nepaug, Roaring Brook, Willamatic, Aspetuck, Muddy, and Salmon all got fish in the past week as well. There are plenty of options for you so do some exploring to get away from the crowds. On these recently stocked 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.

On some of the other rivers, the fish will be fairly educated at this point so smaller nymphs will be the best option. Nymphs drifted under an indicator are tough to beat right now. Adding midges may be a wise decision until another round of stocking occurs. Small streamers will work at times but tend to take fewer and fewer fish as they 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 which 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 at all possible.

As always, if you do see any poaching or spin fishing in Fly Fishing Only areas call 800-842-4357 and report it to the CTDEEP. We are hearing that poaching has been a big issue this year. Remember that all Trout Management Areas are still catch and release only! It is a quick and easy call that can go a long way in keeping our fishing good throughout the Spring. 

Farmington River

The Farmington has been fishing very well and getting better by the day. Multiple stockings, warming water temperatures, and mild weather have kicked things off well. Crowds are increasing by the day, a sure sign that 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. This is not 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 as of 3/18, making conditions ideal. However, keep an eye on those gauges. Who knows how this rain will jack up the water. While smaller midge nymphs tend to be the hot flies during cold months for 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 and early during the Spring. With the weather we have, popular holes like Greenwoods, Legends, Church, Halfords, or the Boneyard will 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 like 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.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

The Housatonic has been high and unfishable for those without drift boats. The CFS is 1100 as of 3/17 and on the rise with the rain we had on Thursday. This time of year things can be tough on this river. The water levels fluctuate constantly and the name of the game is capitalizing on good flow windows. Anything under 1000cfs is a good wadable level so keep an eye out for that. Once the water subsides a bit, you can expect the fishing to be pretty darn good. The water is warming by the day and the fish are becoming active. While the stonefly hatch has been very good on the warmer days, the fish are still not rising on them. I would say it will be a few more weeks before the fish really start looking up. Despite the lack of dry fly action reports were still 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. That was of course before the water came up. All of next week looks awesome weather-wise. Temperatures in the 50s bode well. A huge benefit to this river is that there will be far fewer anglers on the Housey as opposed to the Farmington. So, if you are looking to avoid the crowds the Housey is a far better option. The same tactics for the Farmy will hold true. Smaller, sub-surface flies will more than likely be the most productive. That said, with the 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. They will 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 nymph 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 the 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, fishing should get hot in the coming weeks. We are also seeing an uptick in Smallmouth activity. While this is not a very popular target species by most fly anglers at this time of the year, that sole fact means that you can often have long stretches of river all to yourself. Smallies are a blast on fly and early Spring is a great time to target them. Smaller, weighted steamers fished low and slow will work just fine. The key is getting them down deep and fishing them on the slower side.

Keep in mind: Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Many of you have been asking about Spring Stripers and whether the fishing has started yet. With the cold weather we have had, unfortunately, it looks like we still have at least a three weeks to go. We will see what the weather does but keep in mind that mid to late-April is typically when the fishing is at its peak for the rivers. Late April, May, and June are best for shore-based fly fishing and larger migratory fish. We are just as excited as the rest of you to get out there and we are monitoring that fishery very closely. Once the bite picks up we will let you know. As it stands right now, a few fly anglers have been out and gotten blanked. The colder weather this past week has more than likely eliminated the shot of an early run. Now is a great time to start your preparations. Go through your flies, rods, reels, lines, and terminal tackle. Make you have everything you need and your gear is in good working order. Once it happens, it happens fast. If you are flailing around trying to get your stuff ready during the bite, you could miss the best of the fishing. Especially if you need something that is sold out. Tie flies and get ready in the next few weeks. It will pay off once the Stripers start running. 


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