Northeast Fishing Report: 3/26/21 - The Compleat Angler

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March 26, 2021

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The trout fishing has been steadily picking up and as long as the flows don't spike the fishing should be excellent in most areas. Even with the dry fly action still largely in the offing, anglers have been having plenty of success. For those who were hoping for an early start to the saltwater scene, it seems that we are at least a few weeks away before we can expect the river hotspots to turn. As always this time of year, keep an eye on the forecast and on the river gauges. 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 have been taking some really nice fish recently and 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. Midges will work as well too. 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 inching toward the banks and will ambush a well-presented streamer. We still have a few weeks before the fishing opens state-wide but now it’s 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. Keep in mind that New York State opening day is this coming Thursday, April 1st. That means that all trout streams are open to fishing and the fishing should be awesome with plenty of options in throughout the state. The Catskill rivers in particular are among the most anticipated that will open. While the dry fly fishing will be a little lackluster for a while, indicator nymphing or throwing streamers should yield plenty of fish.

Lastly, there is some big news for New York state, and some new regulations in place this year. The state will be opening trout water for catch and release only during the late Fall and Winter months, which will open up fishing opportunities for many fly anglers. Here are the details:
The new regulations effective April 1st 2021 are:

  1. Daily creel limit of five trout per day with no more than two longer than 12 inches statewide and for reaches categorized as Wild or Stocked in effect from April 1 through Oct. 15;
  2. Daily creel limit of three trout per day with no more than one longer than 12 inches for reaches designated as Wild-Quality or Stocked-Extended in effect from April 1 through Oct. 15;
  3. Daily creel limit of one trout per day, any size, for reaches designated as Wild-Premier in effect from April 1 through October 15; and
  4. Creation of a statewide catch-and-release trout season in effect from Oct. 16 to March 31. During this period anglers are restricted to artificial lures only and must promptly release all trout caught.

Some exceptions apply for certain stream reaches. The new 2021 fishing regulations guide lists the new regulations with descriptions of the applicable stream reaches.


While we cannot get out early this year since the new regs don’t take effect until April 1st 2021, the fishing next spring should be awesome. While we adamantly advocate for catch and release to ensure that the fishing is great for everybody, and the kill regs don’t necessarily apply to the majority of fly anglers because we release all fish we catch, it should mean that New York will be open to fish late in the Fall and during the Winter. That is awesome for die hard fly anglers that fish all year. This will open up a ton of water that was previously illegal to fish. Remember to renew your New York state licenses and check the classification of each stream you fish if you plan on killing trout, though better to please consider releasing all fish you catch. There are a lot of anglers who utilize this resource and killing trout makes the fishing worse for the next guy and potentially worse for you down the road. In short, this new opportunity comes with some responsibility, so don’t go out there this Fall and rip fish off redds. Areas with wild fish should be left alone during October and November. Let them spawn and make more wild trout for us to catch in the future.

Ontario Tributaries

No news on drop backs yet. The fish are most likely in the process of spawning. But the drop-back melee 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 middle and upper sections of rivers. Pre-spawn behavior is to be expected at this point so targeting areas where these fish will aggregate is the key. 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

The state continues to stock our local streams and the fishing has been awesome this past week. The Stonefly hatch on many of our streams has been nothing short of exceptional. This hatch is at its peak and will continue to dwindle as the Spring progresses. If you want to get on to some great early season dry fly fishing, now is the time. Warm sunny days with little-to-no wind will produce the strongest hatches while cloudy and colder days will prove more difficult. This past week the state has stocked numerous streams and while the popular rivers have been extremely crowded, there are plenty of stocked rivers that get far less pressure. Do some research and take a ride somewhere new. You may be surprised at what you find. If you stick close to Fairfield, expect crowds. These fish will be fairly educated at this point so smaller nymphs will be your best option and nymphs drifted under an indicator are tough to beat right now.

Small streamers will work at times 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. Having a good selection of nymphs and switching flies frequently is the name of the game at this point. 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. That is often all it takes. As I mentioned before, the Stones are coming off very well. In certain streams the fish are pretty pressured but if you have the right fly, the dry fly fishing should be great! With the weather we have on the way we can expect the fishing to only get better. Now is a great time of the year to be on the water. If you can, go fishing during the week. There will be far less pressure and it will be a more enjoyable experience.

Remember that the Trout Management Areas are still all catch and release only. 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. 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. Most anglers are beating up on the stockies for instant action. 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. It is safe to assume these fish will be feeding actively at this point. The warmer parts of the day tend to be fishing much better than mornings and afternoons but there is certainly a small low light bite window. Keep in mind, 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-ish behavior, it will not be long before these fish begin to spread out and hold in feeding lanes. The water levels are good, around 400 CFS combined as of 3/24, and the water temperature is in the 40s making conditions IDEAL for this time of year. 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 for wild fish during cold months, 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 during the Spring. The Stoneflies have been coming off in good numbers. While anglers are reporting few and infrequent rises on these bugs, dry fly fishing has slowly begun. 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: Remember that the Trout Management Areas are still all catch and release only. 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 this past week. The CFS is 1300 as of 3/24 and could rise a bit more with the rain we had on Wednesday. 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 1000 CFS 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. 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 will be a far better option. The same tactics for the Farmy will hold true here as well. Smaller, sub-surface flies will 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 also 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 hold 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. Another new development is steadily improving Pike fishing. With the water levels we have, there should be no shortage of places to target them. 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. 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 a 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: Remember that the Trout Management Areas are still all catch and release only Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.


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. Unfortunately, it looks like we still have at least a few weeks to go. We will see what the weather does but keep in mind that 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. There are some larger fish being taken at night by spin anglers up top but that cold spell we had 2 weeks ago and the colder nights we are having this past week have eliminated the shot at 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. This is especially true if you need something that is sold out. Tie flies and get ready over the next few weeks, which should pay off once the Stripers start running. 


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