Greetings Compleat Anglers! Colder temperatures this past week saw a pretty significant drawdown in the quality of our fly fishing. That coupled with poaching and angling pressure resulted in tough days on the water. Things are looking up however. We have some nice weather on the way starting this Sunday. Conditions will certainly be better than the past week as the water warms. We do have rain in the forecast so keep an eye on those flows. I would expect all of the rivers to go up quite a bit but the smaller streams should subside pretty quickly. The Farmington is still fishing very well. It was one of the most recently stocked rivers and reports are great. While most of the fish being caught are stockies, there have been some nicer wild fish caught with the bump in water temp. The Salmon River up in New York came down quite a bit but is still over 1000. I would still wait until that water comes back down. For the rest of the Northeast, you certainly need to pick your days but provided the weather is 40 degrees or warmer, the fishing should be good or great. Read on for more!
After a pretty tough week, we have warmer temperatures on the way. Starting on Sunday we should see temperatures as high 64 with a low of 45. That bodes well as it will certainly bump those water temperatures up. We do have some rain in the forecast for most of the week so that could make it challenging. However, these smaller rivers will come down fast if they blow out so don't be afraid to get out there and look for rivers that are in good condition. The local streams have been hit pretty hard and we are hearing that some anglers are beginning to blank. That is most likely a cause of both angling pressure as well as poaching, especially on the Saug. It seems that spin anglers like to go in there at night and rip out all of the fish, which is a real shame. If you happen to drive by there at night and see worm-drowners poaching fish, please call the DEEP. The Mill seems to be holding up a bit better but has certainly become more challenging than the previous week. It is best practice to move around and try and find pockets of less pressured fish. There are still plenty of fish around so it is still worth a trip down to the water. The Naugatuck TMA was stocked this past Wednesday up in Campville so that would be a great place to start. Remember that it is all catch-and-release only. The Stoneflies have been coming off which is a very nice development and they should be coming off on a regular basis at this point. There is nothing like early season dry fly fishing, and if you want to get a few on dries, this week will almost certainly provide you the opportunity if you are on a river that gets them. 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 since being first to the spots will make a big difference in 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 and remember to not high or low hole anyone. There are plenty of fish around and plenty of water to fish. Another reminder that the fish will be pretty educated by Saturday so very small streamers, wet flies, or smaller nymphs will be the most productive. Many will go out there and throw flies that are too large. Also remember that the other rivers across the state should be fishing very well too with the recent bump in temperature. There are plenty of streams with holdovers that have received far less angling pressure than the stocked streams. These fish will be more spread out and difficult to locate however they do tend to be more willing to take flies. So, deploy educated trout tactics. Zebra Midges, smaller soft hackles, and other assorted nymphs in a size 18 or below should get the job done. 6x tippet is mandatory for these smaller flies. 7x would not be a bad idea either depending on the size of the fly. Remember, sneaky set ups. You will also want to cover water as most fish have spread out quite a bit. Remember that all TMAs are all catch and release until mid-April. Please report any poaching. When the state 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” means is that all rivers are open to angling 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 that 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 on March 7th 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 intentionally kill fish for food, 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 still fishing exceptionally well. The second of many stockings this past Wednesday up toward the dam 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 200 cfs and the Still is coming in at 180ish. However, those numbers will certainly go up with rain on the way. So, it will be best to fish below the Still until Monday and then maybe move up toward the dam once the rain starts. The stocking has occurred above that though. That means the stockie fishing should be darn good with perfectly wadable conditions above the Still. Water temps are fluctuating depending on the air temperatures but after Sunday expect them to be just north of 38 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. 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 make sure to 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 were 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, especially for February. 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 1300cfs and slowly coming down but don’t expect that hold. With the rain we have on the way, we will see that river go right back up to unwadable conditions. 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 with decent flows, I would opt to use the Housey as a backup plan in the weeks to come. 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, the 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 for the winter. 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.
The Salmon River
The Salmon River has come down to around 900cfs. That is wadeable in most spots but you will want to be higher up on the river to get lower flows. There have been some great flurries of fish activity on the Salmon River over the past week as the temperatures have been slowly rising. That would suggest the bite should be good once the water comes back down provided the weather stays warm. There does not seem to be too much precipitation on the way so that is a positive. Egg patterns will still work and are a must have up there. Purples, blues, pinks, chartreuses, oranges and peaches are the colors widely regarded as the go-tos. However, the fish have transitioned to other prey items so 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.
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