Greetings Compleat Anglers! Warmer temperatures and continued stocking has created some great fishing here on our local waters. We've even started to see some stoneflies come off on warmer days and are encouraging anglers to have them in their boxes from here on out. The flows have been decent too, though, as always this time of year, keep an eye on the river gauge before you head out as snowmelt can cloud things up fairly easily. Add it all up and it finally feels like spring fishing is just around the corner as we head into March. Read on for details!
Nothing new or exciting for the Great Lakes. It is still pretty cold up there and many anglers are waiting for the Spring Drop-Backs. I don’t blame them. While the Salmon River and smaller tributaries have had their moments, we are not hearing much. Ones and twos are the norm. Many anglers have switched to stoneflies and worms as their primary patterns. The weather will be warming over the week and a bump in fish activity is expected. 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 fish into these rivers giving you the opportunity to target unpressured and chrome 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.
The fishing throughout Connecticut has been great. A few colder days this past week have made it a bit more challenging but by no means difficult. For the most part, the weather has been great and the fishing has followed suit. The stockings stalled this past week after the initial netfulls of fish. The Salmon, Naugatuck, Farmington received fish for the second time, and the Pequabuck received fish late last week but no other rivers have yet to receive them. Your best bet will be to fish one of the recently stocked streams for some early season action. A wide variety of flies will work making this a great time for new anglers to get some positive feedback from uneducated fish. The fish will be fairly educated at this point so smaller nymphs will be the best option and nymphs drifted under an indicator are tough to beat right now. Adding midges may be a wise decision until another stocking occurs. Small streamers will work as well 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. Now that said, the warmer weather will almost certainly mean early season Stoneflies and if the wind stays down and they begin flying around, the fish will be on them. They will be small, around a size 16 or 18. 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.
In a surprise development, Governor Lamont has declared trout season officially open. As opposed to opening day, which has previously been April 15th, trout season has opened over a month early. While that does allow us fly anglers to fish non-TMAs legally, that also means that spin anglers are now allowed to kill fish in these non-TMAs as well. This early open will most likely lead to tough fishing. Competition for fishing areas will also be quite high. It will be an interesting spring to say the least. Hopefully the DEEP will stock plenty of fish to offset the kill but as it stands right now, non-TMAs will be a challenging place to fish. Your best bet will be to stick to the TMAs where it is still 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. It is a quick and easy call that can go a long way in keeping our fishing good until opening day.
The CTDEEP has stocked the West Branch of the Farmington for a second time and the fishing has been pretty darn good. If you run into a freshly stocked section the fishing should be great. These fish will take a wide variety of flies and will not be too selective. Streamers are a good starting point if you are trying to locate fish. Move fast and cover water 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 and with water temperatures on the rise, 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 making conditions IDEAL for late winter fly fishing. 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 late in the Winter season. With the weather we have, popular holes like Greenwoods, Legends, Church, Halfords or the Boneyard 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: As of September 1st, almost the entirety of the West Branch of the Farmington River is now all catch and release. From the Goodwin Dam, 21 miles down to the Route 177 bridge is all catch and release only from now until the second Saturday in April. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.
Conditions on the Housatonic have been improving. The water levels came up to unwadable conditions after the rain but have subsided to around 900CFS. While that is a bit high, the trout will certainly be actively feeding for the next week with the temperatures we have forecasted. We have talked to a few anglers who have fished the Housey and reports are good with some nice fish brought to hand. Anglers are having to work for fish but seasoned anglers are doing quite well. Late this coming week looks like it is going to be awesome for fly fishing. 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 Housey has not received any fish yet but we are expecting that any day now. The same tactics used on the Farmy will hold true here as well. Smaller, sub-surface flies will likely be the most productive. And with 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 and moving out from slower and deeper holding spots. 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 them 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 and you could have some spectacular fishing with fewer anglers to hamper your efforts.