Rain Rain Rain! That’s been the story this week across the Northeast, and more is on its way in many watersheds this weekend. That’s all part of early season fishing, of course, but it can still make things tricky. Keep your eyes on the water gauges and if needed, look for small tributaries which can clear up a bit faster.
As such, this week's reportage is a little spottier than usual, as many anglers (and guides) have been waiting out the water and tying flies or catching up on other business in anticipation of hitting the water again soon. That said, there have been a few bright spots in the action. Read below to learn more!
In Northern New England we got this word from From Nathan Hill of Hill Country Guides (firstname.lastname@example.org / (508) 498-1304), who is hoping that settling water levels will help kick things into gear:
After a good bite window of low pre- snowmelt flows over the last two weeks waters are now high due to recent rains and snowmelt. Once flows subside the streamer bite will be back on!
The good news about all this rain is that it will help de-ice our lakes. Lake tribs are running high which should help pull salmon and rainbows upstream. Egg patterns, leeches, and small smelt imitations should be your go to prospecting patterns for this early season fishing. Low elevation wild brook trout waters have also already begun turning on. Check flows and as long as you have good clarity small streamers like a baby brook trout as well as hares ear and pheasant tail nymphs should do the trick.
Like everywhere else earlier this week the Deerfield got clobbered with rain and was unsafe for wading or boating. Earlier this week the Fife Brook Dam exceeded its capacity and had to open spillways to deal with all of the water. Hopefully by this weekend things will have settled down a bit and anglers can venture back onto the river again, though with more rain in the forecast that could change in a hurry. As always, check the water flows here: https://www.safewaters.com/facility/22
Another week has passed and things have changed quite a bit. The forecast for the upcoming week is not looking good. Here is what we are seeing:
The Trout Management Areas were hit hard opening day and every day since. Unfortunately, many of our favorite spots have been essentially been cleaned out at this point. There are certainly some fish left but expect to work for them. Reports from the river indicate dramatically reduced numbers of fish caught as well as hordes of bait and spin anglers that have been crowding out fly anglers. This time of year can be tough for catch and release fly anglers. It’s the reality of most of the stockie streams throughout the state. If you do plan on going to one of the TMAs, I highly recommend getting there early on a weekday. This will help you avoid the crowds and give you a good chance of catching a few fish. Having first crack at the fish early on any given day can make all the difference. Focus on the smaller pockets and avoid the main holes as those get fished out first. Walking up or downstream away from the crowds can often result is good fishing. Keep moving and cover water. Go small with your flies as well. Size 18 and 20 midges are often the best bet depending on where you are fishing. The Stonefly hatch is winding down so definitely fish sub-surface. There are only a few weeks left before these smaller local streams will have been completely cleaned out so if you plan on going, sooner is better than later. We are hoping for another round of stockings and will keep you posted if our rivers get more fish.
It’s not all bad though! The smaller rivers throughout the state have been fishing very well. The Wild Trout Management Areas are in full swing and with the recent rain the water levels are good. Wild Brook Trout are a great option for fly anglers looking to get away from the insanity of the post opening day madness. These areas are all catch and release and typically hit far less that the surrounding rivers making it a great get away. These fish are small, on average only about 8 inches or less however, they are a blast to catch. Especially on dries. For example: reports from the upper section of the Mill River are good. Plenty of fish being caught on a wide variety of flies. Nymphs remain the top producer but small streamers will work to. As far as dries go, a s18 or 20 BWO or caddis will get the job done. Remember to use 7X on these flies. Any heavier and you will spook these fish. There are plenty of WTMS in Connecticut to choose from as well as some “unlisted” stuff that are very fishable. If you want more information, call the shop. We can get you pointed in the right direction.
Our friend Pogo Pike (PogoPike@gmail.com / (619) 518-8750) also passed along some information about the fishing in Northern Connecticut where he is often found targeting his namesake along with a variety of other species.
Here we are in mid April. River water temps are ranging from 43 to 47 degrees depending on the day. We all know early April air temps are up and down, cold nights and warm sun during the day. Pike are on the post spawn. We are seeing males acting jumpy and aggressive while we are waiting for the larger females to fully recover and put on their feedbag. The one major variable this time of year is the inconsistent weather & barometric pressure, which can make these toothy critters finicky. Smallmouth are starting to show their pretty faces as well. As the water temps increase we will see them acting more aggressive and feeding in shallower waters. Trout fishing is definitely picking up, water temps and hatches are a major contribution, so tight lines! Carp are starting to jump and troll the shallows. Boy do I love to sight fish for carp on the fly! The heavy rains really put a damper on river fishing this week, at-least for the next 3 or 4 days, flows are up and clarity is tough. Next week is starting to look much better and more consistent weather wise, fish on!
Connecticut’s most popular tailwater, the Farmington, is beginning to come into its own. It has not necessarily been a numbers game but some beautiful fish have been being caught. Again, the river was hammered opening day however, these fish seem to spread out a bit more and many of them avoid being killed due to the Farmington’s size. Almost everyone we have talked to is nymphing up there and doing well. The fishing is becoming more and more consistent as the weeks pass. However, we have high water at the moment and more rain on the way. As we are typing the dam is running at 902 CFS with an additional 264 from the Still River. With rain forecasted for five of the next seven days we would recommend fishing elsewhere this weekend unless you can drift it. The Farmington is certainly driftable right now and streamers should do some damage if you can get out. The forecast could change for the upcoming week so keep an eye on the water flows. Hendricksons are right around the corner so let’s hope that water comes down!
The Housatonic remains high. Recent rainfall pushed the CFS up to 3500 earlier this week which has steadily dropped to 2670 CFS. Despite the high water, fish have been active. A few of our customers drifted the TMA in Cornwall and saw plenty of browns and bows. Throwing streamers was the most productive by far, with fish aggressively hitting stripped or swung flies. Unfortunately, the Housy is still not wadable. You really need the water to be around 1,000 or below to wade that river safely but it is certainly driftable if you know someone with a boat. This may be good time to book a guide with a drift boat if you are really itching to get out there. We will see what the upcoming rain does but we suspect the river will be back up unless we get less rain than expected.
Stripers are here! We are finally getting reports of good numbers of fish being caught. It is time to get out there. As predicted, the fish are making their way inshore and, as far as Connecticut is concerned, we have good numbers of fish around at the moment. The fishing has been intermittent but improving every day. The anglers who are catching fish have been moving around a lot to find the fish but once you do it is typically fast a furious action. We have a great tide and moon phase right now that should result in great fishing. For those of you who are willing to brave the forecasted downpours, focus on the upper sections of the Housatonic, mouth of Housatonic, and/or beaches adjacent to it. Just to the East and West of the river fish have been caught and in good numbers. The upper sections of the river have been producing strong numbers of fish as well. This is where the majority of the fish are going to be but they can be hard to target from shore. From Sunny Side down to Milford will be huge concentrations of fish but it may take some time to locate them. Our customers are saying the last half of the ebb or flow has been the hot bite but fish have been hitting during slack tide as well. Different locations will have fish feeding on different tides and that can change from day to day. It will make it a bit more challenging to get on these fish but be persistent. Remember that these fish are hungry. It has been a long winter for these fish and they have the feed bags on. They will hit almost anything. Deceivers and Clousers in a size 1/0 or 2/0 are the go-to flies however, almost anything reasonable will work. This early in the season it is all about getting the fly to fish rather than fly selection. White, white and olive, white and chartreuse, or black are great color choices for these fish. If you get to a spot and don’t find fish on a good moving tide then we suggest moving. They are either going to be there or not. On the flip side to that, consider going back to that location at a different tide. Sometimes that is all it takes. We personally like the falling tide. We have done very well in Connecticut on that falling tide in multiple spots.
Len and Scott Loecher recently spent the afternoon at the mouth of the Housatonic River casting clousers to hungry bass. It was an epic April afternoon - warm and sunny with almost no breeze and nonstop action. Water temperatures were moderate and the fish were very active, hunting very small bait (Silversides or Bay Anchovies) on the outgoing tide. Many very fat/healthy schoolies crunched their clousers with a few bigger fish mixed in. Most effective technique was to let the clouser sink a foot or two before retrieving and retrieve slowly.
Len with a sweet Clouser fish.
When the tide slackened, Scott changed to a big Deceiver and nailed this beauty:
It has been a tough week throughout New York state. The Catskills in particular have been hammered with rain and the rivers reflect that. The Delaware River was fishing reasonably well last week but this past week saw the main stem hit over 30,000 CFS! That’s crazy high water. The East Branch at its peak was just shy of 7,000 CFS and the West Branch was just over 4,000. The Beaverkill rose around 18,000 CFS and the Neversink was over 3,000. The Willowemoc was the same story. Dark, high and unfishable. These are incredibly high flows for these rivers. Needless to say, it will be some time before we have fishable conditions in most of these rivers. And with rain on the way who knows what this coming week will bring.
The Croton watershed has been a bit high but by no means unfishable. The West Branch at Croton Falls is currently 426 CFS as of 4/18/19. The East Branch of the Croton is 137 CFS at Croton Falls and falling which is actually a bit low but still fine for fishing. The water in both of these rivers will be nice and cold, perfect for early season nymphing. Some very big fish can be found in both of these rivers and because they are controlled by dams, you should have a decent weekend in terms of water flow unless they release water right away. Both the East and West Branches will most likely see some pressure this weekend but if we were going to trout fish anywhere this weekend the Croton would be our first choice. Plan on an early start and get to those deeper holes first. A buggy beadhead caddis in a size 18 with little or no flash is deadly on these rivers. Also consider trailing a midge behind it. At any point this spring there is the potential to hook a fish well above the 20” mark. Keep an eye on the CFS though. If we get a biblical deluge tomorrow or the next day we could see water conditions deteriorate rapidly. We would say if the East goes over 500 CFS or the West goes over 600 CFS consider fishing somewhere else.