April 02, 2020 9 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers! We hope you are staying safe, and if possible, spending plenty of time on the water. Just a friendly reminder that we are still taking orders over the phone and web. If you are local we can do curbside delivery - just give us a call, let us know what you need, and by the time you get here it will be bagged up and ready for you. We will bring it right out to your car. If you aren't local we are shipping regularly all over the country (and world) with gear going out the door Monday through Friday. Don't hesitate to let us know if there is anything you need this fishing season. We're happy to help. As always, stay safe. And again, thank you so much for your support and patronage.
Okay, without further ado, here's the latest on emerging fishing conditions in the region...
New York state is finally open! Opening day was this Wednesday meaning that trout streams across the state are now open to fishing. Many anglers eagerly await opening day as it allows access to some of the best fishing in the area. The Croton watershed, the Catskills, and other fisheries across the state offer some of the finest fishing to be had within three hours of the coast. Since things are just starting reports have been nonexistent except for the few special trout management areas that remain open in the winter. But it is a safe bet that the smaller trout streams will be fishing exceptionally well in the weeks to come. The state stocks quite a few streams and, by now, all of the stocking should be completed or nearly so. That means phenomenal fishing for those of you who are just looking to bend a rod and get outside. The wild trout fisheries will also be quite good depending on conditions. These fisheries are a little more finicky but if you can get there early when conditions are good, the fishing will be great. Since we do not have a ton of information yet we won't cover specific fisheries this week, but once our anglers begin to hit the New York watersheds we will start the Catskills and Delaware reports back up. Things will only get better as the weeks progress, the hatches start, and the water warms up. We are right on the cusp of arguably the best time of the year to fish New York State so keep checking back for the latest.
Like elsewhere along the East Coast, the Striper fishing has been slowly and quietly building. For those who are in the “know”, the fishing has been quite good when timing and conditions align. It is no secret that the larger fish will be working their way into the Hudson river. We are having an early spring and with the warmer water temperatures, the fish have begun to amass earlier than usual. The Throgs Neck and Verrazano bridges are hot spots as well as the surrounding shallows. This fishery is really only accessible by boat but elsewhere around the Hudson can be fished from shore. Not the prettiest of fisheries, this area does have some very large fish at the moment. As the spawn concludes, we see the fish leave the rivers and head North. We are about a month away from the dispersal of these fish but when it does occur the fishing will be great. Long Island has been seeing quite a few fish on the Western end as well. From Oyster Bay West has seen its fair share of fish recently. Most of the fish have been taken trolling or by spin/surf casters but there are plenty of places where you can target these fish on the fly. Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic side of Long Island are great places to get on some early season Stripers. While not as concentrated around the mouth of the Hudson, they are certainly there and will hit a wide variety of flies. If you are fishing from a boat be sure to have a full sink line and a weighted fly. Getting down to the fish is equally as important as fishing during the right tide. Far too often anglers are simply not getting down deep enough. If you are fishing from shore then an intermediate line is plenty but a weighted fly is always advantageous. This fish will not be that picky this early in the season so almost any fly will work. A standard issue Clouser Minnow in a wide variety of colors will work. Have a few sizes to choose from as well.
Well we have had a few interesting developments regarding our local trout streams. By now, I am sure many of you have heard that the season opened early. This past Wednesday the Governor opened all streams to fishing. There was some confusion regarding catch and release regulations. Most of our anglers do not keep fish but wanted to know what streams to stay away from (to clarify, all Trout Management Areas are catch and release until the second Saturday in April. Everything else is open to legal creel limits). The DEEP made another Announcement on Friday informing the public that it has ceased all trout stockings in Fairfield County. Due to the density of Covid cases, they have determined that stocking popular rivers such as the Norwalk, Mianus, Saugatuck and others would be irresponsible. This, coupled with the closure of many state parks in the county, solidified the decision. So, what does that mean for you local anglers? Well, there have been fish stocked already in many of the rivers listed above, however the fishing has been tough recently. Since these fish were stocked in February they are quite educated at this point. That does not mean it won’t be decent fishing but with the season opened up it may be advantageous to fish elsewhere in the state as the spin anglers begin to descend on local rivers. And it goes without saying, but please be smart when fishing different locations. Keep your distance from other anglers and take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of Covid.
The fishing across Connecticut has been very good of late. The Stoneflies have begun to dissipate a little bit, but are still hanging in there. On a warm and sunny day, and over the next week or so, the hatch should be strong which means you should definitely have a few dries in your box just in case. If you are traveling around the state and find a recently stocked stream, then a wide variety of flies will work. Smaller streamers have been very effective recently so don’t be afraid to probe with a streamer if you are fishing a new location. It can often be a good indicator of the fish’s activity and selectivity level. If streamers don’t get the job done, switch to nymphs. There are a lot of subsurface flies that will work and I typically start with something on the larger side (size 14 or 16) and downsize as need be. We only have a few more weeks of good fishing for the local stockie streams, so keep that in mind. After the TMAs open to the harvest of fish, that is the perfect time to start thinking about the Farmington, Housey, or NY state fisheries.
Not much has changed on the Farmington. Reports are very similar to last week and there are some very nice fish being caught. Early in the week the water bumped up to 600+ CFS which is a little high for my liking but still very fishable. It certainly was great for streamer fishing. We talked to a few guys who did quite well ripping sink tips through deeper runs early in the week. Regardless of whether you are nymphing or throwing streamers, anglers who have been doing well have been covering quite a bit of water in search of the larger wild fish. For many it has paid off and this time of year lends itself well to targeting these nicer fish. As is always the case on this river, tightlining will be the most productive method. A wide variety of flies will work this time of year, with Stoneflies, worms, mops, midges, and mayfly patterns all taking fish. The reason for this uptick in fish activity is that the temperatures are slowly creeping up. Nighttime lows are in the mid-thirties with afternoon temperatures getting as high as 43 degrees Fahrenheit. That type of temperature swing is great for trout fishing. Later in the afternoon as those water temps creep up, fish begin feeding actively as their metabolisms speed up. Often a bump of only a few degrees is all it takes to get those fish fired up and feeding. We are seeing an increase of 5 degrees or more which is a great sign and more than enough to kick things up a notch. The caddis hatch has been strong in the morning and the fish are occasionally coming up on them. Small black caddis in a size 18, 20, and 22 are hatching in the morning giving dry fly anglers a shot at hooking a few fish before they go subsurface. Midges and BWOs will be hatching throughout the day and there is a chance you can get a fish or two on these smaller flies. There are smaller black stones hatching but few fish seem to be targeting these bugs. It could be that the water is too cold and the fish just don’t want to run down an erratic adult stone, but that's just my guess. For whatever reason this is not a great hatch on the Farmington like it is on other smaller streams elsewhere in the state. Many of us are waiting for the hatches to materialize. Depending on what the weather does, we are hoping and predicting that we may get Hendricksons a bit early this spring. Things are looking promising with the mild winter and spring we have been having. You can still take a few fish on dries right now but most of us are waiting for the first good hatch of mayflies.
The Housatonic is still high. The Falls Village gauge had the water at 2240 CFS on Tuesday 3/31 and seemed to be plateauing around there. This has made fishing quite challenging. When the water was around 1200 last week the Stonefly hatch was incredible. We had a few anglers go out and come back with footage that was amazing, with thousands of stones skittering across the water despite the high flows and turbidity. A few anglers got into fish right on the banks fishing dries. So that bodes well for the weeks to come. The trout are active and feeding so if the water ever comes down the fishing should be great. That is the key with this river. Because it is a larger river and is no longer controlled by the large dam, the Housey has a tendency to go up quickly and stay high for a number of days. So, moving forward, keep an eye on the gauges. Once it drops below 1,000 CFS it will be low enough to wade. The Pike fishing has finally tailed off. Spawning is happening now and ethically-minded anglers are leaving the fish to their own devises (even if you were to go out there, the fish are simply not interested in feeding). It will be a few weeks before the pike fishing picks back up. A similar story with the Smallmouth - just not much in the way of activity quite yet. However, the water is warming up and we should see some great fishing in the weeks to come. The Housatonic will warm quite quickly and once the water hits 60 degrees the Smallies will put the feed bags on. While things are not great on the Housey at the moment, all signs point to a great spring when conditions allow. It is only a matter of time.
The Stripers are moving! We have had reports across Connecticut that the Bass are beginning to show up. For anglers who have been willing to get out there and test fish a few locations, the reports have been quite good! A lot of larger fish are feeding before the spawn and depending on the time, tide, and wind, the fishing can be very good. All of the rivers that harbor fish in the winter have been fishing well. On any given day you can run into a good push of fish during the falling tide. While we are all excited about the beginning of Striper season keep in mind that the fishing has a tendency to be a bit inconsistent early in the season. One day can be great and the next there will be no fish in sight. Be persistent. Tide is the critical factor at this point in the season. As long as you are fishing when the tide is moving you have a good shot at catching at least a few fish.
Reports from western Massachusetts are starting to become a bit more regular. Stocking trucks were busy over the past few weeks (the state puts out a handy map of stocking locations, with dates, available here) so the fishing should be pretty good as long as water levels cooperate. Rain spiked the flows over the last few days but as things settle conditions should be excellent. Eric Gass, of GSOutfitters, tells us that they are catching plenty of fish on the Deerfield, and the fresh stockies have only improved the numbers in the net.