Northeast Fishing Report: 4/2/21 - The Compleat Angler

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April 02, 2021

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The big news is the opening of New York State's trout water. The streams are now open and the fishing has been awesome from what we are hearing. The state has stocked a ton of rivers in preparation for opening day and there are some wild trout streams that have been producing fish as well. New York state is our top pick for this week but Connecticut is still holding its own where more stockings from the state have kept CT anglers happy. There are no bad options at the moment. While the crowds have been substantial, a little moving around can get you on some unpressured fish. Read on for details...

New York

Freshwater

New York state is open and fishing extremely well. The State has stocked multiple rivers and the fly fishing has been lights out. We are hearing a lot of spin anglers are out and killing fish unfortunately, but if you are willing to move around or go on a weekday, the fishing can be exceptional this time of year. We recommend fishing as soon as you can to get in on some relatively unpressured fish. We have a lot of customers that fish NY state and while I won’t divulge where exactly to fish, a little exploring could yield some large wild browns. Any decent river will have plenty of stocked fish that will take a wide variety of flies. Smaller streamers are a safe bet as these fish will be uneducated. Another option is indicator nymphing with mops, wormies, and stoneflies -- really anything reasonable will work.



Big news for New York state. As of this year, the regulations have changed. New York State will be opening trout water for catch-and-release only during the late Fall and Winter months. That will open up fishing opportunities for many fly anglers and is an exciting new development!
The new regulations effective April 1st 2021 are:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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
  • 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 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, this will 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 and will open up a ton of water previously illegal to fish. Remember to renew your New York state licenses and check the classification of each stream if you plan on killing trout. But 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. 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.

Catskills

The Delaware

With opening day come and gone, the push of anglers venturing up to the Delaware has begun. The Mainstem is running around 4700, the East is high at over 2000 and the West Branch is around 1600. The Branches and Mainstem are too high for wading but great for driftng. This time of year, drift boats are the way to go as Spring rains tend to keep that water on the high side. It is a great time of year to throw streamers and bang the banks. While the much anticipated Hendrickson hatch is a ways away, on warmer days the fish should be rising on midges and some BWOs. We are hearing the fishing is a bit on the slow side. Anglers are getting into a few but that water needs to warm up a bit before we see a flurry of fish activity.

Beaverkill/Willowemoc

The Willow and Beaverkill are ripping right now. The Beaverkill is over 2000 and with the rain we just had I would expect it to take some time to subside. Best to drift the Delaware or fish elsewhere for the next week. There are plenty of smaller streams throughout the state that will fish great this week so you should have options while waiting for the water to subside.

Ontario Tributaries

No news on drop backs yet. The fish are most likely in the process of spawning at the moment 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 the river. Pre-spawn behavior is to be expected at this point. 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 the best option. 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. The size will really be the key. If you are not getting bit, switch to a smaller fly. That is often all it takes. Again, in certain streams the fish are pretty pressured but if you have the right fly, the dry fly fishing should be great (and as I mentioned before, the Stones are coming off very well). 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 please 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

No change to the Farmington report. 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 500 CFS as of 3/30, and the water temperature is in the low-to-mid 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 during cold months for the wild fish, 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 2500 as of 3/30 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 1000cfs 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 is a far better option. The same tactics for the Farmy will hold true. 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 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 be holding 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 the 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 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.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

Many of you have been asking about Spring Stripers and if 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 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 got 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 of 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 that 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. Especially if you need something that is sold out. Tie flies and get ready in the next few weeks. It will pay off once the Stripers start running.


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