April 08, 2020 11 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers! Statewide business closures are still in effect, but just a reminder: we can take orders over the phone (or web) and ship directly to you. If you need something in a hurry (and are local) we will also have curbside pick-up available. 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 and we will bring it right out to your car. As always we appreciate your business. Here's the latest report on fishing in the Northeast - the trout fishing is picking up and the striper action has been great. Read on for details!
The trout fishing across the state has been exceptionally good of late. With plenty of stocked sections of stream that received no pressure until opening day, as well as a lot of wild sections of river such as the East and West Branches of the Croton, anglers have been catching plenty of fish. Tailwaters seem to be the favorite right now, so the Croton system has been getting a lot of attention recently. A favorite among the local anglers, these streams have a lot of big, wild Browns in them. However, these fish are smart and finicky, making them quite a challenge to many anglers. Because these sections of river are relatively small, angling pressure has given these fish a master’s degree in detecting false morsels of food, so stealth and presentation are critical. This time of year a beadhead caddis in tan or green is about as good as anything, sizes 14, 16, or 18 being a good starting point. Larger stoneflies will work as well. For any New York tailwater, nymphing will be about the only way to target these fish at the moment. Later in the year it is quite possible to get them on dries but the water is still a bit cold for that. So focus on perfect presentations and cover a lot of water. The marginal pockets are often where many of these fish will be hunkered down, especially if the river is stocked as well. So do not be afraid to hit some of that “B” water. There are many tailwaters throughout the state that will hold big wild fish and April is about the best month to target them. As for the stockie streams, the same tactics and flies that you should consider for Connecticut streams applies. Because these fish have received less pressure you can get away with more. By that I mean larger flies, bigger streamers, and heavier tippet (within reason). Small leech streamers in black or brown in a size 8 or 10 are a killer fly for this time of year especially when the fish are not very educated or the turbidity goes up. As the fish get more pressure and the clarity improves, that is when you should start downsizing flies and tippet.
The Catskills have been slowly waking from their Winter slumber. Farther inland and at higher altitude, it takes these streams a bit more time to warm up than rivers closer to the coast. As such, we are only seeing the first signs of trout and bug activity. The Beaverkill and Willowemoc are fishing as well as can be expected at the moment. The fish are most active later in the day and will take a well-drifted stonefly, Hendrickson, or caddis nymph. A few fish have been taken on streamers on the Beaverkill as well. But like I mentioned, things have yet to really turn on. The Delaware system is much the same. Some anglers have ventured out and caught fish on both nymphs and streamers. As far as hatches go, anglers are seeing quite a few Quill Gordons and Paraleps albeit it is still a bit early for these hatches. There are a good number of larger black Stones hatching as well as BWOs and midges on any given day. Also expect to see caddis but keep in mind that few fish are coming up. We recommend nymphing for the next weeks or so while still having dries in the box just in case. Right around the corner are the Hendricksons so it is time to start tying and making sure your gear is all set. Before you know it the hatch will be here offering us fly anglers some of the best fishing of the year!
It is no secret that the fishing is lights out right now. The Hudson river and surrounding areas have been swarming with fish. There are two populations to target right now: the smaller stream resident fish that have wintered over which are now feeding heavily, and then the larger breeding fish that are pre-spawn and feeding before the actual spawning event. The Western part of Long Island is also seeing its fair share for fish. Some of the larger migratory fish have moved in and the fishing has been stellar for anglers willing to put in the time. 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 a fly. Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic side of Long Island are great places to get on some early season Stripers. While not as concentrated as they are around the mouth of the Hudson, they are certainly there and will hit a wide variety of offerings. 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 just 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 get the job done, and have a few sizes to choose from as well.
With Fairfield County out of the picture in terms of stocking for the rest of season (and potentially the year) the rest of the state has been getting plenty of fish which has created some phenomenal fishing for those anglers willing to check out new spots. We are hearing that there are a lot of unpressured fish all over the place for those who are paying attention to the stocking maps and locations. These fish will allegedly be allocated to “Adjacent Counties” but take that with a grain of salt (that said, it can’t hurt to probe the streams just across the county border). Regardless of where you plan to wet a line there are stocked rivers with varying degrees of difficulty. Depending when they were last stocked, how many fish were put in, and the amount of pressure they get, the “quality” of the fishing will vary greatly. Anglers this time of year need to be well versed in targeting both uneducated and quite educated fish. If you are checking out new spots, one day you could come across fresh fish that will eat almost anything and the next you could encounter extremely selective fish. So being prepared for that variability will help you make the most of your time on the water. If you are able to problem solve educated fish then it is highly likely that you will be successful throughout the spring when fishing is at its best. There are a few ways to become more proficient at this. First and foremost, you should have a wide variety of flies with you, everything from larger streamers to the smallest of midges (and the associated tippet from 3x all the way down to 7x, to go with it). Having dries, nymphs, and streamers is always a good idea when checking out a new spot. Some key flies to have are a size 20 black Zebra Midge, a size 16 Stonefly dry, size 16 or 18 tan Elk Hair Caddis, a size 16 beadhead pheasant tail, a size 10 conehead Wooly Bugger, size 16 beadhead caddis nymph, size 12 beadhead stonefly, and a size 18 BWO dry. Consider building your fly box around these key flies and you will be prepared for almost every stream in the state. It is always wise to have a few variations of these flies as well as a few different sizes. The “junk” flies will work as well, especially on recently stocked trout. Mops are a great go-to pattern for angling newcomers as are squirmies and Greenie Weenies. These junk flies will often take the bigger broodstock fish as well. This is a good starting point but as you progress as an angler, they should be expanded on. Again, having lots of sizes, colors, and profiles to choose from can turn a marginal day into a great one.
The Stonefly hatch is still hanging in there but is on its way out on many streams. Consider fishing a smaller stone as these flies will gradually get a bit smaller as the hatch peters out. A size 16 and 18 is all you should need. Recently stocked streams (within the last week) are the Natchaug, Farmington, Salmon, Sandy Brook, Hammonasset, Mount Hope, Pomperaug, Roaring Brook, Eight Mile, Salmon Brook, upper Naugatuck, Shetucket, Yantic, and Scantic. The CT DEEP will update the interactive map every Friday at 4pm. Good luck out there! The interactive stocking map can be found at:
Things are picking up on the Farmington, and plenty of fish are being caught as the temperatures slowly increase. We are seeing nighttime temperatures of 42 with an afternoon high of 47 Fahrenheit. It is slowly creeping up and once we get into the 50’s we should see the first pops of Hendricksons. This long-anticipated Hendrickson hatch should be right around the corner if the weather continues to trend in this direction. For the time being, no major surprises: nymphing will be the best use of your time up there. There are some nice wild fish being caught by the tightline anglers on a wide variety of jig flies. We haven’t heard of much in the way of dry fly action recently. There is a phenomenal caddis hatch on the warmer days but few, if any, fish are coming up for them. It is just too cold. But a caddis nymph or emerger has proven to be a very good option right now when you see the caddis begin to hatch. There are sporadic windows of fish coming up but it is nothing terribly exciting just yet. We will need to wait for a week or so before things really turn on. Recently, a very productive pattern for nymph anglers has been a big stonefly. It seems like those fish are looking for those larger bugs so keep that in mind. As far as dry flies are concerned, definitely start tying or buying hendys! This is a great time to make sure your lines are in good shape, you have plenty of leaders and tippet, and your reels are clean and smooth. Go through your flies and make sure that the hooks are good and sharp and that the flies themselves don’t have any dry rot. With the Hendricksons right around the corner this is also a good time to nymph Hendrickson patterns if you are heading to the Farmington and streamers will also start to take more fish as the water warms up. As we start to reach that 55 to 65 degrees mark, that is when the fish will be the most active and willing to run down a big fly. If streamers are your thing then it is always best to wait when we get a good shot of rain. High water lends itself well to streamers especially when in conjunction with increased turbidity.
Above is another fish from our buddy Paul Battipaglia taken on the Farmington this past week. He has been putting the time in and catching some seriously nice fish. He says that nymphing is the way to go on this river right now. With all the nice fish he has been catching, we can’t argue with that. Nice work Paul!
We are still waiting for water levels that are safe and conducive for fishing on the Housatonic. That sweet spot of 700 CFS is highly unlikely in the next few days with the recent rain we had this week. If we get a good window sometime soon then the trout fishing should be very very good. Those who said “CFS be darned” and have been out recently are reporting back that the stonefly hatch is still going strong but that fishing is quite challenging. A streamer will pick up a fish here and there as will a nymph but again, high water has made things tough. If you do decide to fish in the coming days please take the utmost care wading. Never venture out past knee deep. We cannot stress that enough. This river is big, powerful, and you can be in big trouble if you are swept off your feet. It is always a good idea to bring a wading staff with you and to fish with a buddy who can watch your back should things go awry. Similar to the Farmington, the Housey should be very close to the Hendrickson hatch, maybe even a bit closer as it is quite a bit warmer. For that reason a Hendrickson nymph is a great option if you decide to do some nymphing. Bigger stoneflies are not a bad idea as well. It is still a bit early for Smallmouth and the Pike are still on the spawn. We are at least a few weeks out but those fisheries should turn on quite quickly once the water temperatures get where they need to be.
The Striped Bass fishing has been nothing short of spectacular recently. We are about two weeks early for the typical Striper Run and many anglers are unaware that things have kicked off. That has meant lots of fish and not nearly as many anglers in popular areas like the mouth of the Housey. All across the state, the bite has been strong with lots of fish being brought to hand. Fishing are being taken in bays, from shore, rivermouths, harbors, and down deep. It seems like on any given day the fishing has been lights out regardless of where you are.
The hot spots right now are the Connecticut, Housatonic, Thames, and Pawcatuck Rivers, with double digit days the norm if you time it correctly and conditions are favorable. Most of the fish being caught are that 15 to 22” schoolie size but there are 26+ inch fish in the mix as well. There are also some very big fish feeding on Herring but they are more elusive and tougher to capture. Smaller schoolie fish are coming out from the wintering holes and beginning to feed very aggressively while the larger breeding fish are moving into these areas to feed before moving elsewhere to spawn. Most of the larger fish are being taken at night by spin anglers. No surprise there, but 30” fish are a real possibility for fly anglers right now. So too is that 20+ pound fish from shore -- rare to be sure, but entirely possible.
We have a small window of opportunity to get these bigger fish on the fly and right now is the time. Anglers who are doing well know these locations and how they react to tide, moon, and wind, and making the proper adjustments with respect to what stage of the Ebb or Flow you are fishing makes all the difference. And of course each location has its own subtleties and nuances. Moon phase is also key in relation to tides. If you are thinking about going out for Stripers keep a close eye on all of these factors. As far as gear goes, a 9wt is the lightest rod we recommend right now. In fact, because of the wind and with weighted flies a must, a 10wt is really preferable. An intermediate sinking line is often plenty of sink but having a full sink matched to the rod is not a bad idea as well.