Northeast Fishing Report: 4/9/21 - The Compleat Angler

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April 08, 2021

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The report this week should look pretty familiar and not a whole lot has really changed. We've started to see a bit more action in trout rivers across the region, as expected with the warmer weather. The saltwater action has still yet to really materialize though it won't be long. We have received some nice reports from the Great Lakes, the last hurrah before things shut down until the fall. As always, 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 that a lot of spin anglers are out and killing fish, which is a shame, but if you are willing to move around or go on a weekday, the fishing could be exceptional. 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 exactly where to fish, a little exploring could result in some awesome action. Any decent sized 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 likely be fairly uneducated. Another option is indicator nymphing with mops, wormies, and stoneflies -- really anything reasonable will work.

We mentioned it last week but it bears repeating for New York State: the 2021 regulations have changed. They will be opening trout water for catch and release only during the late Fall and Winter months. This will open up fishing opportunities for many fly anglers and is an exciting new development!


The new regulations effective April 1st 2021 are:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. 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
  4. 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, so make sure to give those a close look.

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

The Mainstem is running around 3700, the East is high at over 1300 and the West Branch is around 1700. The Branches and Mainstem are too high for wading but great for drifting. 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 still a ways away, on warmer days the fish should be rising on midges, stones, BWOs, Paraleps, and some small black caddis. 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. With the weather we have on the way, the fishing should pick up in the next week or so.  

Beaverkill/Willowemoc

The Willow and Beaverkill have come down quite a bit but who knows what the rain this weekend will do. The Beaverkill is around 600 CFS and falling. This is a great wadable level but again, the rain could change that immediately. 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. It will be best to wait until the water subsides. 

Ontario Tributaries

We have heard that the drop backs are happening now! Anglers are stocking up on stoneflies and glow bugs and making the trip up to Ontario. Most of the fish are in the middle and upper sections of river but that could change daily. The fish are through spawning and making their way back to the lake. They will be very hungry after spawning and will have the feedbags on. A bunch of different patterns will work such as streamers and stoneflies. This is a short window of opportunity so there is no time to waste. Your best bet will be to go as soon as possible. The fishing should be good for a few weeks or so and then will tail off quite a bit. After that the fishing will be done for a while. As such we will be removing this section from the report. Thank you to all of you who contributed. It was a great season up there. We will pick back up once the salmon start running in September. We hope you caught some nice fish and we will see you up there next season. 

Connecticut

Local Streams

No change to the local report which is a great thing. The state continues to stock our local streams and the fishing has been awesome the past week. The Stonefly hatch on many of our streams has been great. This hatch is past its peak and will continue to dwindle as the Spring progresses but if you want to get on 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 and drifting them under an indicator is tough to beat right now. Small streamers will work at times 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.

Having a good selection of nymphs and switching flies frequently is the name of the game. 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. And size will be key. If you are not getting bit, switch to a smaller fly, which is often all it takes. As I mentioned before, the Stones are coming off very well. Again, in certain streams the fish are pretty pressured but if you have the right fly, the dry fly fishing should be great! The Mianus was stocked again on the 6th so the fishing should hold for a week or so before all the spin anglers clean the place out. 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.

Opening day is unfortunately this Saturday, which means that you will find a lot of spin anglers out there killing fish in the Trout Management Areas. That signals the beginning of the end of our local trout stream fishing. While the fishing will sometimes hold throughout May depending on what the state does stocking-wise, typically, our streams get cleaned out in a few weeks. After opening day there will be a noticeable decline in the quality of fly fishing. It’s a shame. We recommend fly fishing elsewhere after Saturday. The Fly Fishing Only Areas are a good option as most fly anglers do not kill fish or perhaps target larger sections of catch and release only areas like those on the Farmington.

Remember if you do see any poaching or spin fishing in Fly Fishing Only areas 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. There is no matching the hatch as 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 fish much better than mornings and afternoons but there is certainly a small low light bite window. Remember that 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 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 as rain can change things in a hurry. 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 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 is ever so slowly picking up. With the weather we have, popular holes like Greenwoods, Legends, Church, Halfords, or the Boneyard will 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 is still a bit high. The CFS is 1000 as of 4/9 but with the rain we have on the way that could change. 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 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 60s bode well. A huge benefit to this river is that it will have far fewer anglers than the Farmington. So if you are looking to avoid 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 hold 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 setup. Another new development is the steadily improving Pike fly 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 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 the 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 week 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. We 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 two 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, however. 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 in earnest.


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