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Now, on to the fishing...
Conditions on the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Neversink, and Esopus look good! On colder and cloudy days we are seeing water temps in the high 40’s but when it is warm and sunny the water is getting up to the mid-fifties. On these warmer days there are fish up and taking bugs off of the surface later in the afternoon. Early morning has been almost devoid of action with things picking up substantially later in the day as the water warms. So there is no need to get on the water early just yet. Even nymphing seems to only be yielding a fish or two and it is all about the dry flies right now. On the right day the dry fly fishing can be spectacular. The Hendricksons will be the hatch you should focus on but there is a good mix of lights and darks (Red Quills) as well as Paraleps. When the hatch is good the spinner fall has been excellent as well, so long as you don’t have much wind. Many anglers will leave too early so if you are fishing this hatch be sure to stay until dark. Often fishing the spinner fall right until dark is when the action is best and the largest fish are caught.
The Delaware watershed is looking good! As of 5/18 we are seeing great flows and great water temperatures. The forecast is looking good as well. The Lower East, Lower West, and the Mainstem are all looking great. There are fish rising on a variety of bugs including Hendricksons (Light and Red Quills), Blue Quills (Paraleps), and a variety of smaller caddis. The Apples are here so be prepared for that hatch as well. The Hendrickson hatch is the big one at the moment but it is starting to wane a little bit. Fish will take the Apple Caddis around 12 or 1 and transition over to Hendys and then Paraleps. As many of you know, the Delaware is an extremely technical dry fly river. So be prepared if you are new to this watershed. I recommend having emergers, duns, cripples, and spinners in any fly you expect to encounter up there. It will pay dividends. In the past week, we were hearing that the Hendrickson and Blue Quill (Paralep) were the hot bugs. The Main is seeing March Browns so if you plan on fishing this stretch be sure to have MBs with you too. The Lower West and Lower East will have them any day now. The Upper East and Upper West are still on the cold side but nymphing should prove productive. But with the hatches so good at the moment, why drown a nymph?
The Striper fishing along the coast of New York is still going strong. We are still in the heart of the Spring Striper run. The larger fish should be post-spawn any day now and beginning their move Northeast (if they have not already). These fish will show up on the Western end of Long Island and Connecticut within the week I would assume. Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic side of Long Island are great places to target some of these larger Stripers. 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 as important as fishing during the right tide and 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 helpful. These fish will not be that picky this early in the season so almost any fly will work and we recommend a standard issue Clouser Minnow in a wide variety of colors. Have a few sizes to choose from as well. It seems like Long Island is where most of the fly fishing action is, and so much the better. It is more accessible, easier to fish, and much nicer to look at. Rockaway Point (Breezy Point) on the Western end of Long Island has been fishing very well. Rockaway Park just to the East and the adjacent Jamaica Bay Wildlife refuge have seen a bunch of fish, mostly schoolies recently but with some larger fish mixed in as well. Silver Point on East Rockaway Inlet is another good option as is Rockaway Beach itself. We are also hearing murmurings of large Bass popping up on the flats in the Eastern End of Long Island. They have been seen on the Flats which goes to show that there are big fish all over the place right now. You just need to know where to look or get lucky!
We are still seeing some good local stream action. Balmy temperatures and some fresh fish around meant that most anglers had good results this past weekend. There were also quite a few fish rising on small caddis, BWOs, and even a few stoneflies cruising around. The crowds were significant and this coming weekend will be no different. It seems like no matter where you go, it is going to be packed. A little frustrating, sure, but getting there early will at least give you a shot at some fish before they get hammered with Roostertails and worms under bobbers. The water has been quite turbid of late and streamers seemed to be the most productive depending on the clarity of the river. Darker nymph patterns will also be productive with the increased turbidity. “Junk flies” accounted for many fish in there areas that were recently stocked however in areas where the fish have been in longer small midges and other subtle patterns fished on 7x were the key. Water temperatures are on the way up but still pretty good for the moment. A high of mid-sixties is the average across the board signaling the beginning of the end for these frequently stocked smaller rivers. We are really at the tail end of the smaller trout stream season for sure. Things are warming up and pretty soon these rivers will either get fished out by spin anglers or too warm to keep those fish alive. In areas where they do cling to life, they will be stressed and hunkered down in the deepest holes and rarely feeding. For most of the streams in the state these next two weeks or so will be the last gasp for those quick and easy trips. There are a few that stay colder and are less pressured which will fish well into June but for the most part tailwaters will be the target come June and July.
The long-awaited Hendrickson hatch is beginning to wane downstream. However, it is not over just yet and there are still some of these mayflies coming off in good numbers, especially in the colder water upstream. Basically, from Church Pool up to the dam will have Hendrickons popping on regular basis throughout the afternoon. It is actually advantageous for the dry fly angler at the moment. As the water warms up the fish become more active and they tend to rise more readily earlier in the day. The tail end of the hatch also means that there will be fewer bugs hatching but generally enough to get the fish interested. That means your fly will not be “competing” with as many naturals and often a fish will move a good distance to grab a well-presented fly. Even if that fish is not willing to move, at the tail end of a hatch a good drift over the fish often gets sucked down. As far as other hatches are concerned there is not much to get excited about. BWOs are still around and you can potentially get a few fish on a size 18. There are also caddis coming off, also in size 18. Green and tan should do it. We have March Browns on the way so be prepared for that. They are the largest mayfly we will get on the Farmington and a very fun hatch to fish. If conditions trend in the right direction then we should see them in a week or so. Time to start tying! 10s, 12s, and 14s.
There hasn’t been much change to the subsurface stuff. It still seems that nymphing is the most consistent method at the moment. The tight-line and indicator anglers are catching quite a few fish with those larger holdover/wild fish mixed in. The Farmington has become a tight-lining stronghold and this method will produce more fish than other methods due to the amount of pressure this river gets. All bets are off with pattern selection as a result. Caddis, stoneflies, mayflies, worms, mops, sculpins, and midges are all on the table. Perdigones are taking a ton of fish and a core style for most tightliners. The Farmington has great diversity in term of insect species so don’t be afraid to fish all manner of flies. What most anglers have told us is that unique patterns are often the key to success. You need the right size and profiles to imitate a particular type of insect, sure, but often getting creative with colors and materials can be the difference between a few fish and a lot of fish. Especially when it comes to those trophy wild fish everyone is after.
Water levels look great! It’s at 237 CFS out of the dam with 97 coming out of the Still and falling. The water will continue to slowly fall and by the weekend conditions should be just about ideal, with great flow for both nymphing and dry fly fishing. All spots will be wadeable and accessible. Water temps in the low to mid-fifties below the Still at the peak and should warm a degree or two by the weekend. The Farmington is fishing extremely well right now and the conditions look perfect! We are entering the prime months for fishing this river so now is the time to get out there!
Finally a window! The Housatonic looks almost perfect and certainly wadable for this upcoming weekend! Expect to see fish up and rising on the tail end of Hendricksons and maybe even a March Brown or two. Conditions are ideal right now. There will be some caddis flying around so have some of those in your box as well. We have some rain on the way so who knows how long these conditions will hold out but as of right now things look incredible. We recommend nymphing in the mornings and then switching to dries once the fish start coming up. Odds are you will have a great day!
The Smallies are becoming more and more consistent. Granted it is still on the early side but the water is warming and the fish have become more active. If you do decide to target these fish a a slow retrieve down deep is critical. You do not need to crawl the fly by any means but be sure to give the fly nice long pauses. Target structure, especially in locations sheltered from the bulk of the current. Also, be aware of areas that will warm faster than the rest of the surrounding rivers as these fish will congregate here and feed more aggressively. On the right day, we have heard of a few fish being taken on poppers. That is a strong indication that the fish are becoming much more active. Not much longer until the late spring bite when fishing will be at its best.
The Pike fishing has been picking up and some really nice fish have been taken in the past week. The water is warming and the fish are post-spawn. That means they are feeding heavily and on any given day the fishing could be lights out. As I have mentioned before, it is all about covering water. These fish will be holding in ambush locations putting on the pounds after the spawn. They will be far less temperature and location sensitive as in the previous months. It is all about food and as such, where you fish should hinge on baitfish concentrations and concealment that Pike will use as ambush points. The fishing will continue well into summer so things are just getting started!
The river mouths are still producing Stripers on the right day but it seems as though things are slowing quite a bit in these locations. At this point, it will be more advantageous to spread out and fish bays, structure, and beaches. Most seem to have left the rivers and have proliferated outward in search of food. As such, areas like Penfield Reef should be fishing well right about now. Connecticut as a whole is in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment but that will come to an end any day now with the big breeding females on the move! They are post-spawn most likely and should be showing up any day now! There will be plenty of fish around and lots of action when conditions are right. It will be a mixed bag of big migratory fish and smaller schoolies for the next few months. We have been seeing quite a few fish off the beaches as well. They have not moved into deep water and are still tucked in tight which is great news for us fly anglers! Nothing has changed as far as fly selection goes. Clouser Minnows in a size 1/0 have been extremely effective and we recommend having a few color options, something natural and something bright for differences in turbidity but that should be all you need. Deceivers will work too but generally a weighted fly will out fish an unweighted one, since you’ll need to get down deep enough. An intermediate sinking line with a weighted fly seems to be the sweet spot. Colors we recommend are Olive/White and Chartreuse and White. However, you will find these fish to be quite aggressive toward many patterns and colors. The key is getting the fly out far enough and deep enough.
The falling tide is always the top producer for shore-based anglers but that does not mean the rising won’t produce as well. Really, as long as you have moving water you should have actively feeding fish provided the area you are fishing is holding them. In the week to come we will start to see these larger migratory fish move into the area. It is advantageous to begin probing areas now as there is a pretty short window for fly anglers in terms of targeting these larger fish. The end of May should have these larger fish along our coast so making preparations now is key.
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