Northeast Fishing Report: 5/21/21 - The Compleat Angler

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May 21, 2021

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The fly fishing across the Northeast has been hot! Regardless of what you decide to target, the conditions are great for both fresh and saltwater species. The trout fishing has been holding steady in most places and improving significantly in others. While we could use a shot of rain, the hatches have kept most anglers smiling. The Farmington has been fishing well despite the crowds and the Housy is down to nice wadable levels. The Catskills are low as well, but the fly fishing has been great with lots of bugs hatching for the dry fly diehards. Rhode Island and New York have joined the Striper party with a mix of large and small fish in a lot of different locations. It is all happening right now!

Rhode Island

Saltwater

Rhodie is beginning to heat up. While it is a few weeks behind Connecticut and about a month behind New York, there are schoolies moving in all along the coast. The beaches, back bays, and river mouths have been consistent this past week with fish up to 30 inches. Smaller flies and intermediate sinking lines have been taking the majority of fish. Don’t be dissuaded by the size of fish however. The Cinder Worms have begun to show and while it is still a bit early, when they do appear, some really large Bass move into the salt ponds to gorge on these aquatic anomalies. When the Stripers are on the worms, they will not take anything else. And even with a few Cinder Worm patterns, they can often refuse many offerings. As a result, it is best to tie a multitude of sizes and colors - and plenty of them. Matching the hatch perfectly is key and if you are able to do so, the fishing should be lights out. Rhodie is very special in the quality of the Cinder Worm hatch and anglers travel from all over the Northeast just to fish it. If you are thinking about hitting this hatch, be prepared - have a lot of flies and time your trip around the Full Moon. Also consider throwing a floating line. May and June are when this hatch really happens so now is the time to prepare!

 

New York

Freshwater

Many of the New York streams are running low. The fish will be very educated as well. Low water tactics with smaller flies will be the best use of your time with fish that are not rising. Smaller subsurface midges, mayfly patterns, and caddis will be good options. The Hendricksons are holding on in a few rivers, but at this point it may be more of a caddis, midge, BWO hatch for the next few weeks. Smaller flies and 6 or 7x tippet will be a good option. Do not be afraid to cover water and locate less pressured pockets of fish.

 

Saltwater

Saltwater fly fishing has been great all along the New York coast. From Little Neck and Jamaica Bay all the way up to Long Island there has been some awesome fishing last week. There are a mixture of smaller Bass, larger Bass, and Gator Bluefish up for grabs. The large Blues have moved into the back bays of Long Island and are aggressively feeding before the spawn. They are seeking out the warmest water. If you locate these fish on a high and falling tide, the action should be stellar. These are awesome fish to target on fly and while it may take some searching, once you run across these fish, you should have no problem hooking up as long as you strip the fly as fast as you can. A proven tactic is to search with a hookless popper and tease the fish in close to get a shot with the fly. Make sure you are using 10wts as these fish can tip the scales at 15 pounds or more. Large and flashy flies are key, making 10 the minimum weight rod for these situations. The Stripers have been literally all over the place. Water temperatures are perfect for shore-based fly fishing. While the larger fish are mainly in 40 feet or deeper, they are being found in the shallows in the early morning and late evening hours. There are plenty of schoolies around as well to keep the rods bent, but always be prepared for a cow Striper to suck down your fly this time of year. You never know what you are going to hook. There are substantial numbers of larger fish infiltrating into New York and will do so for the next month. So, keep those larger flies in your box and with any concerted effort, you should be able to get into some larger class fish.

Catskills

The Delaware

The Mainstem is running around 2010, the East is low at 721, and the West Branch is low as well with a CFS of 585 as of 5/21. These are great flows for wading the upper branches. We are hearing good things in terms of dry fly action. Midges, stones, BWOs, Paraleps, and some apple caddis are popping. The BWOs and Apple Caddis seem to be the hot flies recently. The Hendricksons are on the way out with the majority of the action being on the upper branches at this point. With the weather we have on the way, the fishing should really pick up in the next week or so. The March Browns have begun on the lower sections of the Mainstem and should be working their way up. The lower water has stifled the streamer bite. While working deeper sections of river may yield some strikes, it is best to stick with dries until we get a good bump of water. As always, keep an eye on those gauges. That is half the battle with the Delaware.

Beaverkill/Willowemoc

The Willow and Beaverkill have come down a lot. The Beaverkill is around 362 CFS and falling. The Willowemoc very low is at 102 and falling. Those are good levels for wading, but not necessarily great for fishing. I would recommend fishing elsewhere for the next few days at least. When the water comes back, the Hendricksons have been making appearances on the warmer days and the fish have been on them. It is the end of the hatch and the March Browns are beginning to show. The Beaverkill and Willowemoc will be warmer than the Delaware making them a great option earlier in the season. But again, keep an eye on the gauges.

Connecticut

Local Streams

The local stockings are just about over and we do not expect to see any more fish down this way for the rest of the season. That means educated fish and stealthy tactics. Keep in mind that many fish will be taken and killed, especially in the more popular areas. So, moving around and finding less pressured areas are key. There is some good news however - the crowds on our local rivers have been dwindling as many anglers head to the Farmington, Housey, Catskills, or saltwater. This can result in some quiet fly fishing with few, if any anglers to compete with. Smaller flies are the name of the game from now on. For dries, the midges, BWOs, caddis, and smaller mayfly imitations will work. Sizes 18 to 24 will be the most productive range when fished on 7x. For subsurface flies, the same holds true for size. Zebra midges are a must at this point. Some unweighted options will work as well. Smaller beadhead caddis and pheasant-tail type patterns are never a bad choice. Switch your flies regularly to see what these fish want and use that information to make more informed fly sections later in the day. Depending on what the weather does, we should have another few weeks of decent fly fishing before it really tails off.

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.


Farmington River

The Farmington has been fishing well. While the crowds have been no joke, the Hendrickson hatch has kept most anglers very happy. That hatch is on its way out and March Browns will be next. The Hendricksons are sparse in the C&R section and the best hatch will be up towards the dam. Hendy spinners later in the afternoons will still take fish, but expect that to peter out soon. There are lots of tan, green, and sedge caddis coming off. Expect to see midges in the mornings and fish rising on them in the softer sections or eddies. BWOs are always a factor as well, especially on cloudier days. The water levels are pretty darn good for dry fly fishing. The dam is putting out around 335. The Still is low and falling. It is not putting in much water and is essentially a non-factor. As we keep saying, with the crowds now, it may be best to get there super early to get a prime spot. Church, Chair Factory, Halfords, Greenwoods, Pipeline, and the Boneyard are all putting up some really nice fish. In order to get the bigger and wild Browns that you go up there for it will mean a very early morning and then having to hold it. That being said, there is plenty of water on this river and anglers have been doing well by fishing on the move. Fishing “B” or “C” water and hitting multiple pockets while covering water has often been the key to success. We certainly heard that last year from the Farmy Vets. The water temperatures are great right now and the larger fish are beginning to spread out. Consider deploying this tactic from now on. Especially as crowds swell to peak in late May, June, and July it can make or break your day. As mentioned before the Farmington has a long Catch and Release Only section making it a great choice this time of year. While you can expect a lot of spin anglers to be up there as well, there is plenty of water to fish where there will be fewer anglers around.

Keep in mind: Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

The Housy is looking good for the next week or so. The water is falling and with no rain predicted for the next few days, we should have great wadable levels coming up. The Hendricksons are done and until the March Browns show up, it is best to go sub surface during the mid-day hours. A wide variety of nymphs will take fish on this river. Mayfly, stonefly, midge, and caddis imitations will all have their moments. A pheasant-tail type pattern imitating a March Brown is a good starting point, as is a beadhead caddis of some description. If you are fishing faster and heavier water, a big ole stonefly nymph is tough to beat. If you do see fish rising, they will likely be on caddis. Size 18 tan or olive caddis are good options until the mayflies show up again. The Pike are still holding their own and taking well-presented flies to those willing to break out the heavier rods. Covering water has been key to success and matching the appropriate fly to the conditions. The Smallmouth have really come into their own as well. They are hammering poppers in the mornings and afternoons. Right now is the best time to target these fish on surface flies, which is an absolute blast. Mid-day tends to find the Smallies the least active. Fishing weighted streamers with sink tips should keep those rods bent however.

Keep in mind: Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357. 

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

We are in the meat of the Spring Striper run at this point. There are fish all over the place.

Greenwich, Milford, Branford, Byram, Stratford, and Niantic are all reporting lots of fish, including some large fish. Some spots are hotter than others, but there is no one best area. The fishing has been awesome all along the coast. Some anglers are doing well while others are struggling. The key is to be checking multiple spots on a good tide. Moving around, changing flies, and doing your best to locate fish will make all of the difference. If you don’t get a bite in 30 minutes, it is often best to move. The shorelines, beaches, rock piles, and inshore structure will all be holding fish.

 

The well-known mouth of the Housatonic has cooled down quite a bit as most of the fish have proliferated outward. Shorelines with good structure and currents are places to target in the weeks to come. Time and tide are critical considerations at this point as well. Fishing the falling tide during lower light hours is the most advantageous. The Stripers have definitely begun their transition into low light feeding behavior, so bright, sunny, mid-day fishing will be tough. Fishing early in the morning or at dusk is the most productive. Depending on what the weather and water does, having bright and natural options for flies is always good practice this time of year. The water can go from cold to warm, turbid to clear, or calm to choppy from day to day. Picking the right day and conditions is everything. Fly selection has varied from angler to angler. Some have caught really big fish using larger beast-style flies while others are using the proven Clouser and picking up nice fish as well. Deceivers have come into their own as more and more fish push into the shallows and unweighted flies become a more critical component. There are so many fish around in so many different places that now is the time to “catch 'em how you want to.” Early in the mornings, poppers are beginning to take fish. The water temps are just right and with the fish being as active and aggressive as they are, now is a great time of the year to get some surface eats. There are also some really big fish on Bunker schools and if you want to do the bait-n’-switch thing with hookless poppers, now is a perfect time to start doing so.

Keep in mind: Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.


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