May 23, 2019 13 min read
The Croton watershed remains high this week. It has been tough on the Croton the past few weeks. High and turbid conditions continue to challenge anglers despite recent stockings in many of the rivers in this watershed. The West Branch of the Croton is especially high. The East is much lower but this is a completely different river. It is still high at around 300CFS and until these rivers subside a bit conditions will remain challenging. If you do plan on fishing here this weekend make sure to bring split shot and heavy flies. Getting down will be key. The fish will be reluctant to rise with the high and fast water. So, getting down deep with nymphs will be the most successful tactic. Stoneflies, beadhead caddis, or perdigones (if you are tight lining) are good choices. But be prepared for high water and adjust your flies and presentations accordingly. All of the river across the watershed are slowly dropping and unless we get an unexpected storm, the Croton river should be fishing well by the end of next week.
The Catskills are beginning to return to normal flows. If the weather hold out expect the Beaverkill and Willowemoc to lights out in the coming days. Henriksons are still very much a factor at the moment, however, it is time to start having March Browns in your box as well. They are beginning to pop across the Catskills and is soon to become the predominant hatch. This past week has also seen Sulphers coming up. It is early for this hatch by a few weeks. Make sure you bring a few Sulphurs with you at this point. The Apple Caddis have shown up as well since our last report with some tans mixed in as well. High water, turbidity, and weather have made thing challenging at times but the anglers who have timed it right (or gotten lucky) have done exceptionally well. The next week or so looks promising.
The Delaware has been living up to its reputation as one of the more technical dry fly rivers in the country. The fishing has been great lately but the weather has made for challenging fishing. Between rain, temperature fluctuations, wind and multiple hatches, the fish have been giving anglers a run for their money. On sunny days with little wind the Hendricksons have been the marquee hatch. However, we are hearing that the hatch is winding down. Keep your Hendricksons on you but we recommend you start preparing for Sulphur's and March Browns. They have begun to appear on the main stem fairly regularly and it is only a matter of time before they move up into the East and West branches. On the cloudy and rainy days, BWOs’ have been the predominant hatch with some Paraleps mixed in. Anglers have done very well with BWO CDC duns and emergers. Expect the hatch to last all day and be prepared with seizes 16,18 and 20s. To complicate things further, Grey Foxes are staring to hatch and there is also a strong Caddis hatch going on right now as well. Tan and Apple Caddis are coming off late morning and continuing until mid-afternoon so be prepared for that well. The flows are dropping and with a promising forecast for the next week or so, if the weather holds we should see some great fishing on the Delaware.
This weekend should provide some great fishing to those looking for some Striper action. Reports out of New York are good! There are plenty of fish being caught. Like always, the best fishing is directly correlated with the right tide and time of day. A falling tide is a bit more productive if you fishing from shore simple due to the fact that those fish will be tucked in tight feeding on bait. This allows you to get right on the fish and enables you to get your fly to them. Lower light is also another factor. The fish are pretty active right now and tide is more critical than time of day however, if you can get a falling tide at first or last light then you will have good chance of some spectacular fishing. That is provided you are in the right spot. The bigger migratory fish have been breeding in the Hudson have moved into NY and CT at this point. They are post-spawn and plenty of them have been caught signaling the beginning of our best striper fishing all year. The recent full moon has stirred things up and the big fish are on their annual move North. Long Island has been fishing very well. Most of the bigger bass have been taken by trolling, chunking, and jigging but that does not mean it is futile on the fly. These fish are very coastal right now and have not moved out into the deeper water like they do in mid-summer so these fish are very targetable. If you can get out on a boat, look for schools of bait. There are bunker around already so there are likely to be fish on them. Throw big bunker-sized flies and focus on the apex of the tide. These fish will often only feed actively for about 30 minutes when the tide is moving the fastest. It is best to locate a school of bait and sit on it very quietly until that tide gets ripping. Wait to cast until you have strong tidal current and cast just to the outside of the school. If a big fish is around it won’t take long. If after multiple casts you don’t get bit, run to another school quickly and try again.
The stockie streams remain consistent. There have been plenty of fish caught recently and if you were thinking about fishing locally, these streams are still a good option. Reports from the water indicate many of these streams are still fishing well. The Mianus seems to have dropped off a bit. Many of the fish have been pulled out by the bait and spin guys but you can still catch plenty of fish if you are willing to put in the time. The most successful anglers have been getting there early and covering a lot of water. Subtle presentations and smaller flies are by far the most effective. No size 8 Wooly Buggers at this point. Stick with midges and small beadhead caddis in a size 18, 20, and 22. The more “natural” looking the better. Black, brown and olive are all great choices in terms of color. In addition, with these smaller flies you must downsize your tippet. 5,6,and 7x Fluorocarbon will yield the best results. These fish have seen a lot of different flies at this point. Mix it up and get crazy with your fly selections. It’s often just a matter of giving the fish something they have not seen before. Just remember to keep those flies small.
The Norwalk remains the best option as far as local streams are concerned. It received a fresh batch of fish last week and the anglers who have gone out have done very well. The typical spots such as Schenk’s Island, Merwin Meadows and the Wilton YMCA are all still good options. However, the fringe water adjacent to these spots are also very fishable. The more popular spots obviously get hit first, and get hit hard. Moving up or down stream can often make a big difference. You can find plenty of fish that are much more willing to take a well-presented fly. Again, consider getting to the river early and hit the popular spots first. As the day progresses and it gets more crowded, move into the fringe water. You might be surprised at how many fish you can find.
The Saugatuck is still fishable but it seems like the fish are few and far between. However, there have not been many anglers on the water as of late so this a good choice if you want to avoid the crowds. You will have to work for the fish a bit more than the other rivers mentioned above but that does not mean this is not a good choice. There are some nice fish in the Fly Fishing Only Section. You also won’t run the risk of being surrounded by spin fishermen which is inevitable this time of year, especially on the weekends. Small nymphs are your best bet however, this time of year can offer some great dry fly fishing. Size 20 BWOs’ and Griffith’s Gnats will take fish when they are coming up. An ant or beetle is also a good choice mid-day and will take fish when they are not rising on a regular basis.
Also, we got word from our friend Mr. Pogo Pike about conditions upstate, where conditions have continued to be good:
Water temps are really helping the bite and the flows and clarity are almost perfect. Let's hope for no major rain for another week! Water temps are ranging from 55 to 60 depending on the day in the faster trout water and 58 to 70 degrees in the slower or still waters. Smallmouth are spawning and the bite seems to have shut down for now. Pike are starting to spread out after their spawning recovery period of feasting in the shallows. The pike fishing has been really good lately!
(For more day-to-day info, or to book a day on the water, drop Pogo a note at PogoPike@gmail.com).
The Farmington has been fishing very well despite the higher water. Plenty of fish are being caught even though conditions have been slightly less than favorable as of late. It seems that we can’t get past the high water regardless of the river, but the Farmington has been living up to its reputation as one of the best rivers in the state. There are tons of stocked trout to keep anglers busy throughout the day while searching for a bigger wild or holdover fish. Tight line presentations have extremely effective especially with the higher water. It is a great way to spend the morning and get some fish under your belt while waiting for the hatch. Hendricksons have been popping off and the fish are definitely on them. The hatch is beginning to peter out but they are still around. They are coming off around 1pm depending on the weather. Anglers who have been doing well have been getting to the water early, nymphing for the first part of the day, and then switching to dries as the fish begin to come up. Have spinners, cripples, duns, and emergers ready to go in sizes 12 and 14 for when the hatch occurs. There are also some Paraleps and Caddis flying around as well. On the cloudy and rainy days expect a pretty good BWO hatch. The dry fly fishing can be spectacular this time of year when everything lines up. We strongly recommend hitting Farmington regardless of the forecast. Bring a nymphing set up as well as a dry fly rod and be prepared for anything. Keep an eye on the hatches and if you are flexible you will have some outstanding fishing. Some very nice fish have been caught recently so it is time to get up there!
Things are improving on the Housatonic finally! We probably just jinxed us all but things are looking up! The water is beginning to subside and if the weather holds out, we may have our first real shot at some fishable conditions since last fall! (For trout fishing that is). The Smallmouth Bass and Pike fishing has been great lately. These species are not effected by the high water nearly as much as the trout hare. With warming temperatures and plenty of water, Northers and Smallies have been happy and feeding. Some really nice bass have been taken on subsurface flies lately and we are approaching popper time. The Pike continue to bite aggressively but expect to work for them and cover a lot of water. That’s how pike fishing always is but now is a great time to go predator fishing. This past weekend the water was up and turbid. Visibility was about 2 feet and the Housey was still too high to wade. However, a few of our customers got up there and floated it. They reported good fishing. They caught a fair number of trout and plenty of nice smallies as well. The most productive method was streamers by far. There was a good Caddis hatch that built as the afternoon progressed but the boys said that only a few fish were coming up. Once the sun came out the streamer bite turned off but the Smallie fishing stayed good all day. The water is dropping and clearing up so keep an eye on the weather. If the forecast is correct, it may be time to get up there in the next few days.
Things are only getting better! Despite the mouth of the Housatonic slowing down a bit, one of our customers Lane Finley whacked a really nice Striper last week (picture below). There are still bass around at the Housey and there is the potential to catch a really nice fish as the bigger migratory fish move in. All along the Connecticut coast, things are heating up. Schoolies seem to be everywhere. Compo Beach, Pennfield Reef, Sherwood Island, and Hammonasset Beach, have all been fishing well. It seems like it doesn’t really matter where you decide to fish. If you time it right you should be able to find fish no problem. The bigger fish are definitely here as well. Fish in the 30s and bigger have recently been caught as the post-spawn fish move Northeast. Granted, these fish are more difficult to target and hook, it is a viable option at this point. These bigger fish are certainly around and now is when you are going to get one of these big Stripers on the fly. First and last light are the best times to be on the water in conjunction with a falling tide. We have very good Moon phase right now with strong ebbs and flows. This will only improving fishing and if you are thinking about getting out there, this week is a great time to go. Have your standard Clousers and Decivers but also bring some bigger flies with you. Periodically tie something bigger on. The big fish are often mixed in with schoolies and throwing a bigger will often result in nicer fish brought to hand.
Water flows have settled in pretty nicely across some of Western Massachusetts’ more popular trout streams, including the Deerfield, Millers, and Westfield (and the tailwater Swift has been fishing well too). We’re in a nice window at the moment with reasonable water levels, warmer temps and hatches starting to pop off with regularity. Just in time for the long weekend!
The Deerfield has settled in to more normal flows this week and we expect good water this weekend too. The story has been pretty consistent - still plenty of action on streamers and nymphs along with Hendricksons on top and the occasional caddis. Eric Gass, of GSO Outfitting (pictured above) continues to report quality fishing up and down the Deerfield with many healthy brown trout and stocked fish as well. If you fish the Deerfield now is the time to be out there, and if you haven't and always wanted to, now is a great time to book a float.
Last weekend the big news on the Cape was the Cheeky Schoolie Tournament which saw 450 anglers vying for fortune and glory in search of schoolies. The Cheeky instagram feed has a bunch of great photos from the event, and you can find an excellent tournament recap here. In addition to all of the fun, the tournament raised $10,000 for Stripers Forever which was a win across the board. Thanks to all of the companies who sponsored and kicked in to support it.
Stripers are being caught from the south shore up around the cape and islands and up along the north shore with regularity. We're hearing reports of the occasional 30"+ fish in addition to the schoolies. Finding the big fish means targeting their prey so look for herring, mackerel, etc., if you are targeting a lunker that's the game.
The islands are starting to pick up as well, and we just recieved the following from Corey Gammill (pictured above with his brother and two recent stripers) of Bill Fisher Outfitters:
We love Spring on this island for so many reasons, none the least of which is the awesome skinny water fishing, and this Spring has yet to disappoint us, in fact it has been just the opposite, awesome. Most of the fish are concentrated on the north shore and the harbors, which is typical for this time of year, but what has been different is how long the big bait has stayed around. Both harbors and the north shore are loaded with Mackerel. This has made a difference thus far as usually the fish come to our shoreline this time of year to rest, warm up and feed some. The fish this spring are feeding heavily and already showing some girth.
In the last two days we have heard confirmed reports of Keepers being caught by John Colten and Capt. Cam! We have heard of plenty of fish in the 25-27 inch range, so we know there are bigger fish around.
As to where to fish, there is no secret spot. Both Madaket and the main harbor have been producing as has the north shore. Do make sure you know what the tide is as many spots in the harbor only fish well around the high tide, while some only fish well around the low. Bottom line, the fish need 2-3 feet to feel comfortable, but much more than that, they can struggle pinning bait. So our recommendation is to fish mid to high tide ad find a shoreline that you know and are comfortable with and make sure to work the stretch to its entirety. Do not stand in one place. We learned this advice from the late David Goodman years ago, always be moving and exploring.
Word in Maine and New Hampshire is fairly similar to last week. We know we sound a little like a broken record here, but the upshot is that while conditions aren't yet ideal, there are fish to be had for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.
Here was the latest word from Nate Hill of Hill Country Guides, who reports that rivers are still high in Northern New England, but that there are still fish to be found:
We have been busy guiding and fishing as of late. Although the rivers are high we are finding fish. Last week I was fortunate to get out on the Saco with my good friend Brian Boyle and fellow HCG guide Kevin Gordon. We had a great day chasing predatory brown trout on the Saco, landing 3 out of 5 hooked. Unfortunately we lost our largest fish which ate one of Brians 6” Drunk and Disorderly streamers and broke 20lb test. Just another reason to keep working for these mythical fish. The Androscoggin River continues to Run high due to rain. We are looking forward to the andro dropping as there will be alot of large drop-down salmon and brook trout to catch, along with the everpresent wild rainbows. We will keep you posted as to when the Andro is floatable.
Reports from Maine are still on the thin side but we are hearing word that the schoolies have arrived along the southern coast in more significant numbers - it's not just the odd fish anymore! Water temps have climbed and many estuaries and bays are yielding promising fish to anglers with a few larger fish showing up here and there. We'll have more info for you in early June when things pick up in earnest.