Greetings Compleat Anglers!
Well things are beginning to loosen up statewide. We are now open to foot traffic and as long as you wear your mask, you are more than welcome to come into the shop and browse. As always, stay safe. And again, thank you so much for your support and patronage!
The trout season is in full swing and anglers are reporting excellent fishing on many rivers. Temps are in the sweet spot, the hatches have been reliable, and there are options aplenty. Just make sure to get to the good spots early if you don't want a crowd. In other good news, some of the big post-spawn stripers have finally moved in and are on their way North, hungry and ready for action. It won't be long before that shot at a monster fish is a realistic prospect.
Here are the details...
The Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Espous, and Neversink have been fishing extremely well! The water is a tad low but with rain on the way it is safe to assume levels will be great for the weekend. The March Browns have moved into all of these systems and if you get the right overcast day with little wind the trickle hatch of MBs will get these fish fired up. There are also caddis all over the place and the fish have been taking s18 tan, olive, and apples throughout the day which provide plenty of options. The dry fly fishing has been rock solid and providing some of the best fishing we will see all year. All four rivers are clear, cold, and very easy to wade at the moment. Provided you find a good holding area, the fishing should be awesome.
March Browns baby! We have MBs on the lower East, West, and Upper Mainstem at the moment. These are the third largest mayfly we will see, only surpassed by Isos and the infamous Green Drake. So as far as dry fly fishing goes, it is a lot of fun right now. Size 10s and 12s in a wide variety of ties are critical for this watershed. Emergers, cripples, duns, and spinners are all very important for these very selective fish. 12 foot leaders and very accurate casting are all important components to a successful day so make sure you have things dialed in. Caddis are also coming off by the millions. We have Apples throughout the system and they get those fish up around 2pm. Tan, olive, and apple caddis all in 16s and 18s are very important flies to have at present. The fish will move off the big bugs and switch to caddis halfway through the day so be prepared for that. Before the spinners are coming off at dark the fish switch to BWOs in a size 18. The water is a bit low but conditions look great for the weekend despite the rain. The rain will get those BWOs up in a big way so if you plan to fish this weekend be sure to have a few patterns and sizes to choose from.
Post-spawn Stripers are slowly making their way into the waters off Western Long Island. Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic side of Long Islands are great places to target some of these larger fish. All of the Bays East of Jamaica will also have plenty of schoolies at this point as well as some larger fish mixed in if you time it right. If you are fishing from a boat be sure to have a full sinking line and a weighted fly. Getting down the fish is equally important as fishing during the right tide.
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. A standard issue Clouser Minnow in a wide variety of colors will work. Have a few sizes to choose from as well. It seems like Long Island is where most of the fly fishing action is. 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 recently - mostly schoolies but some larger fish 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, 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)!
Local conditions have been good and the fishing has been as well. This past weekend fished very well with a fresh stocking throughout the state but the crowds were maybe the worst we have seen all year. However, despite the number of people and anglers on the water most anglers we talked to did quite well. Nymphs and streamers took the majority of the fish but there were also quite a few fish rising on small caddis and BWOs. The Griffith’s Gnat has been producing very well but anything in a size 20 should at least get a look. “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 key. Water temperatures are on the way up but still pretty good at 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 be 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. So, as for those nice quick outings on the water these next two weeks or so will be the last gasp. There are a few spots 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.
We are in a bit of a holding pattern as far as dries go. Hendys are done and March Browns are close but not quite here. Early in the mornings you will see fish dapping the surface for midges and BWOs. A variety of caddis are coming off in tan and olive, in size 18 and 20s on any given day. Rises will be sporadic until the more substantial hatches come into play. Apparently, there are some larger Sulphurs around (Pink Ladies) but mostly downstream and they may not be a factor this weekend. Next week could see these bugs up into the Catch and Release Area.
No change to the subsurface stuff. It still seems that nymphing is the most consistent method at the moment. 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 terms of insect species so don’t be afraid to fish all manner of flies. What most anglers have indicated to 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.
Happily, water levels look great! The water level will continue to slowly fall and by the weekend conditions should be ideal, with great flow for both nymphing and dry fly fishing. All spots will be wadable and accessible. Water temps are 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!
The Housey is looking perfect! This past week saw some incredible fishing with a fraction of the anglers seen on many streams throughout the state. Reports of 20-30 fish days came roaring into the shop this week with happy anglers telling us the fishing was lights out. Flows have come down quite a bit and are perfect for wading. A good shot of rain bumped the flows up a bit and kept those trout fired up. There was a good pop of caddis and BWOs throughout the day. The BWOs really came off well during the lighter periods of rain and the fish were on them. There are a few Sulphurs starting to show and March Browns should be on the way late in the afternoon. We have also heard murmurings of Light Cahills and Pink Ladies and the larger and lighter mayflies will get hammered if they come off. The hatch has begun and while not guaranteed just yet, we could see them any day now. A large light-colored mayfly pattern is a great option right now for dry fly anglers. Size 14 will do it but 12s and 16s are not out of the question depending on the day. Fish these flies late in the afternoon when the sun gets low and you should have good results. At dark spinners will be coming as well so be sure to have some in your box if you plan on staying late.
The Smallmouth have put the feedbags on! The bite has picked up substantially and now is a great time to target these fish. With the lower CFS, the water will warm up faster and later in the day fish so activity will spike. A lot of Smallies have been caught by anglers targeting trout with streamers so any concerted effort to target Smallmouth specifically should pay off big. Nothing fancy with Smallmouth as far as flies are concerned. Any reasonable streamer will work. Clousers are a solid go-to fly in a size 1 or 2 and really anything in that family will produce fish, as will Crawfish patterns.
The Pike fishing has remained solid. A bit of a tail off since the post-spawn spike in activity but that does not mean the fishing has tailed off entirely. The water temperatures are still optimal and the fishing should remain very good for the next few months. Plenty of fish are being taken on big streamer flies. Water levels are a bit low but this will concentrate fish into deeper holes with good ambush points making them uncharacteristically easy to find. Of course it still pays to cover water and switch flies often.
The big girls are on the move! The larger spawning females are post-spawn and making their way toward us as we speak. Large fish from the Hudson Subpopulation have been reported in the Western Sound and Western end of Long Island on both the Sound and Atlantic sides. The Chesapeake fish are creeping into New Jersey and are a few weeks or perhaps a month out. Tough to target on fly, the best approach will be to look for Bunker schools in the weeks to come. Of course that will be a boat game leaving the shore guys few options to target these large fish. If you have any shot from shore it will be very early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or at night. Big flies fished deep is the name of game if big bass is what you are after from shore. For you anglers with a boat, fish those Bunker schools with intermediate or full sink lines and throw full sized bunker patterns. As for the “inshore” fishing, the schoolies are everywhere. They are certainly on the beaches, rips, rocks, and harbors so almost anything goes when it comes to locations of fish. Fish could be off a beach one day and miles away the next so keep spot checking locations and do not be afraid to try multiple spots on any given day. Overcast days are advantageous and smaller flies in the size 1 range are perfect. We are also seeing schoolies feeding on bait in 40 feet of water all along the coast. Birds will be on these schools in the A.M. so listen for the Terns and fish the birds. If you find them it should be a double-digit day in the matter of hours.
The Falling tide is always the top producer for the shore-based anglers but that does not mean the rising won’t produce as well. This goes for you boat anglers as well. As long as you have moving water you should have actively feeding fish provided the area you are fishing is holding fish. In the week to come as larger migratory fish move into the area it is advantageous to begin probing areas now. There is a pretty short window for the fly anglers in terms of targeting these larger fish. Find where bait is holding, where you are marking fish, and begin tying flies. These scouting missions pay huge dividends when the fish show up.