May 31, 2019 11 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers, and welcome to this week's fishing report. We know many of you were able to get out on the water over Memorial Day weekend and make the most of the amazing weather. Crowds notwithstanding, many folks had tremendous fishing on rivers and in the salt. There has been a bit of rain in the region over the last two days, but as we turn the unofficial corner from spring to summer, conditions are looking great. Here's the roundup from south to north...
The Beaverkill and Willowemoc are finally at great levels. Both rivers are clear and wadable. This is first time all season that we have great conditions on these two streams. Unfortunately, the Hendricksons are pretty much done at this point however, we are beginning to seen March Browns. They are not in full swing yet but they are beginning to pop in strong enough numbers to have the fish key in on them. The hatch will continue to build and in a week or so we should see strong hatches. Sulphurs and Yellow Sallies are also showing themselves. It’s a bit early for this hatch but we are not complaining. The fish are rising to Sulphurs and Sallies as they come up making for some great dry fly fishing. Even when the fish are not rising consistently, a well drifted Sulphur will often get hit. There are also caddis and BWOs hatching throughout the day. Now is good a time as any to fish either the Willowemoc or Beaverkill.
The spawning fish have moved out of the Hudson and have amassed off Long Island at this point. These fish are making their push North toward their summer grounds. Long Island seems to be the epicenter of the action. Big fish are being taken on bunker school on the Long Island Sound side. There are plenty of schoolies to found as well. There are a lot of fish around and now is a great time to target stripers on the fly. It seems as though the falling tide has become less of a factor. We are getting reports that as long as the water is moving, you have a good chance of catching fish. Again, it is all about moving constantly to find the fish and it seems that at this point it is all about finding bait. Whether you are fishing from a boat or from shore, try and locate bait as opposed to blind casting structure. Look for birds or bass on top. Anything that will alert you to the presence of bait. Once you find the bait it should be game on. Don’t be afraid to throw larger flies. This time of year presents the opportunity to hook a 30+ pound fish. You never know. There are fish that big around right now and it doesn’t hurt to swing for the fences. Right now is when you could hit a homer.
The stockie streams were hit hard this past long weekend. Reports from the water indicated that there were lots of anglers out bait, spin, and fly fishing. Plenty of fish were caught however, and the anglers that were out on the water early did the best. A lot of fish were cleaned out over the weekend so if you are thinking about fishing in our smaller stockie streams, we recommend fishing in the less pressured areas. If past years are any indication, we will not get any more fish in most places until next spring. The coming month will be the last gasp of the stockie season. Remember, as it warms up; many of these fish will die or hunker down in deep holes awaiting cooler fall temperatures. So, the next few weeks (maybe a month depending on temps) are your last chance for some decent local fishing. As we have been saying for the past few weeks, fish small nymphs for the best results. Midges, midges, midges. A wide variety of colors and sizes from 18 to 22 are what you should be throwing most of the time. That is not to say that a few fish won’t eat a larger fly. The smaller flies will be much more productive. We are also seeing good dry fly action at this point. Fish are coming up for BWOs, midges, and Caddis. Consider throwing some smaller dries as well.
The Norwalk is winding down. It has been hit hard the past few weeks and it is becoming more of a “covering water” game. Fewer and fewer fish are being found in the well-known spots. So at this point your best bet is to cover as much water as possible. Again, use small flies and the dries listed above.
The Saugatuck still has some nice fish in it. The Fly Fishing Only section has been producing some nice fish of late. It won’t be a numbers game on this river. None of the smaller stockie streams will be at this point. However, a number of our customers have been out on the Saug recently and done very well. Some nicer rainbows have been caught this past week mixed in with the average 10 to 12 inch fish. Getting down deep with midges was the most effective technique early. Mid-day the fish were coming up and a size 18 CDC Caddis was the hot fly. Any small tan or black caddis is a good choice this time of year. A Griffiths gnat, midge dry, BWO, or ant is also a productive. Remember to use 6 or 7x!
Guide Pogo Pike (619-518-8750 / PogoPike@gmail.com) tells us that the fishing continues to be strong in the Northern part of the state, where he's been putting clients into his fishy namesake:
The last week of May it is all coming together, water temps are ranging from 58 to 68 degrees depending on the day and water depth of the lakes and rivers. Pike are settled in, spread out and still eating consistently. We have been having multiple pike days! Rivers have come down and clarity is great. Smallmouth are almost done spawning and starting to show up again, so it is almost top water time. For another few weeks it should be on! (PS - below is a picture of John, a Compleat Angler customer and Mianus Chapter member, with his first pike on the fly Friday!)
The Farmington was fishing very well this past week and weekend. No surprise there. The water has come down to a very fishable level and conditions are ideal at the moment. The Hendricksons are still holding on above the Still River but that hatch is pretty much over at this point. You will still see some spinners however, it is about time to move on to other bugs that are flying around right now. We have begun to see sulphurs already! There was a decent sulphur hatch over the weekend and expect to see the hatch build for the next few weeks. On warmer days there will certainly be sulphurs on the water in the late afternoon so be prepared for that. Definitely have emergers and duns with you. We are early in the hatch so spinners and cripples are not critical but if you have them it would be wise to bring those as well. Depending on when you get up there, you never know. We got out Sulphurs a bit early this year which is great. If you get there early and plan on nymphing, definitely throw on a Sulphur nymph. The fish will be on them. If you are tight-lining keep that Sulphur nymph low early and move it up the stack as the day progresses. A Sulphur wet fished mid-day before the hatch really gets going will take a number of fish as well. Be flexible and pay attention to what is going on. The anglers who adapt their presentations and flies to different stages of the hatch will do far better than those fishing 1 or 2 types of flies. There are plenty of caddis on the water as well as BWOs depending on the weather. Cloudier and rainy days will see the strongest BWO hatch. Caddis are always around, let's be honest. Olives and Tans will be on the water at various times of the day. Anywhere from a size 14 to 20. Size 16 to 18 seems to be the sweet spot regardless of color. There are reports of Pink Ladies (Vitreus) in the lower stretches of river. A few of our anglers caught fish on size 16 dries this past weekend. It was not a heavy hatch but they fish were on them. The Pink Ladies are a cool hatch. It’s basically a larger Sulphur and can be a blast to fish. If you plan on heading down below the C&R section, bring a few just in case. The Euro-nymphing crowd has been doing very well up there recently as well. The Farmington is a very tight-lining-friendly river and now is a great time to nymph up there. Especially if you get on the water early, nymphing will be the most productive. Many anglers will bring 2 rods; a tight line rig and a dry fly rod. Doing this enables you fish all day productively. Yes, you will be a bit less mobile but it is a good strategy. Especially if you are planning on spending a full day on the water. The Farmington is fishing very well right now and with ideal flows we recommend you get up there.
The Housatonic is looking very good! We had a little bump in CFS on the 24th but the river is falling again. It is looking promising for the coming week. The water is now at a level that even if we do get rain, it should not blow it out completely. Trout fishing has been great this past week. Reports from the river indicate that conditions are improving quite a bit. Plenty of fish have been caught including some very nice rainbows and browns. Nymphing has been taking its fair share of fish however, the dry fly fishing has been good of late. March Browns are beginning to show up in decent numbers. The fish have been up and rising when then hatch has been strong. Late afternoon is when they are showing up and especially on the warmer days with no wind. BWOs are coming off strong on the cloudier days and the fish will actively rise to them. There is a good tan and olive caddis hatch as well. It is a good time of the year to get up there and throw some dries. There have also been a few sulphurs hatching. Despite being a few weeks away from the peak if they do come off while you are up there, the fish should be on them so have a few sulphurs ready to go. The Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike fishing remains good. Plenty of each species have been caught this past week. The smallies especially are a great filler fish when the trout get a bit slower mid-day.
The saltwater fishing has been phenomenal recently. There are plenty of stripers around at the moment. It seems that in the past week the fish have become more active and we have had multiple anglers tell us that the stripers have been busting bait on top. This time of year, when you get on them, you will find plenty of fish. Everywhere from Greenwich to Niantic have been fishing well. It seems the farther east you are the better it is. That is certainly the case with the larger fish that are moving north after spawning. We are seeing some very large post-spawn fish at this point. The big mature females are in the Eastern Sound and now is the time to target these fish. The most popular method is to locate schools of bunker and chuck big flies on the edges of these bait schools. Many anglers will have a buddy tease the fish in with a big plug without hooks and throw the fly right behind the plug. This is certainly effective and a great way to fish this time of year. Any decent structure has the potential to hold schoolies as well as larger fish right now. We recommend targeting rock piles, reefs and bars adjacent to deep water or channels. That is where these fish will be stacked up. The stripers will be moving around quite a bit so you will need to move as well. If you are methodical and time your movements with the tide, you should have no problem locating fish. If you have access to a boat, now is the time to utilize it. Go out and locate birds or schools of bait. You may be rewarded with a big striper on the fly.
The fishing continues to be really good on Western Massachusetts' most popular rivers including the Deerfield, Westfield, Millers, and Swift. Flows had settled in pretty nicely until last night when a chunk of rain came through and gave the rivers a good bump. Things should settle in pretty nicely over the next day or so though, and we should be back to having great fishing. Caddis have been pretty reliable and March Browns are starting to show up in some respectable numbers as well. With the Deerfield in particular make sure to keep your eyes peeled on the dam release from Fife Brook, which you can find here.
We’re getting reports that the cape is fishing pretty well. You’ll likely see plenty of folks going after Black Seabass which has made for great fishing of late (though of less interest to most fly anglers) and there are plenty of schoolies around with the occasional larger fish. Todd Fedele, of Outlaw Charters (508-326-3403), has been fishing the Bay side and getting into plenty of stripers on the usual diet of clousers and deceivers. The key this time of year, he’s told us, is to make sure you’re getting the tide right. Get there on the wrong tide and the bay can look like a desert. Get there at the right time and it’s been great. So keep a close eye on those tide charts.
Out on Nantucket, Corey Gammill of Bill Fisher Outfitters just sent us the following:
I love spring fishing as you never know what you are going to get. Some days are awesome, some are ok, you are always moving and hunting and no matter the results with the fish so close to shore, the fishing scene is always gorgeous.
As for locations we are starting to hear of stripers being caught on the South Shore and Low Beach even produced a releaser on Wednesday evening. We have yet to hear the South Shore get hot and heavy, but this sounds like the start of it. Both harbors are still producing very well, especially in the evening hours. It is hard to point to specific location as most of the shorelines have fish, anglers must be willing to walk them and work them. If possible this weekend, we heavily suggest trying to get out to coatue and work both the bends and the exterior shoreline.
As for size, fish are all over the place. The smallest fish I caught today was 16 and the largest 27. It is awesome not knowing what you are going to get, hence the unpredictability of Spring.Fly anglers are cleaning up as well using the basics. Clouser minnows, white and olive are the name of the game right now. If you can throw a fly, we highly recommend giving it a go as conditions are perfect....
Also remember in the Spring, in the shallow water, you rarely want to have a consistent retrieve. Twitch the rod tip, reel more slowly than you are accustomed to and let a lure “die” for a second or two and when you do this, you will often get a hit. Now that the advice is over, go fish, please. Keepers and shorts are being caught, fish are active and moving and whether you catch a fish, miss a hit or enjoy the sunset, we can just about guarantee your time on the water will be worth it.