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May 03, 2019 12 min read
Well the story this week in the Northeast was a combination of good and so-so, depending on what you fish for. Recent rain continued to make for high flows and fickle conditions for trout anglers in many areas of the Northeast. Conditions changed rapidly which made timing the name of the game. In general though, if water levels drop a bit and the thermometer rises, we’ll start to see some real hatches kick in, and anglers will be reaching for more than nymphs and streamers. In short, there is action, but you’ll have to work for it and be a bit on the lucky side.
On to the good - as one of our friends said, the striper bite is on, so get ready to rev your engines ladies and gentleman! Schoolies have been prevalent from New Jersey up through Cape Cod, and migratory fish have been found throughout southern New England. If stripers are your thing, start heading for the beaches, birds, estuaries and flats. While the big fish are still a little ways away, anglers are starting to catch the occasional good sized bruiser and the best is yet to come. So get out there!
Here was the word from Nate Hill, of Hill Country Guides, about the fishing in the White Mountains and Southern Maine:
We are currently winding down a long period of snowmelt here in the White Mountains. With flows at fishable levels we hit the water today for a short float. Guide Mason Thagouras got on the board with this fine female brown. Water temps today struggled to break 41 degrees, making for slow fishing. Luckily things look to change over the next few days. With residual snowmelt and rain showers keeping flows at fishable levels and warmer weather bumping water temps, the bite should be solid for the next ten days.
The southern lakes region has been fishing well for a couple of weeks now for salmon and rainbow trout. The northern lakes region has been flirting with a good salmon bite for about a week now and it looks like this warmer weather will have the salmon and rainbows chomping at the bit. We have some water where you can catch salmon, rainbows, browns and smallmouth bass all in the same day. We guided our client Jon Habif on this water last week and he managed 3 out of four catching all salmonoid species. This fishing will be prime next week. We have dates open.
Wild brook trout waters should be turning on any day now. Lower gradient and slower waters will turn on first with caddis and mayfly hatches starting very soon. The Androscoggin river is running at fishable flows in the north country and getting close below Berlin. The andro will be fishing soon. We will keep you posted on that!
It’s still going to be a week or so before stripers start showing in Maine in earnest, but it won’t be all that long since they’re already on the North Shore of massachusetts. And with the alewives and herring around, the bass will be right behind them. Barring any unusual weather anglers should start keeping their eyes peeled, especially in southern Maine over the next week.
Flows have finally started to drop into more reasonable ranges after what had been a lengthy stretch of high water. If we don’t get any more major sustained rainstorms, we should be heading into one of the better stretches of the year, with some hatches starting to come off as water and air temps rise.
Though nymphs and streamers are still your best bet, you may see some sporadic hatches starting to come off especially little caddis and BWO’s. Wading should be more manageable now as well, freeing up access to a variety of pools. As always with the Deerfield, keep your eye on the river flows, and the release schedules for Fife Brook Dam (available here: https://www.safewaters.com/facility/22).
The Stripers are here! Following last week’s reports of schoolies up as far as Buzzards bay, we’re now getting reports of stripers as far as the North Shore and with decent sized fish to boot! Anglers are finding them in areas where the water is warmest, so estuaries and flats should be at the top of your list when scouting for fish. Next week we’ll have a few more details about the where and when but we’re getting a flurry of positive sightings (and catchings) so stay tuned.
Despite the onslaught of spin and bait anglers, the stockie streams throughout Connecticut have been fishing relatively well. Even with the high water we are seeing plenty of fish brought to hand by our customers. The rain has been a constant battle however many of the streams are certainly fishable. The Norwalk, Mianus, Saugatuck and Norwalk are all at good water levels at the moment. The recent weather should have kept many anglers off the water so the fish should be well rested and willing to eat. There are no real significant hatches going on at the moment. Of course, there will be some caddis flying around and BWOs as well however, nymphs are your best bet. A variation of size 18 beadhead caddis will be a good place to start. Smaller Pheasant Tails and Hares Ears are good and do not discount a Zebra Midge as well. These tiny little flies can often be exactly what the fish are looking for. Tie a midge behind your first fly and get it to the bottom. When fishing pressured water, smaller flies and subtle presentations are best.
The state’s small streams are fishing very well as of late. The Wild Trout Management Areas (WTMAs) have been producing some great angling opportunities. Although these fish are typically not large (8” or under) these little wild Brookies and Browns are a blast. For the angler looking to get away from the crowd this is the perfect time of year to do that. Macedonia Brook, Quinnipiac River, Hawley’s Brook, Beaver Brook, and Merrick Brook are all WTMAs and “off the beaten path” so to speak. These are all catch and release streams with native brook trout that will readily take a well-placed fly. Very seldom will you run into anybody and the fishing can be great. There will be some caddis flying around as well as BWOs and midges so have those flies ready in s18, 20, and 22. Smaller streamers in a size 10 or 12 are also extremely effective. And of course, nymphs will work as well. Smaller midges are our favorite but these fish are small so a tiny indicator is necessary to detect the strike. If you are nymphing use 7x or 8x tippet and a small yarn or foam indicator. A plastic Air-Lock won’t cut it. They are too heavy even in the smallest size. If you do decide to fish these rivers, pick apart this stream. Every little hole, eddy, and undercut bank will more than likely hold fish. Walk slow and get good presentations into each area and you will be rewarded with beautiful native Brookies, maybe even a Brown or two.
The Farmington remains high. Very little in the way of reports from the river. There are of course some fish being caught but action has been spotty. There are a few anglers catching fish but they are reporting only a handful of fish caught during the course of a day. The colder weather has snuffed the hatches and fish are hunkered down. Most of our anglers have opted to fish elsewhere. If you do decide to get out there, get down deep with your nymphs. Heavy flies and split shot will get your fly in the strike zone. The river is running about 1000 CFS and falling below the Still River at the moment. If you decide to nymph it will take a bit of weight of get down to where the fish are. It is by no means futile to fish this river however. There are big fish in the Farmington and if you put the time in, you can catch some very nice Browns over 20”. Streamers will be less productive but it may be a good option with the flows that we have right now. Keep an eye on the weather as well. When it warms back up we will have a great Hendrickson hatch and the fishing will be phenomenal. Keep in mind that this is one of the most heavily stocked streams in the state. The Farmington will get roughly 45,000 fish annually so as far as odds are concerned, you have a good chance of catching fish any time you are on the water. Our recommendation is that unless the water is high, forcing you to get above the Still, it is best to fish the Catch and Release section of this river. You will run into fewer spin fishermen and this is where a lot of those big wild or holdover fish will be hanging out. There are plenty of fish above and below the C&R section but in our experience you will find better quality in the C&R stretch. When fishing the C&R area, The deeper runs with fast water at the top of the hole that riffles out into slower water are some of the best spots to target these larger fish. As it warms up these bigger fish will be right up in that shallow water just above the deep hole. This is good place to nymph but an even better place to lob a dry fly. When it is a bit colder the fish will retreat back to the deeper water so depending on the day, account for that. Fish deep early and as it warms up target that shallower water. You will be rewarded with some very nice fish.
The Housatonic is the same story. High water. It has been a tough Spring for the Housatonic. Anglers who have drifted the river are reporting a few active trout but sporadic action at best. Streamers have been the most productive and nymphs are a close second. The Smallmouth Bass fishing continues to improve. These fish have become much more active and anglers that have targeted them have has good success on the warmer days. It is not quite popper season, but expect the bit to pick up in the coming weeks weather permitted. Pike on the Housatonic has been consistent. The Northern Pike are certainly active and this may be the best option if you are thinking about fishing the Housatonic. They are post-spawn and hungry.
Stripers, Stripers, Stripers! The fishing continues to improve across Connecticut. We have had reports from all along the coast of fish being caught. It seems that as long as there was a good tide, I didn’t matter where anglers were fishing. Like last week, the epicenter of the action was the Mouth of the Housatonic. Both Short Beach and the Bird Sanctuary were fishing well. If you are fishing Short Beach, get there on the slack low and fish the rising tide. It is more productive of the two simply because you can get further out toward the channel on that low tide. Just be mindful of the rising water and retreat back to shore as the water comes in. Be safe out there! The Bird Sanctuary was the exact opposite. That falling tide was the best fishing. The fly anglers were out fishing the spin guys which is norm this time of year. The smaller flies and lighter presentations seemed to be much more effective. Roughly 90 percent of these fish are schoolie sized but there were some nicer fish mixed in. Striped Bass up to 30 inches have been caught to those willing to put time in. However, farther to East and West has been productive as well. There are not huge numbers of Stripers like at the mouth of the Housey but there are definitely fish around. That falling tide seems to be the most productive along the coast but as long as you have moving water you have a chance at catching fish. Size 2/0 Clousers and Deceivers in olive/white and chartreuse/white have been the go-to flies. The 5” chartreuse Assassin has also been taking its fair share if fish. But this time of year, fly selection is secondary to getting the fly to the fish. As long as you have something reasonable tied on, and you are in the right areas where the fish are, you will catch em’.
As far as the Croton watershed, the water has been high but the fishing has been very good. The State has stocked all of these rivers by now and despite high water anglers are catching good numbers of Browns and Rainbows. The West Branch is at about 500CFS and holding for the moment. It’s a bit high for our liking but still plenty fishable. Nymphing will be your best bet but be prepared for a good caddis hatch if it warms up a bit. The East Branch is lower and much more wadable. This river has been stocked and there are some very nice wild Browns here that are pushing 20+ inches. Nymphs, dries, and even streamers will work on this river. Be ready to switch presentations often and hone in on what the fish want at that particular moment. Nymphs will be the most productive but do not discount a size 18 caddis dry fly.
The Beaverkill and Willowemoc have been high but in between periods of flood both rivers have been fishing very well. It’s a timing game right now. We recommend being flexible and getting up there as the water comes down a bit in conjunction with a warmer day. The Mayflies are itching to hatch and if you get clear water with a warm sunny day you could get a phenomenal hatch and equally good fishing. We keep talking about the Hendricksons because it’s one of the best hatches up there and it will happen on the nicer days at this point. We have seen a few Hendricksons pop and the hatch has been pretty darn good when the weather permits but the colder temps and rain has kept that hatch down a bit. On warmer days (like last Tuesday) there were Hendricksons popping and fish were definitely on them. The Blue Winged Olives have been the most consistent. Big BWO’s in a size 16-18 have been prolific and the fish have keyed in on them. Emergers, duns, spinners, and cripples have all been working at different times during the hatch. Have all types with you if you are going up there. The BWO hatch is happening in the evening so be patient. There are also plenty of Paraleps mixed in with the Hendricksons. Again, on the warmer days. Long story short: It is time to get out on the water!
Across the Catskills we have a window of falling water. It is a little on the cold side for hatches at the moment however, if we don’t get hit with too much rain the fishing should pick up any day now. A bunch of our Anglers went up and floated the West Branch of the Delaware on Tuesday and reported both slow and great fishing. On the Upper West there were big BWOs coming off and fish all over them. Reports indicated lots of fish rising. Size 16 and 18 BWOs were the hot fly and some nice fish around 20” were brought to hand. Alewife flies produced fish as well. On the lower stretches, there was not much in the way of hatches and they anglers lower down struggled a bit. However, all of them were able to catch fish. It was all about finding the “right fish.” Fish that were willing to eat were tucked right up against the bank and sipping dries. A Red and Blue Quill took a fair number of fish but that could change with the arrival of Hendricksons and BWOs. It is certainly worth the trip up there if you are thinking about it. Just keep an eye on the weather. The warmer and less windy days are when you want to be on the water. Same as the rest of the Catskills.
It is the same story as last week. The New York bite is hot! Schoolie sized Stripers are around but the real story is the big spawning fish moving into the Hudson. These fish are staging to spawn and have amassed in Raritan, Gravesend, and Lower Bay. If you plan on targeting these fish a boat would be best. But whether on shore or from a boat, location is everything. Your best bet from shore is going to be Breezy Point, Brighton Beach, and Norton Point. Throw big flies on a 12wt with an intermediate sinking line and you have a chance of hooking a giant Striper. Keep in mind that these fish are focused on spawning and will hanging out in deeper water so any locations where you can get your fly deep is best. Drop offs are obvious choice. It’s rare to catch these fish on a fly but it is doable. Consider doing the bait and switch with a big plug to bring a fish in close. If you are fishing from a boat then a full sink line will be what you need. A full-size Alewife or Bunker fly will work but the main thing is getting the fly to the fish. Bunker have shown up in decent numbers and the fish will be feeding on them. If you find a school take the time to fish it. There will more than likely be some big Stripers hanging around.
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