May 03, 2024 9 min read

Hello Compleat Anglers friends! This week we have a variety of freshwater options, as all rivers are at comfortable flows for wading, including the Housatonic. We’ve seen some great dry fly action recently, namely Hendricksons, and when timed right the Catskills and Farmington have seen fish keying in on the hatch and spinner falls. All of our local small streams are stocked, and anglers are finding plenty of fish, most notably on the Mianus and Norwalk Rivers, and both the Housatonic and Farmington were recently stocked. This is a great time of year for bug activity, and with flows near average there are plenty of options. In the saltwater things are heating up with the arrival of some migratory fish out in deeper water, in combination with more holdover fish that are filtering out into the sound. The prevalent bait right now is Herring though the Alewives are starting to congregate. New Jersey currently has the bulk of the migration while New York and Rhode Island continue to improve. Read on for more…


Local Rivers

All of our local options are clear and wadable with below average flows. Therefore, you will want to use a stealthy approach when wading, as well as low water tactics more generally. For instance the Saugatuck River is currently 98.1 CFS. Fish will be looking up with more frequency so dry flies to bring include Hendricksons (Red Quills) in sizes 12-14, Tan and Black Caddis in sizes 16-18, Blue Winged Olives (especially on overcast days) in sizes 18-20, Midges in sizes 20-14, Ant patterns, and Small Black Stoneflies (although less frequent now) in sizes 14-18. For low and clear water we recommend using9’ leaders in 6x. Having a drag free drift is especially important now that stocked trout are keying in on the natural insects in the river. Nymphing will be most productive in the morning, and it will help having a variety of different bead sizes (in brass and tungsten) or split shot so that you can calibrate the weight appropriately. Some of our favorite patterns include Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Caddis Larvae, Waltz Worms, and Perdigones in sizes 14-18, as well as Zebra Midges in sizes 18-20. Streamer fishing will be hit or miss, and during these flows it will help to have some small Woolly Buggers in Olive, Black, and Brown. Sometimes switching to odd colors such as Chartreuse, Purple, and Pink can get an additional fish or two. During the afternoons and into the evenings fishing emergers and swinging soft hackles can be an effective technique.Areas to consider are the Saugatuck, the Mill River in Fairfield, the Aspetuck River, and the Norwalk River. Plenty of ponds and lakes were also stocked, which is a good opportunity to take the kids fishing. Some areas are seeing a second round of stocking so there are a ton of options no matter where you are in the state.

Naugatuck River

Flows on the Naugatuck are also below average, reading 525 CFS at Beacon Falls. All sections of the Naugatuck were stocked, and the TMAs have received their second round of stocking already. Now that the fish have been in the system for a couple weeks they are keying in on more naturals as well, and coupled with lower flows, they will be rising with more frequency. Look to fish Small Black Stoneflies, Hendricksons, Midges, Caddis, and Blue Winged Olives as your main hatches. With respect to other insects, having a range of sizes from 12-24 in nymphs/dries will have you covered. Bring similar patterns to those noted in our local rivers report above. The Naugatuck is a good alternative for areas with more crowds/pressure.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01208500

Farmington River

Flow cuts at the dam currently have the West Branch reading 210 CFS while the Still River is adding 147 CFS. Flows are lower than average which should prove well for wading and clarity as well as hatch activity. The water temperature on the West Branch is fluctuating between the mid and high 40s. More areas were stocked, and all sections have received 2-4 rounds of stocking. The Hendrickson hatch can be a hit or miss, but for the couple hours that it happens in the afternoon it can offer some phenomenal dry fly fishing. Look for the spinner fall, which most likely will happen during the evenings. In addition, swinging soft hackles during the hatch can be deadly when fish are on emergers. For hatches you can expect Hendricksons in sizes 12-14, Caddis in sizes 16-20, and Midges in sizes 20-24. During the overcast days Blue Winged Olives will be more prevalent in sizes 16-18, and there are still some Black Stoneflies in 16-18. It will also be worth bringing some Ant Patterns and hoppers. During these flows we recommend using 9’ or greater leaders in 5x-6x. The holdovers and wild fish are going to be more difficult but persistence and a more natural selection of flies will help even the odds. Nymphing is going to be the most productive method during the morning before most of the hatches start. For nymphing, you will want to bring Pheasant Tails or another Hendrickson imitation in sizes 12-20, Caddis Larvae 14-18, Perdigones 12-20, Hare’s Ears 14-18, Waltz Worms in 14-18, and Zebra Midges in 18-24. In terms of rigging, look to use 5x-6xFluorocarbon when nymphing. Smaller nymphs in sizes 18-20 will pair well on a dry/dropper rig. For Streamer fishing you’ll want to bring some Woolly Buggers and jig style streamers in sizes 8-10 in a variety of colors: Olive, Black, White, and Brown. Fishing articulated flies on a sinking/sink tip line can be another useful tool to include in your arsenal. Weighted Sculpin patterns are another consideration and can be fished on a floating line. Now is a good time for our Trout Spey anglers to use Scandi heads and polyleaders during these average flows. Try swinging some wet flies onless aggressive sinking tips, as insects will become more active during the afternoon.Remember to not high or low hole anyone. Let’s be respectful to other anglers. Good luck! Keep in mind:Please report any suspicious activity and poaching to DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186500

Housatonic River

The Housatonic River is currently fishable in the easier wading sections, such as the campground. Currently flows are 1190 CFS at Falls Village, and in more good news is that trout were stocked. So far there’s one stocking in the Bull’s Bridge TMA and two in the Upper TMA. During this time, you can expect some Hendricksons in sizes 12-14, Midges in sizes 18-24, Small Black Stoneflies in sizes 14-18, and Blue Winged Olives in sizes 18-20. Dry fly fishing should only get better as flows continue to decrease. Streamer fishing and nymphing will be your most productive technique during the mornings or times of decreased hatch activity. Nymphs to consider bringing include Pheasant Tails, Caddis Larvae, Scud patterns, Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ears, Waltz Worms, Perdigones, and Yellow/Golden Stoneflies in sizes 12-18. For smaller nymphs, Zebra Midges in 18-24, will fool fish under most conditions. Streamer fishing can also be a fun and productive technique. If you are fishing articulated neutrally buoyant streamers (Mini Dungeons, Drunk and Disorderly, Circus Peanuts, etc), you will want to pair these with asinking line and a short 5’ leader tapered from20lb to 10lb. For our floating line Streamer Anglers, consider drab colored Conehead Woolly Buggers paired with a 9ft 2x leader. Now is also a good time for our Trout Spey anglers to consider throwing larger patterns during the afternoon in combination with swinging soft hackles in the mornings and evenings. Trout Spey is a good way to cover and search water, especially in the wider stretches. During the mornings nymphing still remains the most effective method. For nymphing with an indicator (we’ve had great feedback on theOros Stike Indicators), a 9ft taperedfluorocarbon leader in 5x-6x is recommended. Nymphs to consider bringing include Pheasant Tails, Caddis Larvae, Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ears, Waltz Worms, Perdigones, and Yellow/Golden Stoneflies in sizes 12-18. For smaller nymphs, Zebra Midges in 18-24, will fool fish under most conditions.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000


Holdover fishing at the mouth of the Housatonic continues strong for our wade anglers as more fish push down to the lower section of the river, many are small schoolies however some anglers are finding larger fish in the mid 30” range. For this fishery we recommend using a 9 or 10wt rod paired with an intermediate sinking line. For your leader a shorter 7.5ft section of 20-30lb will turn over easily when paired with a Clouser. For colors consider bringing Olive and White on clear sunny days. If the river is stained, bringing brighter colors such as Chartreuse and White will help stand out in dirty water. Larger Herring Patterns are also a consideration this time of year for our boat anglers fishing near the rivers as holdover filter into the sound. There have been some Stripers filtering in around the coves, harbor and around the mouth of rivers. Fishing further towards the Western portion of the sound is the most consistent, from Darien to Rye NY. Focusing on rocky structures and points when fishing from a boat is crucial and wait until the flats warm during the afternoons and into the evening to see more Striper activity in these spots. The first of the migratory fish have shown up, and you may find these fish in deeper water structure chasing Herring on the surface. If there’s no surface activity, marking fish with sonar and using full sinking lines will also work. For this fishing we recommend a 4-6” Deceiver in Blue/White. Please be safe out there and respectful to other boaters!

New York

The Catskills

Flows on the Delaware are dropping after a slight increase from rain, currently the mainstem at Lordville is 2370 CFS, while the West at Hale Eddy is 1020 CFS, and the East at Fish’s Eddy is 1040 CFS. Water temperatures on the mainstem are fluctuating between the high 50s to low 60s. The Hendrickson hatch continues steadily in sizes 12-14, and there are a lot of Apple Caddis in sizes 14-16. Other hatches you may encounter include Blue Winged Olive in sizes 16-20 (especially on overcast days), a few Blue Quills in sizes 14-16, and you may start to see March Browns in sizes 10-12. Most of the activity is in the afternoon, however, don’t overlook the Hendrickson spinner fall in the evening. It will help to bring a variety of options, as there are many different bugs hatching throughout the day, and trout will change flies that they are keying in on. Bring different stages of Apple Caddis, from the spent adult to the pupae riding lower on the surface film. Most anglers are fishing streamers and nymphs during the high water and during the morning, and are bringing a few fish to hand, so bring some articulated streamers paired with a sinking line. The focus moving forward, however, should be an improvement in hatches as flows drop to more average levels. Some streamer colors to consider are White, Yellow, Chartreuse, Black, Olive, and Brown. For nymphing, consider Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Caddis Larvae, Perdigones, Waltz Worms, etc... In sizes #14-#20. During the warmer afternoons you may have luck swinging soft hackles. During the colder mornings stick to your subsurface patterns, until the afternoon when you may see some fish starting to rise in the slower pools. Both the Beaverkill and Willowemoc and in good shape for wading.

New York Saltwater

Holdover Striper fishing has seen an improvement while anglers are still waiting for migratory fish to show up in more numbers. The good news is that Bunker schools have arrived along with some migratory fish. Focusing on the bays and salt ponds is going to be your best bet unless you’re able to find these first pods on Bunker. For the back bays you will want to bring some smaller Clousers in #2 and a variety of colors, small Deceivers, Sand Eel patterns and Grass Shrimp. Fishing poppers early mornings on a floating line can be a blast, such as Bob’s Bangers and Gurglers. Most of the holdovers you will find are in the 20-30” size with a few high 30” in the mix. During the afternoon the warming flats can be a good option for sight fishing for cruising Stripers. If searching for migratory fish, bring some larger flies to imitate adult Bunker paired with a sinking line to cut below the schools. Look for signs of nervous and faster moving bait as Stripers will be pushing below them.

Rhode Island Saltwater

Again, sticking to the salt ponds and bays is going to be the most productive for holdover Stripers, and don’t overlook the beach front near these areas as Stripers filter out with the tide. Anglers are also starting to find migratory fish moving in with an increase in bait, and some larger fish 35” and over are being caught. While the larger fish are still far and few, the squid run should help improve things which should be expected in a few weeks. The flats in bays and coves are a good choice to sight fish as they are the first areas to warm during the afternoon.