May 07, 2020 15 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers! Statewide closures of businesses are still in effect, but just a reminder: we can take orders over the phone (or web) and ship directly to you. If you need something in a hurry (and are local) we will also have curbside pick-up available. Just give us a call, let us know what you need, and by the time you get here it will be bagged up and ready for you and we will bring it right out to your car. As always we appreciate your business.
Lastly, a quick note about traveling to fish. Hardly a day (hour?) goes by that we aren’t thinking about or impacted by COVID and fishing is certainly a great way to relax and de-stress from all of it. In fact, that’s part of what motivates us to provide these reports for you, to help get out on the water and make the most of your time and those precious days off. That said, if there was ever a time to be conscientious, this is it. As you’re likely aware, many state governments are discouraging interstate travel of any kind and some are even enforcing it with closures and issuing fines. So, please make sure to use the information below responsibly. That means fishing locally and limiting your travel. The fish will still be there when this whole thing passes but risking your life and the lives of others for a few fish just isn’t worth it. If you must travel, do so with the utmost care. Use disposable gloves and hand sanitizer if you stop for gas or food. Always wear your mask in and around public spaces, and keep plenty of distance between you and other anglers. Even if you are not personally at great risk, that does not mean the others around you aren’t and you could be spreading Covid without showing any symptoms. We have many fellow anglers, friends, and family members who are at high risk so please be mindful of others. We’re all in this together.
Now, on to the fishing...
New York trout streams are fishing very well right now and particularly the tailwaters such as the Croton watershed. Large trout are being taken primarily by nymphing. These fish have been getting a ton of pressure so stealthy presentations are key. Many of these streams have also been stocked quite heavily but the amount of pressure has resulted in highly educated fish. Be sure to fish midges at this point, either as your primary fly or as a trailer, and don’t be afraid to move around and find some new water. The well-known spots and holes will get hammered most often. Moving away from the crowds and finding less pressured water can make a huge difference.
The Beaverkill and the Willowemoc are fishing quite well when the conditions are advantageous. Cold fronts and high water have snuffed the hatches a bit and kept fish activity to a minimum but there are some really good hatches on both of these streams right now. The water has also been high making fishing a bit tough. On the colder and cloudy days we are seeing high water temps in the mid 40’s but when it’s warm and sunny the water is getting up to 50 degrees. On these warmer days there are fish up and taking bugs off of the surface later in the afternoon. It is still a bit early but conditions are trending in the right direction. Early morning has been almost devoid of action with things picking up substantially later in the day. You can go ahead and sleep in as there is no need to get on that water early. Even nymphing has yielded little in the early morning hours. When the temperature swings 5 degrees or more the fish simply don’t feed much during the colder periods. So it is best to wait for the fish to begin to rise. It is all about the dry flies right now and on the right day the dry fly fishing can be spectacular especially if you get a good stretch of river without a ton of anglers on it. This can be hard to do on both of these rivers but if you manage to pull it off on a warm day, the fishing should be very good. The Hendricksons will be the hatch that the fish key in on most. We are seeing a ton of light Hendys at the moment with a few darks coming off right as the hatch begins. When the hatch is good the spinner fall has been as well. Most of the best fishing will be during the late afternoon hours up until dark, when you end fishing these spinners. There are also Red Quills, Quill Gordons, and a few Blue Quills coming off in the afternoons. It seems that the fish are almost ignoring these flies but it is always a good idea to have a few on you just in case.
The Delaware system is much the same. Some anglers have ventured out and caught fish on both nymphs and streamers. As far as hatches go, anglers are seeing quite a few Quill Gordons and Paraleps with the occasional fish rising on them. There are also a good number of BWOs and midges on any given day. Also expect to see caddis but keep in mind that the fish will come up on these bugs around 10am and then move to Hendricksons shortly after that. The Hendricksons are now hatching on a regular basis especially on the warmer days.
The Main Stem is by far the warmest, reaching low 50’s on the right day and when the flows come down the fishing should be lights out! The Hendricksons will come off in a big way and the fish will be all over them. This will be the best stretch for the early season Hendricksons when conditions allow. The West Branch is colder and a little less consistent but we are seeing Hendys on warmer days. The fish are a bit reluctant to come up and feed but as the water comes down expect to see fish nosing up on these bugs on a regular basis. Water temperatures are reaching a high of 49 on the warmer days and are continuing the upward trend. Once the water reaches the mid 50’s the fish will begin to actively feed on top. The East Branch is not much different than the West. It is still a bit cold but the Hendricksons are starting here as well. Few fish are rising but that will change quite soon, weather permitting. When the flows come down the lower sections of both the East and West will be the most active in terms of both fish and bugs. Hopefully those flows come down soon and we can get some good early season fishing in. Conditions seem to finally be trending in the right direction.
This week’s report is almost identical to last week’s. The Striper fishing along the coast of New York is still going strong. We are now in the heart of the Spring Striper run. The larger fish continue to move in as they prepare to spawn and some larger schoolies are proliferating outward. The night time surfcasters are getting into some very big fish and while the fly anglers are not catching as many, we are hearing that some very big fish have been taken on the fly recently. Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic side of Long Island are great places to get on some early season Stripers. While not as concentrated as they are around the mouth of the Hudson, they are certainly there and will hit a wide variety of flies. If you are fishing from a boat be sure to have a full sinking line and a weighted fly. Getting down to the fish is equally important as fishing during the right tide. Far too often anglers are simply not getting down deep enough. If you are fishing from shore then an intermediate line is plenty but a weighted fly is always advantageous. 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 do. Have a few sizes to choose from as well. It seems like Long Island is where most of the fly fishing action is and understandably so as 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 has seen quite a few fish being taken when conditions allow. This whole area is right in the path of the larger fish entering the Hudson to spawn as well as the smaller wintering fish that are leaving to feed. So, if there was one place to fish on Long Island, this would be it. Silver Point on East Rockaway Inlet is another good option as is Rockaway Beach itself.
There are quite a few stockie streams in Connecticut that seem to have plenty of fish still to be caught. Within the last week rivers such as the Tankerhoosen, Blackberry, Shetucket, Naugatuck, Hockanum, and several others all received fresh fish. Where you live or, more importantly, how far you are willing to drive, will dictate the quality of fishing. Finding the less pressured groups of fish will be the difference between a good day and a great day. As will fly selection. I always recommend keeping flies on the smaller side and going subsurface right off the bat. You will trick more educated fish and the less educated ones will still take these smaller flies as well. We have had multiple cold fronts pushing through over the past month or so, which is not so great for Stripers or tailwaters but it is definitely good for these smaller stockie streams. It has really kept the water nice and cold ensuring that these fish will be happy and active. The rain has helped as well and we are seeing good flows pretty much everywhere. In short, conditions are ideal, which is not always the case this time of year.
For an easy outing with minimal fuss and planning, these local stockie streams are a great option right now. You will most likely avoid the very crowded rivers such as the Farmington and you can also fish your lighter rods. Most of the crowds have moved off of these rivers and now is a great time to get back on and have a great day on the water. In terms of strategy, just remember to fish smaller nymphs and cover water. A Zebra midge in a size 20 is a good starting point and a tan beadhead caddis in a size 18 is a good option as well. Anything around those two flies should prove productive. We are also hearing that fish are coming up on hatching bugs, and depending on the river, BWOs, midges and small caddis flies will be hatching especially on the warmer days. Keep these flies to around a size 20 with maybe a few 18s just in case. If you see fish coming up you should be able to fool them on smaller dries with 7x tippet.
No significant changes on the Farmington from last week. The heavily stocked areas are providing plenty of action to those who seek them out. This river gets more fish than any other stream in the state so the action has been quite good recently. These stockies are typically quite accommodating and will take a wide variety of flies. Hendrickson and Stonefly nymphs are the go-to flies right now.
The Hendrickson hatch is in full effect. Although the hatch was dampened again by cold weather and rain this past week, these bugs are coming off reliably every day. The Hendrickson hatch has moved up well into the Catch and Release area. Down toward Collinsville should be the strongest hatch due to the warmer water but make no mistake, the hatch is also well upstream at this point too. When the hatch is in full swing it will take place around 2pm. It is occurring a bit later at the moment but depending on what day you go it is good practice to be where you want to fish no later than 11:00 am. Before the bugs come off consider fishing a Hendrickson nymph in a size 12 or 14. A wide variety of patterns will work such a pheasant tail or even a dark hare’s ear. That should yield some fish and bide your time as you wait for the flies to come off. As the hatch begins it is a good idea to fish emergers or wet flies. Even though the fish may look like they are taking bugs off the top, they will most likely be taking the emerging Hendricksons. Once the hatch is in full swing, switching to Duns will be advantageous. The upright wings are a dead giveaway. At the tail end of the hatch, late in the afternoon, switch to a spinner and you should be right back on the fish. So, get those flies ready. Remember to bring dries, emergers, wets and nymphs to ensure a fun and productive day on the water. Water temperatures are peaking just shy of 50 degrees with a low of 44. It is still quite cold for fish to be coming up on hendys. 55 degrees seems to be the sweet spot and until we see those temperatures expect things to be a bit slow. Because of this, later in the day is when the fish will be most active. Consider concentrating your efforts from 12pm onward. Although mornings can be productive, especially with the stocked fish, later in the afternoons will be when all fish are most actively feeding.
It still seems that nymphing the most consistent method at the moment. The tight-line anglers are catching quite a few fish with some of those larger holdover/wild fish mixed in. Hendrickson nymphs are taking quite a few fish and are a great option but that is not the only pattern producing either. The Farmington has great diversity in terms of insect species so don’t be afraid to fish stones and caddis as well. These patterns in all different sizes and colors will take fish. Midge nymphs are also producing. A go-to pattern on this river, it’s a rare day when a black zebra in size 20 doesn’t take at least a few fish. Keep all of this in mind.
The water is a bit on the high side still but on its way down. We are not seeing a ton of precipitation in the future so flows should be great for the coming weekend. The higher water offers angers a great opportunity at targeting fish closer to the banks. This often makes many of these larger fish susceptible to dries or well drifted nymphs. It’s always best practice to fish that inside water close to the banks thoroughly before wading into a run. Many large fish are picked off just a few feet off the bank when the water is on the high side. The key to this is not spooking the fish. Get well below or above the areas that look fishy and make farther casts. Limit your movement and try to be as still as possible. Fish tucked in tight are much more aware than fish holed up deep in a run. They can see much less of their surrounding environment and will spook more easily. Put the sneak on these fish with very accurate casting and presentation and you could be rewarded with one of those 20+ inch trophy fish.
Above is one of those trophy fish we are talking about. Our long-time friend and customer Paul Battipaglia sticks yet another one on the Farmington. He has been picking his way through the crowds and getting on some really nice fish. It’s safe to say that Paul had cracked the code on these pressured and technical fish. Nice work Paul! That fish is a stud.
The Housatonic is picking up in a big way. Warmer water and good hatches signal the start of the season for this river. The Hendrickson hatch is happening right now. The high water and colder weather has snuffed the hatch a bit but on the warmer days they are definitely popping. With the higher water the key right now is targeting the shallower sections where trout will be willing to come up and hit dries. In the very deep holes, and with the water being high, fish rarely come up for these mayflies. But those shallower sections can be another story, and the fish may be very willing to hit a well presented dry. In terms of access the river is still quite high and a bit treacherous for the wade angler, but the flows are now great for drifting. If you are out there on a cooler day (courtesy of one of the recent cold fronts) the hatch may be snuffed a bit, so I recommend nymphing. A Hendrickson nymph is a great option if you decide to go sub surface and bigger stoneflies are not a bad idea either. If you have access to a drift boat then banging the banks with streamers will certainly yield a few fish as will deep nymphing. But have those dry flies ready. On a warm, sunny day, you will certainly see a good amount of Hendricksons and the hatch will build as the weeks pass.
It is still a bit early for Smallmouth so we still don’t have much information on that fishery just yet. We have heard of a few anglers catching a fish or two. However, the Northern Pike fishing is certainly picking up. The Pike are post-spawn and have put the feed bags on even though the water temps are still a little on the cold side for them. Now a great time to target these fish so call our buddy Pogo Pike and get out there!
Above is an awesome Northern Pike caught by our friend, fishing buddy and customer Brendan @thesaltystache with guide, friend, and also fishing buddy Stephen Pogodzienski @Pogo_Pike from this past weekend. They saw and caught several fish by covering water. These two guys know how to get it done. Nice job fellas!
Pogo Pike Report
Mother Nature is not being friendly with all the rain. The flows are on the higher side but still fishable, and water temps are going to climb in the coming days as air temps start to stabilize this weekend. We will see how much rain Friday brings. The trout are active and the pike are post-spawn still and conditions are looking better every day. Smallmouth are showing up daily and as the water temps stay above 50 degrees they will be feeding heavily leading up to their spawn in another 2 weeks.
For daily updates check out my IG: Pogo_Pike or website: www.PogoPike.com
No major changes from last week. The Striped Bass fishing continues to impress. The river mouths are still producing fish on the right day but it seems as though things are slowing quite a bit in these locations. Large crowds have also been a bit of an issue. At this point, it will be more advantageous to spread out and fish bays, structure, and beaches. Most of the fish that have wintered over seem to have left the rivers and have proliferated outward in search of food. As such, areas like Penfield Reef should be fishing well right now. The larger fish are now pre-spawn and have vacated these riparian wintering areas as well, with a few exceptions. In rivers that still have Herring in them, there will certainly be larger fish in tow. Most of the herring have vacated by now, but some rivers do still have them. In the Western part of the state some very nice fish are being caught on structure during the falling tide by those anglers willing to fish later in the afternoon into the dark. These anglers seem to be intercepting the larger fish as they make their way toward the spawning grounds. But for Connecticut as a whole, we are in a bit of holding pattern at present. Larger fish are spawning and it’s going to be a schoolie fishery for the next month or so. There will be plenty of fish around and lots of action when conditions are right. It’s probably safe to put those 10wts away and grab an 8 or a 9. Nothing has changed as far as fly selection goes. Clouser Minnows in a size 1/0 have been extremely effective and are probably the only pattern you need for the time being. We recommend a few color options though, something natural and something bright for differences in turbidity. Deceivers will work as well but more often than not a weighted fly will outfish an unweighted one. Getting down deep enough is the key and an intermediate sinking line with a weighted fly seems to be the sweet spot. Colors we recommend are Olive/White and Chartreuse and White. However, you will find these fish to be quite aggressive toward many patterns and colors. The key is getting the fly out far enough and deep enough.
The falling tide is always the top producer for shore-based anglers but that does not mean the rising tide won’t produce as well. Really, as long as you have moving water and there are fish around, you should find them actively feeding. This time of the year I tend to downsize my flies and leader. With the odds of hooking a bigger fish greatly diminished (unless I specifically target them) I will drop down to 15lb Fluorocarbon and a size 1 or 2 Clouser. Especially if the water is very clear. They can get a little leader shy right now and a more subtle presentation is often the key to success. Now, if you get to a spot and are hooking larger fish over 26”, swap out that 15 for 20 and try a larger fly. Every so often a good push of late fish will show up and you could get lucky with a big one.
In the weeks to come we will start to see larger migratory fish move into the area. It may still be a few weeks out but now is a good time to plan where you would like to be and the areas that will be advantageous for fly anglers. There is a pretty short window for fly anglers to target these larger fish. Once the end of May rolls around we should see these larger fish along our coast so making preparations now is key. Once the fish move in it is a small window of opportunity so be ready.