Well we’ve finally had a few nice weather days in the Northeast, which has given anglers a chance to get out there without braving rain and high flows. It’s about time! For trout fisherman, many rivers have settled into more reasonable flows and while the hatches aren’t quite in top form yet, we’re seeing some early hatches start to kick into gear. It’s a great time to be able to mix in some early dry fly fishing, all the better since wading has been more manageable too.
On the salt, stripers continue to make their way north with larger fish coming along behind them. We’ve also started to hear word of the occasional bluefish as well. The action should continue to pick up especially as water temps climb, so keep your eyes peeled. As it picks up we’ll be keeping track of it all right here in the Northeast Report!
There is a little rain in the forecast over the next few days, but right now the fishing has really started to pick up! Hendricksons and other bugs are starting to come off and water levels are nice and fishable. The wait is finally over! Small streams are especially good right now, and many popular rivers in the Western part of the state (Millers, Swift, Westfield, and the Deerfield) are starting to be nice and productive. You’ll still want some nymphs and streamers handy as the surface action can be inconsistent, but some variety is finally here.
Here is the latest word on the Deerfield from guide Eric Gass of GS Outfitting:
The Deerfield has been fishing lights out. Lots of fresh stocked fish are around and willing to eat olive buggers. Bigger wild browns are being caught consistently on large nymphs and streamers. The Hendrickson hatch is just getting rolling and starting to bring some fish to the surface. It’s a great time to be out there, no question!
Schoolies and scout fish are showing up in larger sizes throughout the cape, a trend that should continue over the next few weeks. Anglers are seeing fish from Buzzards Bay, to Cape Cod bay, and up the North Shore, with the action is still fairly concentrated around bays and inlets. We’ve also heard reports of the first bluefish starting to show as well, which should pick up over the next few weeks. Action around the islands continues to be primarily schoolies and which can be a ton of fun while the bigger fish show up. Here is the latest from Captain Corey Gammill of Bill Fisher Outfitters on Nantucket:
The small scout fish have just started showing up here on island. Most of the stripers being caught are in the 12-16 inch range. Small, but we love these fish as they are healthy and give us promise. One angler did catch a 25 incher, so there are a few bigger fish amongst them. Nantucket Sound is loaded right now with Squid and Mackeral. Local guys have been hitting it hard. After all the bad news this winter around the Striped Bass Stocks, it is nice to have optimism in the air.
The situation is essentially the same as last week with anglers regularly getting into schoolies like the one above, caught from a kayak in Westport. We’ve been hearing reports of larger fish as well in Narragansett Bay and along South County beaches. If you get some nice weather it’s a great time to get out there to take advantage. Don’t miss it.
Our stockie streams are back! There was recent stocking on the Saugatuck last week and a stocking on the Mianus this week. With the reduced flows and addition of fish, the fishing should be lights out. The Norwalk still has plenty of fish to be caught and for those anglers willing to move around this is a good option this time of the year. Small nymphs continue to be the most productive on this river as the fish have been pressured quite a bit. With the recent stockings however, streamers will fish very well initially on the Saug and Mianus. If you decide to fish the recently stocked streams it's all about find the stocked holes. These fish will not move from where they are stocked for some time, so finding these locations is the key to success. Walk the river and fish each deep hole until you find a group of fish and hit that spot with both streamers and nymphs. Larger nymphs such as mops, Pheasant Tails, and Squirmy Wormies will work just fine. As the fish become more pressured, begin to downsize your nymphs and target the smaller holes and slots adjacent to deeper stocked holes. If you are thinking about fishing this weekend, get there early! We cannot stress this enough. It will make all the difference. Not only will you have a shot at getting parking, (which can be a nightmare in both spots); but you will beat a lot of the spin guys. This will give you a shot at some great fishing before it gets too crowded. Those spin anglers will cast right over you and force you out so get there early and avoid the aggravation. We recommend being on the water and fishing no later than 8am. The earlier the better.
The Wild trout management areas are fishing very well. There was a good hatch of stones, caddis and midges on the Mill this past Tuesday. Plenty of little wild Brookies were rising on dries throughout the day and you could catch plenty if you put the time in. All of the WTMAs are fishing well with the higher water and it is a great opportunity to avoid the crowds. Hawleys Brook is fishiable at the moment as is Macedonia Brook which are also great options. Both beautiful streams and loaded with small wild fish, this is a nice way to spend the day. You won't catch big fish but you should catch plenty of these smaller native and wild brookies.
The Farmington remains a bit high but reports are good! Hendricksons are definitely beginning to pop and this past weekend saw some good fish caught in the Catch and Release section despite the flows. It’s only a matter of time until flows and weather align for some phenomenal dry fly fishing. Even if the hatch is a bit snuffed by weather, a Hendrickson nymph is a good choice this time of year. Consider nymphing early and having that dry fly rod ready. There are also BWOs and Paraleps flying around in the afternoons with some Blue Quills mixed in. The Farmington is starting to come into its own. This is a great river and we strongly recommend getting up there at this point. May is one of the best months to fish this river and on the warmer days you can get lucky and have some exceptional fishing. Tight-lining remains as productive as ever on the Farmington. Plenty of fish (some big fish as well) have been caught recently in those faster, deeper runs. This is probably the best option earlier in the day when the fish are not rising. But watch for hatches. It can happen quick. This our top pick for this week as far as great fishing is concerned. There are plenty of fish being caught and some big fish as well!
The Housatonic is still high. No surprise there. However, it is dropping and we may see wadable conditions in the near future. It’s around 2000 CFS and if we do not get hit too hard with rain for the next week it may be fishable in the near future. There may be a storm headed our way so keep an eye on the forecast and fingers crossed. The Smallmouth fishing has been good however. The fish are actively feeding and if you are looking to bend a rod this is a good choice right now.
And here is the latest from our friend Pogo Pike about conditions in Northern Connecticut:
Water temps are still fluctuating between 52 and 58 degrees, which is ideal temperatures for warm water species. Pike, smallmouth bass, and largemouth are active and moving in and out of the shallows depending on the day. Trout fishing in local streams & rivers has really picked up as well. Flows are starting to cooperate and clarity is good!
We are in the heart of the Spring Striper season right now. Fishing from shore has just gotten better and better as the weeks pass. It seems as though we are about 2 weeks early in the migration meaning that the schoolie sized Bass are around right now with bigger fish on the way. There are plenty of fish around regardless of where you plan on fishing along the coast. The key here is being willing to move to find fish. If you don't get on them right away at a particular location, move. The fish will be schooled up and feeding activity so you will know right away if a spot has fish or not. Fish the falling tide as always. This will put you in a position to target some of those nicer fish that are tucked in close to shore. The mouth of the Housatonic is still fishing well. Plenty of action reported from those anglers who have been out recently. Both the Bird Sanctuary and Short Beach have been the hot spots. The word has been out for a while so expect crowds but if you get out there early enough you can stake out a prime spot on the current seams closest to the channel. Now is the time to put the time in. Keep a close eye on the tides and fish the falling tide. That will certainly increase your chances of success. Fish the standard flies as well. 2/0 Clousers and Deceivers. You should have no problem catching fish on these flies when you find them.
As always, we have the latest from our Roving Correspondent and Catskill expert Len Handler...
The Catskill rivers are finally dropping. All the rivers are running clear, and while still high, we’re beginning to find spots here and there that can be waded. Water temperatures are still on the cool side - around 45 degrees on most waters. And bugs are beginning to differ from river-to-river. If we don’t get lots more rain in the coming week or two, most Catskill rivers will be down to their “normal” spring levels, and all will be happy! Today as I drove past the Beaverkill , it was running around 980cfs, and many of the pools and riffs were lined with wading fishermen (as was the Willowemoc). It was nice to see.
We had a number of Compleat Anglers fishing the Delaware system on Monday and Tuesday. Our own Scott Bennett, David Nelson, Jonny King, Frank Corrente, Len Handler (me), Sal Renzuella and his Dad - we were well represented. The Delaware East Branch was still high and clear, and in the middle-to-lower section, the predominant bugs were all caddis - small tans (#18) and Apple (#16-#18). The trout were on the Caddis, but with so much bio-mass on the water, they were extremely picky. Scott Bennett took honors on the Monday with three beautiful fish - here’s a couple of Scott’s dry fly (Caddis) fish - a 20-plus incher: The fishing was not fast, but there were heads to be found with patience and caught with even more patience (and a dragless float.) Flows on the East Branch are at 2300cfs and dropping;
Our man Scott gets it done with 20-plus inches of Delaware Butter.
Later in the afternoon, Scott conjured up this lovely East Branch Brownie.
On the Delaware Main Stem, flows were in the 5400 cfs range with good water clarity. Water temperatures were around 46 degrees. The Main Stem had more diverse insects hatching than the East Branch. Fishing wasn’t “fast,” but there were heads here that were willing to play. There were some Caddis and Apple Caddis, but there were also Olives (#16-#18), Hendricksons (#14), Paraleps (#18), Blue Quills (#16) and a few Red Quills as well. Here’s a couple of sweet fish from Sal Renzuella and his dad:
A sweet Main Stem Brownie.
Sal takes some time out from the oars and scores some Main Stem butter.
The Delaware West Branch offered the most diverse insect activity of the three Delaware branches. There were Caddis (tan (#16), Apple (#18) and small black (#18-#20). There were Hendricksons (#14), Olives (#14-#20), Blue Quills (#16), and Paraleps (#18). Great Bio-mass produces picky fish, and great presentations were the name of the game. Water temperatures ran around 46 degrees. Flow was at 2200cfs and dropping. However, the West Branch also hosts the most boat traffic and when the mayflies are hatching you can be sailing in a veritable flotilla. But there are heads a-plenty to go around and with good boat etiquette everyone gets a shot at some pretty spectacular fish.
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 weather 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.