June 25, 2020 10 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers!
Your weekly reminder that we are now open to foot traffic and as long as you wear your mask, you are more than welcome to come into the shop and browse. As always, stay safe. And again, thank you so much for your support and patronage over the last few months.
The fishing has been pretty good overall this past week. Our rivers could definitely use a shot of rain as we head into warmer weather but if you choose wisely (and responsibly) some good fishing is still out there. In the salt, the Connecticut coast is heading into mid-summer conditions, while other areas further east and north have been lights out. As always, spending some time searching for fish will pay big dividends. Read on for all the details!
The Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Esopus, and Neversink have come down and are back to their beautiful and clear conditions. However, it is starting to get pretty warm in these rivers. The Willowemoc is especially warm and should be avoided at this point. The Beaverkill is doing a little bit better but is marginal during mid-day. We need some water up there badly and I would recommend fishing elsewhere until we get a good shot of water as these fish are going to be a bit stressed during these warmer days. If you do fish these rivers, we recommend fishing in the morning until 11am and then moving to a colder river. Keep the fish in the water at all times and release them quickly. Failure to do so could result in high mortality rates.
There is no real change report on the Delaware except that we have seen the end of the Green Drakes. There are a wide variety of bugs coming off which makes things challenging but a blast as well. Right now there Sulphurs, Sedges, BWOS (light and dark), Isos (Slate Drake), and Light Cahills all coming off at various times. The Caddis are also coming off quite nicely and in typical fashion. Tan and olive caddis all in 16, 18 and 20, are very important flies to have at the moment. The fish can often move off the big bugs and switch to caddis halfway through a hatch so be prepared for that. I would say having a good and diverse selection of caddis patterns is critical for this river and when in doubt, throw a caddis of some description. The water is warming and at this point the Upper Mainstem, East, and West branches are where you want to be. They will have the coldest water and happiest fish. If you have fished the Delaware before then you know that the hatches you see will vary greatly depending on where you are in the system. This is dictated by water temperatures and if you plan on moving around you must have all the bugs listed above. The Sulphurs seem to be the most prolific of the mayflies so that will be a go-to right now. Caddis and BWOs will be very important as well. Terrestrials are also taking quite a few fish at this point and an ant or beetle drifted over a stubborn fish just might get hammered. The Delaware is fishing incredibly well on the right day. Technically proficient anglers are doing very well up there right now and the fishing should hold all summer.
New York saltwater fishing has picked up in a big way. The majority of the action is now well into Long Island and all the way up to Montauk. The Western end of New York is fishing well, sure, but it’s really lighting up out East. Big Stripers are all over the place. They have moved in and are slowly making their way East to their summering locations. A steady stream of large bass can be found on the flats, just offshore on structure, and in deep water on bunker schools. This is a great time for fly anglers because you can choose what type of locations you prefer to fish with a high probability of success. The Schoolies are in thick as well but stereotypically inconsistent. It’s a searching game but a concerted effort will typically yield great results. Birds will be on these fish as they key in on bait and force them to the surface. Early mornings and late afternoons are when we are seeing most of the action. There has been great fishing in the mornings along the beaches too. The Blues have been crashing the party and while the larger fish are sparse, plenty of Harbour Blues will provide exciting action on an 8wt. Schoolies will often be mixed in and the fishing can be awesome if you can locate the fracas.
Big Blues are in too. This time of year, they tend to hold in deeper water of 40 feet or better. Off Montauk they are on the rips and around any bunker schools you come across. A full sinking line and a big flashy fly fished blind can yield results but the best practice is to find them on top. On the Sound side, they will be finning on the surface or crashing through Bunker schools. The fishing is awesome right now regardless of where you decide to fish. You have a lot of great options so getting out there will be time well spent.
The Isos are finally upstream and the fish are on them. This past weekend confirmed that the Iso hatch is well into the Catch and Release area and that should carry over into this upcoming weekend as well. It is definitely time to have these flies in your box. The Sulphurs are still going strong and are still the most prolific mayfly hatch at the moment so be sure to have a few different options in terms of style of flies. As we keep saying, the Farmington gets a ton of pressure so often a unique pattern is the key to success. There have been Light Cahills popping as well and these will come off late in the afternoon so as the light begins to fade be prepared to tie on a large lightly colored mayfly. We recommend having emergers, duns, cripples, and spinners. As you know these fish are educated. Terrestrials are also becoming a factor. Ants are especially effective this time of year so during the midday lull, try lobbing an ant out there. If fished correctly, it should get smoked.
The Farmington has become a tight-lining stronghold and this method will produce more fish than the indicator method due to the amount of pressure this river gets. All bets are off with pattern selection as a result. Caddis, stoneflies, mayflies, worms, mops, sculpins, and midges are all on the table. Perdigones are taking a ton of fish and are a core style for most tightliners. The Farmington has great diversity in terms of insect species so don’t be afraid to fish all manner of flies. What most anglers have indicated to us is that unique patterns are often the key to success. You need the right size and profiles to imitate particular insects, sure, but often getting creative with colors and materials can be the difference between a few fish and a lot of fish. A tan beadhead caddis is a staple up there and should produce a lot of fish. So will a Frenchie. A large stone is notorious for fooling a larger fish or two up in the fast water and midges somewhere in the system are a must. You might be surprised how selective these fish will get. There will be days where a black beadhead Zebra Midge will be the only thing that gets bit, and often the top producer on others. Red midges are a good back up as well. Especially when the sun is high. Don’t discount those wet flies either. Swinging flies will yield good results especially early and late.
As we’ve noted the last number of weeks, please be aware that thermal refuges are in effect for the Housatonic. As of June 1st no fishing of any kind is allowed near any stream flowing into the Housatonic. 100 foot exclusion zones are established to keep the fish alive through the warmer months. It is critical that these exclusion zones are respected and left alone so that we all have fish to catch this fall.
The Housey is currently very low and in need of water. We are seeing fish beginning to seek out cooler water in hopes of enduring the warming temperatures. As such, we are recommending that anglers let these fish rest. The water temperatures are creeping up into the mid 70s meaning that these fish will be very stressed and catching one will almost certainly end up killing it. For that reason, we advocate fishing other colder fisheries such as the Farmington. If you absolutely HAVE to fish this stream for trout, please do so during the morning and call it a day around 10am. Keep the fish in the water at all times and return the fish immediately.
There have been a ton of Smallmouth caught recently. The bite has picked up substantially and now is a great time to target these fish. Temperatures are good for smallies and it’s a great way to get into some quality fishing while taking pressure off of the trout. Any concerted effort to specifically target Smallmouth should pay off nicely. There is nothing fancy with Smallmouth as far as flies are concerned and any reasonable streamer will work. Clousers are a solid go-to fly in a size 1 or 2 although anything in that family will produce fish. Crawfish patterns are always a good option. Early in the mornings these fish will whack a popper and as the sun gets high switch to sub-surface presentations. Later in the afternoon you can switch back to poppers. These topwater bites are awesome and it is some of the best fishing around.
Pike fishing has remained solid. It is getting a bit warm but these fish will still actively feed in the morning and afternoons. They will be seeking out the coldest water and deep holding areas at this point. Cover water with big flies and the fishing should be quite consistent.
Things are beginning to slow down a bit, or at least “normalize” to typical summer fishing conditions. The schoolie stripers are now acting like the larger fish, typically feeding early and late. The mid-day lull and high sun are almost devoid of action at this point unless the tides are abnormally strong or a good number of baitfish are around. For the most part the middle of the day is best spent off the water. Your windows of opportunity will be early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and at night. There are some harbor blues around that will eat all day but aside from that, not much is going on mid-day. The big Stripers are still moving through and are everywhere from 100 feet of water all the way in tight to shore. If you are targeting these larger fish then covering water is the name of the game. The Gator Blues are still around out in the middle but have been quite sparse of late. The larger Bunker have moved in thick and are beginning to hunker down in the harbors. Really, this time of year covering water at the right times is the key to success. The Falling tide is always the top producer for shore-based anglers but that does not mean the rising won’t produce as well. This goes for you boat anglers as well. As long as you have moving water you should have actively feeding fish provided the area you are fishing is holding some. Find where bait is holding and the Stripers will not be far away.
Things are really heating up off of Rhode Island. There are fish back in the salt ponds and will now take any reasonable baitfish pattern. Fly anglers are also getting into plenty of fish right off the beaches now as well. East Beach and the surrounding area has had Stripers and Harbor Blues on a regular basis and it is making for some awesome fishing. Granted most of the Stripers are Schoolie sized but they have been plentiful and double-digit days are common. It has been an early morning and late afternoon bite just like everywhere else. By 10 am the fishing has been dying off and picking back up around 6 pm so keep that in mind. The larger migratory Stripers are around in good numbers that are growing by the day. As with elsewhere along the Northeast Coast, these fish can be rocked up tight or out on Bunker schools and everywhere in between. The Gators are often in close proximity and we are hearing of Big Blues in and around the Harbors as well as out in 100 feet of water. Again, it’s all about the search. Spending time on a plane with all hands searching for activity, or working lots of water from shore will be the best use of time - far better than blind casting to one spot for hours.
The bite is still going strong on the rips. A mixture of Bass from schoolie sized to big females are being taken by fly anglers right now and is making for some awesome fishing. Lots of fish are being taken on tan and white squid patterns up to 8 inches long. Baitfish flies are working well too as the squid begin to dissipate. The flats off of Monomoy have been consistent and there are lots of fish cruising the shallows. Notoriously finicky, this is a low percentage game but about as fun as it gets. Big Bluefish are around the rips as well and are taking poppers on top. Schoolies have been prevalent on the beaches early in the morning and in the afternoon. The back bays and channels have been holding fish as well. Although the action has been sporadic, on the right day the fishing has been great. There have also been some bigger fish back there as well.
Martha’s Vineyard is fishing phenomenally well and plenty of Bass and Blues are being had by all. The mornings have been great for throwing poppers and the beaches are providing action all day. There are Harbor Blues, schoolie Stripers, and larger Stripers all over the place. There are also Gators cruising around in deeper water so things are looking great! The most prevalent bait are Sandeels so be sure to have plenty of these in your fly box. An olive and white Clouser will also do the trick. If you fish on the Vineyard in the early morning and late afternoon, you can’t miss! The Squid run is still going strong. Again, full sink lines are a must.
Nantucket is fishing similarly to the rest of the Cape with lots of fish around. The arrival of Mackerel has brought some very big Stripers with it and Gator Blues have been amassing as well. Schoolie Stripers have been tucked in tight and have been quite consistent in the mornings and afternoons. Smaller harbor sized Blues are all over the place and can provide some fun light tackle action on 8wts when things get slow.