July 19, 2019 16 min read
Well if you have been paying any attention to the news or weather this upcoming weekend you know that we are in for a heat wave, with temps around 100 or more in many areas. Yikes! As such, it's worth factoring that into your fishing plans, and making sure that you and the fish are both able to beat the heat. Make sure to take a break from the sun and if you can get out early or late, you'll have your best shots at fish, in fresh and saltwater both. Without further ado, here's the roundup from South to North...
The Beaverkill and Willowemoc are beginning to creep up in temperature. Although still fishable in the mornings, we really need some rain up there. Conditions are good, but will be marginal quite soon unless we get some rain. The lower stretches are in the 70’s so focus on the Beaverkill above Roscoe and the Willowemoc above Livingston Manor. These upper stretches will have cooler temperatures. The significant hatch is Sulphurs with some Isos mixed in. 2pm until dark will be the best time to fish with that hatch picking up momentum into the afternoon. There will be assorted caddis in the mornings and evenings so a spent caddis fished late morning can be very effective. Now is a great time to throw terrestrials as well. Beetles and ants are good mid-day options. We are partial to ants as they seem to get a bite more frequently. Nymphs will work early as well but keep an eye on the water temperatures. It is wise to bring a stream thermometer and periodically check the water. If the water gets above 70 degrees it is best to let the fish rest. Be aware that effective July 1st, the Beaverkill River from Horton Bridge downstream to the highway overpass is now closed to all angling! This is a refuge for wild trout in the event of a drought or conditions that may be a detriment to trout survival on the Beaverkill. Although conditions are great at the moment, this restriction is now in effect regardless of conditions. To ignore these laws, one risks a hefty fine and/or suspension of fishing their license.
The Delaware has tailed off quite a bit in the past week. The Upper East and West Branches are low and floating will be difficult until the water comes up. The West is still floatable but the Upper East is not. The low water has been good for anglers who are wading because of the increased areas to fish. But the fishing has been very challenging. The low and clear water coupled with the Sulphur hatch as well as angling pressure are testing even the most experienced anglers. Sulphurs and Isos are the big hatches right now. Again, these bugs will be a late afternoon into late evening hatch. It is wise to have plenty of flies to choose from. Different patterns and sizes will be key. Emergers, cripples, duns, and spinners are all important flies to have. Really it is all about having options. A size 10 or 12 White Wulff is another good fly to throw right before dark. The spinner fall will see the most fish activity so be prepared for that right at last light. If you do plan on going up there the Upper West will be the best option. Colder water and slightly higher water will prove to be much more advantageous.
Montauk baby! We are getting incredible reports from our anglers making the trip out to East to the promised land. The bite is on and anglers are putting up big numbers. There are 30 pound Stripers being seen right up on shore on Montauk light and adjacent to it. Everything from schoolies to big Bass are being found crashing bait on the beaches and rocks right along shore. It is mostly an early morning/evening bite but the action has been fast and furious. The Blues are beginning to show in decent numbers. There are plenty of Harbor Blue sized fish around with some bigger fish mixed in. For those anglers looking to catch tuna on the fly, the reports have been solid. Bluefin, Bigeye and a few Yellowfin are being caught 5 to 20 miles off Montauk. Reports are that there are plenty of fish and some real big ones mixed in. Granted this is mostly a trolling and heavy spinning tackle game, but smaller fish are certainly targetable on 16 weights. If this is something you are interested in, now is the time to go and give it a shot. A good place to start looking is the Coimbra wreck. This is a Bluefin hotspot and only 30 miles off the coast. Well within reach of most 25-foot center consoles. Really, right now you can’t miss off Montauk no matter what your target species is. As long as you are there for the morning and evening bite, you will have plenty of action. It is this week’s hot spot and should remain so for the next month.
The Farmington remains as good as ever. It’s no secret that this river is the only game in town as far as trout fisheries go. Weekend crowds have been substantial and even on the weekdays expect a good number of anglers to be on the water. That being said, there is plenty of water to fish on the Farmington and fishing remains great! Our recommendation is to go on a weekday, get there early, and focus on the less well-known spots. That will give you the best chance of a good day on the water. The predominate hatch is still Sulphurs. They are going strong and, although the fish are generally pretty picky, the dry fly fishing has been spectacular. Right before dark has been the hot time to fish. You will see the most activity during this time and a few larger bugs such as Light Cahills and Isonychia during the failing light. Even though the majority of the bugs will be Sulphurs, it often pays dividends to lob one of these larger bugs into the fray. Another fly to try would be a White Wulff in a size 10 or 12 right before dark. Our anglers have had great success with this fly up there recently. Going subsurface will certainly yield fish but it seems like that has been becoming less and less effective especially if you are indicator nymphing. Most of the anglers are tight-lining and a lot of fish up there are really wary of nymphs right now. That is not to say that nymphing won’t produce fish but rather that you will just need to get pretty stealthy with your flies and presentation. Those anglers who are doing well on nymphs are very seasoned or professional anglers who have made adjustments for this time of the year. The basic break down goes like this. Lighten up that tippet to 6x and get sneaky with your flies. Little to no flash, smaller sizes, and choose some unorthodox patterns. Size 18, 20, and even 22s are what you want for most nymph patterns. In general, anglers typically downsize quite a bit this time of year with good results. Another good approach is to target some of that faster and shallower water. You might be surprised at how many big fish are tucked up high in the fast stuff. This will mean tailoring your approach for fast and shallow water by shortening up your rig and adding weight to account for water speed and depth. We would recommend staying away from indicators at this point. You may pluck a few on a bobber but really, it’s a tight-line game. Like we said last week, this is a perfect time to book one of the great guides on the Farmington. You will learn a lot, especially this time of the year when fishing can get very technical. You will certainly catch fish, but by hiring a guide you will expand your knowledge which will make you a much more effective angler. These guides really know this river and can show you secrets that make the difference between and good day on the water or a total bust. Wet flies have been very effective recently. It seems like fewer anglers are swing wet flies and the fish have seen far fewer of them as a result. With all of the bugs coming off right now, swinging wet flies will imitate the emerging insects and can be extremely effective. Big streamers and mice have also been taking bigger fish at night. Flows are good, Temperatures are great, and the hatch is on. We highly recommend fishing the Farmington and now is a great time to experiment. Like we said before, the Farmington is fishing exceptionally well with the right adjustments and approach.
The Housatonic is low and hot. Water temps are in the mid to high 70’s and the trout fishing is most likely done for the rest of the Summer. As a reminder: The Thermal Refuges for trout are now in effect. The feeder streams that pump in cold water are off limits to all forms of angling. They are clearly posted so be aware and give them a wide berth to avoid hefty fine and/or suspension of your fishing license. However, on the bright side the Smallmouth fishing has been awesome lately. As it warms, the Smallie fishing will just get better. The fish become very active and aggressively hit a wide variety of flies. New anglers will typically default to crayfish patterns for these fish, which will certainly work at times, but we have found smaller baitfish patterns to be more effective. The reason is that it's simply easier to fish a baitfish pattern as opposed to a crayfish that needs to be fished right on the bottom. Crayfish flies also need to be fished slow and more often than not you lose these flies on the bottom. A baitfish fly, on the other hand, allows you to get away with more and is a bit more forgiving. Your retrieve will not be as critical and you will have lower odds of snagging the bottom and losing your fly. A double bunny in olive, brown or white has been taking fish recently. Any zonker-based fly in a size 2, 4, or 6 is a good option this time of year. These flies have a lot of “passive movement” and will still dance in the water on a pause or the fall. This will often trigger an aggressive strike. Generally speaking a weighted fly is a better option than something unweighted as it will allow you to get down deeper and give a jig-like motion to the fly that Smallies love. The classic Clouser Minnow will work as well, though the sparser tied the better. Many of the commercially tied flies are just too thick and will not be nearly as effective. Poppers have been getting hit early in the mornings and although not a numbers game, it is a very exciting way to fish. A size 6 or 8 frog or baitfish popper will do the trick. These should be fished around structure and against the banks. Pop the flies erratically during the retrieve with 1 to 3 second pauses in between. Often the fish will hammer the fly on the pause. Pike fishing still remains strong and we've seen some very nice fish taken recently. The fish are going to be congregating in the coldest water they can find - the deeper the hole the better - so fish these deep holes by working the drop offs. The shelves that drop into deep water are ambush points for pike. You will need to cover a lot of water but you have a good chance of hooking a big fish this time of year.
Sure, out East is the place to be right now but that doesn’t mean that the fishing is not good around Connecticut. All along the coast there has been a ton of bait. Everything from full-size Bunker to Sand Eels have been found in good numbers. When you find the bait, you will find the fish for the most part. Schoolie sized Stripers are still being found in strong numbers all along the coast. It seems that the farther East you go the better it is but action around the shop has been surprisingly good. Greenwich Point, Compo Beach, Sherwood Island, Weed Beach have all been pretty consistent. Toward the mouth of the Housatonic and farther East we are seeing nicer sized bass on a regular basis. Some 40+” Bass are a real possibility farther East. Really the most critical factor right now is time of day. From dark until 8am, and from 7pm until dark is when you want to be on the water. The middle of the day is not a good time to be fishing. You should come off the water as the sun gets high and get ready for the afternoon bite. The fish will go deep and will not actively feed until low light hours. Not much out there in the way of Bluefish. Some smaller Harbor Blues around but nothing in the way of larger fish that we have heard of. Reports from the Long Island side are indicating a few larger fish are around but intermittent at best. Your best bet is to focus on Stripers and keep an eye peeled for Blues. The farther East you go, the better chance you have of finding bigger Blues. The night bite has been very good as well. This will be more a blind casting situation on rips and structure but can yield some of those bigger fish.
Hot weather across western Massachusetts will have both the trout and anglers looking for ways to beat the heat. As far as trout fishing goes it's time to look for cool tailwaters and to avoid fishing when the water temps are just too high. Best bets this time of year are the Swift and the uppermost section of the Deerfield, both of which tend to stay pretty cool. The Swift should have plenty of fish in it thanks to the early July stocking, though these fish may have seen a lot of pressure even now, so longer leaders and good presentations are a must. It's also a great time of year to tie on some terrestrials or hopper/dropper combos.
The lower and middle sections of the Deerfield are pretty warm at this point so trout fishing may not be your best bet unless you are headed upriver (smallies can be fun though in certain parts of the lower sections). Try some some nymphs in the early morning, or a variety of attractor dries. Hoppers and other terrestrials are also useful for fish that have seen a lot of flies this season, as they may be a little greedy at the opportunity to get a good meal this time of year. Targeting the banks is always your best bet with these guys. If you move around you are likely to find a fish or two and of course the upper stretch of the Deerfield is always worth it for the scenery alone, even if the fishing gets tough.
Cape Cod continues to fish well! Reports are phenomenal with a lot of Stripers out there right now. Monomoy is still the hot spot. Fish are being found all over the flats in the early morning hours. The rips have been producing as well. Both Bunker and Squid flies have been taking fish. It’s all about matching the forage the fish are keyed on that particular day or location. Try and identify what the fish are feeding on and get as close as you can in terms of size, type, and color. If you are wading the flats then a small baitfish will work just fine. Occasionally an olive crab or shrimp will outproduce baitfish but we recommend smaller baitfish patterns right now. We are seeing a lot of Sand Eels out there as well. Definitely have some Sand Eel flies in the box. This is also a good choice for if you are fish the flats. But don’t be mistaken. Sand Eel flies will work on the rips as well. Harbor Blues are everywhere off Monomoy. These are a perfect size for 8wts and can be a blast when they are up and feeding aggressively. They are also a great option for kids or for the smoker. Just make sure you have some wire on the end of your leader and a durable fly. They will not be selective and if you really want to have some fun, throw a small popper. The Canal has been producing some bigger bass but is intermittent. It really depends on the day. Some days has been great while others have been underwhelming. The Bigger fish are moving in from the West end but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. You really just need to move and look for surface activity. Most of the bait has been on the East end so that would be a good place to start looking. Remember that when on the fly, wait for those blitzes to come right on shore. Blind casting is not the way to fish the Canal. Really you will want to focus on sight casting into the frothing masses of bass that have forced the mackerel right onto the rocks. Try and stay away from the surf casting guys as well. If you can be the first to a blitz, that is ideal. That way you are not in anybody’s way and can cast freely. Remember to bring nothing less than a 10wt. The current plays in the fish’s favor and even a moderately sized Striper will use that current to get you deep into the backing. The bait in the canal is typical for this time of year. Mostly Mackerel with Squid on the East End. That means big flies, 6 to 8 inch squid or Mackerel flies are where you want to be, and tied on to 20 to 40lb Fluorocarbon.
There has been plenty of action on Martha’s Vineyard as of late. Anglers are taking plenty of schoolie sized Stripers with most the bigger fish moving away as the Squid dissipates. There are a lot of Sand Eels, Silversides, and some smaller Herring around keeping the Schooiles fat and happy. When throwing flies keep this in mind and have all three imitations ready to go. State Beach has had a lot of fish on it recently early in the mornings and late afternoon. This is a good place to start looking. There are bigger Blues around as well. Things seem to be picking up off the Vineyard where as elsewhere it has been sparse at best. On the South side of the Island Atlantic Bonito have made periodic showings (granted they have been few and far between, but they are around). Keep an eye out. You never know when you might run into a good group of fish. If you can, have at least one rod rigged with a small white zonker fly, just in case.
Nantucket remains as good as it was last week. There are Stripers up on the flats that are providing some good sight fishing in the early morning hours. Reports are that the South side of the island is where the majority of the action is. There are of course fish scattered around the entirety of the island, however it seems that the Southern end is seeing higher concentrations of both bait and fish. Double digit Stripers and Blues are being caught here regularly so it is definitely worth the drive or run. If you can get out on a boat that will be your best bet if you are targeting these bigger fish. Juvenile Herring flies and assorted sized of Bunker patterns will be what you need if you get on fish.
Rhode Island has been fishing extremely well the past week. Point Judith and the surrounding area has been completely inundated with Stripers and Blues. Fishing has been phenomenal on the right day. Schoolies are everywhere crashing bait on the surface as well as taking sub surface flies on structure. The early morning and late afternoon bite has been where the majority of the action is taking place. It is slowing down quite a bite past 10am so be on the water as early as you can. Things are picking back up around 6pm with the night bite continuing to be great as well. The middle of the day is proving to be the doldrums. However, plenty of Cocktail and Harbor Blues are along the beaches later in the day. The only key is having a moving tide during the day to get these Bluefish up. You may need to search a bit but East Matunuck and Matunuck Beach are good places to start looking. Keep an eye on the West Wall and the other rock Jetties out there. Blues and Bass have been corralling bait against these structures fairly regularly. Some nicer Stripers have been taken here as well in the early morning hours. From The lighthouse East to Narragansett is the same story. There seem to be more birds here to help you find the bait and plenty of both Stripers and Blues have been caught here the past week. Some of those monster Stripers have been right off Narragansett so if you are looking for a bigger fish this is where you want to be. Within sight of the coast is Block Island which has been fishing very well too. Stripers are up on the flats and beaches making them easy targets. It seems like every decent rock pile with current on it is loaded with bass. Some gator blues are lurking around here as well but to find them you need to find the bait. Again, early morning or late afternoon is when you want to be out there. Great Salt Pond has plenty of schoolies milling around and Sandy Point is a good spot to start looking if you are by boat. With the good tides we have right now, methodical moves and active searching will get you on fish.
One benefit of being in Northern New England is that its freestone rivers tend to stay cooler than its southern New England counterparts, especially this time of year. Water temps have stayed reliably in the 60's and if you get out early you'll often find happy, feeding trout. So if you are headed north on Vacation over the next few weeks make sure to pack a trout rod and keep an eye on rivers like the Saco. Hopefully they'll fare well even with this weekend's upcoming heat wave.
Nate Hill, of Hill Country Guides, tells us:
Dry fly fishing has been good to great on the Saco and Ellis river, especially early mornings. We are still seeing some grey drake mayflies on the Saco. Small grey caddis and Yellow Sally mayflies are hot on the Ellis and other small streams. On the Andro fishing is best early on cooler days. Nymphing with small pheasant tails and BWO nymphs has been productive.
The report this week is fairly similar to last week's in that saltwater fishing in both Maine and Hampshire are improving nicely but that the hotspots tended to move around a bit. Some big fish are definitely coming in and in Southern Maine the flats are fishing especially well for targeting fish on the fly. Keep your eyes peeled for post-spawn herring coming back into estuaries where the bass like to hammer them. As we wrote last week, it's best to have a variety of patterns at the ready including green crabs, shrimp, or smaller baitfish flies and keep in mind that the sand eels are still around along with silversides and Pogies. Getting out early is always a good idea and fish have been plentiful around structure, beaches and rips.