Well there are still some good fishing opportunities despite being in the dog days of summer. Recent rain has freshened up trout rivers in a few areas and saltwater fishing is still strong in Montauk, and has been surprisingly good in a few other areas as well. Read on to get the latest details from south to north...
Well, we were hoping for some rain up in the Catskills this past week and in rare form we got exactly what we were asking for! The water is up and already beginning to subside. That means that we should have great fishing over the weekend. Clear and colder water will be flowing into the stream keeping the fish nice and happy. And just in the nick of time! Both the Willowemoc and the Beaverkill were getting too warm to fish late last week and into the weekend especially. Even early in the morning the water temperatures were in the high 60’s so this rain came right when we needed it most. I would say the next 3 or 4 days should be good to great fishing. As far as hatches are concerned, focus on Sulphurs, Light Cahills, and Isos. Keep those terrestrials in the box for mid-day as well. A size 16 or 18 spent caddis fished in the shallow riffles is another good approach mid-day. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. The late evening spinner fall will be when the fish are most active. This will be the best dry fly fishing and we highly recommend staying until dark to capitalize on it. 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.
Same story as last week for the Delaware River. The much-needed rain did not materialize like we hoped it would. We could have used a bit more and the low water has resulted in challenging conditions which has been tough for most of the anglers up there. Regardless of whether you are drifting or wading anticipate very technical fishing. With warming temps, we’re getting reports of picky and skittish fish. It is still all about Sulphurs and Isos as these are still the predominant hatches. Many of those anglers who are successful have been dropping down to 6x to trick these educated and wary fish. Of course this tactic is a double-edged sword as you will most likely get more eats but in the event you hook a good size fish, your odds of a breakoff increase as well (to mitigate this, we recommend using one of your softer rods, something with a lot of give through the middle section of the blank and a soft tip that will protect that tippet). The fish on the Delaware fight much harder than other fish throughout the state so you’ll need to do everything you can to protect that light tippet. On the flip side, we do not recommend dropping down to 7x which is just too light for these fish. If you do happen to land a fish on 7x it will most certainly be after a long fight and the fish could end up dying. The Upper West is and the Upper East are the only areas fishing with any regularity. Farther down is just too warm at present.
Montauk is still on fire. There are great reports coming from our customers who have been out there. There are striped bass of all sizes being caught in a variety of locations. It seems that most of the good fly fishing action has been early in the morning right up on shore. Fish are corralling bait and can be easily sightcasted to. Most of our anglers are fishing by boat giving them the opportunity to move around and find actively working fish. That being said, blind casting structure is not a bad option either. As long as you are fishing decent structure with a moving tide chances are you will find the fish. There have been fish just offshore on Bunker schools as well. These are typically larger fish that can be teased up with a big plug and then tossed a fly when they get close. There are plenty of Harbor Blues around and the Bigger Blues are beginning to show up in better numbers too. Some really nice fish have been caught recently on the fly however, they are still nowhere as prolific as they should be. The general consensus is that until the fisheries regulations change for Bluefish, we may not see the numbers we are used to seeing. Unfortunately, this may be the “new normal.” The bite has slowed a bit after the full moon so take that into account. There are plenty of fish around but as we get deeper into the Waning Gibbous/Last Quarter phases, expect things to quiet down a bit.
Not much has changed on the Farmington since last week, which is a good thing! We had some much-needed rain up there and as a result water has come up a fair amount. The fish have responded positively and the fishing remains consistently good. The warm weekend made things a bit more challenging during the heat of the day but that did not seem to affect catch rates or size of fish. As the week progressed fishing improved with lower temperatures and an influx of water. That being said, early in the morning and late in the afternoon is when you want to focus the majority of your attention. This remains the best time for subsurface presentations as the water will be the coolest all day. Nymphing early has proved to be the most productive when it comes to sub-surface patterns. Tight-lining is still the top producing method and a great way to bide your time if you plan on fishing dries later. The hatches have not changed much either. Suphers, Isos, Light Cahills/Stenos, assorted caddis, midges, and BWOs are all on the water. The only real change is the arrival of tiny Needhami. These small Mayflies are similar to BWOs with the color of a Dark Hendrickson. They are a chocolate color and will pop in the morning. You will want size 22 to 26 with size 24 being the sweet spot. If you plan of fishing this hatch remember to use 7x tippet. 6x won’t cut it on flies this small. A softer rod is advantageous as well to protect that lighter tippet. Terrestrials blind cast along the banks and fished in pocket water are working mid-day. This time of the year provides a lot of different options in terms of flies and presentations. This is a phenomenal fishery and whether you want to fish dries, wets, nymphs, streamers, or even mice; this time of year allows you to do all of it. The best piece of advice we can give you is: be flexible. Bringing multiple rods, or having one rod that does everything well is very advantageous right now. Have a lot of different styles of flies and be prepared to switch it up. Reacting to what the fish are doing throughout the day is just as important as ever. Sure, nymphing all day will produce but you will miss out on some great dry fly opportunities which is what made the Farmington so famous in the first place. Again, this is a great time to hire a guide on the Farmington if you are want to work on something new or are struggling to crack the mid-summer code.
Smallmouth bass fishing remains great on the Housy! Everybody we have talked to has been reporting solid fishing. One angler said he caught close to 100 fish this week (even if he caught half of that it is still a great day by any measure)! Needless to say, the bite is on. Early mornings have been hot with plenty of active bass smashing streamers. Poppers are producing as well. Typically early and late will be the only shot at surface strikes. It is starting to get a bit warm for pike but they are still catchable and especially with the recent rain the fish should be nice and active for the weekend. A few fish have been brought to hand this past week and conditions have improved since then. If you plan on targeting pike remember to cover as much water as possible.
Unfortunately, trout fishing is out of the question at this point. The Thermal Refuges are in effect, and will be for the rest of the Summer. All forms of angling are prohibited within 100 feet of where the feeder streams enter the Housatonic. These areas are closed to help protect the trout during periods of warm water detrimental to the trout’s survival. They are clearly posted and be sure to give them a wide berth. Failure to do so one risks and hefty fine and/or suspension of their fishing license.
And our friend and guide Pogo Pike reports the following from Northern CT:
Water temps are ranging from 75 to 80 depending on the day, however, the major rain event this week has helped the flows and cool off the water, so game on! Fishing should be awesome in the next week or so, pike and bass are going to be frisky as well as the carp. Water clarity has gotten better over the last several days after the rain, fishing should be excellent!
The saltwater scene has been better than expected recently. This time of the year can prove very challenging but things have been good lately! Schoolies are being seen in strong numbers all along the coast. The early morning bite has been strong with some better sized fish mixed in. The best fishing has been from dark until about 8am. After that everything seems to shut down until the evening. Stripers are readily hitting poppers. Topwater flies seem to be outproducing the subsurface flies. A good problem to have unless you do not have a floating line. There are plenty of Harbor Blues around and they are often in amongst the stripers. So be prepared. Have wire bite tippet ready to go if you get bit off. If you are not interested in catching Blues, it is not advantageous to move if you run into them. They are there because the bait is there so stick around, especially with a small window in the morning to catch fish. Weed trough through the Blues and make smaller moves as opposed to long runs elsewhere. The mouth of the Housatonic has been fishing very well. Some very nice stripers have been caught here recently. If you are looking for bigger fish then this is probably where you should start looking. Still no sign of bigger Blues. Every once in a while, we hear about a school somewhere out in the middle but finding larger Blues that are catchable on the fly is a real long shot.
The trout streams of Western Massachusetts still offer some decent fishing this time of year though you’ll have all of the challenges that come with the dog days of summer. Early and late are best, and if we get a rain that will cool things off but doesn’t blow things out, that’s the time to make the most of it. There are still some sporadic hatches but it’s also a great time of year to hit terrestrials or hopper/dropper combos.
The upper stretch of the Deerfield continues to fish fairly well and has stayed cool enough to keep the trout active. The lower stretches below Shelburne are probably better suited to bass fishing these days until things cool off again later this season.
Eric Gass, of GS Outfitting, reports that he’s still doing well with dries, nymphs, and large streamers which are producing some nice large wild fish.
Saltwater (Cape Cod & The Islands)
Monomoy and the surrounding area has been the sweet spot for the past two weeks now. Both the flats and the rips have been producing some very nice fish recently. And plenty of them. Depending on the day the fishing can be outstanding provided the tides are good and the wind cooperates. There are squid, sandeels, and bunker on the rips which have attracted some of the larger stripers. These fish can be caught on the fly with a full sink line as long as that fly gets down deep enough. The flats have had plenty of fish on them. Not many larger ones but for the fly angler, sight fishing the flats is about as good as it gets. This is an early morning and late afternoon bite when the tides line up. Be sure to be on the beach at dark just before the sun comes up. That will give you best shot at a good day of fishing. Smaller baitfish and sandeel patterns have been very effective. You can’t go wrong with a Deceiver or a Clouser or the famous Monomoy Flatwing. Poppers have been very effective too. The early topwater bite has been great. Move around and cover water to locate fish. Look for birds as well, but do not solely rely on that as your only indicator of whether fish are there or not. Poppers will also work even if the fish are not crashing bait. This is a common mistake. Many anglers throw sub surface flies blind until fish come up. Then switch to poppers. If you are confident you are in a spot that is holding fish, try a popper first. As far as the Canal goes, forget about it. This has never been a great place to fly fish and the crowds are so horrendous at the moment that we highly suggest staying away completely. As fun as it would be to cast into those famous blitzes of big bass right on shore, you won’t have any room to cast with all the spin guys going crazy out there. The fishing has also not been great this year so best to look elsewhere. Stick to the beaches, flats, and structure.
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.
Finally, some Gator Blues! They do still exist! 8 to 15 pound fish are being seen in strong numbers off Nantucket at the moment. Gators have been caught off Great Point down toward the South Side beaches. The Shoals along the South side are holding bait and in-turn, larger blues. You may need to cover some water to find them but they are certainly around. The South side is also holding good numbers of Stripers. Granted, they are typically the schoolie sized variety, there are still plenty of them. As far as bait goes there is everything from sandeels, squid, juvenile herring, and bunker. Looks for birds or surface activity along the beaches to get you on fish. To target the larger blues fishing from a boat is going the be the most effective way to get on them but you can certainly fish from shore for the stripers. Make sure to be on the water early or late. The mid-day bite has all but dried up. The majority of the larger stripers have moved offshore into deeper and cooler water. There are still some big fish hanging in the shallows but mostly at night and very early in the morning.
Rhode Island is still fishing quite well. Point Judith and the surrounding area has been loaded with Stripers and Blues. Most of these fish are of the smaller variety but there have been a lot of them. A few nicer sized bass in the 30+ inch range have been caught in amongst the schoolies and occasionally a really nice fish up to 30 pounds or better shows up. It is certainly worth a trip out there but keep in mind we are coming off a full moon. Similar to all saltwater locations right now, expect things to tail off a bit as we move away from the full moon. That does not mean the fishing will shut down completely but you still have the opportunity for great fishing within smaller windows of opportunity as the tides soften. That makes being at the right spot at the right time much more critical than when the tides are stronger. Having a game plan and a few different spots picked out to check will be advantageous. Keep your eyes peeled for birds or surface activity as well.
Maine and New Hampshire
Nate Hill, of Hill Country Guides, has the latest word on trout fishing from Maine and New Hampshire. He’s been out on the water a ton and with good reason!
Well it has been a long time since we have updated this report. As always that is not because the fishing has been slow but because we have been on the water 24-7!
Androscoggin River: The andro was fishing well earlier in the week but we have been staying away with the recent warm temps. When conditions are right we have caught fish on everything from streamers to nymphs and dries. Smaller Pheasant tails, mop flies, buggers and purple haze dries have all been on the menu. A cold front this week may drop temps enough for early day floats again.
Saco River: We have been doing well on the Saco during early mornings. Amazingly we are still seeing Grey Drake mayflies along with smaller rusty spinners and BWO’s. We’ve also seen a good deal of clinger mayflies moving about the rocks as of late and this has resulted in some successful nymphing both dead drifted and on the swing. We have been playing with some terrestrials but they really have not been keying on hoppers, ant’s or beetles as of late.
Ellis River: The Ellis has been fishing well this season but has slowed a bit with warmer weather. Fish the upper river and deeper pools. Dry flies early and dry droppers later in the morning.
Mountain Streams: Our mountain streams are all fishing very well right now. Yellow foam EHC have done well to represent the small yellow sally stoneflies that are always around in the morings. Pairing that with a small cream colored caddis pupa can be deadly. Fishing a royal PMX or similar attractor dry when the water starts to warm has been working well.
Southern Maine continues to fish well as we get into the last week of July. Arguably more big bass are around this season than the previous year; not necessarily because there are more big bass in the population but because they seem to be pushing further north than previous years. Water temps are potentially the primary contributor. More big groups of cows recently arrived with sea lice on them.
Sand eels and crustaceans continue to be the major target for bass around sandy beaches. Our sand eels are in the 2”-3” range and can be found up and down the southern Maine coast. Big schools of pogies continue to hold bigger stripers in the region as well.
The schools of pogies continue to draw in bluefin tuna. Look carefully at the pogies, you may just find a big tuna circling them in shallower water than you’d expect.
Herring are still around and bass continue to chomp on them in the estuaries. Squid continue to be a good target for stripers in the Piscataqua River and beyond. Juvenile pollack and mackerel balance out the menu for stripers along the coast.
Water temps are fluctuating between the mid-50’s to the high 60’s back in the estuaries and rivers.
Bass are sparse but present, its continues to be very apparent that our striper fishery needs serious help to recover back to a stable status. Check out https://saltwaterguidesassociation.com/blog/ to read more about the bigger picture of what’s happening with striped bass and overfishing.
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