Well Compleat Anglers, here's our first report for July, fresh off some Independence Day festivities! This 4th of July weekend is shaping up to be beautiful one which should see lots of folks out there on the water, soaking up the sun. With temps on the climb the fishing has changed a bit over the last week and will likely continue that way unless we get some rain and cooler days. Trout anglers will soon have to adjust to mornings and evenings while targeting cooler tailwaters, while saltwater anglers hoping for big fish will have to explore deeper, cooler waters. That said, there is still plenty of action out there and there is no better way to celebrate the weekend than getting out there and doing what we love most - fishing! Without further ado, here's the roundup from south to north...
The Catskills are still fishing very well! The Beaverkill and the Willowemoc are still in the low 60’s, plenty cold enough to fish. Although they are creeping up in temperature, both of these rivers are very fishable for the moment. We would venture to guess that by the end of July it will be a bit too warm to fish these streams so now is the time to get in your last fishing in on these streams before late September. The big hatch right now is Sulphurs. There are plenty of Sulphurs coming off late in the afternoon associated with a strong Spinner fall before dark. The fish are on them but if you have fished Sulphurs before you know how picky the fish are during this hatch. We recommend having sizes 16 and 18 in a wide variety of styles and colors. Having emergers, duns, cripples and spinners in your box will pay off as the hatch begins and progresses. If you able to follow the hatch and switch patterns as the flies go through the different stages of the hatch you will be far more successful. Pay attention and be vigilant about observing how the bugs and fish are acting. There are Isos at the moment as well. While not as numerous as the Sulphurs, they are much bigger and a well-presented Iso will rarely get turned down. You will also see Light Cahills and wide variety of caddis, including Blue Sedges. Terrestrials will work mid-day when fish are against the banks, and so will nymphs down deep. Both the Beaverkill and Willowemoc are fishing very well right now. We strongly urge you get out there. 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 system is much the same as the rest of the Catskills in regards to hatches. Sulphurs are the predominant hatch with Light Cahills, Isonychia, Blue Sedge, assorted Caddis, and BWOs coming off as well. There are still some Green Drakes coming off although they are petering out as the days pass. The Upper East and Upper West Branches of the Delaware are seeing the most consistent fishing at the moment. They have the coldest water and the fish are reacting accordingly. The Upper East is in the high 50’s low 60s. The Upper West is in high 40s and low 50s. The Mainstem is approaching the 70-degree mark so we recommend focusing on the Upper branches. We know that this is an incredible dry fly river and many of you will only fish dry flies on the Delaware. And we are absolutely fine with that. That’s how we like to fish it too. That being said, for those of you who like to nymph, that is ok too. Nymphing has been very productive recently. Especially during the middle of the day when the river is at its quietest. We are seeing the fish most active in the early morning hours and the late evening so if you are floating or wading all day, throwing on a nymph mid-day can break things up. Larger Mayfly and Stonefly nymphs under an indicator are taking plenty of fish for those willing to go sub-surface. If nymphing is not for you then try throwing some terrestrials during the heat of the day. Slide ants or beetle up against the banks. You may be rewarded. The fish are proving to be more and more challenging. Many of these fish have been caught a time or two and, as a result; are becoming extremely selective. A perfect presentation with a long leader is key. Having a lot of flies to choose from is critical as well. Do not go up there with one Sulpher pattern and expect to hammer em’. It is about as technical as it gets up there right now so be prepared. If you are well prepared and observant you will do just fine. Be willing to switch flies and follow the hatch.
The Striper fishing has begun to heat up off Montauk and the Race. Most of the bigger fish have move up into these locations and will begin to stage for the Summer months. Eastern Long Island and Montauk are the hotspots right now. Big fish are being caught and in good numbers. Throwing big plugs without hooks to get these fish up is the way to go. Once the fish is behind the plug throw your fly behind the plug and strip immediately. This the most consistent way to catch these bigger fish. Anglers are finding these fish on both bait schools as well as blind casting structure. Rips, reefs, and rock piles are all holding fish right now. It’s a matter of covering water and locating the fish. Moving water is key but we don’t have a great Moon phase right now. Our tides are fairly weak at the moment so expect the action to be much slower than the previous weeks. July 16th is our next Full Moon and it would be advantageous to plan your fishing 5 days before, during, and 5 days after the Full Moon. This will be the best tides of the month and the fishing will reflect that. The fish will feed heavily during these 10 days with the most activity a few days before and after the Full. Taking advantage of these increased tidal flows can make all the difference. The Bluefish have been around but sparse. Some bigger fish have been found but not many. You will need to burn a lot of fuel to get on these fish. We recommend targeting Stripers but being prepared if you get lucky and come across some Blues. If you do find them they will most likely be larger models. There are gators around so keep wire in the back pocket. Schoolie Stripers are a sure thing. They seem to be everywhere feeding predominately on Sand eels. A lot of Sand eels are around right now and the birds know it. Look for the birds and you will find the bait. It is important to keep an eye on the wind if you are going to be fishing the Long Island Sound side. If we get an East wind, or a wind with any East in it, it’s probably best to stay home. An East wind will shut the fishing down and countless fruitless days on the water over the years can attest to that. Any other wind direction will be fine. But especially when it comes to smaller baitfish, the East wind will blow against the falling tide confusing the seas and spreading the bait out. There are great wind apps for smartphones that will allow you to track predominant wind direction and allow you to make smarter decisions in regards to how you spend your time on the water.
As far as local conditions are concerned, things are warming up quite a bit. Local trout streams are hot and fishing has reflected that. Few if any fish have been caught as of late and like we said before, it is time to focus on tailwaters if you want any decent trout fishing.
The Farmington River is still fishing exceptionally well. The predominant hatch at the moment is Sulphurs and anglers are doing well fishing dries of all types during different stages of the hatch. A size 16 or 18 will get it done but make sure you have nymphs, emergers, duns, cripples, and spinners. This will allow you to follow the hatch and be much more productive than just throwing a dun all day. There are still some Isonychia flying around as well. Light Cahills have been consistent in the evenings and there are plenty of caddis pretty much all day. Some very nice fish have been taken recently. Almost all of which have been taken on nymphs. This time of year, getting down deep with various sub surface patterns will prove extremely effective. The fish on the Farmy are very educated at this point. Switching flies on a regular basis is the name of the game. Smaller patterns with less flash is always a safe bet this time of year as the fish have been hammered in the previous weeks. A beadhead caddis is about as good as anything but mayfly nymph imitations will be effective as well. Tight-line patterns such as perdigones and jigs will obviously still catch fish but try and get away from that flashy stuff. If you are feeling ambitious, a big stone fly won’t put up numbers but may yield a bigger fish. July is a good time to throw terrestrials as well. An ant or beetle can often take fish in the middle of the day when not much is happening. You will want to fish flies these along the banks. Sometimes a fish will come up from the middle of a run to grab a terrestrial but we have found it far more effective along the banks under trees, bushes, and logs. Another option on the Farmington is mousing. Night missions to the larger pools this time of year can offer some exciting fishing. Don't expect a numbers game here, though if you do get bite on a mouse it is often a bigger fish. The Morrish Mouse is widely considered the gold standard as far as patterns are concerned. If you do plan on mousing, make sure you focus on the slower pools where a mouse pattern can be slowly retrieved in a realistic fashion. A critical component to mousing is having a headlamp with a red light. This will allow you to see what you are doing without spooking the fish. if you plan on throwing rodents, make sure to bring a 7 or even an 8wt. these flies are big and distance is key. A 5 weight won’t cut it with half a pound of fur tied to your tippet. Contrary to popular belief, a full moon is not as advantageous as a pitch-black night is. Cloudy nights with little to no light seem to fish much better. We have a good moon phase for mousing right now so if you wanted to try it, now is a great time. This is a fun way to fish and, for anglers looking to something a little different, this is a viable option on the Farmington. Make sure you are casting as close to the far bank as you can and slowly retrieving the fly. You most likely won’t see the strike, you will hear it. If you do hear an explosion, strip set rather than trout set the fly. More often than not the fly is too far away to get a good hookset by lifting the rod. What’s more, in the event that you do miss a fish, a strip set will keep that fly in the strike zone and Hog Johnson may come back for round two. If you miss the fish do not recast! Just keep retrieving that fly normally and you might get a second chance. As far as trout fishing in Connecticut is concerned, the Farmington is really the only game in town for the moths of July, August, and into September. Because it is a tailwater it will stay cold whereas all other free-flowing streams will warm up and the fish will shut down. Also keep in mind that as the Summer progresses we will see the morning and afternoon become the best times to fish. Mid-day will become less productive as that water heats up. Focus the majority of your efforts early and late as the bite becomes more polarized.
The Housatonic is warm. Recent water temperatures are creeping up toward 80 degrees and at this point it is time to let the trout rest. It is not ethical to stress the fish out when the water is this warm. Many, if not all, of the fish will die post release so if you do plan on fishing the Housy, focus on Smallmouth Bass or Pike. The Thermal Refuges for trout are now in effect too, so 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 birth to avoid a hefty fine and/or suspension of your fishing license. That being said the Smallmouth and Pike fishing has been great this past week. Smallmouth Bass are aggressively taking flies with early morning and late afternoon being the prime times. Sub-surface patterns are far and away the most productive. A smaller baitfish pattern in a size 1 or 2 has been deadly. Fish these flies low and slow. Far too often anglers rip these flies through the water too fast. A weighted fly fished slowly close to the bottom will yield good results. Fish are taking poppers early in the mourning and later afternoon as well. A frog pattern will work but a wounded baitfish pattern is often more productive. Consider throwing a small white, brown, or black popper, and again, fish it a little on the slower side. Smallies will often hit the fly on the pause in classic bass fashion. The Northern Pike fishing has been good as well. This is not a numbers fishery by any stretch but this time of year the fishing is very consistent. The slower and deeper pools will more often than not hold pike. Throw flies along the bank and strip erratically into deeper water. The key when it comes to fly fishing for Pike is to cover water. The more water you can cover in a day, the greater chance of success you have. The Pike will be stacked down deep in the coolest water so target the deepest water you can find. The week of July 1st, water temps are ranging from 71 to 75 degrees depending on the day and water depth of the lakes and rivers.
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Our friend Pogo Pike writes of the fishing this past week:
Pike are going deeper and need to be handled with care. Can you say SMALLMOUTH? They are very active and eating top water like champs, game on! The occasionally thunderstorm has been keeping the rivers in good condition with a bit of fresh water to keep this fish happy!
The saltwater scene has tailed off a bit but remains consistent. There are plenty of schoolie Stripers around and the action has been hot early in the morning. The Stripers have been on sand eels around the Westport area and for those anglers in a boat, finding the birds has been the most efficient way of finding these fish. These smaller stripers have been busting on top giving anglers some exciting action. These fish are very susceptible to flies as the baitfish are small. The sand eels are about 3 inches long, a perfect size fly to throw on an 8 or 9 weight. If you find these fish we also recommend throwing a small popper. It is a blast watching the fish hit top-water flies which they will readily do when they are on bait. The bigger fish seem to be fewer and far between as they push East toward Rhode Island and Montauk. That is not say that they are not around but that we are just seeing fewer of them than we did a few weeks back. The Bluefish have also been a bit sparser. The numbers have seemed to tail off and we are hoping that this is season is not a repeat of last year. Some of our anglers have been running into bigger Blues mid-sound but it the exception not the rule at the moment. It is still worth your time to get out there and fish but be prepared to look a bit harder to find fish. If you are fishing from shore we recommend probing different locations early in the morning until you find bait or birds. The same goes for anglers fishing from a boat. Exchange fuel for nautical miles and look for signs of feeding fish. If you are targeting bigger fish, spend more time in deeper water. If you are just looking for action, then focus on shallower coastal structure and look for busting fish or birds.
Water temperatures have starting to climb with the recent heat which has made the fishing a little more challenging on certain rivers. There's a chance of a passing Thunderstorm tomorrow in Western Mass which may help a bit but the forecast is sunny and hot for much of next week, so it's likely that they'll climb a bit further yet. Anglers should focus on early mornings and evenings and best bets will be closer to tailwater releases (where possible) since the fish will be seeking cooler conditions. As always this time of year if the water temp gets too high, best to let the fish rest and ride it out and promote good angling conservation practices.
The upper Deerfield is still fishing well, though the lower stretches are starting to warm up a bit as they tend to do this time of year. As noted above it's best to avoid the middle of the day and concentrate your efforts when it's not quite so hot out. From what we're hearing an assortment of dries, streamers, and nymphs should all work fine and the further upstream toward Fife Brook you go, the better. Just keep covering water and target feeding lanes and areas with cooler water temps.
Anglers on the cape this weekend should brace themselves for July 4th weekend crowds on the roads, beaches, and yes, the water too. Even more so perhaps, with good weather conditions forecasted through Sunday, as many will try and beat the heat by getting out on the water (angling or not).
Big bass are definitely around on the cape though finding them has been hit and miss as warmer temperatures have pushed them into deeper water. More boats out has also made it challenging at some of the more popular spots so if you are heading out on a high-traffic day it might be best to avoid well-known spots at are likely to attract a crowd.
Anglers cruising or stalking flats may notice that the fish are getting a little spookier because of the sustained angling pressure, but there are still plenty of schoolies to be had so it's well worth taking advantage.
Corey Gammill, of Bill Fisher Outfitters, reports the following from Nantucket:
Water temps are rising quickly around the island and the big bait is thinning out. Most of our squid and herring has moved to our eastern rips and up North so those chasing Larger Bass will need to focus their attention on the offshore rips.
Inshore, we have lots of sand eels, bluefish are thickening around these sand eels as are the small bass. The fish are congregating in tight spots, so if you can find the birds you can find the fish.
From the beach, fly and spin guys are still doing well when focusing on the surf. Bass are pushing tight in eating the sand crabs as they are looking for easy meals.
There are still stripers on the flats eating crabs, in fact with the squid population thinning and bass needing to adjust their diet there are more numbers up there chasing the crabs in the sand.
We have also heard of a few more bonito caught around the island. Crazy start to the year. The other crazy news was a sturgeon was hooked and landed off the east side of the island. Crazy times.
Nate Hill, of Hill Country Guides, reports that the trout fishing this week has been good in Northern New England, and it has held up pretty well under the warmer weather with water temps staying in the 60's through most of the day.
Our friend and guide Kyle Schaefer, of Soul Fly Outfitters, is back cruising for stripers in his native Maine after spending the winter season managing Bair's lodge in the Bahamas. Of conditions in southern Maine, Kyle reports the following:
Bigger fish are beginning to move into the Piscataqua river and southern Coast of Maine. Water is in the 60 degree range and warming up to 70 by midday on the flats and back waters. Fish are spread out through the estuaries, great bay and the rocky coast. Schoolies can be found busting in the morning on juvenile Atlantic herring, silversides, small sand eels. Poagies line the coast and big bass can occasionally be found slashing through the schools. The southern Maine and NH beaches are also holding some good fish. Flats more exposed to the ocean have some bigger bass on them up to 40 inches but these fish are few and far between. The back mud flats are loaded with schoolies up to 25” and will take green crabs, small shrimp, and small baitfish patterns.