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August 15, 2019 10 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers! The word this week on conditions in the northeast is that, if you can, it's time to get out there and start targeting bonito and blues in the salt. Yes, there are still plenty of schoolie stripers being caught, and yes, trout anglers are finding some (if crowded) success, but the real fun has been with our toothy saltwater friends. For many of you that may mean hopping in the car or working some fishing into that beach vacation, but it will be worth it. Without further ado, here's the word from South to North...
The Catskills are low and warm. Our anglers and guides have been avoiding the Beaverkill are Willowemoc, giving these fish a rest. Unless we get a few days of steady rain or the temperatures cool down, it is best for the fishery that you fish elsewhere. Be aware that effective July 1st, the Beaverkill River from Horton Bridge downstream to the highway overpass is now closed to all angling.
The Delaware Remains a challenge. The upper East and upper West are the only viable trout fisheries and angling pressure reflects. There have been a lot of anglers up here recently making things a bit more difficult. Low and clear water coupled with tough hatches has compounded the issue. However, this is a phenomenal fishery and if you are up for a challenge then this is one of the only viable trout fisheries at the moment. It is still all about lightly colored Mayflies and Isonychia. Sulphurs, White Flies and Light Cahills are the lighter Mayflies that you will see right now. Sulphurs will be the strongest of all the hatches. Isos will be a close second in terms of what the fish will be keying in on. There are Tricos beginning to show up as well. This is a tough hatch to fish only because they are tiny and require 6 or 7x. There are BWOs and assorted caddis flying around as well. If you plan on fishing caddis, start with a s 16 or 18 tan spent caddis. BWOs will be 20s. We recommend having a few different options as far as patterns for each fly. Emergers, Duns, Cripples, and Spinners are all good to have. Sure, that means bringing a lot of flies with you but, with the fishing being as technical as it is; failure to do so could result in the dreaded goose egg.
The bite off Montauk is still going strong. The Striped Bass have tailed off a bit as is expected this time of year. You will have plenty of shots at schoolie sized fish early in the morning and late in the afternoon on a good tide. This has been more of a boat fishery as these fish are starting to hold in deeper water. As the water temperatures creep up Stripers move offshore so the shore fishing has been very hit and miss. That being said, Montauk is one of the better places to target fish from shore due to the cooler water coming off the Atlantic. We recommend locating areas that drop off quickly. Rock piles and channels will hold fish that will want to get back into deep water as the sun comes up. A boat is the most advantageous way to fish right now but if you put some time in studying maps, you can find a few of these drop offs close to shore which will be accessible by foot. The Bluefish bite has been rock solid off Montauk for the past week. Huge Blues have amassed off the Lighthouse and surrounding area providing some incredible fly fishing for the anglers that have pursued them. Fish up to 18 pounds have been seen and caught on a regular basis. This is your best bet if you are looking to catch some nice sized fish on fly. The Blues will go down deep mid-day so early and late are the best times to locate schools of Big Blues. They tend to be a bit less finicky as Bass and will hang up top a bit longer. There is a lot of bait around and finding bait is a fairly safe bet in terms of finding Blues. That said, you should also be prepared to find these fish “finning” on the surface.
The Farmington has dropped below 200 CFS. While not the end of the world, it has made fishing difficult. Low and clear water coupled with small bugs hatching as well as angling pressure saw tough fishing over the past weekend. Things did not improve throughout the week and it is becoming much a more technical fishery. Mid-August into Mid-September is arguably the most difficult month to fish. Seasonably low water and temps creeping up in the 65 degree range are keeping those fish right on the bottom for most of the day. Early morning is proving to be the best time to be fishing. The water is coolest and the fish will be the most active. Later in the evening the bite will pick back up a bit with the best dry fly fishing being right before dark. Nymphing is your best bet early. Smaller flies are taking most of the fish. Right now, it is all about a perfect presentation and fishing a fly that the fish may not have seen before. The fish on the Farmington are so educated at this point that a stealthy presentation and a natural looking fly is key. Wets are producing well but regardless of what method you plan on using, expect to work for bites.
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The Housatonic remains low and warm. However, the Smallmouth Bass fishing has been lights out. Even anglers who have never fished the Housey for Smallies are doing well and anglers who really know what they are doing are putting up numbers well into the double digits. It is very much an early and late bite with things slowing down substantially mid-day. This is a phenomenal fishery and a great option this time of year. There are some Largemouth peppered throughout the Smallmouth sections as well. We recommend fishing a weighted size 4, 6 or 8 zonker-style fly down deep. A sink tip is a nice thing to have but not critical for success, especially early or late. Just lengthen your leader out to 9 feet or more if you are fishing a floating line. Cast upstream of your intended “strike zone” and mend down. Let that fly sink as it drifts down to the spot you think the fish are holding. Slow but jerky retrieves are best. We call them “pop-strips.” Moving the fly fast but only inches at a time with pauses in between will result in hook ups. Long slow strips can work as well. Try and avoid the typical arm length retrieve, which will work occasionally but will prove far less effective overall (the only time we recommended that style of retrieve is if you are in danger of hooking bottom). The water is too warm to catch trout without killing them so we highly suggest avoiding the “trout water.” Pike are hit or miss right now. The best time to target these fish is right after a good rain. If we get any decent precipitation on the Housey, the few days after the rain will see a spike in Pike activity. Obviously you will need to be flexible but if you time it right you can have some great fishing this time of year. Again, keep in mind: The Thermal Refuges are in effect, and will be for the rest of the Summer.
Long Island Sound is hit or miss right now. The Striper fishing is becoming quite inconsistent and it is all about early mornings and moving constantly to find fish. Locating bait is a start but not necessarily critical. There are larger Bluefish around in good numbers right now. We have been hearing of Big Blues either finning on the surface or blitzing on Bunker Schools, anywhere from Stratford to Greenwich. These Bluefish are the most consistent action at the moment despite requiring a decent amount of searching to get on them. The biggest change is that a lot of these fish are starting to move in closer to shore. They are not quite targetable by shore-based anglers however, so if you have access to a boat, running the coast should prove fruitful.
As we wrote last week, the main rivers in Western Massachusetts are in typical mid-August conditions with increased pressure on the few remaining trout options around. In addition to the upper stretch of the Deerfield, the Swift is still viable though it tends to get pounded this time of year so be prepared for a crowd, especially on the weekends. Until things start to cool off a bit, we also recommend giving the trout a rest and doing some smallmouth bass fishing in the area.
It's all about the uppermost section of Deerfield at Fife this time of year and be prepared for a little more competition fishing cooler water. Anglers have been having some success with terrestrials during the day, and that's a good option outside of the early-and-late windows. As always, keep a thermometer handy, and if the temps climb too much, give the fish a break until they're less stressed.
The Monomoy rips remain consistent. Things have slowed a bit but as far as decent Striper fishing, this is one of the better places in the Northeast at the moment. The rips are also holding Gator Blues. It seems like the deeper the water the better the chance you have finding these double-digit size fish. They have been right on shore occasionally so if you are wading, keep an eye out. The Monomoy Point flats and beaches are still holding plenty of fish and for the shore-based fly angler, this is where you want to be. Early in the morning during a good tide expect to find fish cruising the flats and beaches. Sandeels seem to be the primary forage of stripers right now but there is also plenty of Bunker around as well. Cape Cod Bay has seen very little in terms of action in the past weeks but things have picked up a bit. Schoolies and harbor Blues are a bit more predictable early in the mornings. They are keyed in on Sandeels so be prepared for that with plenty of Sandeel flies at hand.
Bonito are everywhere! It is a frothing mass of fish out off the Vineyard and fly anglers have been taking full advantage. Bonito are being caught from both shore and from boats. It will be a little more difficult to target these fish from shore. If you decide to do that, check Oak Bluffs or Wasque Point down along South Beach. These areas are holding fish. We have not heard much about Menemsha Bight or the West Chop but it is only a matter of time. There are Big Bluesfish around as well. The Striper fishing has tailed off quite a bit so it is best to focus on Bonito or Blues. Remember that the incoming tide is the Bonito’s favorite. Time your fishing around that incoming and be at your desired location at Slack low and wait for the fish to pop up. These fish have teeth but you do not need wire. 15 or 20 pound Fluorocarbon tippet is plenty to prevent any bite-offs (it happens every once in a while, but if you keep an eye on frays and nicks you will be fine without wire). If you get bit off frequently then it is Bluefish and you may want to move. For flies, a size 4 or 6 bunny fly in pink or white is all you need. Any small fly like that will be more than adequate. These fish are not selective.
The Bonito Bar has picked up in a big way. The Bonito are on the bar in big numbers on that incoming tide and fishing has been great! It is still not quite the peak run but it is days away. Numbers are strong and we expect some pretty phenomenal fishing in the coming week, weather permitting. Bright or white flies in size 1, 2, and 4 with 15 or 20 pound tippet is all you need. There are some very big Blues around as well. Fish over 15 pounds are being caught around Great Point early in the mornings and late afternoon. Striper fishing has tailed off and it is time to focus on Blues and Bonito.
Rhode Island continues to fish well! Things have slowed a bit as fish are moving into deeper water but there are still plenty of schoolie Stripers and harbor Blues around to keep anglers busy. There are some larger Bluefish being caught as well. These fish are typically on Bunker schools in the morning and evening. They are being a bit finicky at times but a well presented full-sized bunker fly should get the job done. There are also some Bonito showing up as well. It is a few weeks early from the peak of the run, but they have been spotted around Point Judith Lighthouse on a regular basis.
Cooler temps have given the trout (and trout anglers!) a boost in Maine and New Hampshire. Instead of the usual early-and-late this time of the season, this should provide a longer window of quality fishing. Take advantage! It's an especially good time to think about doing a float on the Andro, for example.
We only had spotty reports from Maine this week, but what we did hear was that folks are still catching big stripers up and down the coast, and that cooler weather (shorter days, longer and cooler nights) have helped conditions overall. The action is still steadily inconsistent, if that makes sense. There are plenty of bait and predator fish around, but anglers have been reporting hit-and-miss action. The takeaway is that whether on shore or by boat, you'll need to keep your eyes open and be opportunistic when you find fish. And moving around and covering water will likely put you in the best position to run into a big pod.
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