Though we're still a few weeks away from the transition to fall fishing, we've had some solid options this week especially for saltwater anglers. Bigger blues and some Bonito are starting to show in earnest, a sign of things t to come. While most trout rivers remain low and hot, we've had a few recent slugs of rain which should inject a little fresh energy into the equation. If you're thinking of hitting the water this weekend or upcoming week, read on for the latest word, from south to north...
The Beaverkill and the Willowemoc have dropped quite a bit. Water flow is down and temperatures are up. Water temps are into the high 60s and low 70s mid-day and until we get another good shot of rain it is best to 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 West Branch is really the only decent trout water on the Delaware at the moment. Crowds have been substantial and it has been quite challenging for most of the anglers up there lately. There are still Sulphurs, Isos, Light Cahills, BWOs, and some Stoneflies hatching. The fish have become very selective with the low and clear water so if you plan on fishing up there, expect it to be on the difficult side. Anglers are still catching fish but just be prepared to have to work for them.
The early morning bite off Montauk is still going strong. This past week saw some incredible fishing with the New Moon. Tides were strong and the fish responded well. There were plenty of fish on top crushing bait in the mornings. These were mostly fish of the smaller variety and were very plentiful from first light until 9am. There have been big Bluefish around and their numbers seem to be growing. We are hearing about much more consistent action with these larger fish and expect things to improve as the weeks progress. Larger Striped Bass were caught this past week/weekend at night. With extremely strong tides the bite was on and full sinking lines and big dark flies were the name of the game. During the day, it seemed the bite shut off completely for all species. The action picked back up in the afternoon into late evening. The real change has been the action’s proximity to shore. Fish are moving steadily offshore in search of cooler water and so are the baitfish. Unless they are forced into shallow by predators, expect the bait to stay offshore, or at best, you might see them inshore early and at night. This has made it a bit challenging for shore-based fly anglers. If you can get out on the water before the sun comes up you have a chance at some very good Striper fishing. But the action has been winding down and is very “hit or miss” right now. Expect things to remain that way until the Full Moon.
The Farmington is fishing well but becoming more and more challenging. Fishing over the weekend was good but very typical of mid-summer conditions. The fish are extremely educated and need a very subtle touch. Presentations need to be perfect and fly selection is critical. Like we have been saying for the past month or so, early morning and late afternoon is when you want to be on water. If you are nymphing then bigger flies will potentially work in the morning. A big stonefly nymph or Iso pattern has been effective lately. However, smaller unassuming flies have been taking more fish than the larger stuff. Midge nymphs are very effective this time of year and seem to take the majority of the subsurface fish. A black Zebra Midge in a size 20 on 6x is a good place to start. Fish will take these flies throughout the day so if nymphing is your preferred method, always have a midge somewhere on your rig, preferably toward the bottom. Dry fly fishing has become more challenging as well. There are plenty of fish coming up in the slow flat sections in the evenings but these fish are keying on Antenella Attenuata. Also known as the Eastern Blue Winged Olive, this fly is tough to fish but the fish are keying on them hard in the afternoon and into the evening. This fly will emerge with a chartreuse body that quickly changes to a brownish-olive once fledged. If you snipe one out of the air it will appear that brownish olive which is what most anglers ultimately tie on. This will result in little to no success. The fish will be dialed into that chartreuse color and fishing the chartreuse-body variant will make all of the difference. There are still some straggling Sulphurs up towards Riverton but it is not a very strong hatch at this point. You will see some Isos upriver and Light Cahills as well. There are still various caddis, BWOs, Midges, and the early morning Needhami. Granted, these are not the big marquee hatches we love to fish but if you put the time in you can still have a great day on the water. To make the most of your time on the water it is advantageous to be fishing nothing heavier than 6x tippet for most dry fly or nymphing situations.
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The Housatonic remains low and warm. Smallmouth Bass fishing is starting to tail off a bit. The fish are becoming more sluggish as the water warms and expect to work a bit harder for every fish. It is also very much a morning and afternoon bite. The fish will be most active during the periods of coolest water so plan on being on the water early or late. The middle of the day has proven quite difficult. If you do intend on fishing during the heat of the day, fish your flies as slow as possible. Get those flies right down on the bottom and strip very slowly. A weighted fly that will fall slowly like a wounded baitfish will work about as well as anything. Make sure to bring plenty of them. If you are losing flies on the bottom you are fishing the flies correctly. A lot of anglers will fish the flies too high in the water column and during mid-day the fish will not come up far to hit a fly. Again, keep in mind that the Thermal Refuges are in effect, and will be for the rest of the Summer.
We are finally seeing decent numbers of big Blues in the Sound! This past weekend our customers got into Blues flirting with that 16-pound mark. Depending on where and when you found the fish, their attitude was quite different. A lot of the bigger fish have been found meandering on the surface and have proved to be quite challenging to get to eat. These fish require a stealthy approach and a slowly stripped fly. Fish that are behaving like that are most likely digesting after feeding heavily making them quite challenging to hook. Try to imitate a crippled baitfish and move it in a slow but erratic manner with long pauses. More often than not, these fish will refuse almost everything. However, if you find the right group that has been on the surface for a while it is possible to get these fish to react. Just keep in mind that throwing right into these fish and ripping it back as fast as you can is not the approach you want to start with. Err on the side of caution. Lead these fish by a good margin and fish the fly slow while trying a variety of different retrieves. Other groups of fish will be actively feeding on the surface providing a much more advantageous situation. You can get pretty close to these fish and almost any retrieve will result in a hook up. These active Blues have been primarily deep water so out toward the middle of the Sound is where you should start looking. A few have been scattered throughout shallower water but looking in deeper water offer the best odds of finding these fish. If you are up for a run, try looking around Smithtown Bay. Aside from the arrival of gator Blues, schoolie Stripers have been pretty consistent all along the Connecticut coast. They are tucked inshore early in the mornings and it seems like any half decent piece of structure will hold fish. That includes beaches and there are certainly big Stripers around if you know where to look. That being said, it is extremely difficult to get them on a fly and it may be more worth your time to take advantage of the Schoolies or Gators in the area. We have great tides right now so get out there!
The main rivers in Western Massachusetts are in typical August conditions, so for the most consistent fishing we're recommending the upper stretch of the Deerfield or the Swift. The latter is a small intimate river and the fish can be wary this time of year, but there are also lots of beautiful brookies that make for a great morning or evening on the water.
The Deerfield has been consistent up at Fife but the lower river is getting pretty warm now so you may want to focus your efforts a bit if you are heading up there this weekend. There are still plenty of nice large wild browns in the river and -- as we wrote last week -- a mix of dries, nymphs, and streamers has worked well with some terrestrials tossed out there for variety too. As always this time of year, mornings and evenings work best and you may want to bring your river thermometer with you just to keep an eye on temps and make sure that you aren't stressing the fish too much.
The Monomoy rips continue to be the hot spot for striped bass. The storm shut things down a bit at the end of last week into the weekend, however this weekend and the coming week should be quite good. The New Moon will be bringing with it the strongest tides of the month which means the bass will be feeding aggressively. Be prepared! Have squid, herring, bunker, and smaller baitfish flies such as sandeels ready to go. If you are fishing the rips make sure you are fishing full sink lines. T-14 tips or 400 to 450 grain lines on a 10wt will get the job done. With the increased tidal current, getting down deep is critical. Intermediate sinking lines just won’t cut it. We are hearing that some larger blues have moved in as well. They will most likely be on the rips too so have wire bite tippet on hand just in case they show up. The flats are fishing well and although the fish are not huge, there are plenty of them. Early morning during a good tide should give you plenty of shots at stripers cruising the shallows. The beaches have been loaded with stripers as well. Again, early in the morning will be your best shot at these fish as they move into deeper water as the sun gets higher.
Blues have moved in and anglers have a real shot at catching some larger fish right now. Big blues have been prevalent and as far as action goes, this is your best bet for the next few weeks. There are plenty of schoolie stripers around and bonito have shown up sporadically too. The bigger stripers are feeding almost exclusively at night. The majority have stacked up on the rips and shoals in deeper water and are not easily accessible with a fly rod. There have been some reports of larger fish in shallow early in the morning but the odds of running into these fish are low. It will be much more productive to focus on the bluefish for the next few weeks.
The Bluefish action has been hot this past week. It seems like Nantucket has the most consistent bluefish bite right now and fly anglers are taking full advantage. Everything from Harbor Blues to the big 16+ pound fish are being found on a regular basis. From Great Point all the way down to the South Side, beaches have seen strong numbers of fish and it has not taken a lot of searching to find them. Schoolies have been found along the South Side beaches as well, harassing bait early. Some bonito have shown up as well so have a bonito rig ready and keep an eye out.
The fishing off of Rhode Island is going strong. Big blues have finally shown up. Bluefish up to 16 pounds and even bigger have been caught recently so keep an eye out. These fish have no problem hitting a popper so get those 10wts out! Point Judith Light is a good place to start looking for these fish. They are on the rips right now so check all the typical spots when you have a good tide. There are still big stripers around but we are hearing it has been a nighttime and live bait bite primarily, which is making it difficult for fly rodders. None of our customers have said anything about bigger bass on the fly. There are plenty of schoolies as well as harbor blues to keep the rods bent early in the morning and late afternoon. Fish can be found along the beaches crashing bait and with the New Moon approaching expect a phenomenal weekend of fishing. Bonito have already begun to show up as well! We have had multiple reports of Bonito busting on the early morning tide right off the lighthouse. Bonito are still very much hit or miss but we recommend having your bonito flies within arm’s reach from now until the end of August. Fishing in Rhode Island is hot right now and expect things to improve over the weekend into next week. Block Island is essentially a mirror of the R.I. coast report. Plenty of schoolies, big blues around, and bonito starting to show. It seems like the larger blues are a bit more prevalent off of Block Island so if that is what you are looking for it may be worth the run out. Regardless you should have a great day on the water this weekend.
The recent slug of rain should help give the trout fishing in this region a nice boost, as temps had been climbing steadily. Nate Hill, of Hill Country Guides, has the skinny on the action this past week.
The Saco continues to fish well with a mix mayflies coming off on most mornings. We’ve done well swinging hares ear nymphs when fish are tough to take on dries. We have seen some black flying ants but the big swarms of cinnimon and honey ants will come later in August. We got out the other evening as temps began to drop and found a few good fish chomping on large golden stoneflies. This evening bite should improve a bit with slightly cooler days over the next week.
We’ve done well on the lower Andro recently with cooler temps filtering in. BWO nymphs and dries as well as Isonychia dries and grey caddis have all done the trick. If that isn’t working be sure to try flying ants as they work on the Ando as well as the Saco. We have avoided the upper river due to lack of cold water over the past few weeks but that should change now with colder overnight temps and warm instead of hot days. We are predictiong some good to great late summer fishing in the Errol area very soon.
We have been doing well on small streams with Grey Caddis and tan caddis nymphs along with PMX dries. If you fish this water be sure to cover pools thoroughly and keep moving. Often the fish are where the habitat is best, sometimes that is five pools in a row and other times it is a pool and then a quarter mile to the next stretch of good water. The fun is in never knowing what lies upstream or down. We love the adventure of this type of fishing and would love to show you why!
As guide Kyle Schaefer noted over the past few weeks “bass are sparse but present” and that’s more or less the case now too. We've been hearing decent reports of good fishing along some of southern Maine's rivermouths, which is probably your best bet at the moment for getting into a good sized fish. The bait still seem fairly plentiful with plenty of pogies, mackerel, and eel around. With water temps on the climb it's a matter of keeping your eyes peeled and pouncing if you come across a favorable situation like busting bait, or have some good fundamentals (good tides, structure, etc.) at hand.