September 13, 2019 11 min read
Greetings Compleat Anglers! The word this week is that Albie fever is right around the corner, with fish popping up in Rhode Island, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and a few other places as well. No, we're not in the heart of the run, but we are in that window where it's possible (challenging, but possible) to pull off a grand slam of Bonito, Striped Bass, Bluefish, and False Albacore. There is a short window where this is a legit possibility, and we are in it. Read on for the details...
The Catskills rivers are still low but things seem to be improving. We had a few cooler nights and some rain this past week which improved the conditions. The weather is trending in the right direction with cooler average temperatures and at least some rain each week. We have heard that the fishing on the upper stretches was good with plenty of fish brought to hand. The early morning hours were fishing the best. Nymphs took a bunch of fish while stimulators in the late morning and afternoon took fish as well. On the Willowemoc it is the same story. There are still some Isos hatching as well as Sulphurs but these hatches are winding down. The late afternoon has proven to still be the best dry fly opportunity and if you plan on throwing dries then midges, assorted caddis, and BWOs will be the best option. If you do plan on fishing this weekend focus on the morning bite. Expect fish activity to tail off toward midday and then pick back up late afternoon. Be aware that effective July 1st, the Beaverkill River from Horton Bridge downstream to the highway overpass is now closed to all angling.
Not much to report on the Delaware system. It is still low and many anglers have opted to fish other rivers or switch over to saltwater. Things have been quite challenging over the past few weeks and most anglers are finding that the juice is not worth the squeeze especially with other fisheries beginning to improve. Hatches are still Sulphurs and smaller cream colored mayflies with some Isonychia in the mix. These hatches are on their last leg and will be done fairly soon. BWOs are still the hot fly. If you get a cloudy day, the BWOs will be coming off hard and the fish will be on them. The Upper East and West is where you want to be if you are thinking about going up. There are plenty of smaller sub-fourteen inch fish being caught so consider bringing a 4wt. Larger fish are still being taken but it seems they are fewer and farther between these days. The one benefit of this time of year is that pressure decreases substantially. The mad rush to the Delaware is long over and you should have no problem finding some water to fish uninterrupted.
Montauk is heating up. Albies have shown up and their presence off the lighthouse has now been confirmed. However, do not get too excited just yet. They will be there one day and gone the next, so it’s not a sure thing just yet. These are the first, most Southerly groups of fish. We are still a week or so out. But they are coming! On any given day it could blow up in a big way so get those 9 and 10wts ready! The fish that have been caught have been that larger size class of fish and on the backside of Dorian we should see a good push of fish if conditions cooperate. It is still early-ish but we are very close! It could very well go off this weekend. In other news the Striper fishing is improving with early morning blitzes becoming more and more prevalent. There have been incredible mornings early this week with hundreds of bass pushing bait right up against the beach. The bait is starting to think about beginning the migration. As they move into open water they are being intercepted by Bass and forced into the beaches. Plenty of schoolies are being caught from shore and some nicer 30+ inch fish were taken this past week. There is no shortage of Blues at the moment either. Expect to find Bluefish of all sizes busting bait pretty much all day. As far as Bonito go, we are on the tail end of the run. You could very well run into them but they won’t hang around much longer.
The Farmington is still low. It’s hard to believe but over the weekend the water dropped to 54 CFS out of the dam. The rain that we got recently bumped the Still up a bit which kept it from being bone dry but we really need a good shot of water up there right now. As far as hatches go, it is still all about small bugs. The Tricos are winding down but are still up in that cooler water in and around Riverton. BWOs, Midges, and assorted caddis are all popping early in the A.M.. These flies in sizes 20, 22, 24, and even 26 will improve your chances of a productive day on the water. Many of the fish being taken lately are on these smaller dries in the morning. If you get a good cloudy day then the BWOS should pop well. The fish will key in on these Blue Winged Olives so make sure you bring some 18s 20s, 22s and 24s just in case. Some of the larger bugs will be the occasional Light Cahill and Isonychias which will pop late in the afternoon/evening. Terrestrials will take fish as well during the heat of the day. Having a variety of all of these patterns is key. Dropping down to 6, 7, or 8x is imperative with these smaller flies. What we really need is some water. Expect fishing to be a bit on the tougher side from now on. As we get into late November, early October and it cools down the fishing should improve so waiting until then might be the prudent move.
The Housatonic is still fishing well. Cooler temperatures have kept the Smallmouth nice and comfortable. The bite has been great in the mornings and afternoons. The trout fishing has even improved a bit, though we still recommend giving these fish a little more time for that water to cool down. Tthere have been some accidental catches indicating that these fish are moving away from the thermal refuges and becoming more active. A good sign. The water came up this week and has improved things for all species. The Pike have been a bit tougher but the cooler temps and increased water make conditions good right now. Things are looking up for the Housatonic. If we keep getting bumps of water and it says cooler at night then fishing will steadily improve over the next few weeks. Things are looking good! Keep in mind: the Thermal Refuges for trout are still in effect.
The Connecticut coast has remained good. Schoolie Stripers are pretty much a sure thing if you are fishing structure with any bait on it. The early morning bite seems to be improving. Blitzes are becoming more prevalent and the first signs of the Fall run are beginning to appear. We are in a bit of a transitional period at the moment. We are on the backside of the mid-summer lull and approaching the False Albacore push. As it cools down the bait will start to move with a bit more authority and we’ll start seeing them move out of the rivers, harbors, and lagoons beginning their push South. There are already a good number of Bay Anchovies in the Sound so if the weather cooperates then we should have Albies any week now. There is a ton of bait out there right now. Especially Bunker. There are peanuts, 3 inchers, and full-size Bunker all over the place. It is good to see all this Bunker in different sizes, which bodes well for the fall run. There have been Blues all over, everything from Snappers all the way up to Gators and they can be found fairly easily right now. Further to the East seems to be more consistent but the Western Sound has had its fair share of action this past week too. Before the remnants of Dorian hit, the Gator Blues were everywhere off of Stamford and Darien. They were tucked in tight blowing up on bait so once the weather stabilizes expect a similar situation.
Goodbye Bonito, hello False Albacore. We are on the tail end of Bonito season with fish becoming sparser as the days pass. Any day now they will be gone for good signaling the true start of False Albacore madness. This past week the Albies showed up numerous times and plenty were caught by many of our anglers. They were fickle though. One day they were everywhere and the next they were nowhere to be found. That is typical early in the run but pretty soon they should arrive en masse and the fishing will be lights out. Albies steal the thunder from Stripers and Blues but both of these species are also fishing very well at the moment. Stripers are blitzing along the beaches every falling tide and the Blues are everywhere when the conditions are right. Right now is a great time to fish Rhode Island because there is a real possibility of running into busting Albies, Stripers and Blues. Who knows, you could get the tail end of Bonito as well and potentially get the Grand Slam. Not an easy feat with really only 2-3 weeks every year to do it! The fishing is awesome right now. The forecast looks marginal for the weekend but if things change, it is time to get out on the water.
The trout fishing has started to turn the corner in Western Massachusetts thanks to cooler temps. It's just what the trout needed in order to become active again. The upper section of the Deerfield has started to turn back on all the way down to Charlemont, and the rest of the river shouldn't be too far behind assuming the weather cooperates over the next few weeks. We're headed into one of the best times of the season, with active fish, fewer anglers, and some gorgeous foliage. And if you're not a fan of earlier sunsets and cooler weather now is the time to get in some late season fishing before you swap your waders and boots for bobbin and vice.
The Monomoy rips are now holding False Albacore with plenty of Stripers mixed in. Mid-September is always a safe bet when trying to predict the first good push of Albies. We are still a week or two away from the first real big push but there are certainly plenty of fish around. Bay Anchovies and Sandeels are prevalent and what these fish will be feeding on. At this point, it is good idea to have a 10wt rigged with 12 or 16lb fluorocarbon and a Bay Anchovy or Sandeel Fly. When conditions are good, there will be Albies popping along the rips. Most anglers will use an intermediate fly line in other parts of the Northeast but on the rips a full sink is not a bad idea. When that current is really moving it will often take a full sink to keep that fly just under the surface, especially when rapidly stripping back for Albies. The Beach fishing has also picked up. There are plenty of Bunker in the area and Stripers are forcing them along the beaches during the falling tide making for some great fishing. The Flats are slowing a bit as the fish begin to stage for their migration.
This past week saw some phenomenal fishing off the Vineyard. We spoke with a few anglers who got multiple Grand Slams and double digit False Albacore. Fish were busting on top all day and feeding on Peanut Bunker. Bonito numbers are dropping as they move away but Albies are just becoming more and more prevalent. Stripers were busting on the rips and beaches during the falling tide with Bluefish mixed in. Gator Blues were found in deeper water on full size Bunker and the action was hot all day when the weather cooperated. The remanence of Dorian kept anglers off the water but once things calmed down, fishing picked right back up. Long story short: The Vineyard is hot right now!
Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket share almost identical reports. Corey Gammill, of Bill Fisher Outfitters, had written to say that there was tons of bait in the area and that once the weather settled things would turn on, which is exactly what's happened. One of our customers had a Grand Slam this past weekend and fishing has been lights out. The Albies have moved in very strong numbers. Albie fever has taken hold and a lot of fly anglers have been taking plenty of fish. The fish will be on the Bonito Bar but all over the Island as well. They are not as picky when it comes to where they go out for breakfast or dinner. Any decent piece of structure or rip wall that traps bait will attract Albies. They are also not as tide sensitive. They want moving water but will feed aggressively on both a rising and falling tide. The Beaches have also had a good early morning and later afternoon Striper bite. Bait has been getting pinned up against shore and Stripers are taking full advantage. It may take a bit of searching but the action has been consistent. Blues are around as well. It’s rare to go out right now and not find them. Everything from Harbors to Gators are prevalent with most of the bigger fish in deeper water and the smaller fish tucked in fairly tight. Bonito are dwindling. They will be gone any day now so this will be your last chance until next year.
Nate Hill, of Hill Country Guides, reports that the trout fishing in New Hampshire and Maine has really rounded into fall form:
As I write this the leaves are turning from green to gold. The fish in our waters are in their prime fall feeding rhythms at the moment. With the last few weeks of cooler weather our fall hatches are well underway. The andro is seeing good Isonychia mayfly hatches and Rhyacophila caddis hatches almost every day. We have already seen the bite window shift from early mornings to late morning into the early afternoon. For all of you who like to catch fish but hate getting up early or staying out late now is your time to shine! Best bites this time of the year are 9am to 5pm….yes bankers hours.
We have seen some very high numbers of fish on the upper Andro this fall. Larger fish have been harder to find simply because there are soooo many fish. But we have been able to find a few good fish on most days. The lower river from Berlin to Maine has produced good fishing as well with slightly lower numbers but good chances at larger fish in the 14-18” class.
The Saco has seen some good flying ant hatches of late but with the cooling weather look to fish midges, bwo’s or bigger streamers when the water bumps up. Nymphing can also be successful with larger stones and mopflies when the water bumps. We have seen some larger browns this time of they year when flows bump so keep an eye on the forecast. I got out last week after a rain and missed two browns in the 20” class.
The word on saltwater action in southern Maine is much the same as last week - the bite remains strong for schoolie stripers, which are aggressive as ever this time of the season. They are still active in the usual spots - estuaries, bays, marshes, and good structure - and have been hitting a variety of flies. Again, not so fussy this time of season. Anglers have found ample surface action too, so don't be afraid to move around a little bit. If you find them you should be set for a hook up!