Northeast Fishing Report: 9/18/2020 - The Compleat Angler

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September 18, 2020

Greetings Compleat Anglers! The fall fishing season is in mid-stride at this point and things have really picked up, almost on all fronts. Cooler water temps have opened up some options for trout anglers, the Ontario tribs are now in play for salmon and steelhead, and the saltwater fishing has picked up in a big way. We've had some excellent striper fishing this past week, along with a healthy mix of Bonito and Albies, depending on where you are. The big bogie this week will be the weather, which has been finicky already. Fingers crossed that Hurricanes Sally and Teddy don't make the conditions too challenging. If you have a nice weather window, take it - it is game on! Read on for details...

New York

Freshwater

The Beaverkill and Willowemoc are cooling down. With the first frosts of the season things are finally trending well. The fish are out of the red-zone and as long as you handle fish properly, it is likely safe to fish in the mornings and afternoons. The rivers are low (as is everything up there right now) but still fishable. The Beaverkill will have more water and is a better option than the Willow at this point. Dry-droppers will be very effective in the shallower sections while nymphing should prove most productive. Small midges, caddis emergers, and BWO emergers are a good starting point. For dries, it depends on where you are fishing. The Isos are still a factor but the fish will be much more selective on these larger bugs than say a small caddis or BWO. Tan Caddis are a safe bet. Size 18-20 caddis will be a fly you definitely want to have as well as s20 BWO’s. Have these in both emergers and Duns/Adults. They should account for the majority of your takes. Terrestrials will still take a few fish on the warmer days but downsize to ants. White flies should be productive right before dark. Size 12 or 14 White Wulffs are all you need.

The Delaware had a little bump in water last Friday and things have subsided since then. That was due to the East rising to about 550cfs. The West stayed stable. Fishing has been tough on the whole, however with dropping temperatures things are picking up. Hatches remain relatively unchanged. Isos s12, Cahills s14, White flies s12-14, BWOs s18-20, Tricos s20-24, Tan Caddis s18-20, Sulphurs s18, and ants. The Tricos, Midges, and BWOs will be in the cooler water on the Upper East and West. Caddis will be on the entire system. The Main Stem, Lower East and Lower West will obviously be a bit warmer than the branches. Expect mostly tan caddis, Sulphurs, Isos and White Flies. There are also Dorotheas s18 hatching as well. The Upper West has been a bit turbid as the Reservoir begins its fall turnover. The slight increase in turbidity should not affect the fishing at all. Keep an eye on the CFS. If we get a good bump of water it will a great time to bang the banks with streamers.


Ontario Tributaries

There have been some real nice salmon taken the past week. Reports are that the initial run has been a bit weak but anglers are picking away at them. It seems that the water is a bit low. A good shot of rain would really get those fish moving upstream. But for now, it is still worth the drive. The fish that have been working their way in have been fresh and feisty. Some steelhead have been reported as well as a few Browns. We have not heard about any Atlantics yet but it is safe to assume a few have been taken. The majority of the fish have been Kings. The Cohos have been few and far between. Again, that is likely due to the low water. Keep an eye on the flows. As soon as we get a good bump of water the fish will come into the river by the thousands.

For the time being, it is wise to stay on larger rivers like the Salmon River as the smaller tribs have been almost devoid of fish. The water is simply too low. The benefit of the Salmon River is that even when it is around 180cfs there is still enough water for the more determined members of the run to make it to the top. Egg patterns have been taking most of the fish. Hot orange, chartreuse, red, and hot pink Estaz flies in a size 6, 8 and 12 will get the job done. Really any egg pattern in a variety of colors and sizes are best practice. It is good to have a few brighter hot-head Woolly Buggers in size 4, 6, and 8 as well. Heavy tippet and heavy rods are a must. 20lb on the leader/tippet and 10wts are pretty standard. 

Saltwater

Long Island and the surrounding area has been lighting up recently. The fishing has been steadily improving over the past few weeks and there are no shortage of options at the moment. Fisher’s Island has been the talk of the shop recently. The Stripers have moved in thick making for some phenomenal shore-based fly fishing. The water has cooled down quite a bit and the fish have been everywhere on the beaches, just offshore on structure, and into the back bays. There is a ton of bait around to keep the Stripers nice and happy. Peanut Bunker have been all over the place and the Bass are on them. Small Peanut patterns have been taking fish readily but really, any reasonable baitfish imitation will work. The larger Stripers have become more prevalent as well. Early in the mornings and late in the afternoons the larger bass have keying in on adult Bunker.

Throwing a hookless plug and teasing them into fly range has been working well recently. False Albacore and Bonito have been filtering in as well making for some phenomenal fly fishing. Although they have not been as numerous as they have been out East, they are certainly around. A few have been taken at the Montauk light as well as the South Shore. Gardner’s Island and Fishers have fish as well. Montauk Lighthouse as well as Gardner’s Bay are seeing the highest concentrations of fish. I think in about a week or so it should be really good provided the weather calms down. We have some nasty conditions approaching this weekend so more than likely fishing will be a bust. However, once things subside it should really pop off, especially with the New Moon Tides we have. That has been the story the past few weeks. We are being severely hindered by offshore swells and East wind. Getting out when there is a good weather window is critical right now. If you wait too long you can miss the Albies altogether. Cash in those vacation days mid-week. It can make the difference between a great season and a bust one.

Connecticut

Farmington River

Keep in mind: As of September 1st, almost the entirety of the West Branch of the Farmington River is now all catch and release. From the Goodwin Dam, 21 miles down to the Route 177 bridge is all catch and release only from now until the second Saturday in April. Please report any poaching to the DEEP by calling 800-842-4357.

Low and slow. That is the best way to describe the Farmington right now. After months of relentless angling pressure and very low water, anglers are reporting tough fishing and tough conditions. Fly anglers are picking away at fish but expect to work for them. Mousing has slowed a bit but is still a good option on those warmer moonless nights. Nymphing tiny flies has been the most productive from what we are hearing. Midges, BWO and caddis emergers, and other soft-hackle type flies have been the go-to flies for many seasoned Farmington anglers. It’s technical fishing right now, no doubt about it. You will need to work hard for each fish and dropping down those fly sizes and fishing light tippet is a start. Dry fly fishing has been slowly dwindling. The Tricos are still coming off but many of the larger bugs will begin to disappear as the temperatures cool off. It certainly feels like Fall at this point, so it is time to change over to Fall tactics on this river. Smaller bugs will be the majority of the forage. If you tie flies, getting creative with midge nymphs can pay dividends in the months to come. Size 18, 20, and 22 are where I have typically found my sweet spot. Unweighted midges have been deadly this time of year. A simple black bodied midge with red wire rib and a black dubbing collar (no flash) in a s20 can be very effective right about now. Tie them with no bead but fish them with shot to get them down. As it gets cooler and the days get shorter the browns will begin to think about spawning, which means that it’s time to fish egg flies. These trout eggs are small, around a size 14. If you are in the right area, these flies are very productive and will take fish well into late October/November. Having a few colors is preferable. The most popular will be pink, orange, natural (aka cheese), and chartreuse.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01186000

Housatonic River

Things have been cooling down on the Housatonic, which is great news. Although the water is still very low and still on the warm side, things are trending in the right direction. As such, the Pike fishing has picked up. The fishing has been very good especially on overcast days. Nothing new in terms of fly selection or where to fish, it’s all pretty standard stuff. As long as the fly colors are appropriate for the water clarity then fishing should be quite good. There are Smallies pretty much everywhere on the river but the larger fish tend to be below the TMA. If you are targeting larger fish then downstream is where you want to be. The Smallmouth will pick up as well and the Pike fishing will get really good in late September/early October. As things cool down expect the trout fishing to pick back up. It is still a bit warm for them so if you plan on doing any fishing then early morning and late afternoon is still the window. The trout should still be left alone midday for the time being.

USGS Water-data graph for site 01199000

Saltwater

The signs of Fall can be found all over the Sound. Things have been set in motion and there are signs of action all over. The first reported Striper blitzes materialized this past week. They were not “true blitzes” but there were Bass corralling bait to the surface and boiling on bait making them easy targets to the savvy and stealthy fly anglers. The water temperature has dropped from 78 to 73 degrees during the past 2 weeks which has gotten the ball rolling. The bait is beginning to move. Every day more and more bait is pouring out of the estuaries, rivers, and harbors in preparation for their arduous migration South. That migration has converged with cooler in-shore temperatures which has enabled the predatory fish to inch in closer to them. That’s the recipe, the intersection of predator and prey, which creates the explosion known as the “Fall Run.” Larger blues have been becoming more numerous out in the middle. Large Gators are holding in the typical spots feeding on the numerous schools of adult Atlantic Menhaden. The Peanuts are seemingly everywhere, still clinging to the docks and pilings as long as they can. You can expect to see the Stripers begin inching in tight to feed on the peanuts until the water temperature drops enough to force them out sometime in mid-October. The Spanish Mackerel are still around! We have had a solid month of these Mackerel in the Western Sound. Very surprising. I wouldn’t expect them to be around much longer but you never know. If you are fishing anywhere along the Connecticut coast in the next week, be prepared for Macks just in case.

I saw a bust this past Monday that looked very much like Bonito or Albies. My gut tells me they were Bonito and there have been unconfirmed “shop-talk” reports of some anglers getting a few down near the shop. This is the time when they typically should show up so keep your eyes peeled. The Snappers are literally everywhere right now, and the Stripers know it. Larger boils and blow ups closer to shore are often the larger Bass targeting these Snappers. If you are fishing rocky structure tight to shore, fish a fly that imitates a Snapper. There is a real possibility of hooking a nice sized fish. As long as the weather does not pull a Crazy Ivan on us, the next few weeks should provide some very good fishing that will only get better as the days pass.

Rhode Island

False Albacore and Bonito are being caught on a regular basis off of Rhodie. It’s no secret they are in the area in good numbers. However, we are hearing that action has been inconsistent primarily due to weather. Some days have been awesome with fish all over the place, while others have been tough. The wind has been leading to some very nautical conditions out there making picking the right weather window absolutely critical. The weekend’s Easterly wind of 15-20 knots combined with an offshore swell of 2-4 feet shut the bite down. Saturday morning was great but by 12 it was all over. The water got turbid and the fish were nowhere to be found by Sunday. Things calmed down midweek only to give way to another nasty forecast for this weekend.

More wind out of the East does not bode well. If this keeps up and the remnants of one of these Hurricanes hits us hard, we may see a repeat of last year. That would be a disaster so keep your fingers crossed! The Stripers have been making up for the sporadic hardtail action. Blitzing Bass can be found all along the coast feeding on Anchovies. Birds are a great indicator of these large schools of fish and as long as you have a smaller anchovy-style fly, the fishing should be spectacular. The Harbor Blues have been a bit of a nuisance. They are all over, often mixed in with the Stripers, Albies, or Bonito. They will more often than not bite you off immediately so be sure to bring plenty of flies. No word on Gator Blues. It seems that the majority of Adult Bunker, which is what the blues primarily feed on, are farther West in the Long Island Sound. As such expect it to be a slower pick for the Gators. The Larger Stripers are certainly around, however with Hardtails on the scene few anglers are specifically targeting bass. We have great tides right now with the New Moon so let’s hope that we get a break in the weather.

 

Massachusetts

Cape Cod

Bonito have been replaced by False Albacore. They have been seemingly everywhere in the past week or so. Shore-based fly anglers have been putting up double digit numbers all along the beaches. It is a similar story for boat anglers as well. They are slowly working their way South/Southwest but expect there to be plenty of fish around for the next few weeks as long as the weather holds. The epicenter seems to be from Hyannis to Woods Hole. The Striped Bass have been all over as well. They are being caught on the beaches, back bays, and on offshore structure. There is plenty of bait around so locating these fish should be no problem.   

The Islands

Well as fast as they showed up, the Bonito have disappeared just as quickly. In their place are False Albacore. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are both loaded with Albies. Many fly anglers are running out to the Hooter to find these fish but they are all over. The Menemsha Bight, West and East Chop, and Great Point have all been fishing very well when the weather lines up. On the right the day, it has been phenomenal fishing. In between the Albie mayhem, Stripers up to 35 inches have been filling the downtime with blitzes all along the beaches. The water has cooled off quite a bit and the bait is on the move so expect to see surface activity. No need for blind casting full sink lines! We will see what the remnants of Hurricane Sally does to the Northeast fishing as a whole. I don’t think it will affect our Bass or Blues. These storms could, however, have a detrimental impact on the Albie run. Let’s hope for the best.


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