I beat up on some stockers yesterday, but I managed to pull this nice holdover brown out too. Spring/summer hours now in effect, we are open 8am-6pm on weekdays, 6am-5pm on weekends.
Loving this spring weather, high of 68 degrees today, wow! Total flow is 593cfs in the permanent TMA/C&R section in Pleasant Valley/New Hartford this morning (209cfs from the dam in Riverton, plus 384cfs from the Still River). This is a medium-high & fishable flow. Downstream in Unionville, gauge there is reading 1,140cfs. Water is basically clear, albeit with a light iced tea stain to it from the Still River down. If you want lower water, head up to Riverton, it's only 209cfs up near the dam (above the Still River). However- from the Still River down, water temps are warmer, prob low/mid 40's this morning. Water from the dam is mid/upper 30's until it mixes with warmer water from the Still.
Fishing reports have varied greatly, depending upon who you talked to, with some anglers doing quite well and others struggling. Those who found pods of freshly stocked trout racked up the biggest catches, but some bigger holdovers mixed in for some anglers. Fish a spot, but if it's not producing, move on, don't linger. Lately the more water I cover, the better I do. I might come up empty in 2-3 spots, and then bang fish in the 4th. Nymphs & deeply/slowly fished streamers are the most reliable fish catchers in the cooler waters of the early season, especially with the total flow up near 600cfs. But, there have been some risers most days of late (see 2 paragraphs down for more dry fly advice).
The Farmington was stocked recently from the dam in Riverton all the way down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville, about a 21 mile stretch encompassing all the water that is open to catch & release fishing prior to Opening Day on April 11th at 6am. This is picking up the fishing if you get into a pod of fresh stockers, and it's hard to go wrong with Woolly Buggers, San Juan Worms & egg patterns for the recent additions. It's not too early to start fishing Hendrickson nymphs, they get active and end up in the drift a good month before the hatch begins, and Bruce ties us a DEADLY nymph for this- ask and we will point you toward it Hendrickson nymphs catch me a lot of BIG trout in April. The nymph can also pull double-duty as an early season stonefly. FYI they stocked the river EXCEPT for the permanent TMA/C&R 6 mile section (from the Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford, upstream to the bridge abutment at the tail of Whitemore above the Campground), they normally hit that after just after Opening Day.
The dry fly guys have been back at it and catching some fish at moments (ideally look for days without much wind). Big flat pools like Church, Greenwoods, Campground & Beaver Pools are your best bets if you want to fish dries. The Caddis (AM) & Midges (afternoons) can bring trout to the surface, but Stones fluttering on top (#14-18) can bring trout up too. With the Caddis & Stonefly dries, try both dead-drifting them and also lightly twitching them.
Tiny Winter Black Stones (Capnia #18-24) & Early Black Stones (#12-16) have been all over the river lately. Seeing some Early Brown Stones (#14-16) too. Although we worked to catch the holdovers & wild trout in March, the average one was BIG, as in 16-21" browns mostly- the recently stocked trout will average smaller, more like 12-14", some are rainbows, and overall they are much easier to catch- the key is locating them, they are still somewhat podded up. If you find one, fish that area thoroughly, there may be many more nearby. We are still seeing some Winter Caddis (#16-24) in the mornings, and Midges (#20-28) in the afternoons. If you are trying to catch the Winter Caddis hatch it can be smart to start early, but other than that, no need to start before mid to late morning, with the afternoon usually providing the best fishing due to an increase in water temps.
Subsurface, Hendrickson-type nymphs (sz 12-14), Early Black & Early Brown Stoneflies (sz 12-16), Pheasant Tails (sz 12-18), olive/green caddis larva (sz 8-16), cased caddis larva (sz 8-16), midge larva/pupa (sz 16-20, especially in red), attractor nymphs (sz 12-18 in Red Headed Stepchild, Copper Johns, blue Lightning Bugs, Yellow Prince, Rainbow Warrior, and egg flies (sz 10-18) are still a good choice (rainbows & suckers are both spring spawners in March/April, contributing fish eggs to the drift), etc. Don't be afraid to fish some some gaudier/flashy/attractor-type nymphs, the trout sometimes show a preference for them, doubly true for recently stocked trout. If you are fishing streamers, remember that a slower presentation (swinging and/or slow stripping & twitching) matches up with the slower trout metabolism due to cooler water temps- but as always, play with your presentation and let the trout tell you how they prefer it, they may still want a bit faster strip at moments. Try using a floating line and bouncing/hopping a weighted Fishskull Skulpin Bunny on the bottom- use a 0x-2x tippet with this pattern & method, that fly is heavily front-weighted and rides hook point up. If you are using unweighted or lightly weighted streamers, use something to get them down- sinking line, sink-tip line, sinking leader, or split shot. Slow & deep is typically the name of the game until water temps get up near 50 degrees (usually mid/late April).