Fished after work last night, and after a slow start the light level dropped the trout seemed to go on the bite. The fish of the night for me was this 18" plus Golden Rainbow/Palamino that somehow escaped the Opening Day weekend onslaught. It was one of 2 stocked for the Riverton Derby. I tried unsuccessfully to catch it a week and a half ago, but this time it nailed my nymph on the first good drift, doing a U-turn to take my fly. Got to watch the whole thing, it was fun. The state used to stock these, but stopped doing that about 30+ years ago, making it a novelty catch in CT. MDC is cutting the flow from the dam back today, Riverton is dropping from 550cfs down to 275cfs, bringing the permanent C&R/TMA down to a mid 400cfs total flow (186cfs coming in from the Still River). What does all this mean? Water temps in Riverton are reaching low 40's in mid/late afternoon, and upper 40's in TMA/C&R section. AM water temps are lower. Warmer weather here now will boost water temps up closer to optimum. A reduced flow from the dam will also help bump water temps up a little. Word is that the state will stock the TMA/C&R section around mid-week, this will be 5,000+ browns, and will include 1,000 large (about 14-18") Two Year Old browns. This, combined with dropping flows, warmer weather, and rising water temps should lead to some EXCELLENT fishing later this week. Highs ranging from mid 60's to low 70's over the upcoming week will get the Hendrickson hatch cranking by the weekend- we've seen a few, but the cooler temps of late have had the hatch stalled out.
TMA/permanent Catch & Release section finally started to pick up a bit recently, but it will REALLY pick up by the upcoming weekend after water drops, they stock, temps warm, and Hendrickson hatch finally gets going. Best bets currently are still nymphs & streamers, but there have been a few fish feeding on top in Church Pool when water levels have been normal, and once the Hendrickson hatch gets cranking (I'd say by this upcoming weekend), there will be fish feeding on top. The permanent TMA has not yet been stocked (probably the middle of this week though!), so you are fishing over mostly holdover & wild trout. Some stocked trout (mostly rainbows) are starting to drift into it too. Some nice holdovers & wild browns in the 16-20" range were landed in TMA recently. Two 6-7# broodstock browns were caught & released on big white streamers outside of TMA. Seeing some Baetis Vagans (a bigger, early season #16 Blue Winged Olive mayfly) hatching down in the C&R section. Milder weather has slowly but surely been making the water temps creep up closer to where they should be, and this will make both the trout & bugs more active. Hatches are still a week or two behind normal due to the cold winter. Reports are still varying from slow to excellent, depending upon who you talk to (normally the case!).
Those who have found pods of freshly stocked trout recently have racked up the biggest catches, but some bigger holdovers are mixing in here & there. Fish a spot, but if it's not producing, move on, don't linger. Lately the more water I cover lately, 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, doubly so when flows are up. The dry fly guys have been back at it when flows have been normal, and catching some fish at moments (ideally look for days without much wind)- overall the dry fly fishing has been slow lately though. This will change rapidly as water drops & warms this week, and we start to get into the hatch cycle. The Winter Caddis (AM) are waning but you may still see some, in the afternoons you should see Oives (#16-18 Baetis Vagans), Midges (#20-28) & still a few Early Black Stones (#12-16). Hendricksons should be a full-blown hatch by this weekend. With the Caddis & Stonefly dries, try both dead-drifting them and also lightly twitching them, Hedricksons, Baetis & Midges should mostly be dead-drifted.
Subsurface, try fishing Hendrickson nymphs, we are getting reports of a few hatching (not enough to call it a "hatch" as yet though), they get active and end up in the drift a good month before the hatch begins, and Bruce Marino & Rich Strolis both tie us DEADLY nymps for this- ask and we will point you toward them. Hendrickson nymphs catch me a lot of BIG trout in April/May. A bigger #12-14 Pheasant Tail can also work well. Hendrickson Nymph patterns can also pull double-duty as early season stoneflies. #16 Olive nymphs imitating Baetis Vagans are also a good choice now, they are just starting up. 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, try all sorts of retrieves & presentations from slow to fast, the trout will tell you how they want it if you listen to them. Try using a floating line and slowly 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 in early spring, until water temps get over 50 degrees and stay there (anytime now).