Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday 9/14/15 Report- river looks great!

Pictured is a spinner on our back door this morning. We finally got some much-needed rain- the Farmington has been fine, but all the other streams that don't receive their flow from a reservoir have been painfully low but are finally in better shape now. Morning water level on the Farmington River Catch & Release section is a very nice 211cfs medium-low level, nice & clear. Morning is still the longest hatch window, albeit all small bugs in the #20-26 range- Tricos, Needhami, and Summer/Winter Caddis. 12' leaders combined with a long 6x-7x tippet helps to get a good presentation, and accuracy is very important with small flies as fish generally won't more than an inch or two to either side to eat your fly. Pat yourself on the back for every fish you catch in September, as you earn each fish. If you are nymphing, think small flies too, as in #16-22, but 5x fluorocarbon tippet is usually light enough (you can go 5.5x or 6x, but usually you don't need to). When nymphing focus on the medium to fast choppy water, and don't skip knee-deep spots. The exception to the small flies would be #12-14 Iso hatches later in the day in the faster water.  Also, #12-14 Cahills & White Flies pop just before dark. Small Flying Ants have been on the water almost every day the past week, try #20-24 patterns to match them (the naturals are even smaller!). In the faster water in mornings & evenings look also for #16-20 tan to brown bodied Caddis. Some days have seen afternoon/evening hatches of Blue Winged Olives in the #20-24 range.

As you move into late summer/early fall, hatches are less numerous and aquatic insect biomass is lower in all trout streams, so trout (especially bigger ones) turn to larger food items like minnows & crayfish, or in the case of this river also Salmon Parr. Look for snags, big rocks, fallen trees, undercut banks, drop-offs, current seams, shady  banks, etc.- anywhere you think a bigger than average trout might hide. Cover lots of water and change streamer color & presentations until the trout tell you what they want at that moment (it can change from day to day, and even during the same day as light conditions change). As far as streamer colors, olive and white are 2 of the more consistent colors on this river and are a great starting point. Try also tan, black, brown, yellow and other colors or combinations of 2 colors. Don't be afraid to go "Old School" and fish a traditional pattern like a Muddler Minnow, Grey Ghost, Black Ghost, Mickey Fin, Hornberg, Baby/Little Brown Trout, etc.- fish see less of the older streamers and as such sometimes are more likely to try to eat them. Most of the ones I mentioned tend to be sparser & slimmer then modern patterns, and sometimes in the typically lower water of late summer/early fall that can be better. But always experiment, as the "rules" often get broken by the trout.

FYI the state stocked the river recently with a bunch of 12" or bigger brown trout, from just BELOW the permanent C&R section (the Rt 219 bridge), all the way down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville. Hard to beat a black Woolly Bugger on fresh stockers. As of September 1st, the entire upper 21 miles of the river from the dam in Riverton down to the Rt 177 bridge n Unionville is all a seasonal Catch & Release until 6am on Opening Day in April. You may see people unknowingly (and some knowingly...) illegally keeping trout, if so please POLITELY inform them that it's C&R now, and if they go below Rt 177 in Unionville, they can still keep 5 trout over 9". Don't hold me to it, but the state will likely stock today from ABOVE the Catch & Release (Whittemore Pool), all the way up to the dam in Riverton. All these stocked areas will be C&R until Opening Day. They only stock the permanent C&R (bridge abutment at tail of Whittemore down to Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford) section in April.

Flying Ants have been on the water more often than not lately, they are small- try #22-24 patterns to match them. Look for them especially the day after some rain, and/or on warmer/humid days. Anglers venturing out in the mornings & fishing the pools are still seeing hatches of Tricos, Summer/Winter Caddis, and Needhami (a chocolate brown bodied mayfly). Normally the Tricos & Nedhami would be about done, but they are still going. Morning bugs are SMALL, so make sure your dries reflect this. By small I mean #20-24 on the Summer/Winter Caddis, and #22-26 on the Tricos & Needhami. This is very precise fishing- your casts need to be delicate (long leaders help), accurate to the inch, and drag-free (long/light tippets help a lot with this). Early to mid morning is currently seeing the best & longest hatching activity. Big #10-14 Iso's come off somewhere between late afternoon & evening, and then in the last 1/2 hour there is typically a potpourri of different bugs all out at once, so don't leave too early. Lately cream colored mayflies in the #12-22 range have been dominating the end of the night. Midday is the slowest, I'd recommend either working the shadelines with terrestrials and/or fishing the faster, broken water with nymphs, attractor dries & terrestrials. The midday exception would be Flying Ants, they are often on the water then, and this is prime-time in late Summer. When a mating flight of them lands on the water, the trout go a little nuts. You are most apt to see them on warm, muggy day & the day after some rain too. First light with a big stonefly nymph or a streamer would be a good tactic to nail a bigger fish. Or go out at night and fish mice, big wets or streamers.

 Currently the best fishing remains mornings & later evenings, which correlates exactly to when the best bug activity generally is. Afternoons see very little hatching, but if you look around & move you can usually drum up a few on Midges, ants & beetles- look for sporadic risers, or blind fish terrestrials along shady banks, current seams & stucture (rocks, sunken logs, etc.). You can also nymph the faster water. Other than the big Stoneflies (#6-10) & Isonychia (averaging #12-14 now, with some up to #10), almost everything else is small, so your fly patterns, both dries & nymphs, should reflect that- beetles & ants are often an exception, with patterns in the #14-18 range usually small enough. This time of year there is typically a brief flurry of hatching activity right at the edge of darkness, so stay late- 90 degree, sunny days can push it to dark & after, cooler/cloudy days can see it happen a little earlier. At night's end you may see tan Caddis (#16-20), various sizes of Cahills/Summer Steno's (#12-22), small Olives (#20-24), and assorted spinners in rust/cream/olive. White Flies have been hatching in the Catch & Release secction, they are #12-14 and come off at the very end of the night. The nymphs live in slow, silty pools, so I usually try to target that hatch with dries where riffles soften out into the flatter pool water. Currently if you fish streamers, I'd recommend first & last light, and go smaller right now (#8-12). Overcast or rainy days can be above average for streamers too.

Many of you ask were the big trout are.... the answer is everywhere and where you are not. The best trout have grown big by avoiding the easy places to be caught. In general they will be on the bank away from a major access to the river. and in areas that are hard to get to but provide protection. A spot where a big trout will reside usually has a big trout there year after year so if you catch one there.... it or its brother will be there in the future. If you are nymphing with a 2 fly rig, make sure one of your nymphs is small, as in #18-20 (#16 can be small enough if tied on a shorter shank scud style hook). This time of year when flows are at normal summer levels (say 150-350cfs ), the trout really key into smaller nymphs, as that is what is mainly available. The exceptions would be Isonychia & Stoneflies, they are both bigger bugs. Also, nymphing the broken, faster water will greatly outproduce nymphing the softer, slower runs. Focus on medium to fast choppy water, and don't neglect the calf to knee-deep sections. Currently effective nymphs include: Yellow Sally nymphs #14-16, Hot Spot Nymphs #16-20, #10 Tungsten Carotene Jig, Wade's Clinger Nymph #16, Olive nymphs #16-20, Yellow Sparkle Prince #16-18, Rainbow Warrior #16-18, Caddis Pupa & Larva in both tan & olive/green #10-18 (#14-18 on the pupa), Jig nymphs #10-16, Pheasant Tails #16-20, Isonychia Nymphs #10-14, Prince Nymph #10-18.