Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday 6/24/16- plenty of bugs

I took a break from my normal nymphing routine Wednesday evening, and this perfect 19" brown ate a #10 Iso (Isonychia) dry. Iso hatch is still better downriver (Canton/Collinsville/Unionville), but we are seeing a light hatch of them in the C&R section. Flow is still great at a total of 284cfs in the permant Catch & Release section (Pleasant Valley/New Harford), with 269cfs from the dam in Riverton, and and additional 15cfs from the Still River. I've been getting water temps between 50 and 60 degrees, depending upon distance from dam & time of day (coldest up near dam). Bugs we are seeing in varying quantities in the C&R section: Sulfurs #14-18, assorted Caddis #16-20 (especially tan, but black & olive too), Midges #22-28, Ants & Beetles #10-20, Olives #18-20 (evenings), Isonychia #10 (more so downriver from Canton & below), Needhami #22-26, assorted spinners #10-20, and Light Cahills #12-14. The hatches you see and the time of day they occur will vary somewhat depending upon where you are in relation to the dam, and also the daily weather/temps- literally every day is different. Wednesday I was way below the C&R section and in some fast water, water temps was 60 degrees, and I saw good numbers of big #10 Iso's. Last night I was in a more moderate stretch of riffled water leading into a pool in New Hartford, water temp was mid 50s, and I saw a light hatch of Iso's at the head of the run, but the trout weren't really on them, they were on the #16-18 Sulfurs & #18-20 Olives. Caddis typically egg-lay in the last hour or two of daylight, so stay observant and pay attention to the rise forms. Splashy rises this time of year typically means Caddis or Isonychia. Many days we are seeing a hatch of Sulfurs sometime between 11am & 3pm, and again in the evenings.  In the afternoons & early to mid evenings I've had my best nymphing success with Sulfur nymphs. Caddis pupa & big Stonefly nymphs are ruling the mornings, fish them IN the fast water. The Ten Day Forecast has highs averaging in the 80's, with lows mostly in the 50s. Don't neglect terrestrials such as ants & beetles this time of year, they are an excellent choice, especially during lulls in hatch activity when trout are rising sporadically. Don't be afraid to blind-fish the banks with bigger terrestrials such as Mini Chernobyls.

We are seeomg big Stonefly shucks all over the rocks in fast water. The large varieties of Stones crawl out to emerge at night and in the mornings, so it can pay to hit the water with Stonefly nymphs at first light when they are most active (they crawl out at night and in the mornings on rocks in the fast water). They will range from #4-12, I usually match them with #8-12 patterns in either golden/yellow or brown. Focus on the medium to fast water, that's where they live. Riffles, pocket water, runs, pool heads, and rapids are the best spots to fish them. Don't neglect the edges of the stream, especially early in the morning before fishermen have walked all over the river. The bugs often migrate to the edges to crawl out, and the trout will follow them. The bigger species of Stoneflies live 2-3 years, so they are always present and are a good year 'round nymph choice when paired with a smaller nymph. 

Isonychia, or Iso's, are still a light hatch in the C&R section, but they are a legitimate hatch down in Canton/Collinsville/Unionville. Like the March Browns/Gray Fox, they are a "trickle hatch", coming off one here & one there, heaviest from late afternoons through the evening normally. Cooler, cloudy days can see them start earlier. They are a big bug, with a gray/brown body (females can even have an olive cast due to the olive-green egg mass they carry) and medium to dark gray wings, and very light colored legs. They like faster water- pool heads, riffles, pocket water & rapids. The nymphs are excellent swimmers, they can rapidly dart 6-12", just like a small minnow. The June/July batch averages a #10 on the Farmington, but they can be as big as a #8, and as small as a #12. They get smaller later in the summer, and even smaller in the fall. You can blind fish Iso dries, and nymphing with Iso-type nymphs can be very effective. If nymphing, try both dead-drifting, swinging, and stripping them. Overall I do best on the dead-drift, but I've seen many days when the trout won't eat your nymph if you don't move it. Some Iso's migrate shoreward and often crawl out on rocks to hatch, but some also emerge on the surface just like most other mayflies. Swinging wet flies such as a big Leadwing Coachman can be effective- the best presentation angle is standing near or on the shoreline and swinging them toward the shoreline (that is the direction the naturals migrate). Specific Iso nymphs, emergers, duns & spinnners all have their moments. You can also fish bigger #10-12 Prince Nymphs & Adams dry flies to match this bug.

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The Two Year Old Farmington River Survivor Strain brown trout that the state stocked in 2016 have a clipped adipose with a chartreuse green elastomer latex tag behind their left eye, and they typically average 14-18" are are unusually fat when stocked. The adults/yearlings are right eye red for 2016, and they will typically run 6-12".

Nymphing has been a very consistent way to catch trout when they aren't rising, and accounts for many of the bigger fish. Subsurface effective patterns include: Golden & Brown Stoneflies #6-12, Caddis Pupa #14-16 (tan, olive/green, brown), Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #14-18, Sulfur nymphs #14-18, Olive/green Caddis larva #12-16, Hare's Ear #14-18, Fox Squirrel #8-16, Triple Threats #14-18, assorted Wets/Soft-Hackles #12-16 (Leading Coachman for Iso's, Hare's Ear or green for Caddis pupa, yellow to match Sulfurs, and orange is great all-around color), Prince Nymphs #10-16, Strolis Rock Candy (olive, green) #10-12, Black Stoneflies #12-16, Zebra Midges #18-20 (black, olive).