Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday 10/7/16 Report- 1,200 FRAA Brookies & Bows stocked!

The man himself, George Daniel, with a very colorful Farmington 'Bow he caught when we fished together recently. The FRAA stocked the upper river Thursday 10/6 with 1,200 Brooks & Bows. Brookies averaged a foot, with 'Bows running 12-14" (some were bigger), and even a few Tigers. Trout were stocked in the section from a little below the dam in Riverton, down to Whittemore. Current flow this morning is a low 66cfs total in the permanent Catch & Release section in Pleasant Valley/New Hartford (60cfs from dam in Riverton, plus 6cfs from the Still River). We are in the front end of foliage season, some pretty color is starting to pop. I imagine we are about 10 days away from peak color. Hard to beat catching trout in the fall with that beautiful backdrop. Temps & weather for Ten Day Forecast look very pleasant, with highs averaging in the 60's and lows mostly in the 40's- no rain in sight unfortunately, we sure could use some. Water temps are running mostly mid/upper 50's over the entire river. Current "glamour hatches" are Caddis, Isonychia, and small Olives. Now that cooler fall temps are here, you don't necessarily have to hit first light and late dusk to find rising trout (although evenings have been good lately). As temps keep dropping, eventually midday will become peak hatch time in late October & November. The general rule is the most comfortable time of day is the best trout fishing.

Remember that the entire river for 21 miles from the dam in Riverton downstream to the center of Unionville is Catch & Release until Opening Day next April. The state stocked downriver in Collinsville/Unionville in late September. I imagine the MDC will probably be putting their 1,000+ Browns in the upper river very soon, but I don't have any specific intel on that yet. Fishingwise, the river remains very low, and those adapting to the conditions are giving us good reports, and those who don't are struggling. Trout are getting more aggressive on streamers, albeit you may want to downsize them due to the very low water- we have Woolly Buggers in stock down to #12-14. Prime-time for streamers is low-light conditions: mornings, eves, and overcast days. Smaller nymphs in the #16-22 range remain the most consistent producers on holdover & wild trout, but big Stoneflies & Isonychia are both pulling fish too. Freshly stocked trout will hit bigger flies & Woolly Buggers. Starting to get good reports on egg patters. #16-18 tan to brown bodied Caddis are out in the mornings & evenings, and #10-14 Isonychia are hatching from mid afternoon to dusk. Seeing a few #8-12 Giant October Caddis in the evenings, we have dry & pupa patterns for them in the bins now. Terrestrials & Attractor Dries (Mini Chernobyls, Stimulators, etc.) remain effective in late mornings & afternoons when there aren't many bugs. While Blue Wing Olives typically hatch best in the afternoons on cloudy days, we are starting to see small ones in the afternoons even on sunny days (this is typical in the fall). Except for the biggest dries, keeep your tippets light, in the 6x-7x range, and nymph with 5x, 5.5x, or 6x (smaller nymphs match up with ligher tippets). Smaller streamers match up with 2x-3x tippet, and bigger streamers should be fished on heavier stuff, I usually go right to 0x. Low & clear water requires a stealthy approach, so be on your "A" game, don't just barge in. I suggest observing the water for a few minutes before you formulate your approach, and this is especially true if you are in slow/flat water. Approaching the trout from below them, and making a slightly longer cast can help prevent spooking them.

Even though the Farmington River is unusually low, you can still find enough depth in the main pools and deeper runs. And where you find some trout, you will often find many. Just skip the shallower sections and focus on water with more depth. Much of the pocket water is too shallow now, but where you find a slightly deeper slot in those sections, you will generally also find fish. Of course depth is a relative thing when the river is this low, 18-24'" of choppy water could be deep enough to hold a 20" plus trout right now. Make your leaders longer (12' or even more), and use mostly smaller flies to match the conditions & mostly smaller bugs that are hatching. The biggest exception to the small flies would be the Isonychia, which are currently running #12-14. Still seeing big Stonefly nymph shucks on the rocks in the fast water, which makes #8-12 Stonefly nymphs a good choice, especially in the mornings when they are most active. #16-18 tan to brown bodied Caddis are getting increasingly active in the mornings & evenings, they constitute a significant hatch here in the fall- make sure you have both #16 pupa & #16-18 dries in tans/browns to properly imitate them. Soft Hackles can work well for them too. 

FYI we are overflowing with used rod & reels from trade-ins recently. We have many inexpensively priced ones that are not listed on our website. Those not listed are for walk-in customers only, so please don't call on the phone and ask us to run through them. We don't like to list rods online with much wear on them, plus the free shipping makes it unprofitable to sell them online, hence we only sell them IN the store.

Colebrook Reservoir (which is the main/bigger reservoir that feeds the Hogback/Goodwin Dam) remains very low and they need to conserve what they have left, so until we get many, many inches of rain, expect a minimal release from the dam. However, each rain will temporarily increase tributary flows, which all add to the flow of the Farmington, with the Still River being the main one (up in Riverton, right below Rt 20 bridge). The downside of low water is obvious: less good spots & spookier/pickier trout that are focusing on smaller bugs/flies and creating technical fishing, the upside is that it concentrates trout in the deeper water that has some current, and they are more prone to surface feed during a hatch because it's more efficient in shallower/slower water than it is in deeper/faster water. Despite the low water conditions, many anglers are experiencing good fishing, plus it's keeping the fishing pressure down lower than it would normally be.

The upper river was stocked by the state with 2,000 trout for Labor Day. They were stocked from the Goodwin Dam/Hogback in Riverton, downstream to Whittemore Pool which is at the northernmost point of Peoples State Forest, above the Campground, and Monday 9/26 the state stocked downriver in Collinsville/Unionville. We are  starting to see the smaller tannish/brownish smaller fall Caddis in about a #16-18  both in the morning & evenings, look for them especially in broken, riffly water. Also seeing #20-24 Summer/Winter Caddis in the AM. Tricos are  done, but you may still see a few stragglers in the mornings up in Riverton. The best afternoon dry fly action remains with terrestrials- Ants, Beetles, Hoppers and Mini Chernobyls have been excellent for bringing trout to the surface even if they are not rising (drop a small beadhead nymph off the hook bend to up your odds). The cooler fall temps are getting the Isonychia hatching as early as mid afternoon now. Evenings are seeing Blue Wing Olives #20-24, Tan/Brown Caddis #16-18,  Isonychia #12-14 (fast water only), White Flies #12-14 (a few), Yellow Sally Stoneflies #14-16, Midges #24-28, Summer Steno/Light Cahill #16-20 (a few), Rusty Spinnners 18-24. Smaller nymphs #16-22 are a good choice anytime of day.  Bigger #8-12 Stonefly nymphs (brown, yellow/golden) are working in the AM, and you can try #10-14 Iso nymphs from late afternoon through the evening (try also swinging a #10-12 Leadwing Coachman  wet fly in the faster water when Isos are active, deadly). #14-16 Yellow Sally Stonefly nymphs are a good choice throughout the day (you will see their shucks on the rocks, they look like miniature Golden Stones and can run from #14-20). FYI #16 Sulfur nymphs will double nicely as a Yellow Sally nymph.

UpCountry has just acquired $30,000 of Simms closeouts that are now on sale, mostly clothing. There is a huge selection of Mens & Womens: Gore-tex jackets, packs, slings, shirts, pants, tee shirts, and a few shoes/wading boots/waders. Sizes are limited (the Men's is mostly in Large, and the Women's is all in Medium) and there are only a couple of each item so when they are gone they are gone. In addition to the Simms items we will be closing out Lamson Litespeed Reels, Sage "One" Rods, Scott A4 rods, and Temple Fork Outfitters Deer Creek Spey rods. There is also a large selection of used freshwater/saltwater rods and reels from Sage, Orvis, TFO, Redington, Scott, Winston, including some that are not listed for sale on our website. The fly tying bargain bin is currently overflowing with saltwater bucktails, necks, saltwater hooks, Mustad freshwater hooks and more. 

Early Fall Low Water Fishing Advice:
The trout have been getting caught & released for months, and the water is very low. Reduced flows means it is easier to spook the trout, so a stealthy approach is very important, especially on flat water pools and trout laying in skinny lies. Trout sipping bugs on flat water requires using better techniques to drift the fly. Use a Reach Cast, which helps present your fly to the fish before your leader, and also usually makes it easier to get a drag-free float. Longer leaders (12' and up to 15' +), lighter lines (#2-4), lighter tippets, smaller flies, proper fly selection, accurate casts, and drag-free presentations are the keys to unlocking the puzzle. Many anglers think they are getting a drag-free float, when in reality they are getting micro-drag they cannot see. Longer tippets & shorter casts will help give you a natural, drag-free presentation, and as flies get smaller you need to lighten your tippet. For all but the biggest dries, think 6x & even 7x tippet (for tiny flies like #24 Olives & Midges ), for Isonychia and big foam terrestrials you can do 5x and maybe even 4x (it's a bigger, more wind resistant fly, and you are usually fishing it in the fast water). If it's not too windy and you are able to turn your dry fly over, lengthening your tippet out to 3 or even 4 feet will do wonders for reducing drag, it will give you the same effect as dropping down 1-2 tippet sizes. FYI the main reason for lighter tippets is not so much so the trout cannot see it (I don't believe going down 1/1,000 of an inch suddenly makes your line invisible), but rather to get a better drag-free natural presentation with smaller/lighter flies, which is easier with thinner, limper, and more flexible smaller diameters. Thinner tippet is also more prone to land in "S" curves and create slack for a drag-free float. If your tippet lands poker straight, say hello to instant drag.

For nymphers, some of the same advice for the dry fly guys applies to you too. Longer leaders (12' or even longer, Euro-style nymphers often use 30+ foot leaders or pure mono set-ups), accurate casts, and drag-free floats are all very important. While there are exceptions (#8-14 Stonefly nymphs & #12-14 Isonychia nymphs), I frequently find smaller nymphs (no bigger than #16-20 patterns if tied on short-shank curved scud hooks, and #18-22 if tied on standard hooks) to be the key to success many days this time of year, especially when the water is low. The majority of the natural bugs are smaller this time of year, and our highly pressured trout seem less suspicious of smaller flies too. Use a two fly rig with a bigger fly, but make your second pattern something SMALL. If one of your flies is gaudy, flashy or has a hot-spot, make sure your second pattern is drabber & more natural (maybe beadless or with a black or brown bead instead of a shiny gold one- trout see TONS of gold bead flies). Usually 5x fluorocarbon tippet is light enough, but sometimes in pressured spots (like Church Pool) I'll go down to 6x, especially if it's sunny, the water is low, and the flies are small. If you like TroutHunter fluoro tippet, they do in-between sizes: 4.5x, 5.5x & 6.5x- I use the 5.5x a lot in the summertime, and so do some of the guides. The competition anglers use the 6.5x a lot. Thinner tippets also sink your nymphs faster due to less water resistance. Many trout pile into FAST water, so make sure to make some casts there. Big Stones, many Caddis larva/pupa, and certain Mayflies (Isonychia for example) all live in faster water, so put your flies where the food (and the trout) are.

UpCountry is always looking for good trade-in fly rods and reels to sell on our website. If you are looking for some new equipment we will gladly put the value of your used gear toward new items in our store. Give us a call to make an appointment.... our prices on trade ins are typically higher than found anywhere else.

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