Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday 10/15/16

Pretty brown from a recent Farmington River outing. Been kinda cold the past couple day, it was 32 degrees air temp at 8am this morning! Conditions remain similar to last week, albeit water temps are dropping- water is still low, but despite that the fishing reports have been mostly good. Plenty of rising trout at moments. The cold weather of late is making mid/late morning through late afternoon the prime time to fish, that's when water temps & bug activity are highest. Temps get much milder starting Sunday, with highs moving into the 70's for Monday through Thursday, lows in the 50's/60's. Best hatches are Caddis,  Isonychia (mid/late afternoon), and small Blue Winged Olives (afternoons). With fall in full swing, the foliage is beautiful, and the brown trout are getting aggressive on streamers (play with colors, make sure to try yellow!). Nymphing is also always a good option, still mostly smaller nymphs #16-22 & egg flies.

The FRAA stocked the upper river on 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 about Whittemore. They've been responding well to dries, Woolly Buggers, wet flies/soft-hackles, and assorted nymphs.

Current flow is 65cfs total in the permanent Catch & Release section in Pleasant Valley/New Hartford (60cfs from dam in Riverton, plus about 5cfs from the Still River). We are seeing some excellent foliage color, but not quite at peak yet, probably next weekend. Ten Day Forecast has temps all over the place ranging from 38 to 79! This has been putting water temps anywhere from upper 40's to mid 50's, depending upon the day, weather, and distance from dam. Water temps up near the dam in Riverton fluctuate less due to the consistent water temp released from the dam. The rule of thumb is the most comfortable time of day is normally the best trout fishing. If you fish after a very cold night, water temps drop and there is no need to start super early- give it a few hours for the water temps to rise 1-2 degrees and turn the trout & bugs on. If you must start early, use flies that are independent of insect activity- streamers and egg flies are good choices. As temps increase this week, look for early & late in the day to be good fishing.

Remember that the entire river for 21 miles from the dam in Riverton downstream to the center of Unionville (Rt 177 bridge) is Catch & Release until Opening Day April. The state stocked downriver in Collinsville/Unionville in late September. 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. Or swing for the fence and use a bigger streamer, but expect to catch less fish, but may be a really big one. 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 (morns) & Isonychia (afternoons) are both pulling fish too at moments. Freshly stocked trout will hit bigger flies & Woolly Buggers. Getting good reports on egg patterns. #16-18 tan to brown bodied Caddis are out, and #12-14 Isonychia are hatching in afternoons. Seeing a few #8-12 Giant October Caddis late in the day, we have dry & pupa patterns for them in the bins now. Terrestrials & Attractor Dries (Mini Chernobyls, Stimulators, etc.) remain effective during non-hatch periods. 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 big streamers should be fished on heavier stuff (I usually go right to 0x when I'm "throwing the meat"). 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 (be careful not to barge in and create shock waves that ripple across the water, that is an instant trout spooker, so move slowly). Approaching the trout from below and making a slightly longer cast can help prevent spooking them. Drab clothing and even camo helps you approach closer without alarming 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.

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 to brownish smaller fall Caddis in about a #16-18, look for them especially in broken, riffly water. Also seeing #18-24 Summer/Winter Caddis in the AM. Terrestrials are still working midday- 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 #12-14 Isonychia hatching in the afternoons now. Other hatches include: Blue Winged Olives #22-26 (mainly afternoons), Tan Caddis #16-18, Midges #24-28, 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 #12-14 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 still 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), and also double as a smaller Golden Stonefly pattern. FYI #16 Sulfur nymphs will double nicely as a Yellow Sally nymph.

UpCountry has recently 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. 

Low Water Fall Fishing Advice:
The trout have been getting caught & released all season, 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 when the water is low. The majority of the natural bugs are smaller now, and our highly pressured trout seem less suspicious of smaller flies too. Use a two fly rig with a normal sized 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. Bigger 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.

If you like our fishing report, please consider buying your gear from us. We generally ship the same day, for free anywhere in the country on all but the smallest orders. Our shop can only exist with your patronage.