Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday 1/18/16- winter weather & big browns

Pictured is "Farmy Fred", aka Big Fred, he had a banner day Sunday, landing about 15 trout up to 20", with a 4 more in the 18-19" range, all on nymphs. For scale he is 6'3', 240-250# and has big hands. "Big Fish" Ron Merly tried his hand at Euro-style nymphing yesterday, and his first fish was a 23" brown on a #10 Stonefly nymph!!! It may be winter, but the trout are feeding subsurface as if it's warmer. Winter temps return this week, with highs in the 20's to 30's, and lows in the teens/20's- add an extra insulation  layer if you venture out fishing. We have plenty of warm winter stuff such as thermals, fleece, gloves & caps if you need them, I personally cannot fish in cold weather without my 1/2 finger gloves. Keep your wading shoes laced up loosely to help keep your feet warmer, or wear bootfoot waders if you have 'em. No slush at all this morning down by our store, but if you get a couple of extra-cold days/nights in a row you may see slush in the mornings down our way- if so it usally clears by late morning/lunchtime if it gets sunny or warms up. On colder days you may want to venture closer to the dam to get slightly warmer water & slush-free conditions. On the coldest days, you can go above the Still River (basically from Hitchcock Chair up to the dam) to find conditions where it never slushes up and you never get shelf ice. As of today (Monday), Friday & Sunday look like the mildest days, both forecast to reach the mid 30's. On colder days that I have the itch to fish, I focus on the most pleasant part of the day- late morning through mid afternoon. The Farmington is currently 159cfs from the Goodwin Dam in Riverton, downstream to the confluence of the Still River, 307cfs through the permanent Catch & Release area. The return to cold nights has the morning Winter Caddis #20-24  hatch improved and providing some decent dry fly fishing for a few hours in the morning. Typically the hatch is an early to mid morning deal, but that can vary depending upon the day, with winged adults often on the water after the hatch in late morning/early afternoon. On warmer afternoons we are seeing Midges #22-32 with some trout feeding on the surface in the larger pools. Our hardcore nymphing crew has been doing well with Zebra Midges #16-20. Green/Olive Caddis Larva #14-16, Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #16-18, Tiny Egg Patterns, Squirmy Worms. Hot Spot Nymphs #14-16 and Stoneflies #8-14 (brown, black, golden/yellow).
Trout are starting to pod up in winter lies (slow to medium speed water with some depth). Skip the faster water and focus on pools, deeper pockets, moderate riffles, and deeper runs. Look for trout around current edges, drop-offs & structure; anywhere there is a break from the faster current combined with some depth. Trout are cold blooded so in the winter they don't have to eat as much and conserve energy by laying in slower water. They will often pod up this time of year, so where you find one, there may be a bunch more. Nymph slow & deep and expect strikes to be subtle. Get your streamers well down into the water column using weight or sinking lines and don't fast strip them, but rather swing, twitch, and slow retrieve them. Winter trout like their streamers slow, deep & easy to catch.

Rich Strolis' new book "Catching Shadows- Tying Flies for the Toughest Fish and Strategies for Fishing Them" has just arrived. It covers 20 of his best original fly patterns, the rationale for developing the fly and how/when to fish it. He will be doing a book signing at UpCountry on February 7th, noon to 3pm. Steve Culton will be doing a tying class for us on January 30th "Wet Flies and Fuzzy Nymphs for the Farmington River", call the store to register at 860-379-1952.
Our apartment is now closed for the season, and will be available again starting April 1st.