Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday 2/19/16 Report- winter conditions

Big Fred Stengel with a beauty from last month. A big hook-jawed Farmington River male brown trout is an impressive sight. For scale, Fred has big hands and is close to 6' 4" & 250 pounds!

We still have some room in Don's "Beginner 2-Day Fly Tying" class on January 7 & 14, and Rich Strolis' "Tying Streamers for Everyday" on February 11. See "Events" for details, and call 860-379-1952 to sign up. Don't wait if you're interested, both classes are filling fast now.

Total flow in the permanent Catch & Release/C&R/TMA has improved to a medium/normal 205cfs at the moment, due to rain/snowmelt, with most of the water coming in from the Still River (57cfs from the dam in Riverton, plus 148cfs from the Still)- upstream in Riverton it's still low & fishable like it has been since August. Weekend fishing reports ranged anywhere from slow, up to 25-30 fish in the morning on top on Caddis, with fish also coming to nymphs & slowly/deeply fished streamers. The big wildcard with the cold weather here now is ice-up & slush. As of today, Monday, Church Pool is pretty much iced over, and you would need to venture up closer to the dam to find open water. The water from the dam runs slightly warmer in the winter (and colder in the summer), and so normally tends not to freeze or slush-up in the upper 2 miles or so. With the lower flow this winter, we will be more prone to slush & ice as you get downriver, away from the dam. So be flexible in your game plan, and look for warming trends to get the permanent C&R thawed out. When present, morning slush often clears out by the afternoon on sunny/warmer days.

Right now hatches are: Winter Caddis sz 18-24 in the mornings (sometimes going into the afternoon), and Midges sz 24-32 in the afternoons. Blue Winged Olives sz 24-28 are about done, but you MIGHT still see a few on milder afternoons. Water temps will typically be in the 30's now that winter temps are here, depending upon weather, time of day, and distance from dam- it can crack into the lower 40's during warm/sunny spells. This means trout have mostly dropped out of faster water and moved into their deeper, slow to moderate current winter lies. Colder water leads to a slower trout metabolism, which means they don't need to eat as much. They look to conserve energy by holding in water with less current, that also has some depth (for security). However, they will often move into moderate riffles at the pool heads to feed on nymphs/pupa/larva when sunshine raises the water temps at midday, which both increases their metabolism and gets the bugs more active.

FYI the new book "Nymphing The New Way: French leader fishing for trout" is now in stock at UpCountry, and it looks really good. Update: temporarily sold out, but give us your name & phone # and we will call you when it's back in stock (probably early January 2017).

Streamers are still catching fish, especially during low-light conditions- most browns are post-spawn & hungry now, looking to bulk up before winter goes into full effect. Experiment with colors & retrieves to find what's best at any given moment (it changes). I would also try to make your presentations mostly slow & deep due to the cooler water temps, both swinging and slow retrieves are good choices. The hot streamer rig has been a weighted streamer with a soft-hackle or nymph trailed off the hook bend 18" behind . Typically the smaller trailing fly catches most of the trout, but some days the streamer does most of the business. This rig allows you to cover a lot of water and present your nymphs/wets in water that would normally be hard to nymph.

Colder water temps typically make nymphs dead-drfited down deep the most consistently effective flies, good patterns include: smaller nymphs sz 16-22 (Midges, Baetis, Quasimodo Pheasant Tails, Hot Spot Attractors, Rainbow Warriors, etc.) and Caddis Pupa sz 16-18 (tan, brown) and Larva sz 14-16 (olive/green). Egg patterns are very effective, so make sure to have some egg flies (small Glo Bugs/Sucker Spawn/Otter Eggs) in your arsenal. Although smaller nymphs have been more consistent than bigger ones, don't rule out Stonefly Nymphs sz 8-14 (brown, golden/yellow, black), sometimes they will pull bigger fish.

The MDC did their fall trout stocking in early November. This batch was stocked in the upper river from the Goodwin/Hogback Dam in Riverton downstream to Whittemore Pool.

The Holidays are now upon us. This season please think of the small businesses that you frequent and support them. UpCountry values your business and has some holiday specials to share with you. Simms Headwater Waders are now $249.99.... $100 off. Hardy Lightweight series reels are now $130.00 for LRHs.....reg price was $249.99. Simms Tee Shirts size large are buy one get one free. We have a limited selection of Simms & Umpqua Packs and Vests 40% off.  In addition to these items, UpCountry will price match just about any sale or deal you can find on the internet.... we appreciate your business and recognize that sometimes a deal will pop up online that you can't resist.... just bring it to our attention.

UpCountry acquired a ton of Simms closeouts that are on sale. There is still a large selection of Men's & Women's: 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.

We are 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.