Monday, December 26, 2016

Monday 12/26/16 Report- winter trout time

A Farmington River brown trout with a mouthful of meat, caught this past week by customer Mike Andrews. Although you may need to fish them slower & deeper, streamers work straight through the winter if you tailor your presentation to the conditions and colder water temps. They will sometimes pull bigger trout that may not move for a nymph or dry.

At the moment, ice in slower pools subsided somewhat due to rain Saturday, increased flows, and overall milder temps. We are slushy this morning (16 degrees air temp at 8am) behind the shop and in the permanent Catch & Release/C&R/TMA, but fishable in Riverton up closer to the dam (where the water runs slightly warmer in the winter). Slush will frequently clear out around midday in the permanent C&R, especially on sunny/warmer days. FYI the upper 1/3 of Church Pool is fishable as I write this Monday morning. Tuesday will be the mildest this week, hitting 51 degrees. On any given day, if your favorite spot isn't fishable due to shelf ice or slush, keep heading upriver, and eventually you WILL find fishable conditions. It will vary from day to day, with mild spells being the best fishing conditions overall. Winter Caddis have been a very good AM hatch, even on colder mornings lately. 

These 2 classes still have room but are filling fast now: 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.

Total flow in the permanent Catch & Release/C&R/TMA is 134cfs (57cfs from the dam in Riverton, plus 77cfs & receding from the Still). The water from the dam runs slightly warmer in the winter (and colder in the summer), and so normally does not to freeze or slush-up in the upper 2 miles or so, even during cold snaps. With the lower flow this winter (steady 50cfs release from the dam), we will be more prone to slush & ice during cold weather as you get downriver, away from the dam.

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. 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- 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.