Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday 11/17/17 Report- BrownTown

Andy Lyons just cannot stop catching big beautiful Farmington River brown trout lately. Getting some good reports on big browns from other anglers too, with most coming on nymphs & streamers.

Blue Wing Olives #22-26 to are still light in numbers and hatching in the afternoons, but should get heavier anytime now. Winter Caddis #18-24 started to hatch in fishable numbers this week, look for them in early to mid mornings. Tan Caddis #14-18 are about done, but you may still see a few on milder days. Other bugs you might see  include Black Caddis and Midges

Total flow at 8am this morning (Friday) a historically normal 368cfs in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA (225cfs in Riverton plus 143cfs from the Still River). The big rain 2+ weeks ago really fixed the drought, and now the upstream reservoirs are about where they should be, and that means we should have normal flows this winter- no more minimum 50cfs releases!  Depending upon the day, time of day, and distance from dam, look for water temps to range from mid 30s to low/mid 40s.

FYI we are well stocked with just about everything right now, and this week a big Hareline tying materials order arrived, plus a big batch of Umpqua UPG silicone fly boxes (including some waterproof ones). In addition to trout tying materials, we also stock a very good selection of materials geared toward Great Lakes Steelhead. I'll have a big batch of Eggstasy Yarn arriving this Monday 11/20- still have some on the wall but we sold through a pile of it.

A big key to fishing this time of year is dressing properly so that you are warm. Synthetic thermals for a next-to-skin base layer, layered with heavy fleece and a shell to break the wind are all key. Complete this with fingerless gloves, a warm hat, and a pair of heavy Merino wool socks. Make sure your wading boots don't fit tightly- if you sized them to fit perfectly in the summertime with thin socks, make sure to get a winter pair that are a size bigger. Tight boots equals cold feet. 

Don Butler's 2nd Beginner 2-Day Fly Tying course will be on January 6th & 13th, 2018. Click on "Classes, News & Reviews" in top website toolbar to see detailed info on it. Call store at 860-379-1952 to sign up.

Cold Weather Strategies:
The cooler late fall air & water temps are here now, an adjustment in tactics is required. The warmest water by far will be coming out of the dam, and it will get colder as you move downriver during colder weather. The Still River will be coming in significantly colder than the dam water. As such, if you start early, begin in Riverton to hit the best water temps, and wait until the afternoon for the water temps to rise before heading downriver. In general during cold weather, the strategy is to focus on late morning until dusk when air & water temps are highest- it's the most comfortable, and the trout & bugs are most active then. Fish slow & deep and expect strikes to be s-u-b-t-l-e. You need to spoon feed the trout and make it easy for them to eat. I typically wait until at least late morning to start this time of year. The one exception to this is the Winter Caddis hatch. When they are hatching, you need to be on the water in early/mid morning to catch it. Other than that, no need to start early in my opinion. While they have been light so far, November is the start of our good fall afternoon Blue Wing Olive BWO) hatches & some surface feeding trout. If they aren't rising, go subsurface with #18-22 BWO nymphs. FYI I find I catch significantly bigger trout on BWO nymphs than on the dries, even when they are rising. Right now nymphing and fishing streamers slow & deep are generally the way to go, unless you have a hatch & steadily rising fish.

The cooler temps of November are usually what trigger our mid/late fall Blue Wing Olive (BWO) hatch of #22-28 bugs on the Farmington. We are seeing a light hatch of them currently, still not heavy yet, but could ramp up any day now. When Olives end on other rivers, our hatch is just ramping up. Look for them sometime between early & late afternoon (typically 1-4pm). Light tippets (6-8x, with 7x the norm) are the rule, not so much because they are "invisible" (they aren't), but because with tiny dries you need the flexibility of the thin line to get that all important natural, drag-free float. The other option is fishing the riffles with smaller #18-22 nymphs that imitate the BWOs, this allows you to fish 5-6x tippet and often results in bigger trout than you catch on the surface. Tan Caddis #14-18 are about done now, but you may still see a few on milder days, and Caddis Larva (olive to green #14-16) nymphed deep are almost never a bad year 'round choice on the Farmington- there are tons of the natural larva on the river bottom & under the rocks. Egg flies have been deadly lately, and will catch trout straight through the winter and into the early spring. Small nymphs & attractor/hot-spot nymphs are working underneath, and Junk Flies (Mops/San Juan Worms/Squirmy Worms, etc.) can also be a good choice in cold water when bugs aren't hatching. Don't be afraid to toss some streamers now, as trout get more aggressive in the fall due to spawning, and then after they spawn they are hungry and looking for a big meal to put some weight back on.  Yellow, brown, and white or combinations thereof are all above average fall streamer colors, and standards like olive, black or brown are never bad choices.

Once again we are stocked up on #16 & #18 Hanak jig hooks, and Solarez resin too (it's by far the best resin on the market- cures fast with zero tack, and it's hard & durable). We now carry Adams Built landing nets, including a collapsible handle model suitable for Great Lakes Steelhead. Eggstasy yarn is in stock, and I've used it quite successfully on trout & steelhead now. We also have the new Hardy Zephrus Ultralite 9' 9" series of rods, from a #2 up to #5. Think of them as a Crossover tight-line/Euro nymph rod that will also do a very nice job with dry flies, killing two birds with one stone (rod). Antoine Bissieux ("The French Flyfisher") loves the 9' 9" #2 version of that for light tippet French style nymphing, and the #3-4 would make a great Crossover dry fly/nymph rod. Although our tent sale is over, we still have many select closeout items on sale from Simms, Korkers and FishPond.
You can fish as far downstream as you like- and the further you go down, the less anglers, and there are still plenty of trout all over the entire first 20+ miles of the river. But also be aware that the further downriver you venture, the more the river behaves like a freestone and not a bottom-release tailwater (meaning the water temps fluctuate more and tend to run colder this time of year). Some anglers are targeting the recently stocked trout in Riverton, while others are chasing holdover and wild trout in the permanent Catch & Release/TMA and below it, even way downriver (Canton/Collinsville/Unionville). The easiest fishing though is probably upriver in Riverton, where the FRAA stocked 1,200 trout on 10/10 (mostly 12-14" Brooks & Bows, with about 20 large Brookies in the mix). As water temps chill down in the latter fall, the dam also helps to moderate the water temps in Riverton, giving you slightly warmer water up there (which is a good thing this time of year when water temps are colder than optimal).

5x flurocarbon tippet should be about right, depending upon fly size, with 6x for the smallest nymphs. If you haven't yet tried it, the Cortland Ultra Premium Fuorocarbon tippet is amazing, by far the strongest out there with the most abrasion resistance, stretch, flexibility & clarity. Total game-changer, and an extra-good choice if you like to nymph with lighter tippets. Use patterns like BWO Nymphs #18-22, Midges/Zebra Midges #16-24, Egg Flies #10-18 (yellow/pink/orange), Caddis Larva #14-16 (olive to green), Mop Flies #8-12, big Stoneflies #6-12 & Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10, Antoine's Perdigons #16 (various colors), Attractor nymphs #14-20 (Frenchies, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.), Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #16-22, and Fox Squirrel Nymphs #12-16.