Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday 12/15/17 Report- Brrrrrr, but not as cold this weekend

If you can dress properly to deal with the cold blast we've gotten the past couple days, there are trout to be caught for sure. Mandy & I ventured out for about 2 hours yesterday, and we each picked up some decent fish- the fish pictured is thin & spawned out. Browns are looking to eat now and put some weight back on. No "magic bullet" in terms of flies, we got them on patterns ranging from smaller Blue Wing Olive/Midge patterns, to Eggs, to big #8 Stones. During cold snaps, the old adage about 11am to 3pm being the prime slot is about right. It's also the most comfortable/pleasant time of day to be out when it is cold. Highs this weekend will be low 30s & mostly sunny- not exactly warm, but an improvement over the last 3 days for sure. Should hopefully see some morning Winter Caddis & afternoon Blue Wing Olives. And of course nymphing & streamer fishing (slow & deep!) will be mainstays whether or not you find rising trout. Expect cold water strikes to be subtle, so pay close attention. Look for trout in softer water, and where you find one there may be a bunch more (trout often pod up in cold water). Water temp at 3pm in the permanent Catch & Release was 34.5 degrees. 

Total flow at 8am this morning is medium at about 260-265cfs in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA (172cfs in Riverton plus about 90-95cfs from the Still River). Still River USGS gauge is reading 124cfs, but I strongly suspect the 30cfs+ bump the graph shows at midnight is due to the gauge freezing & reading higher than it is (happens every winter during cold snaps). Depending upon the day, time of day, and distance from dam, water temps have ranged from low 30s to upper 30s/low 40s. The warmest water will be coming out of the dam in Riverton, and mornings will see the lowest water temps.  Most days this time of year the better fishing is late morning until dusk (higher water temps). Most of the water is coming out of the dam now, which helps to moderate the water temps and keep them a little warmer and more trout-friendly than on other streams.

FYI if you are out fishing in December, be aware that the trout are sliding into the pools & deeper/softer runs, they drop out of the faster water when water temps get cold. You may see them slide up into medium-fast riffles to feed in the afternoons, but by and large they will be in slow to medium speed water with some depth. I often get my biggest winter trout in the last hour of daylight, despite the fact that the "experts" say 11am-3pm is the best bite window in the winter (some days it is, especially on really cold days). The last hour or two of daylight has the advantage of higher water temps AND low light, which brown trout, and especially big brown trout, prefer. 

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, space is limited and it's filling up. Fly tying is a fantastic winter activity, and this class also makes a great Christmas gift
We continue to get some good afternooon Blue Winged Olive (BWOs/Olives), with trout eating them on the surface in the 1-4pm time slot. Some have been as big as #20, expect to match them with patterns ranging from #20-28, with #24-26 being average. FYI fishing subsurface with BWO nymphs in #18-22 just before & during the hatch will typically net you bigger fish than the dries will (big trout would rather suck in the small nymphs drifting at eye level than swim to the surface for a tiny snack). The morning Winter Caddis hatch continues to be good most days- it is typically an early to mid morning deal with #18-24 flies- make sure to have both the pupa and the winged adult. Sometimes they start later and hatch into the afternoons too. If you venture out in the AM and don't find risers, be prepared to go subsurface with streamers & nymphs. The December post-spawn brown trout streamer bite remains strong, just make sure to fish them deep and slow down your presentation (olive has been a hot streamer color). Nymphs should be dead-drifted near the stream bottom, and expect strikes to be subtle so pay close  attention. Using the smallest indicator you can get away with will help you detect light bites, and if you are tight-line nymphing pay close attention to your sighter and do a small hook-set on any light tap or line hesitation/stoppage. 

Torrey's "Tying Junk Flies & Winter Nymphs" class will be on Saturday January 20th, 2018, 9am-1pm. Learn the flies you need to tie & carry to turn those sluggish cold water trout into fly-biters. This class is for intermediate level tyers & up. Click on "Classes, News & Reviews" in top website toolbar to see detailed class info. Call the store at 860-379-1952 to sign up, space is limited.

Other than the morning Winter Caddis hatch, generally the best time to be out is late morning to dusk when water & air temps are the highest. We've got a good selection of cold weather clothing in stock- if you dress properly, you can fish in comfort even on truly cold days. Trout continue to feed all winter- if you fish for them properly during bite windows, you can catch them 12 months a year here.

December is typically a good post-spawn streamer bite. and we continue to get good streamer reports. Water temps are mostly in the 30s now, so make sure to slow down your streamer presentations and use some form of weighted flies/split-shot/sink-tips/sinking leader/sinking lines to get your streamers down deep. Water temps in permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA & upriver have averaged mid 30s the past couple of days, with slightly higher water temps in Riverton (from the dam to just above the Still River). Swinging & slow stripping are typically the way to go with streamers in cold water, but make sure to try a faster strip too, as sometimes even in the winter they will respond better to that some days (but day in, day out, slower is normally better when it's cold). Also, play around with colors, it can make a big difference. Olive has been good, but also try black, brown, white, yellow and combinations thereof. Many good fishing reports from the nymphers too, just make sure you have enough weight (either in your flies or in the form of split-shot) to get down in the slower water near the stream bottom. Seeing some good dry fly fishing the past few weeks too. 

New Stuff:
Simms new 2018 version of the G3 wader is here now- 190% more breatheable (!), 30% more puncture resistant, fleece-lined handwarmer pockets with side zips, a velcro docking station for a fly patch, and a G4-style reinforced seat/butt area. And the best part: NO price increase! They are now better than the G4 Pro Wader, but at a much lower price than. We also have their new redesigned versions of their Freestone, Guide & G3 vests. And last but not least, their new super-warm heavyweight Guide Thermal OTC Sock. FYI the old style Simms vests in stock are on sale at 40% off.  

In addition to trout tying materials, we have a very good selection of materials geared toward Steelhead. We have 12 colors of the deadly & popular Eggstasy Egg Yarn on the wall now (it works great on trout too). Just tie it in and take 2-3 wraps and then tie it off, easy peasy. Put a tungsten bead on it too if you are a Euro Nympher. Plenty of good strong hooks for from Tiemco, Mustad, Gamakatsu & Daiichi. We now carry Adams Built landing nets, including a collapsible handle model sized well for Steelhead. 

We  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.

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 Fluorocarbon 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 #16-22, Midges/Zebra Midges #16-24, Egg Flies #10-18 (yellow/pink/orange),  Squirmy/San Juan Worms (pink, red, worm tan), Caddis Larva #14-16 (olive to green), Cased Caddis #8-16, Mop Flies #8-12 (various colors, especially cream/tan), big Stoneflies #6-12 /Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10, Antoine's Perdigons #16 (various colors), Attractor/Hot-Spot nymphs #14-20 (Pineapple Express, Frenchies, Triple Threat, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.), Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #16-22, and Fox Squirrel Nymphs #12-14.

Cold Weather Strategies:
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 = cold feet. 

The colder late fall/early winter air & water temps are here now, so 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. 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. Subsurface with nymphs has been some of the more consistent fishing lately, and we are getting some good streamer reports, and there have been windows of good dry fly fishing too.