Boom! There the Riverton Fishing Derby winner from Saturday, a 10# 13oz, 26.5" beast of a Farmington River rainbow trout caught by customer Matthew Musumano. And uncharacteristically, it was caught on a fly- a Slumpbuster streamer (yes we sell them! haha). The next 2 biggest were 9# plus, and 8# plus. Looks like it's going to be a good year for big trout. Reports were mixed for Opening Day weekend overall- some hammered trout, some did fair to okay, and some blanked. Standard fare for the beginning of the season I'd say. The upper river is heavily stocked, but has been receiving very heavy angling pressure. The permanent Catch & Release is still a quality over quantity deal, but this will rapidly change as water temps continue to rise, hatches get going, and it will be stocked soon (sometime in the next week or two).
I fished again after work last night, and decided to hit the higher water downriver and avoid the crowds. I did not have another angler in sight, but I had to work hard. Picked up a rainbow and a "Native" (the kind with lips, aka a Sucker, haha). I saw quite a few assorted bugs in the air (small Caddis & Midges mainly), but no risers. Water temp was 45.5 degrees.
Flows, conditions and weather all continue to rapidly improve- total flow in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R/TMA) is down to medium-high & clear 514cfs and steadily dropping (normal/medium flow for today would be 745cfs), with 177cfs at the Riverton USGS gauge (by Rt 20 bridge), and the Still River adding in 337cfs and dropping. Warm weather this week (60s to 80s!) is warming up the cold water and getting the hatch cycle started up- a good Baetis (Blue Wing Olives) hatch was reported in the permanent C&R yesterday, and there were even a few rising. Expect bug activity and fishing to both pick up noticeably this week. Once water temps hit 50 degrees plus for a few days, expect to see the Hendrickson hatch start (I'd guess somewhere in late April for the permanent C&R/TMA).
The river has been stocked everywhere outside of the permanent
C&R/TMA areas, and it's pretty much loaded with brown, rainbow &
brook trout, even a few tiger & golden rainbow trout. Water temps
were still cold earlier in the week, but with warmer weather and warmer
water dumping in from the Still River, water temps should be going up
quite a bit this week.
FYI Riverton is running colder than the rest of the river right now due
to the colder water released from the bottom of the reservoir above, and
the Still River actually improves the early season water temps from
there downstream. Despite the colder water, Riverton has fished well, mainly because it is stocked to the gills with trout, plus the flows have been consistent and moderate up there. The downside is fishing pressure there has been quite heavy.
The catch & keep sections of the river have been
stocked with large breeder trout, which can range anywhere from a 2#
brook trout to a 10-12# brown or rainbow! So don't be surprised to be
catching a bunch of 10-15" recently stocked fish, and then suddenly your
rod bends double and line starts peeling off your reel. 2016 Opening
Day I landed a 26" rainbow after work on a small nymph, I released it
but the length/girth measurements put it at over 8 1/2 pounds! And there
are a few caught every year that are even bigger.
The highest quality
fish (holdover & wild) have mostly come out of the permanent Catch
& Release lately, but the best numbers by far have been upriver.
Recently it's been a quality over quantity deal in the permanent
C&R, with patient fisherman picking up some very nice trout. This will rapidly improve as the milder weather takes over, and soon that section will be well-stocked.
Remember that water
temps are still on the cool side, so most
trout are still in moderate speed water with some depth, and not so much
in the fast water. (with some exceptions). Maybe on the EDGE of
it or in softer/deeper pockets, but typically not IN the fast stuff. During sunny
and mild afternoons when you get a rising water temp and bug activity,
trout have been moving into moderate speed riffles to feed on pupa,
larva & nymphs. But as temps increase, some fish will move into the
faster flows when bugs are active in the afternoons. Warming temps
should also get the Early Stones active, they slowed down when it snowed
& got colder.
Colebrook Reservoir (the big one right above Hogback/Goodwin Dam and the
more important one to look at) is now almost full, and at the rate
water is coming in, it may now be full. After the drought
we've seen the past year or two, that's VERY good
The most consistent flies upriver have been Midge
larva & pupa #18-20 or so (black, olive, red, brown). Smaller Frenchies #16-18 have been good too. Below that, in
the higher flows, go bigger/gaudier on your nymphs (#8-16) and fish
streamers too. Bigger water = bigger flies. And sometimes bigger trout!
Now is the time to fish "Junk Flies": Mops, San Juan Worms/Squirmies,
Green Weenies, Egg Flies, etc. Bigger #6-10 Stonefly nymphs too. The
Catch & Release area (TMA/C&R) has been spotty some days, with
most anglers working for each fish- this will improve with the
milder weather and corresponding rising water temps as the river comes
back down- expect bug activity
& fishing to both improve.
We are now back to our usual in-season hours: 8am-6pm weekdays, 6am-5pm
weekends (see up above for Opening Day weekend hours).
Midges have been
the most active bug of late, so it's not surprising they have been the best producer most days. Peak Midge hatching
has normally been early to mid afternoons. We are now just starting to see the Baetis/Blue Wing Olives sz18 hatching in the permanent Catch & Release area, it's typically and afternoon deal. Milder temps
should see the Stonefly hatching ramp up, with the somewhat bigger
#14-16 Early Black & Early Brown Stones joining the black micro
stones (sz 20-24) we've been seeing. FYI, subsurface, Hendrickson nymphs
start getting active a good month plus before the hatch, so a #14
medium to dark brown nymph can be the ticket sometimes, especially for
the holdover & wild browns.
With more water lately, some medium sized nymphs (#14-16)
are working, along with the smaller #18-20 Midge Pupa/Larva &
Pheasant Tails that have
been so effective the past month. Even some good reports on big #8 Mop
flies lately too, especially on the recent stockers. Bigger Stones #8-12
are pulling less but bigger fish. If you are looking for rising trout,
target the soft
water in the big wide pools (generally Caddis in AM, and Midges &
Stones in afternoons, but that is a very general rule and varies from
day to day). Other good nymph choices for this season include Prince Nymphs and Quasimodo Pheasant
Tails, Hot Spot Nymphs such as the Triple Threat, Frenchie, Rainbow
Warrior. Squirmy Worms and Egg patterns are also great choices.
Streamers can be very effective this time of year. 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
both swinging and slow retrieves are good choices. Experiment though,
sometimes even in cold water the trout will respond to a fast retrieve,
but overall in cold water temps they like it slower. Early spring is a
great time for slowly swinging streamers, it's a fun & relaxing
way to fish and cover water both thoroughly and efficiently.
"Keystone Fly Fishing" (covering PA in
detail by local guides/experts) is out now, and it's an incredible book
if you want to explore that state (and trust me, you do!).
Almost 600 pages of detailed info by 9 different PA authors, tons of
beautiful color photos and fly suggestions, numerous stream maps & a
great PA hatch chart, this book is the new Pennsylvania fly fishing
bible. They don't sugar coat things either- streams that were once
famous & great but aren't anymore are described accurately, and if a
stream is marginal, they will tell you that it isn't worth fishing
after a certain date in the spring. If you ever wanted to explore PA,
this is the book to get.
Devin Olsen's & Lance Egan's new
"Modern Nymphing" DVD's are available now and selling quite well and
getting great feedback from customers that bought it. They did a great
job, with clear
excellent cinematography (filmed by Gilbert Rowley of flytying123.com-
excellent website, check it out). Devin & Lance are 2 of the top
members of Flyfishing Team USA- both scored an individual bronze medal
in the World Flyfishing Championships in 2015/2016 respectively, and
both years Team USA also garnered team medals (bronze & silver), so
you could say these two are legit, truly world class anglers who have
held their own against the best in the world (historically France,
Spain, Czech Republic, and Poland). Devin's website is
tacticalflyfisher.com if you want to check it out and watch a DVD
preview, he also has many insightful fly tying & fly fishing
articles on there.
The new book "Nymphing The New Way: French leader fishing for trout"
is in stock again- it focuses on Euro-style nymphing using
very long leaders, which is deadly indeed. The first 2 batches sold out
fast. Keep your eye out for "Nymph Masters" by Jason Randall
coming out in early April (they keep changing the release date though).