Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday 9/1/17 Report- plenty of nice trout in the river

Everyone should be aware that as of today, 9/1, virtually the entire Farmington River is now Catch & Release until Opening Day in April (21 miles straight from Goodwin/Hogback Dam in Riverton down to Rt 177 Bridge in Unionville). If you see anyone keeping trout this weekend, POLITELY inform them that it's C&R now- not everybody is aware of this, especially when it first kicks into gear.

I fished from 10am until dusk yesterday, and I picked up some very nice sized trout, including this fat almost 20" brown with no dye mark or fin clips. Got some hard-fighting 15-17" Bows, and several beautiful 8-10" wild browns. Some spots fished well, and others were dead. The key was to keep moving and cover lots of water, and if a particular section wasn't producing, jump in the car and hit another. Everywhere I went, I saw piles of big stonefly shucks on the rocks in the fast water, if that gives you a hint on fly selection for nymphing. Bugs I saw included big Stones, Isonychia, assorted Caddis (#14-20, tan, black), tiny Blue Wing Olives/Rusty Spinners, Cahills/Summer Stenos/White Flies #12-14. Best bug activity was in the morning & evening.

Flows is medium-low and normal at a total of 189cfs in permanent Catch & Release/C&R (177cfs from dam in Riverton, 12cfs from Still River) and the water temps are great (upper 50s to mid 60s lately). Weather has been nice & cool with highs 70s/lows 50s. With fall temps already here, it means you can fish downriver, even into Canton/Collinsville/Unionville, although warmer sunny days will probably still be better from New Hartford & upriver. But don't be afraid to venture downriver to beat the crowds. Tricos are still the morning glamour hatch, with the spinners falling when air temps are in the mid/upper 60s. Trico Spinner falls have been HEAVY lately. 

Late summer fishing can get technical, especially when it comes to the small dry fly game on slow to moderate flat water pools. Most of the hatches (with a few exceptions fortunately, like Isonychia) are of tiny bugs (#22-26 & smaller), which require you to be on your "A" game. Wading needs to be slow & stealthy so you don't spook your quarry by sending shock waves through the water. Casts need to be dead accurate, as trout generally won't move more than an inch or two to either side to eat a #24 dry. Fly size can be more important than the exact pattern, with smaller usually being better: trying to force a #20-22 on a trout that is focusing on #24-26 flies is a recipe for catching no fish. Leaders should be long & light (at least 12', and I like to add tippet to that) to separate your fly from the splashdown of your fly line, and to help get a natural, drag-free float. I like longer tippets 3-5' feet for this game, they tend to land in "S" curves, which buys you some drag-free float time. The thin tippets (6x-8x) are not to make your small dries invisible, but rather to help you get a natural, drag-free drift (thinner tippets are both limper/more flexible, as well as tending to land with a little slack in them). I often hear customers say they like a particular leader because "it straightens right out on the water"- well guess what, if your leader lands poker-straight, you have instant drag, you need a little slack in your tippet. Subtle drag is often impossible for you to see from 30-40' away, which is another reason to get as close as is reasonable/possible to rising fish. Learn how to make a Reach Cast, which will show the trout your fly before anything else, as well as giving you both a longer & better float. Trout will often get into a rhythm where they rise at precise intervals- if it's 10 seconds between rises, make sure your fly drifts over them in an accurate drag-free float at the precise moment the fish is ready to make its' next rise. Pat yourself on the back for every fish you catch on a small dry here in the late summer.

FYI we currently have a big selection of used rods/reels, many are listed on the website, but some purposely are not, so stop by the store and take a peek. Please no phone inquiries for unlisted used rods/reels, they are for walk-in customers only, plus we are so busy we don't have time to run through all the used equipment in the store over the phone. 

Recently arrived, the brand new Scott G rod (this replaces the G2). This is not the original G rod, but rather the new incarnation in this series using the latest graphite & high-tech construction. Louis that work here has been fishing a prototype of the new G in the 9' #4 version, and he feels it is one of the finest 9' #4's he has ever fished. FYI we also have the new Sage Spectrum series of reels here now, and they are impressive. We've also received tons of new fly tying materials in recent weeks, and a book order came in this week (plus we got in 2 BIG collections of used books, and most are up on the shelves now).

The Trico hatch (#22-26 ) has been unusually good, the spinners are the main event and typically fall in early to mid mornings, but cold nights will delay this to later in the AM. The spinners tend to fall at an air temp of about 68 degrees. They are at least as far up as Pipeline Pool/Lyman's Rock, and quite likely above that up into Riverton by now. Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24 is the other significant AM hatch, usually occuring in early/mid morning. Dry fly wise, afternoons are more about terrestrials, and look for Flying Ants (#18-24) if we get a warm & humid day. Later in the day, look for Isonychia #10-14 (usually about 5pm 'till dark), small Blue Wing Olives (BWO's) #22-26, and Cahills/Summer Stenos & White Flies #12-14- stay until dark for the best evening dry fly action.

Remember that Isonychia are a fast water bug, so look for hatching activity there. Nymphing is still mostly smaller flies in the #18-22 range, exceptions being Stoneflies #6-12 (brown, golden/yellow), Isonychia #10-14, and Caddis Pupa & Larva #14-16. 

Summertime bugs are smaller on average, so when nymphing make sure to downsize your flies. #18-22 nymphs are often the key to success, with fly size more important then the exact pattern (although I prefer either a little flash or a fluorescent hot spot in my small nymphs).  I like 5x-6x flurocarbon tippet for fishing small nymphs (5x is usually light enough, but they will sink quicker on a long 6x tippet due to decreased water drag from thinner tippet). If you like to go light on your nymphing tippet, I HIGHLY recommend the new Cortland Ultra Premium Fluorocarbon, it is stronger and more durable than any other fluoro on the market and will save you both flies & fish. 6x in this stuff will break less than 5x in other brands. Some days small flies are the difference between struggling to hook trout versus catching a bunch. The two main exceptions would be Isonychia nymphs #10-14, and big Stonefly nymphs #6-12. Isos are typically active later in the day, say late afternoon through dusk. The evening Cahills are also bigger at #12-14, and can be nicely imitated with either a Fox Squirrel or Hare's Ear nymphs. The big Stonefly nymphs emerge by crawling out onto rocks overnight and in the early mornings, making early/mid mornings prime to fish their large imitations for larger trout. If you do have a big fly on, make sure you also have another pattern in your rig no bigger than a #18, it's more in line with what they are seeing this time of year. Or pair it up with a #16 Caddis pupa.

Top Dry Flies: Tricos #22-26 (AM- spinners fall at about 68 degrees air temp), Blue Wing Olives #22-26 (afternoons/eves), Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24 (mornings in permanent C&R/TMA), Cream Cahills/Light Cahills/White Flies #12-14 (eves), Isonychia #10-14 (fast water, late afternoon thru eves), Beetles & Ants #14-18, assorted Caddis #14-22 (tan, olive. black, brown). The best dry fly activity has often been in the riffles and the upper end of pools including Pipeline, Roberts, Whittemore, People's Forest, Church Pool, Greenwoods and the Boneyard. Try also blind-fishing with attractors such as Mini Chernobyls #12-16, Monster Beetles #10, Stimulators #10-16 & Hippy Stompers #16-18.

Nymphing has typically been the most productive method from late morning through early evening (when the insect activity is sparsest) and is accounting for the lion's share of truly big fish,  using patterns like big Stoneflies #6-12 & Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10 (especially in the mornings), Caddis Pupa #14-18 (tan, olive-green- Caddis pupa are especially active in the mornings), Antoine's Perdigons #16 (various colors), Attractor nymphs #14-20 (Frenchies #14-18, Egan's Red Dart #14-16, Rainbow Warrior #16-18, etc.), Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-22,  BWO nymphs #16-20, Isonychia #10-14 (mid afternoon thru eves), Fox Squirrel Nymphs #12-16, and Zebra Midges #16-22.