Monday, September 18, 2017
After several days of weather that felt more like July (80s & humid), things are cooling down to normal temps for most of this week, with highs upper 60s to mid 70s, and nights upper 50s/low 60s. I for one welcome the more fall-like weather. As of 9am this morning, the total flow will be about 125cfs in permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA (104cfs release from dam in Riverton, 22cfs from Still River), water temps averaged in the 60s over the past week. MDC cut release from the dam by about 100cfs this morning now that Rainbow Reservoir is full/normal again, but they are releasing an additional 50cfs from the East Branch, which comes in about 3/8 mile below our store. Typically reduced flows equal more rising trout, easier wading, and spookier fish. Be stealthy when you approach the fish, and use longer leaders (12 foot plus).
We are in the front end of the foliage starting to get some pretty color, peak in our area is traditionally mid/late October. Still seeing Trico spinners #22-26 in the mornings, albeit the hatch is more upriver now- I'd stay between Campground and the dam in Riverton. Trico spinners normally mate & drop to the water when morning air temps hit mid/upper 60s. Flying Ants have been on the water some days, especially afternoons when it's been sunny and humid. Make sure to have at least a couple in your box (#18-24), as when they end up on the water, it can seem like every trout in the river is rising! Terrestrials (ants & beetles #12-18, hoppers #8-14), Attractor dries & Nymphs remain your best midday bets. For Attractor Dries try: Mini Chernobyls #12-16, Monster Beetles #10, Stimulators #10-16 & Hippy Stompers #16-18, #10-14 Wulffs, etc. You can even combine a buoyant dry with a small beadhead nymph for a Dry-Dropper combo. Tie 1-3' of tippet to the dry fly hook bend, and run the beadhead nymph on the other end. Go longer (2-3') when there is not much hatching and/or you are fishing deeper water, go shorter (12-18") when there is hatching activity and/or you are fishing shallower water.
Other bugs you may see:
Assorted Caddis #14-22 (tan, brown, black, olive), especially the tan/brown variety in #16-18- anytime from morning to evening. If you want to blind fish Caddis dries, stick to slightly bigger ones around #14-16. Pupa in #14-18 are excellent choices to nymph with. The other Caddis of note is the Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24, typically an early to mid morning deal. Isonychia ("Isos") #10-14, typically hatch late afternoon to evening in the faster water. They get smaller as the season progresses, and will average #14 in October. Blind fishing Iso dries can be effective, as can fishing Iso nypmphs or swinging Iso wets/soft-hackles. We've also been seeing Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-16 & Blue Wing Olives (BWOs/Olives) #22-26 in the eves (BWOs also hatch on cloudy afternoons). Sometimes fish will key on BWO spinners, which are typically change to rusty brown, not olive. 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.
The Farmington River is now Catch & Release from 9/1 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, POLITELY inform them that it's C&R now- not everybody is aware of this, especially when it first kicks into gear this month. The state stocked the river just before Labor Day weekend, from below the Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford, downstream to Unionville. Soon the FRAA will stock 1,000+ rainbows & brookies in the upper river- we are still collecting donations to fund this stocking, just drop them in the jar next to the cash register. The more we get, the better the stocking.
Lower flows combined with months of heavy fishing pressure can make for some technical fishing in the late summer /early fall, especially when it comes to the small dry fly game on flat water. 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) typically employed with this are not to make the connection to 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 works 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 recently received tons of new fly tying materials, as well as lots of books (both new & used).
Summertime bugs are smaller on average, so when nymphing make sure to downsize your flies, especially when flows are lower. #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 #12-16, 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.
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.