Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday 9/29/17 Report- fall weather is here!

Photogenic recent Farmington brown trout by the McFarlands. Cool fall weather is now here and the recent blast of July temps is over- we have 5 days in a row now with nights down into the 40s, and daytime highs from mid 50s to low 70s. This is a good thing, and it will pull morning water temps down into the 50s, which should get the trout fired up. It's not quite foliage season yet, but splashes of fall color are here and there, and with the cold nights back again, look for this to increase over the next week.

Flow is low but fishable for sure, and improved from last week with a total flow in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA of 101cfs (90cfs from dam in Riverton, plus 11cfs from the Still River).  This is still about 40cfs higher than the 60cfs flow we had most of last fall. And FYI, the low water last fall led to plenty of rising trout and good dry fly fishing. An additional 25cfs is being released from Lake McDonough into the East Branch (it dumps in 3/8 mile below UpCountry), making the total flow below that 125cfs+. These cool temps make the entire river from Riverton to Unionville once again fishable for trout. Downriver sees less fishing pressure if you want some elbow room. 

We are looking for volunteers to help with the FRAA trout stocking on the afternoon of October 10th- call store at 860-379-1952 to sign up. 

Cherry pick during low flows and only fish the better water where you have some flow & depth (depth is a relative thing, when flows are down, a 2' pothole in a 1' riffle can hold a big trout). The upside to low water is that it's easy to read the water and figure out where the trout are, and if there is a hatch you will typically see lots of rising trout. The downside to low flows is spookier trout and less good holding water. A big key to success during these conditions is a stealthy approach, smaller flies, and use longer leaders (12-15' or even longer). Stay a bit further away from the trout, and if you have a lighter line weight rod, now is the time to use it for a more delicate presentation. A longer/lighter tippet (3-5' of 6x-7x) will greatly assist in getting a drag-free float with your #16 and smaller dry flies (5x for your Isonychia).

Morning Trico hatch is over in the C&R and near the end upriver, but you might still see a few in Riverton (think Hitchcock up to the dam). Terrestrials (Flying ants #18-24, 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:
Assorted Caddis #14-22 (tan, brown, black, olive), especially the tan/brown variety in #16-18- think mainly mornings & evenings. If you want to blind fish Caddis dries in the riffles and broken water, stick to slightly bigger ones around #14-16. Pupa in #14-18 are excellent choices to nymph with. The other Caddis to match is the Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24, typically an early to mid morning deal. Isonychia ("Isos") #12-14, 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.

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. 

Many early fall bugs are smaller, 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 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 biggest exceptions to the small flies would be Isonychia nymphs #12-14, big Stonefly nymphs #6-12, and giant #8-12 October Caddis (Pycnopsyche). Isos are typically active later in the day, say late afternoon through dusk. 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.  Giant October Caddis are most active at the end of the day, and also at first light. 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 #14-18 tan/brown Caddis pupa.

Nymphing has typically been the most productive method and is accounting for the lion's share of truly big fish. Use 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 #12-14 (mid afternoon thru eves), Fox Squirrel Nymphs #12-16, and Zebra Midges #16-22.