The 4 day weekend is over and it's back to reality for most people. Quite a few anglers ventured out on Friday & Saturday, and reports varied considerably with some fishermen finding good to excellent success. The best reports were from nymphers who covered the most water to find concentrations of trout. We are transitioning from fall to winter conditions, and the trout are moving around and dropping out of the faster water, so you have to locate the fish, and they may be in totally different spots than they were a few weeks ago. Look for them to collect in the pools, moderate speed deeper riffles, and deeper/softer runs over the next month as water temps continue to drop. Streamer fishing has also been productive for most anglers (olive seemed to be a hot color this past weekend)- most browns are done spawning and looking for a big bite to gain some of the weight back they lost during the spawn, making late fall/early winter a great time to fish the long flies. Hatches are still mostly light to moderate, with fishermen finding success in the early AM on Winter Caddis dries (these bugs shave been starting as early as first light some days). Afternoon BWO (Blue Wing Olive) hatches remain very light to light so far, typically November/December is a peak time for them. However, small BWO type nymphs have been very effective in the afternoons, even when there are not many of the naturals on the water.
Total flow at 8am this morning (Monday) is medium & nice at 277cfs in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA (225cfs in Riverton plus 52cfs from the Still River). Depending upon the day, time of day, and distance from dam, look for water temps can range from mid/upper 30s to mid 40s. 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. Long range weather looks "normal", with highs mostly in the mid/upper 40s and lows in the 30s/high 20s.
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! 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 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. 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.
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.
Bug activity has varied from day to day, with fishable dryfly hatches occurring randomly. The fluctuating weather this November has been a factor and should mean good hatches right through Christmas. Blue Wing Olives #22-26 to are still light in numbers and hatching in the afternoons, but could get heavier anytime now. Winter Caddis (dolophilodes distinctus) #18-24 started hatching in fishable numbers recently, look for them normally in early to mid mornings after colder nights. Other bugs you might see include Black Caddis #18-24 and Midges #22-28. Subsurface with nymphs has been some of the more consistent fishing lately, but there have been windows of dry fly fishing too. Streamers are working well. Colder water temps usually means you need to slow down your streamers and fish them deeper in the water column- make it easy for sluggish trout to eat your flies and you should find success. Always experiment with the retrieve though, sometimes they still want a fast strip, even in cold water. Swinging streamers can be very effective this time of year. Weighted flies, split-shot, sinking leaders, sink-tips/sinking lines or a combination thereof will get your streamers deep.
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 #18-22, Midges/Zebra Midges #16-24, Egg Flies #10-18 (yellow/pink/orange), Caddis Larva #14-16 (olive to green), 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 (Frenchies, Triple Threat, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.), Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #16-22, and Fox Squirrel Nymphs #12-16.
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 cooler 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.