Friday, December 1, 2017

Friday 12/1/17 Report- less people, plenty of trout

Got out for just over an hour at the end of Thursday, finished up with this flawless wild brown on an olive nymph- pic courtesy of Zach St. Amand. Trout like that make me happy, and are a testament to the good habitat here & successful management strategy. Notice it appears thin and spawned out- most of the browns are done spawning now and will start to focus on eating & putting some weight back on. I got 43 degrees for a water temp in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA at the end of yesterday. Typically less fishermen are out & about this time of year, but there are still plenty of trout to be caught if you are willing to show them what they want, the way they want your fly (flies) presented.

Best hatch currently is the morning Winter Caddis, their numbers have been good this week, but the afternoon Blue Winged Olives (BWOs/Olives) still remain very light. Make sure to start early to catch the Caddis, it's typically an early/mid morning deal, although I did see a few just before dark last night and sometimes you will see them on the water in the late mornings/early afternoons. Some mornings trout have been rising well to them, and other mornings it's been a nymph & streamer deal. Those adjusting to the conditions are finding success- the key is to be FLEXIBLE. Late fall/early winter can be an above average time to fish streamers, as many trout lost weight due to spawning and are looking to bulk up. Just remember that water temps are upper 30s to mid 40s, so get those streamers slow & deep. Nymphing will be a consistent way to catch trout now that the "off season" is here and hatches are less. Expect takes to be subtle, as trout generally won't move far to eat a small nymph in cold water. Look for trout to lay in softer water now, skip the fast runs & pocket water. Looks for current seams & riffle tailouts in pools, and fish deeper/softer runs. Conserving energy & safety become paramount to trout when water temps are cold. They will often pod up, so where you find one, sometimes there are many more.

Total flow at 8am this morning (Friday) is medium & very nice at 285cfs in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA (234cfs in Riverton plus 51cfs from the Still River). Depending upon the day, time of day, and distance from dam, look for water temps to range from 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 through Wednesday mostly in the mid 40s, and lows in the 30s/high 20s.

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. Winter Caddis #18-24
(dolophilodes distinctus) are the "glamour hatch" so far this week, coming off in good numbers in the AM- look for them normally in early/mid mornings after cold nights. Blue Wing Olives #22-26 to are still very light in numbers and hatching in the afternoons, but could get heavier anytime now. 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.

New Stuff:
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. 

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 #16-22, 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 #12-14.

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. Subsurface with nymphs has been some of the more consistent fishing lately, and we are getting some good streamer reports, but there have been windows of good dry fly fishing too.