Zach St. Amand with a pretty December Farmington River brown caught while experimenting with a new leader design. Despite last week's extra-cold temps, trout were caught.
Looks like temps will moderate and get warmer this week, with every day (except Thursday) well above freezing, 42 Tuesday and 50 for Saturday. This should bump water temps up a bit and improve the fishing. Generally when water temps are cold, an increase in water temps ups the trout's metabolism and gets bug more active. All of which usually equals better fishing. Colder temps this past week definitely slowed up the fishing pressure and to some degree the fishing, but those venturing out in the cold did pick up fish on a combination of dries, nymphs & streamers. Unless you have risers to Winter Caddis (AM), Blue Wing Olives (afternoons), or Midges (afternoons), slow & deep with nymphs or streamers is the order of the day. I'd expect the bigger fish to get fooled by subsurface tactics. Colder water temps means trout don't need to eat as much, and as such they won't move as far to eat your fly. A dead-drifted nymph down deep is easy pickings, and a slowly & deeply fished streamer represents a lot of calories to a trout. Identify the softer/deeper winter holding water and fish it thoroughly- trout tend to pod up in the winter, finding them is a big part of the battle.
flow at 8am this morning is medium at a guesstimated 240-250cfs in
the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA (170cfs in Riverton plus about 70-80cfs from the Still River).
9:30am Flow update:
At 9am the MDC reduced the dam release by 31cfs, which will bring total flow in permanent Catch & Release down to a guesstimated 210-220cfs. This is a nice, medium to medium-low level.
Still River USGS gauge is reading 174cfs, I'm pretty sure this reading is falsely higher due to the gauge freezing
& giving an elevated reading (happens every winter during cold
snaps). Depending upon the day, time of day, and distance from dam, water temps have ranged from low 30s to upper 30s/low 40s. The
warmest water will be coming out of the dam in Riverton, and
mornings will see the lowest water temps. Most days this time of year
the better fishing is late
morning until dusk (higher water temps). 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.
FYI if you are out fishing in December, be aware that the trout have slid into the pools & deeper/softer runs,
they drop out of the faster water when water temps get cold. You may
see them slide up into medium-fast riffles to feed in the afternoons,
but by and large they will be in slow to medium speed water with some
depth. I often get my biggest winter trout in the last hour or two of daylight, despite the fact that the "experts"
say 11am-3pm is the best bite window in the winter (some days it is).
The last hour or two of daylight has the advantage of higher water temps
AND low light, which brown trout, and especially big brown trout, prefer. On really cold days though (like last week), the "11-3 rule" typically rings true.
Need a last minute gift idea? 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, space is limited and it's filling up. Fly tying is a fantastic winter activity, and this class makes a great Christmas gift.
We continue to get good afternooon Blue Winged Olive (BWOs/Olives) some days, with trout eating them on
the surface in the 1-4pm time slot. Some have been as big as #20, but expect to match them with patterns ranging from #20-28, with #24-26
being average. FYI fishing subsurface with BWO nymphs in #18-22 just
before & during the hatch will typically net you bigger fish
than the dries will (big trout would rather suck in the small nymphs
drifting at eye level than swim to the surface for a tiny snack). The
morning Winter Caddis hatch continues to be good most days- it is typically an
early to mid morning deal with #18-24 flies- make sure to have both the
pupa and the winged adult. Sometimes they start later and hatch into the afternoons too.
If you venture out in the AM and don't find risers, be prepared to go
subsurface with streamers & nymphs. The December post-spawn brown trout streamer bite remains good, just make sure to fish them deep and slow down your presentation (olive has been a hot streamer color). Nymphs should be dead-drifted near the stream bottom, and expect strikes to be subtle so pay close attention. Using the smallest indicator you can get away with will help you detect light bites, and if you are tight-line nymphing pay close attention to your sighter and do a small hook-set on any light tap or line hesitation/stoppage.
Torrey's "Tying Junk Flies & Winter Nymphs" class will be on Saturday January 20th, 2018, 9am-1pm- class is almost full.
Learn the flies you need to tie & carry to turn those sluggish cold
water trout into fly-biters. This class is for intermediate level tyers
& up. Click on "Classes, News & Reviews" in top website toolbar
to see detailed class info. Call the store at 860-379-1952 to sign up, space is limited.
Other than the morning Winter Caddis hatch, generally the best
time to be out is late morning to dusk when water & air temps are
the highest. We've got a good selection of cold weather clothing in
if you dress properly, you can fish in comfort even on truly cold days.
Trout continue to feed all winter- if you fish for them properly during bite windows, you can catch them 12 months a year here.
December is typically a good post-spawn streamer bite. and we continue to get good streamer reports. Water temps are mostly in the 30s now, so make sure to slow down your streamer presentations and use some form of weighted flies/split-shot/sink-tips/sinking leader/sinking lines to get your streamers down deep.
Water temps in permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA &
upriver have averaged mid 30s the past couple of days, with slightly
higher water temps in Riverton (from the dam to just above the Still
River). Swinging & slow stripping are typically the way to go with streamers in cold water,
but make sure to try a faster strip too, as sometimes even in the
winter they will respond better to that some days (but day in, day out,
slower is normally better when it's cold). Also, play around with colors, it can make a big difference. Olive has been good, but also try black, brown, white, yellow and combinations thereof. Many good fishing reports from the nymphers
too, just make sure you have enough weight (either in your flies, split-shot, or both) to get down in the slower water near the stream
bottom. Seeing some good dry fly fishing the past few weeks too.
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! They are now better than the G4 Pro Wader, but at a much lower price than. 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 in stock 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. Put a tungsten bead on it too if you are a Euro Nympher. 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
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.
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
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
(yellow/pink/orange), Squirmy/San Juan Worms (pink, red, worm tan), Caddis Larva #14-16 (olive to green), Cased Caddis #8-16, 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),
#14-20 (Pineapple Express, 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 colder 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, and there have
been windows of good dry fly fishing too.