Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday 3/23/18 Report- it's officially Spring now

Some Farmington River butter from this past weekend by Mike Andrews. Quality fish are showing up for those willing to work for them- most are coming on nymphs, but dries & streamers are both possibilities too. If you want numbers, fish the recently stocked sections with nymphs & Buggers.

It's officially spring now, and the air temps are slowly but steadily warming up again- about 40 degrees this weekend, and then into the 50s for most of next week. Look for this to raise water temps and pick up the bugs and get more hatching activity. This will improve the nymphing, and also improve the dry fly action. Anglers are catching a mix of recent stockers, and medium to large holdovers & wilds. If you want quality fish and are willing to work for them, hit the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). If you want easier fishing and better numbers, hit the stocked sections mentioned in the paragraph below. Remember that recently stocked trout often pod up, so move around the pools until you locate them.

The river has been stocked over the past weeks (except the permanent C&R, which currently has plenty of sizeable holdovers & wilds) from Goodwin/Hogback Dam down to Rt 177 in Unionville/Farmington, and that entire contiguous 21 mile section is all open to catch & release fishing only. Below Rt 177 it's closed to fishing until Opening Day on Saturday 4/14 at 6am.

Long range 15 day weather forecast overall looks nice, with highs averaging in the 40s and five days into the 50s, lows will average in the 30s. Look for afternoon water temps rise into the lower 40s- this should help with both insect activity & trout feeding. Sunny days are best of all, seeing the biggest water temp increases. Early Black Stoneflies tend to hatch best as temps rise, and this should kick the early spring Baetis Tricauditis (Blue Wing Olives) hatch into gear soon. Woolly Buggers & gaudy nymphs work very well on freshly stocked trout, especially the first 2-3 weeks before they get dialed in to eating real bugs. For the holdovers/wilds, flies that more closely resemble real food tend to work better, with some noteable exceptions at moments. See further down in this report for specific fly suggestions.

CT Trout Stamp:
The new $5 Trout Stamp is now available for purchase at our store and necessary if you are fishing the Farmington River, and on most other streams/lakes/ponds that have trout throughout Connecticut. All CT fishing license holders who are fishing waters containing trout will need to purchase the stamp. The last budget cut $200,000 from the hatcheries, so this is some much-needed funding that is expected to generate about $300,000 for the DEEP fisheries.

8am flow is 232cfs below the dam in Riverton, 363cfs & decreasing in the permanent Catch & Release section in Barkhamsted (Still River is 131cfs & dropping). The upper 2 miles in Riverton (below the dam) are currently medium/normal. The permanent C&R is clear, with a medium flow and a nicer level than normal for late March (typical flow for today would be more like 500cfs). Look for the the flow from the Still River to continue to decline.

Current bugs to look for are Winter Caddis (mornings), Midges (afternoons), Tiny Winter (Capnia) & Early Black Stoneflies (afternoons), and we should start seeing some #16-18 Baetis Tricauditus (Blue Winged Olives). When fishing this time of year, pick your spot carefully if the water is up (currently it's not, it's a medium and angler-friendly flow). Trout will seek out refuge from the current, especially in cold water. Typically this means they move closer to the bank, out of the heavier flows. Look for wider pools, and also spots where the river goes from narrow to wider (it make current breaks on both sides of the main flow). Inside turns provide nice soft water for the trout to hold in, and are relatively easy to fish and figure out where the trout are. Streamers are very good for targeting better fish when the water is up, and nymphs are also an excellent choice. Don't be afraid to fish "Junk Flies"- Mops, San Juan/Squirmy Worms, Green Weenies, Eggs/Eggstasy flies, Cased Caddis, big Stoneflies, etc.

Other than the Winter Caddis hatch which sometimes start up just after first light, there isn't a big reason to start at daybreak- the exception would be after mild nights, then it can make sense to wake up early. Mild overnight air temps, above freezing, will get bug and fish activity going earlier than on cold mornings. Sunny days will see the biggest water temps increases. I normally focus on the late morning to late afternoon time slot, with my biggest trout often coming in the last two hours of daylight. Rising trout have been chowing on Midges, Early Stones and Winter Caddis in the major pools at moments, and look for Baetis (Blue Winged Olives) to join the fray over the next few weeks. The most consistent fishing, unsurprisingly, has been with nymphs. Streamers have also been working well at moments, particularly in medium paced water around structure such as rocks and logs. The freshly stocked trout are still aggressive to basic streamers like #6-12 Woolly Buggers, especially in black, but it's worth trying olive, brown, and white too.

We are seeing more & more Stoneflies, both the Tiny Winter Black (#18-24) & Early Black (#14-16). Midges are still hatching, mostly dark colored (black/gray)- if you are fishing Midges subsurface use flies in the #16-22 range (red, black, olive, brown), on top more like #22-28 (gray to black). They normally pop during the mildest part of the day, typically in the afternoons, but will sometimes start in late morning when it's mild. The Winter Caddis #18-24 is normally an early to late morning deal in February, frequently providing some surface activity. We just started seeing a few of the early season Baetis (Blue Wing Olives/BWOs) that average about a #18, sometimes even a #16. Not enough to call it a legit hatch yet, but I'm sure the nymphs are moving around, so try a #16-18 olive colored mayfly style nymph in the afternoons.

Winter Caddis: Winter Caddis Pupa #18-24, Winter Caddis Adult #20-22, Winter Caddis CDC #22, Parachute Winter Caddis #18-22, Midges: Griffiths Gnat #20-26, Fowler's Midge #20-22, Hi-Vis Griffith's Gnat #22, Stoneflies: B-MAR Black Winter Stone #22, Grey Stonefly Double Wing #16, Black/Brown Cadddis patterns in #14-18 (for Winter & Early Stones) Baetis/Blue Winged Olives (BWOs): #16-18 olive parachutes, CDC, emergers, Sprouts

Black Stoneflies #14-18, Midges / Zebra Midges #16-24, Skinny Nelson #18, Olive Nymphs #16-18, Egg Flies (yellow/pink/orange) #10-18, Squirmy Worms / San Juan Worms (pink, red, worm tan),  Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16, Cased Caddis #8-16, Mop Flies (various colors, especially cream/tan) #8-12 , big Stoneflies #6-12, Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10, Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #14-20, Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #16, and Attractor / Hot-Spot nymphs #14-20 such as the Pineapple Express, Frenchie, Triple Threat, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.

5x fluorocarbon tippet should be about for most nymphs, depending upon fly size, with 4x for bigger flies like Mops & bigger Stoneflies in higher flows, and 6x for the smallest ones. Think mostly 6-7X for  smaller dries (prob 5x for bigger #14-16 Stones), and 0-3x for streamers. 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- here's a link to purchase it off our site:

Fish patterns with lots of built-in motion from materials like marabou & rabbit strips. #2-12 flies, especially in colors like white, black or olive- other colors are good too, and it pays to experiment. Think SLOW & DEEP, either swing them or strip in slowly with longer pauses. Think Zonkers, Woolly Buggers, Bruce's Yellow Matuka, Dude Friendly, Ice Picks, Mini Picks, Mop Heads, Slump Busters, Sculpin Helmet patterns (for a weighted sculpin imitation), etc.

If you have some equipment gathering dust in your closet, our shop is "hungry" for trade-ins. We give fair market value toward new equipment in the store..... no waiting for your item to sell, just bring your used fly rods, reels, and fly tying equipment  to us and we will turn it into something shiny and new for the upcoming season. Please call ahead for an appointment.

New Stuff:

The new Thomas & Thomas Contact 10' 2" #2 rods arrived recently, and we have a loaner/demo version of it you can borrow and try out on the water. My initial impression is: these rods are fantastic! They retained the fighting butt, and they built some real power into the lower half of the rod so you still have plenty of big fish fighting capability, even though it's only a 2 weight rod. The softer tip will nicely protect 6x-7x tippet for those of you who like to fish lighter line (it sinks your nymphs faster and with less weight). Despite the more flexible/softer tip section, the rod recovers quickly and dampens nicely. Joe Goodspeed, the rod designer, told me he is using some special material in this rod that makes it incredibly durable. Follow the link to check out this awesome new rod: Thomas & Thomas Contact 2wt

Simms new 2018 version of the G3 wader is 190% more breatheable (!), 30% more puncture resistant, has 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. We also have their new redesigned versions of their Freestone, Guide & G3 vests.