Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday 9/10/18 River Report- AM Tricos & nymphs in fast water

Beauty of a rainbow at 22.5" on a Stonefly nymph by Chad Wild this weekend. Big Stones are still the #1 nymph in the mornings, that's when they are active & crawling out to hatch (look for their husks on the rocks in fast water).

Remember that as of 9/1, the entire Farmington River from the dam in Riverton downstream to the Rt 179 bridge in Unionville is Catch & Release until Opening Day, April 2019.

I fished with 14 year old Ryan Peck after work Saturday in New Hartford. Let me tell you, it's humbling getting your 53 year old ass kicked by someone barely a teenager. In my defense, Ryan is going to be a member of Youth Fly Fishing Team USA, and has been coached by some of the best anglers in the world. He also spent this past summer fishing 12-14 hours a day, every day, all over the western USA. And it shows in his fishing. I popped my first fish fish off on the strike (got lazy, my dropper tippet was knotted around the line and I didn't retie), Ryan landed 2, including that beautiful small wild Brown & Brookie you see pictured. Very little bug activity other than a few big #12 Stenos/Light Cahills. Water temp was 67 degrees. The next spot was much more productive, we both got a good amount of hits, but I could only get the hook in one, whereas Ryan hooked every strike he got. All the fish were in fast water, and the hits were fast & light. Right at dark we saw a lot of bugs, but not much before that. Ryan nymphs with a much thinner leader butt section than I do, and he was using very thin tippet below his thin sighter- all of this gives you a very direct connection to your flies with almost no bow or sag in your line. Thinner tippet also lets your weighted nymphs sink very fast (less hydrodynamic drag), and also allows natural fly movement.  Lesson learned. Even in my 50s, I still learn something every time I fish. These kids on the USA Youth Team are all amazing fishermen, I've met and/or fished will several other kids from the team over the years. Ryan also had a productive evening last night, that's him with the red hair holding the pretty 15" brown in the bottom pic.

The total flow in the Catch & Release area through the Barkhamsted Catch & Release section as of 8am Monday morning is currently medium & excellent at 346cfs as of 8am Friday morning (328cfs below Goodwin/Hogback Dam in Riverton, plus an additional 18cfs from the Still River). We are predicted to get close to 1.5" of combined rain for Monday/Tuesday, and if we get that much it will raise the river with extra water from the Still River- in that case fish above the Still from roughly the Rt 20/Hitchcock bridge up to the dam, that will put you above the higher water and it should stay clearer up there. The good news is that the Still drops fast, and we would be back to decent flows in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release in time for the weekend.

Water temps from the dam in Riverton all the way downstream to Canton have all been in the 60s since things cooled off recently (64 degrees in Canton Sunday morning). Ironically, with water curently coming out of the dam in the upper 60s, when nights are cold and days are mild and cloudy (like today with rain and a high of 59), water temps can actually be cooler as you move downstream away from the dam and the cool nights chill the water down a bit. I still recommend carrying a thermometer this time of year, it will tell you where you should and should not be fishing. Water temps in the mid 60s and below will give you more active trout & bugs. When warmer weather returns for a week starting Tuesday 9/11 (highs around 76-80, lows in low/mid 60s), you may want to stay closer to the dam as the day progresses, and if you are down in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release I'd focus on mornings when water temps are lowest, especially on sunny days.  Cloudy days will see minimal temp increases, but sunny days will definitely raise water temps as you move downstream of the dam.
Overall the best dry fly fishing of late has usually been in the early to mid mornings. That time slot has been a mix of Tricos, Summer/Winter Caddis & #20 Blue Wing Olives, or nymphing the fast water with good sized Stonefly Nymphs (they emerge/crawl out at night and in the mornings). Middays have been mostly quiet bugwise, with one exception on warmer/sunny/humid afternoons: Flying Ants. They don't fall to the water every day, but when it happens, the trout go nuts. Overcast & cooler weather may see some midday Blue Wing Olive hatches though. Bug activity has been very light in the eves, with a mix of Isonychia, small Blue Winged Olives, assorted Caddis, and some good-sized Cahills/Summer Stenos/White Flies. Make sure to stay at least until dark or you may miss the best action, it seems like the heaviest evening hatching is literally right at dark & beyond. Nymphing can be been good all day long, just experiment with flies, fish the faster water, and make sure one of your flies in a two fly rig is smaller, as in #16-18 or even #20.

Tricos (#22-26) are one of the current glamour hatches, and on sunny mornings they've been pretty good. I've read that Trico spinnners fall typically fall at an air temp of 68 degrees, but this is not set in stone. Under normal conditions they are an early to mid morning deal (earlier when it's hot, later when it's cool). Hatchwise early/mid morning and eves should be the peak bug times now. Summer is also a great time to do some night fishing with mice, streamers, or big wets. The one major exception to the early/late rule can be Flying Ants, often falling to the water in the afternoons. Make sure you have a few Flying Ants in your fly box in the late summer, you will be frustrated if you hit a mating swarm and you don't have any!!!

When water temps are in the 60s in the late summer, trout often hold in the faster water where there is more oxygen, making nymphing a great tactic. Lots of nymphs live in this type of water too, making it a good feeding lie. Even in water that looks too fast, there are trout this time of year. If the surface is choppy, that means the bottom is irregular, which creates little soft spots where  there is very little current within inches of the stream bed, and the trout can comfortably hold there. A great summer tactic is to nymph a bigger #6-10 Stonefly nymph in the fast water from first light until mid/late mornings. This strategy can produce some truly big fish, and at the very least some above average ones. Fish pool heads, riffles, pocket water & runs. Make sure that either 1) you are fishing weighted flies heavy enough to get them down, and/or 2) add enough split shot to put them in the strike zone. Pair up your big Stonefly with a more modest size #14-18 nymphs to maximize your odds. I fish a lot of brownish colored Stones, but yellow/golden and also black can both be very effective.   

Some great new products arrived:
Many of you asked for a "Euro" Steelhead rod, well now you finally have it: T&T just released their latest entry into their extremely successful "Contact" series of tight-line/Euro rods, a 10' 8" #6 T&T Contact rod designed for larger fish such as Great Lakes Steelhead & Lake Run Browns. It will handle heavier tippets in the 1x-3x range no problem, and has the power to subdue 10-15# fish, while still protecting your tippet. Joe Goodspeed designed it to have increased durability, while still having a light, flexible and sensitive tip that will help keep the hook from popping out. Not only can you tight-line with this rod, but it throws a 6 weight line like a champ for indicator nymphing & swinging, roll casts easily, and the extra length lets you mend your line better. They also beefed up the cork handle & fighting butt. Homerun!

Our first Fulling Mill order arrived recently, and it includes a bunch of unique, proprietary fly patterns that we have not carried before, including a bunch of tungsten flies (nymphs, jigs, competition-style nymphs, jigged Buggers, etc.), cool streamers, patterns from "Fly Fish Food", and some tiny Usuals (down to #26!). Also, they make a great 2x heavy #18 jig hook that won't bend out, so for starters we brought in just that size to fill in a small jig hook that's tough to find from many other hook makers.

There will be a "Fishermen's Fall Flea Market" in the UpCountry side parking lot on September 22nd, 2018 from 9am-2pm (Rain Date is 9/29) at 352 Main St, New Hartford, CT. This event will include Food & Drinks, Ice Fishing Gear, Fly Fishing Gear, Hunting Gear, Boating, Fishing/Hunting Books, Camo, etc. If you want to be a vendor you can get a Small Spot for $10, or an XL Spot for $20- call Tony at 203-910-4633. 

It's summertime, and just like on most trout streams in the northeast, early & late is typically the best (with a few exceptions). Midday is the slowest hatchwise, with mornings & late afternoons through evenings seeing various insects (depending upon what section of the river you are located). Mornings bring Winter/Summer Caddis #20-24 in the very early hours. Tricos are a morning deal. Mid/late morning through the evening brings various Caddis #16-20. Isonychia #10-14 are still hatching in the late afternoon and evening, but hatches are sparse. Terrestrials such as ant & beetles have been producing during the day when you find some risers. Other bugs hatching include Light Cahills/Summer Stenos/White Flies #12-16 (eves), and small Blue Wing Olives #18-26 (afternoon/eves). Some days will see Flying Ants #18-24, often in the afternoons. Hatch times will vary depending upon time of day, air temps, and how far up or down river you are. Dry/dropper is very effective in the summer here, run one or two small weighted nymphs behind a buoyant visible dry (2-3 feet under your dry if you are searching/blind-casting the water, but only about a foot if fish are actively rising during a hatch).

George Daniel's brand new book "Nymph Fishing" is now available. I've read it, and in my opinion it's excellent. He covers new things he learned in the last 6 years since "Dynamic Nymphing" came out, plus things he has changed his opinion on. Lots of new patterns shown in this book too, plus some new leader formulas. Spoiler: I'm in it :). The first few batches sold out fast. We also have the brand new 2nd DVD on Euro Nymphing from Devin Olsen & Lance Egan (filmed by Gilbert Rowley) in, it's called "Modern Nymphing Elevated", and is the follow up to "Modern Nymphing" (which we once again have in stock too). This one covers many new things, and is geared toward intermediate to advanced anglers (the 1st was more for beginers to intermediates). And just like the first one, the cinematography is excellent.

George Daniel Clinics coming this fall at UpCountry and doing 4 clinics for us (3 nymph, 1 streamer)- click on the clinic name to take you to link with clinic descriptions/info. Call shop at 860-379-1952 to sign up, cost is $150, paid in advance, nonrefundable. FYI payment in full is required when you sign up, we cannot "hold" a spot for you without payment.
*****All workshops are FULL now, but we can put you on a wait list for any of the full clinics in case there are cancellations, and if not we will call you next year after we schedule George's clinics for 2019:
-9/29, 10/20 & 10/21 2019 Nymphing Workshops (all dates are FULL)
-9/30/18 Streamer Fishing Workshop (FULL)

Subsurface, Sulfur-type nymphs (they double as a Yellow Sally FYI), Caddis Pupa, big Stonefly nymphs (especially mornings, they are the best nymph in the AM, fish in faster water), Yellow Sallies, Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, Isonychia nymphs, and small Blue Wing Olive nymphs are all taking trout at the right moments. A variety of attractor/hot-spot nymphs have been very effective some days also, including Antoine's Perdigon series (especially in black lately, probably due to greater visbility in stained water). When trout aren't rising, the nymphing has generally been pretty good. Catching trout is not always about exactly matching the hatch (sometimes it is though, especially during a hatch when trout are surface feeding), it's about getting a trout's attention and enticing them to eat your fly. The best nymphing has been in medium to fast water with some chop to it- just look for current breaks, seams between fast & slow water, drop-offs and structure. Wet flies & Soft-Hackles have been catching their share of trout too, we have a good selection of them if you need us to pick you out a couple of winners. Wets are both fun to fish & good fish catchers. They also enable you to efficiently cover a lot of water and search for fish. They are most deadly when fished 2 or 3 at a time, with tag end droppers. Streamers have produced at first & last light, and have been moving some big trout for a day or two every time after it rains and water temporarily rises and discolors (perfect condition for big trout on big streamers).

-Flying Ants #18-24 (sunny/hot/humid days)
-Tricos #22-26 (morns, esp. warm/sunny ones)
-Caddis (olive/green, tan) #16-20
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #18-26 (some in AM, also eves, cloudy days especially)
-Light Cahill/Summer Stenos/White Flies #12-16 (evenings/dusk)
-Isonychia #12-14 ("Iso") late afternoon/eves (lighter hatch now, in faster water)
-Yellow Sally Stonefly #14-20 (mostly a nymph deal)
-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Ants & Beetles #10-20 (anytime, especially during non-hatch times)
-Mini Chernobyl #12-16 (great for "searching the water" or as a suspender for dry/dropper) 

Sulphur-type nymphs #16-18 (doubles as a Yellow Sally), bigger Stoneflies #6-12, Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10 (esp. coffee/black), Tan & olive/green Caddis Pupa #14-18, Olive Nymphs #16-22, Yellow Sally #14-18, Blue Lightning Bugs/Copper Johns #14-16, Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-20, Isonychia Nymph #12-14, Prince Nymph #12-16 (makes a good Iso), Midges/Zebra Midges #16-22, Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16, Mop Flies (various colors, especially cream/tan) #8-12, Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #12-20, and Attractor/Hot-Spot nymphs #14-20 (Pineapple Express, Frenchy, Triple Threat, Pink Soft Spot Jigs, Carotene Jigs, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.).

Cortland's "Top Secret" Ultra Premium Fluorocarbon tippet has a Plasma finish is by far the best and strongest stuff out there: it has 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:

Try #2-14 patterns, especially in colors like olive, white, black or brown- other colors are good too, and it pays to experiment. Typically the low-light periods of early & late in the day are the optimum times to fish a streamer. The day or two after a rain, when flows are still elevated & off-color can produce some really good streamer fishing conditions for big trout. During the day, target structure (undercut banks, fallen trees, undercut banks, big boulders, etc.) and shady areas. If you're specifically targeting larger trout, go bigger, but expect to catch less fish. Play around with your presentation & retrieve and see what works. If you listen, the trout will tell you what they want. 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.

We are in that time of year (summer) where in order to catch the best evening dry fly fishing you should to stay LATE (as in right up to darkness and even beyond).  Leave too early and you may completely miss it (especially on hotter days when the evening fishing kicks off later). And remember that spinner falls occur over riffles. Having said this, it also depends upon the section of river and the weather that day. Cloudy/cooler weather will often see the "evening bugs" start up earlier. Super hot days might see the evening hatch begin right at the edge of darkness.

Quite a few trout (including some BIG ones) are holding in only 1-2 feet of choppy water (especially during hatches and/or low light conditions) and sometimes even skinnier water than that, so don't focus only on the deep stuff. Typically when trout are in shallower water, they are there specifically to feed. Plus many bugs (Isonychia and many Caddis species for example) hatch in fast, often shallow water. Spinner falls typically occur over/in riffles and pocket water. Also, fast water is more oxygenated. All reasons you should should not ignore it. Personally I've been primarily targeting fast water almost since May, and there have been plenty of trout in residence there. In water that's not too deep, dry/dropper with 1-2 weighted nymphs about 2-3 feet under a buoyant, visible dry fly can be very effective, not to mention fun. It also enables you stay back a bit, and gives you the opportunity to catch fish on both nymphs/pupa & dries. Most days they'll take the nymphs, but you will get plenty of bonus trout on the dry.
     -Report by Torrey Collins