Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday 9/17/18 Report- MDC & CT DEEP stocked, cooler weather

A spot just opened up in the George Daniel 9/29 Nymphing Workshop #1- call 860-379-1952 to grab it, first caller gets it.

With both the state & MDC stocking different sections of the river last week, needless to say weekend catch rates jumped up for many anglers, with Woolly Buggers & various "Junk Flies" accounting for a lot of fish. Top pic is Eugene, longtime client of guide Fred Jeans, with a big smile and a plump 19" brown he caught on an Iso dry. Also pictured is Ryan Peck's hand holding one of many trout he and Zach St. Amand nymphed up last evening during an impromptu competition- you'll have to ask the who the winner was, but their combined catch for only a couple of hours was close to 50 trout! The last 2 pix are a Giant October Caddis I found on the door Saturday eve, it was big! Bruce ties a nice dry fly imitation for us, and for the pupa a Fox Squirrel Nymph works well. You never see many of them hatching here, but their large size sometimes interests large trout. In the unstocked sections anglers worked harder for their fish, but caught some quality holdover & wild fish. FYI there are good numbers of trout in the river in virtually all sections- catching them is up to you though!

As the remnants from hurricane Florence pass through our area later tonight & Tuesday, cooler air moves in for good, along with some rain. If we get the 1" plus of rain they are forecasting, it will briefly dirty & raise the flows from the Still River and downstream. You always have the option of going above the Still, giving you 2 miles of clearer & lower water to work with. Also, the day after a good rain, when the flow is just starting to drop & clear downriver from the Still River, it can be some lights-out streamer fishing for bigger trout. Using bigger, bulkier streamers,
and look ideally for visibility in the 1.5-3 foot range for the best streamer bite. Plus the weather will be cooling off, dropping the water temps and getting the trout more active. Looks like we really put the Summer weather behind us starting on Wednesday and onward, with highs averaging in the mid 60s to low 70s, and nights in the 50s and even 40s. About time. The late summer fishing is always tougher, probably due to higher water temps and less bugs, and the change to cooler temps as fall moves in picks up the fishing & hatches.

There will be a FRAA (Farmington River Angler's Association) meeting this Wednesday September 19th at the Senior Center in Unionville- doors open at 6pm and the meeting starts at 7pm. The speaker will be local fly fishing celebrity Rich Strolis. All are welcome to attend, you don't have to be a member.

We got a big bead order in last week, and are once again fully restocked on all tungsten beads. Also got in a Wapsi order that filled in some holes, especially on thread/wire/tinsel. This week a Hareline order is coming. As always, I added in some new products and/or new sizes/colors of existing products. We also got in a big Nature's Spirit order that restocked us on Hanak hooks, plus I added in some new Hends hooks, including their 2x heavy wire barbless jig hooks, the Hends 124- only $5.75 per 25 (it's pretty much a heavier wire copy of the uber popular Hanak 450). Also an inexpensive barbless heavy wire scud hook from them (the Hends 510). They also copy the Hanak 230 and Tiemco 2499SP-BL, but they make them down to smaller sizes, so I added in those smaller sizes that Hanak & Tiemco don't make.

FYI now that things are cooling down, the CT DEEP Fisheries started up their fall trout stocking, and Tuesday 9/11 they stocked from below Satan's Kingdom downstream to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville, and also in the town of Farmington by the Larry Kolp Garden Plot (downstream from seasonal TMA). Also the MDC stocked their 1,000+ trout in the upper river/Riverton (they usually do from about Beaver Pool down to Whittemore) on Friday 9/14. The FRAA will stock between the Rt 219 bridge and the Satan's Kingdom bridge in early October. But even without these stockings, there was already a pile of trout in the river, even in the sections open to harvest from April through August. 

Mornings have provided the longest window of dry fly action, with Tricos & Summer/Winter Caddis providing the bulk of the AM hatches. Olives averaging #20-22 have been showing up some days, especially when it's cloudy. Evening hatches have generally been sparse, and often happening right at the edge of dark and into the darkness- don't leave too early! Nymphing has been a mainstay, with many trout holding in the faster water. When water clarity is normal, #14-20 nymphs that are either imitative, or hotspot/attractor type flies have been doing most of the catching (exception: big Stonefly nymphs, especially in the morns, but even later in the day). During higher/off-color water and on the freshly stocked fish, it's been more Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmies/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies, egg flies, etc.). Streamer fishing has picked up too with the cooler weather and increased flows, especially on the days when the river has gone off-color after some rain. Black or other dark colors are a good starting point on overcast days and/or dirty water. Always experiment though, and I've done very well with yellow, tan and white also in those same conditions some days. If you experiment, are flexible, and listen to the trout, they will tell you what they want. If you try to force-feed them flies & techniques they don't want, you will fare poorly.

Remember that as of 9/1, the entire Farmington River  for 21 miles from the dam in Riverton downstream to the Rt 179 bridge in Unionville is now Catch & Release until Opening Day, April 2019. Below the Rt. 177 bridge you can still keep fish, but not above it.

The total flow in the Catch & Release area through the Barkhamsted Catch & Release section as of 8am Monday morning 9/17 is currently medium at 282cfs (221cfs below Goodwin/Hogback Dam in Riverton, plus an additional 61cfs from the Still River).  Rain forecasted for Monday night/Tuesday day will likely bump flows up briefly, and we should be back to normal in plenty of time for the weekend. Water temp coming out of the dam is still around 68 degrees, and the water temps in Riverton stay close to that all day. As you move downstream, temps will rise on warmer sunny days, and conversely they will actually be cooler downstream after cold nights and/or cooler & cloudy days. I always recommend carrying a thermometer, especially this time of year, to find the best fish catching conditions. It will help you decide what river sections have better water temps. Sunny days will see the biggest water temps increases, cloudy days will see minimal changes. First light will have the coolest water temps, and conversely they will be a their highest in late afternoon & evening (contrary to popular belief, there is not normally any significant drop in water temps until well after dark). The Still River both cools off & heats up rapidly depending upon the weather, so keep that in mind. As this colder weather moves in, the Still will be dumping in water that is currently colder than what is coming out of the dam, and so downstream from that the water temps will actually be lower, especially on cloudy days.

Lately the longest & best window of dry fly fishing of has been in the early to mid mornings most days. That time slot has been a mix of tiny bugs: Tricos, Summer/Winter Caddis & small Blue Wing Olives, or... you can nymph the fast water with good sized Stonefly Nymphs (they emerge/crawl out at night and in the mornings). Afternoons 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 (dusk to dark & beyond) should be the peak bug times now. This 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 when the trout aren't rising. 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 late morning (run a smaller nymph #14-20 in tandem with it). 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. I fish a lot of brownish colored Stones, but yellow/golden and also black can both be very effective.   

Some great new products recently 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 came in a few weeks ago, and it included some 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 still 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 a few assorted Caddis #16-20. Isonychia #10-14 are still hatching later in the day, but hatches are sparse. Terrestrials such as ant & beetles have been producing during the day when you find some sporadic risers. Other bugs hatching include Light Cahills/Summer Stenos/White Flies #12-16 (eves), Giant October Caddis #8-12 (eves), and small Blue Wing Olives #18-26 (afternoon/eves, and especially on cloudy days). 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)
-Giant October Caddis #8-12 (eves)
-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 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