Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tuesday 9/4/18 River Report- hot week, cool weekend

Zach St. Amand with a golden beauty from Saturday, and below that is Antoine Bissieux holding a photogenic brown he caught last week.

As of 9/1, the entire river for 21 miles from the dam in Riverton down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville is all catch & release until 6am on Opening Day in April 2019.

One last gasp of summer the next few days with highs in the upper 80s/lows 68-70, and then it breaks and gets much cooler starting Friday. As such, keep an eye on water temps from now through Thursday to up your odds and also to minimize stress on the trout. My advice is start very early,  and if you do that you can be as far downriver as the bottom of the permanent Catch & Release/TMA (Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford) in the early/mid mornings, but by noon I'd be somewhere up in Riverton or you will be fishing in water that is too warm. Yesterday was 90 degrees (yuck) & sunny, and it was 67 degrees at the 219 bridge in New Hartford at 8am. At 4pm, I got 72 at Church Pool, and it was 68.5 right below the dam in Riverton. Try to stay in water that is in the 60s, above that it is stressful to the trout. Weather breaks later on Thursday, so weekend water temps/conditions should be much improved. Until then, don't go any lighter on your tippet than necessary, and play your trout quickly. Try to keep the trout in the water, if you take a picture make it fast and keep it in the water until you are ready to take the pic. If you are nymphing, I recommend focusing on the fast water- there will be more oxygen, bugs & trout there. Hot weather typically pushes the best dry fly fishing to the early/mid mornings, and then right to edge of darkness & beyond in the evenings. One big exception will be Flying Ants, you are apt to see them fall to the water during the hottest part of the hotter, sunny, humid days (it's a mating flight, not a true

Early to mid mornings are 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 are very quiet bugwise, with one MAJOR exception: Flying Ants. They don't fall to the water every day, but when it happens, the trout go nuts. Warm & sunny days are the best conditions for that. Bug activity has been fairly light in the eves, and on hotter days happens right as it gets dark, with a mix of Isonychia, small Blue Winged Olives, assorted Caddis, and some good-sized Cahills/Summer Stenos. Make sure to stay at least until dark or you may miss the action. 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 can vary. Look for them anywhere from the permanent Catch & Release upstream. 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 dusk to dark & beyond will be the peak bug times during hot weather: the hotter the temps, the more it pushes the best fishing to each end of the day. 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, they love hot, sunny & humid days, and often fall on the water (FYI it's actually a mating swarm) 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!!!

As water temps rise into the mid/upper 60s, 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.   

The total flow in the Catch & Release area through the Barkhamsted Catch & Release section is 344cfs as of 8am Tuesday morning (324cfs below Goodwin/Hogback Dam in Riverton, plus an additional 20cfs from the Still River). Water temps in Riverton are in the upper 60s this week, and averaging in the upper 60s/low 70s in the TMA/Permanent Catch & Release (C&R). I'd fish approximately from the Permanent C&R and up, and work your way upstream rather than down as the day progresses and water temps slowly increase. With the hot weather this week, by noon I'd be up in Riverton by lunchtime, that way you can stay in water that is still in the 60s.

Water temps right below the dam are currently upper 60s, the permanent TMA/Catch & Release in New Hartford/Barkhamsted/Pleasant Valley has been running mid to upper 60s to low 70s (temps rise throughout the day, coolest in AM). Water temps rise as you move further downstream from the dam. Coolest water is in the early mornings, and temps increase in late afternoon/evening. Hot/sunny days will see the biggest temp increases, cloudy days the least. Summertime rain that's heavy enough to raise the Still River (which runs warm in the summer) will increase water temps downstream of that. Colder water below the dam often means the "evening hatch" will sometimes start earlier, in the late afternoon/early evening in the upper 2 miles of the river above the Still River confluence. Further downriver, hatches happen at the more traditional times, with early & late in the day normally being the peak times.

Summer Water Temps Explained:
Ironically enough, we stay the coldest in the summer when we don't get a lot of rain because any water not coming from the dam runs warm. The Still River dumps in warmer water (typically somewhere in the 70s in the summer) 2 miles down from the dam, and below that the temp reflects the mix of the two different rivers. If you start in the early to mid morning, water temps are coolest then, and you can venture further downriver, but it makes sense to work upstream as the day progresses and the temps rise (especially on hot, sunny days). It really helps to carry a thermometer this time of year, that way you can find optimal water temps & good fishing when you are fishing further downstream- upriver it's a non-issue. FYI in the summertime after a good rain, the warmer Still River water raises the downstream water temps, but then as it drops things cool off again- the Still drops fast when rain ends.

Look for water temps under 70 degrees, and ideally mid 60s or less for the best fishing. You can start a the permanent Catch & Release in the mornings, and on hotter/sunny days work your way upstream toward Riverton as the day progresses and water temps increase- there won't be much of a water temp rise on cloudy or cooler days though. If we get significant rain and Still River flows bump up a fair amount, you may want to stay more upriver as that would temporarily raise downstream water temps (again more so on sunny/hotter days, less on cloudy/cooler days). I'd generally leave Canton/Collinsville/Unionville and below alone until we get into consistently cooler weather, you'll only be stressing the trout out down there with the higher water temps in that section of the river. Once you get below Town Bridge Rd/Town Bridge, there are 2 smaller dams in Collinsville that back up the water so it's slow & wide, and that exposes it to the sun, which in turns raises the water temps on hot, sunny days in the summertime.

Some great new products just 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.

We scheduled another of Mark Swenson's "Fly Fishing 101" beginner classes for Sunday, September 9th from 9am-4pm, click the link to the class for more details. Call the store at 860-379-1952 to sign up. FYI we can rent you rod/reel & waders/boots if needed.

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 sparser than they were in July. Terrestrials such as ant & beetles have been excellent as well during the day on all sections of the river. Other bugs hatching include Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-14 (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)
-Light Cahill/Summer Stenos #12-14 (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: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/cortland-top-secret-ultra-premium-fluorocarbon/

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. Water temps are mostly in the 50s & 60s now, which means you can speed up your retrieve. 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. Riverton with it's colder water often sees "evening" bug activity begin & end earlier in the day, and morning activity begins later upriver due to colder water. In the rest of the river, 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