Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday 10/15/18 Farmington River Report- improved fall conditions

Big yap on this 2 Year Old Survivor brown Zach caught
Another hook-jaw, caught by Zach at 10am this morning!
The river has come down & cleared up nicely. Flows are more like what you would see in early/mid spring, but quite fishable and at a medium-high level. Foliage season is late this year, it really just started, and we are not at peak color yet, I'd guess the next weekends now that we are getting some truly cold nights in the 30s to mid 40s. Photoperiod (amount of daylight) & cold nights are the combo that yields the colorful fall foliage colors, and up until this past weekend we weren't getting the cold nights.

Guide Zach St. Amand has been deviating from his normal dries/nymphs lately with the elevated flows we have frequently been experiencing, and the result has been quite a few above average browns caught on above average size streamers- look at the big yaps on these 2 impressive male brown, one caught at 10am this morning. Third picture is 2 of our customers from yesterday, putting the smackdown on some of the recently stocked rainbows- right before this picture they were doubled up! A surprising amount of anglers braved the rain, cold temps & higher, off-color flows was had on Saturday and caught fish on a variety of streamers & nymphs. I figured Sunday would be busier due to the better weather & lower water, but that was not the case. 

"Rainy Week Sale" going through Sunday 10/21- in store only, no mail orders. 10% off all used
The brothers in action, they were doubled up right before this
rods/reels (does not include clearance/markdown rods/reels), 10% off discontinued clothing/rain jackets/vests/packs (does not include socks/hats/caps/gloves), and 20% off all fly tying materials (does not include tying materials already on sale/marked down in the bargain bin). Fly tying tools are 10% off.

Fall Tactics/Advice:
Now that true fall temps are here with cooler days and truly cold nights (a bunch of lows from 30-45 degrees in the forecast), water temps are steadily dropping (averaging mid 50s and slowly/steadily declining), which call for some changes in tactics. This is a great time of year to toss streamers, and some good-sized ones at that, for what could potentially be some of the biggest trout you will catch all year. Brown trout get extra aggressive toward streamers in October/November due to spawning. Other than maybe a light hatch of Winter/Summer Caddis in the early AM, most bug activity has now shifted from late morning thru dusk, and subsurface patterns continues to outproduce dry flies. Main October bugs will be #14-18 tannish Caddis, #14 Isonychia, and on cloudy days some #22-24 Blue Winged Olives. I saw a lot of Caddis flying upsteam in the late afternoon Sunday, most likely an egg-laying flight, and there were a few trout splashing at them. You will still probably see big Stonefly shucks on the rocks through the end of October, and a few Giant October Caddis (latin name Pycnopsyche, different from
Monday morn 10/15 view right below UpCountry
the October Caddis they get out west) #8-12 in the eves, along with a few #12 Light Cahills/Stenos.

There has been some surface activity, but overall the elevated flows have dictated trout feeding mostly subsurface. The lower the flow gets, the more likely you are to see some dry fly action. Typically fall flows here average 150-250cfs (last two falls were droughts with under 100cfs flows), but we've been more in the 350-600+ range this fall. If you are a dry-fly-or-die kinda guy, pick your pools carefully. In Riverton Beaver Pool is high percentage, and in the permanent Catch & Release/TMA Church Pool and Greenwoods are above average. I saw trout rising in the Wall Pool on my way home last night, waaay down toward the tail end in the flat water, maybe 200 yards down from the head of the pool. Overall I've seen more surface activity in the riffles at the pool heads, especially late in the day, primarily egg-laying Caddis. While fall often brings hatches of small to tiny Blue Winged Olives (BWOs), the above average flows we currently have means the fish will mostly feed subsurface on BWO nymphs (a #18-20 nymph will normally do the trick here, even when the Olives are smaller) as opposed to the BWO dries.

Due to the colder & dropping water temps in the early morning, the best fishing will tend to be later and go through dusk, when water temps are highest, bugs are hatching, and the trout are more active.  FYI streamer fishing can be a big exception to this, as it's not based around bug activity, and truly big browns are often most active in lower light levels. The occasional milder night may yield some bug activity earlier. If you do start early, don't rely primarily on hatch based bug imitations but rather things that trout would eat when bugs aren't hatching: streamers, Junk Flies, egg patterns. Big Stonefly nymphs might produce also. Now that we are at the front edge of spawning time for Farmington River brown trout, egg flies are starting to work and are an excellent choice to pair up with a drabber nymph.

The river was stocked last week with 800+ 13-18" fat rainbows purchased by the FRAA and supplied by Harding Trout Hatchery in New Hartford/Pine Meadow, in spots between the New Hartford 219 bridge and the Satan's Kingdom/Rt 44 bridge. Some of the bigger ones were pushing 3.5-4 pounds. This higher water we just had should help spread them out nicely above & below the stocking points.

FYI Grady & I did some "thinning of the herd" with the fly tying walls. The fly tying bargain/sale bin was looking anemic but now there is a bunch of good stuff, including various flash materials, dubbings, feathers, glow in the dark materials, fur pieces, etc. We also got in some beautiful MFC fly
boxes with spectacular artwork on them.

High Water  Flies:
During the not infrequent periods of higher and/or off-color flows the past 2 months, it's been mostly a subsurface game with nymphs & streamers, and "Junk Flies" have been often been king. We are talking Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Egg Flies & Green Weenies. Junk Flies are often just the ticket for recently stocked trout too, as it takes them a little while to transition from getting fed pellets to dialing into natural food sources (FYI about 3 weeks according to some stuff I've read). Good streamer conditions now between it being fall & having extra water, and a variety of streamers are giving trout sore lips. Make sure to experiment with colors, it can make a big difference. Olive is a good starting color in clear water, but color preferences can change from day to day, and even during the same day as light conditions change. The correct color can be the difference between a lot of strikes and hardly any, so change colors every 15 minutes or so until you find the hot one. 

We are open at 8am, 7 days a week, from now through March 2019.  Weekdays 8am-6pm, weekends
8am-5pm. Come November we will switch to 8am-5pm every day.

Last 2018, "Fly Fishing 101" class with Mark Swenson on October 28th, call 860-379-1952 to sign

New Stuff:
T&T's new award-winning Zone series is finally available, it's a mid-priced ($495) set of rods that perform at a high level, they feel great in the hand and cast beautifully- stop by and cast one in the backyard. We also got some cool tying materials in recently, including #20 Hanak 480 Jig Champion hooks, Jan Siman Fine Peacock Dubbing in all the best colors including some UV ones (one of the absolute best materials for nymph collars),  and are once again fully restocked on all the best colors of Montana Fly Company Barred Sexi-Floss in both small & medium sizes (this makes awesome legs on a Pat's Rubber Leg Stonefly Nymph).

Flows & Temps:
Current water level in the upper 2 miles below Goodwin/Hogback Dam at USGS gauge is medium-high and clear at 320cfs. 1/4 mile below the Rt. 20 bridge in Riverton, the Still River is adding in another 215cfs, bringing total flow in permanent Catch & Release/TMA in Barkhamstead/Pleasant Valley/New Hartford to a medium-high & very fishable 535cfs. Water temps are steadily decreasing, ranging from low to upper 50s on the entire river. With consistently colder weather here now, water temps will continue to slowly decrease. FYI after colder nights, it may be wise to wait until late morning, thereby giving water temps a chance to rise a degree or two, which will get the trout (and bugs) more active. Specific temps depend upon daily weather, specific location, and time of day. Highest temps will be in the late afternoon to evening, with sunny days seeing biggest temp increases. Lowest water temps will be in the early AM, with colder nights seeing the lowest morning temps. Cloudy days will see minimal temperature changes. Last I knew the East Branch was dumping in an additional 200cfs, it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry (by condos/sewage plant). So you may want to stay above this, and if not just be aware that it's a higher flow as you move downstream.

The MDC (the peeps that run the reservoir system here) stocked Riverton in mid September, so many anglers have been heading up there to catch rainbows averaging 11-12", with an occasional bigger fish showing up. However, the highest quality, bigger holdover and wild trout have mostly been coming from the permanent Catch & Release area, as well as downstream (that is during periods when downstream water levels have been doable). Be advised that you will work harder for these fish and you won't catch as many as in the freshly stocked sections, but your compensation might be a big holdover or wild brown.

The CT DEEP Fisheries did their fall trout stocking for the Farmington River on September 11th, 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 below the dam down to Whittemore) on 9/14. The FRAA will stock between the Rt 219 bridge and the Satan's Kingdom bridge in the second week of October. But even without these stockings, there was already a pile of trout in the river, including the sections open to harvest from April through August. 

New T&T Contact Steelhead/Lake-Run Brown Trout Rod:
Many of you asked for a "Euro" Steelhead rod, well now you finally have it: T&T 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!

-Tan Caddis #14-18 (especially mid/late afternoons)
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #22-24 (cloudy days especially)
-Giant October Caddis #8-12 (eves, a few)
-Isonychia #12-14 ("Iso") afternoon/eves (light hatch, in faster water)
-Light Cahill/Summer Stenos #12 (a few in eves, in riffle water)
-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Ants & Beetles #10-20 (anytime, especially during non-hatch times)
-Mini Chernobyl #12-16 (good for "searching the water" or as a suspender for dry/dropper) 

-Bigger Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (esp. mornings)
-Mop Flies #8-12 (various colors, especially cream/tan)  
-Tan Caddis Pupa #14-18
-BWO/Olive Nymphs #18-20
-Egg Flies #10-18 (various colors: yellow, pink, orange, etc.)
-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)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #12-18
-Attractor/Hot-Spot nymphs #14-18 (Pineapple Express, Frenchy, Triple Threat, Pink Soft Spot Jigs,  
    Carotene Jigs, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.).

"Junk Flies": nymphs for high/dirty water and/or freshly stocked trout:
-Squirmies/San Juan Worms/G-String Worms #10-14 (pink, red, worm brown)
-Egg Flies #10-18
-Mops #8-12
-Green Weenies #10-14

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:

Now that fall is here with the impending brown & brook trout spawn, trout are aggressive and the streamer bite is on. Try #2-14 patterns  (FYI bigger is often better in the fall, gotta appeal to their aggression), especially in colors like yellow, olive, white, black, brown, or combinations of colors (a little yellow or orange mixed in can be very effective in the fall)- 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, as are cloudy days. 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 on your fly, but expect to catch less fish. And FYI a 4-6" articulated fly is not too big if you are looking for top end fish. 3-4" is a good compromise if you want a shot at better fish, but still want to catch some average ones in between the big dogs. Play around with your fly size/pattern/color, presentation & retrieve and see what works. If you listen, the trout will tell you what they want. Think Home Invaders, Zonkers, Zuddlers, Woolly Buggers, Bruce's Yellow Matuka, Don's Peach Bugger, 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.
     -Report by Torrey Collins