Monday, February 26, 2018
As of Tuesday morning 2/27, the total flow is down to 669cfs and dropping at a good clip. We should be down into the 500+ cfs range by Wednesday morning, a level I would call medium-high and very fishable in many spots. Flows should continue to recede Thursday. If you are looking for lower water, the first two miles below the dam in Riverton is a medium and very nice 258cfs, and then about 1/4 mile below the Rt 20 bridge at Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage the Still River is kicking in an additional 411cfs- FYI the Still drops like a rock.
Many people will find the upper river more to their liking with the flow medium and in the mid 200cfs range, so standard tactics & flies still apply up there. Personally though, I don't mind fishing the moderately high water further downstream one bit, it often gets the big trout out of hiding and on the feed. You just have to pick your spot carefully, trout will seek out refuge from the increased current. Typically this means they move closer to the bank, out of the heavier flows. Look for wider pools that disperse the current, spots right where the river goes from narrow to wider also make current breaks on both sides. 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. Water temps are still cold but not as cold as they were a month ago- currently they are averaging in the upper 30s to low 40s, so fish the soft side of current seams where fast water meets slow water. Look for water temps to push into mid 40s in the afternoon this Wednesday/Thursday ((highs in mid 50s) You can upsize your flies & tippet in elevated flows. Streamers are very good for targetting better fish when the water is up, and nymphs are an excellent choice. Don't be afraid to fish "Junk Flies"- Mops, San Juan/Squirmy Worms, Green Weenies, Eggs, etc. Sometimes they will save your ass, both in the winter, and also in high water. Higher flows also knock things into the drift like Cased Caddis, big Stoneflies, and Fish Fly Larva (I use a #8-10 dark Rubber Legs to imitate them, they resemble a small Helgramite).
The 15 Day Forecast is fantastic, with four days in the 50s, and ten days in the 40s. The mild weather is normally good for winter fishing, as it bumps the water temps up, triggering more trout & bug activity. Water temps have been creeping as high as mid 40s on warmer days. Nymphing, as always will produce the most trout this time of year. Other than the Winter Caddis hatch which sometimes start up by 7am, there isn't a big reason to start at daybreak. Mild overnight air temps, above freezing will get bug and fish activity going earlier than on cold mornings. 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 and Winter Caddis in the major pools at moments. Streamers have also been working well, particularly in medium paced water around the rocks and logs.
Midges are still hatching, mostly dark colored (black/gray). If you are nymphing them subsurface use flies in the #16-24 range. 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. We are now starting to see the Tiny Winter Black Stoneflies (Capnia), they run small on our river, from about #18 to 26. They create some dry fly fishing, and more importantly smaller skinny black nymphs that imitate them, take trout this time of year. Also joing the fray now are Early Black Stones #14-16- typically the nymphs are more useful than the dries, but sometimes the trout eat them on the surface. The Winter Caddis #18-24 is normally an early to late morning deal in February, frequently providing some surface activity.
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, Black/Brown Cadddis patterns in #14-18 (for Winter & Early Stones)
Midges / Zebra Midges #16-24, Skinny Nelson #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 , Stoneflies #6-12, Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10, Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #16-22, 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.
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.
5x fluorocarbon tippet should be about for most nymphs, depending upon fly size, 4x for bigger flies like Mops & bigger Stoneflies in higher flows, with 6x for the smallest ones. 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: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/cortland-top-secret-ultra-premium-fluorocarbon/
"Fishing Wet Flies & Soft-Hackles with Pat Torrey" clinic is scheduled for April 28th, 2018, 10am-4pm. Call the store at 860-379-1952 to sign up. Click on the link for to a detailed description of the event.
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.
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.