Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday 4/16/18 Report- post Opening Day weekend update

Derrick Kirkpatrick (of CT Fish Guides) managed to get away from the crowds on Opening Day, and he scored this exceptional 23 1/4" brown- that fish definitely grew to size in the river. Sunday after work I took a drive along the river on the way home, and I watched young Tristan Blaine play & land the obese rainbow pictured, he was a happy guy and released the fish after some quick photos. I fished after work on Saturday for a couple of hours, I landed a handful of trout, lost a big bow, and managed to get a golden rainbow.

Friday & Saturday were extremely busy on the river, no surprise there with the incredibly nice weather and Opening Day being Saturday. Sunday was pretty darn quiet due to the the temps barely cracking freezing, wind, and generally crappy weather. Flows were unusually good for the early season, with water levels in the low/mid 300cfs range in the permanent C&R/TMA. Reports ran the full gamut, from "crushed 'em" to "did decent" to "the state didn't stock the river" (FYI they stocked it about 3x in March/April). The Riverton Derby winner was a trout in the 6# plus range, and after the derby ended an 8-9# golden rainbow was landed. Many even larger trout remain throughout the river.  Water temps are still averaging in low/mid 40s, so the fishing will only get better as they rise closer to 50 degrees and both the trout & bugs get more active.

I would say Baetis/Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) are currently the "glamour hatch". The duns are running #18-22, nymphwise you can go a little bigger in the #16-18 range. We are still seeing some Winter Caddis, Early Black Stones, and Midges. Grady is predicting a full-blown Hendrickson hatch in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R) by April 25th- remember this is a guess, not a guarantee. Louis saw a few Paraleps/Blue Quill/Mahogany Duns the other day, but not enough yet to call it a hatch. Most of the bug activity is in the afternoons when it's warmest out.

Some holdover & wild fish have been rising in the permanent Catch & Release, especially in the mornings to Winter Caddis, and some in the afternoons to Midges & Baetis/BWOs. Overall, nymphers are getting the best results by far in terms of numbers & size, especially since water temps are still into the 40s. Olive mayfly type nymphs in #16-18 seemed to be working better than average on holdovers/wilds, probably due to the increased Baetis/BWO activity. But, don't neglect other flies for them like Mops, #14-18 Quasimodo Pheasant Tails, Caddis Larva, various Hot-Spot nymphs, and Egg Patterns (suckers spawn in April in our neck of the woods, plus recently stocked trout love egg flies). Don't be afraid to fish bigger stoneflies, as in #8-10, either in brown/black, or golden/yellow- bigger stones are on a 2-3 life cycle and there are always a few available subsurface to the trout.

We are back to our "In Season" hours now: 8am-6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

Sage's "On the Water Tour" is coming to UpCountry on Sunday May 6th, 12 noon to 3pm, it will be held just down the street at Brewery Legitimus. You need to stop by UpCountry (on the day of the event, not in advance) to sign up for this free event & get entered for the drawing to win a brand new Sage X rod, SPECTRUM LT reel, and InTouch RIO Gold fly line. There will be a free barbeque provided by Sage, and you will have the chance to cast & handle the latest Sage rods/reels and pick their brains. Click the the link at the beginning of this paragraph for more details.  

As of 8am we have a medium 393cfs total flow in the permanent Catch & Release section in Barkhamsted (232cfs from the dam in Riverton, plus an additional 161cfs from the Still River). Rain is predicted for most of today, so look for the Still River to flow to eventually bump up. If the Still comes way up or makes the river go off-color, typically you can go upstream to Riverton above the Still River to catch better water conditions in the 2 miles of controlled flow below the dam. Historical normal total USGS flow for today is 527cfs.

If you want quality fish and are willing to work for them, hit the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). If you want easier fishing and likely more fish caught, hit the stocked sections mentioned in the paragraph below. Remember that recently stocked trout often pod up, so move around the pools until you locate them. Most trout are still mainly holding in medium-slow to medium speed water most of the time. They want some current, but generally not a lot in cold water. The exception to this is warm afternoons with good bug activity- this will often suck fish up into faster speed riffles & runs to feed subsurface on nymphs/larva/pupa.

If you are looking to hit the morning Winter Caddis hatch, then start early. Otherwise, I'd wait until late morning to start. This gives things a chance to warm up. As little as a 1-2 degree bump in water temps can get the trout on the bite and generate a little insect activity. As you get into early spring, even when you don't have bugs on the surface, you can be sure there is plenty of unseen bug activity subsurface. The biomass of nymphs & larva is at it's highest in the spring, and they are moving around and some are ending up in the drift. Google "Behavioral Drift" if you want to learn more about this. What this means is trout are feeding underwater on nymphs & larva, even when you don't see anything happening.

The river has been heavily stocked over the past month plus (except the permanent C&R, which currently has plenty of sizeable holdovers & wilds) from Goodwin/Hogback Dam to Rt 177 in Unionville/Farmington, and is open to catch & release fishing in most of that section (check rule book for exceptions). Come 6am Opening Day, you can fish from the Rt 177 bridge down to Tariffville Gorge (furthest downstream stocking point.

CT Trout Stamp:
The new $5 Trout Stamp is now available for purchase at our store and now necessary if you are fishing the Farmington River (even if you catch & release), and on most other streams/lakes/ponds that have trout all across the state (even if you get a free Senior license or a 1/2 price Youth license- but it's only $3 for Youths). The last budget cut $200,000 from the hatcheries, so this is some much-needed funding that is expected to generate about $300,000 for the DEEP fisheries. And yes, the addtional revenue HAS to go to DEEP fisheries, it cannot be diverted elsewhere.

When fishing this time of year, pick your spot carefully if the water is up, and remember that water temps are still on the cooler side (water temps low/mid 40s), which effects where the fish hold & lay. Trout will seek out refuge from the current, especially in cold water. Typically this means they move closer to the bank, out of the heavier flows. Look for wider pools, and also spots where the river goes from narrow to wider (it make current breaks on both sides of the main flow). 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. Streamers are very good for targeting better fish when the water is up, and nymphs are also an excellent choice. Don't be afraid to fish "Junk Flies"- Mops, San Juan/Squirmy Worms, Green Weenies, Eggs/Eggstasy flies, Cased Caddis, big Stoneflies, etc.

Other than the Winter Caddis hatch which sometimes start up just after first light, there isn't a big reason to start at daybreak- the exception would be after mild nights, then it can make sense to wake up early. Mild overnight air temps, above freezing, will get bug and fish activity going earlier than on cold mornings. Sunny days will see the biggest water temps increases. 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. The most consistent fishing, unsurprisingly, has been with nymphs. Streamers have also been working well at moments, particularly in medium paced water around structure such as rocks and logs. The freshly stocked trout are still aggressive to basic streamers like #6-12 Woolly Buggers, especially in black, but it's worth trying olive, brown, and white too.

Early season Baetis (Blue Wing Olives/BWOs) that run about a #18-22 (sometimes as big as #16) are currently the best hatch. The nymphs are moving around, so try a #16-20 olive colored mayfly style nymph or a Pheasant Tail in the afternoon. We are also seeing Stoneflies, especially the Early Black (#14-16), and still a few Tiny Winter Black (Capnia, #18-24). Midges are hatching, mostly dark colored (black/gray)- if you are fishing Midges subsurface use flies in the #16-22 range (red, black, olive, brown), on top more like #22-28 (gray to black). They normally pop during the mildest part of the day, typically in the afternoons, but will sometimes start in mid/late morning when it's mild. The Winter Caddis #18-24 is normally an early to late morning deal, 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, Grey Stonefly Double Wing #16, Black/Brown Cadddis patterns in #14-18 (for Winter & Early Stones) Baetis/Blue Winged Olives (BWOs): #18-22 olive parachutes, CDC, emergers, Sprouts

Olive Nymphs #16-20, Black Stoneflies #14-18, Midges / Zebra Midges #16-22, 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 , big Stoneflies #6-12, Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10, Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #14-20, Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #16, and Attractor / Hot-Spot nymphs #12-20 such as the Pineapple Express, Frenchie, Triple Threat, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.

5x fluorocarbon tippet should be about for most nymphs, depending upon fly size, with 4x for bigger flies like Mops & bigger Stoneflies in higher flows, and 6x for the smallest ones. Think mostly 6-7X for  smaller dries (prob 5x for bigger #14-16 Stones), and 0-3x for streamers. 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:

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.  Try faster retrieves too, but expect slower/deeper presentations to work better most of the time- let the trout tell you what they want. If you listen, they will tell you. 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.

New Stuff:

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 new redesigned versions of their Freestone, Guide & G3 vests.