Monday, April 23, 2018

Thursday 4/26/18 River Report

See flow update for Thursday morning in paragraph below.   

UPDATE: The permanent catch and release was stocked Tuesday.

Interesting weekend, and quite a few anglers were out and about on the Farmington River. Despite higher flows and colder water temps last weekend, some big trout were landed by those fishing slow & deep. Customer Mike Phippen caught the beautiful brown pictured on Sunday. Zach got his client into a 21" wild yesterday, and my buddy Big Fred Stengel picked up 5 trout in 1.5 hours Saturday evening after work (including two 18" holdovers and one 20" wild!). I slipped out after work the past 3 nights, resulting in three large stocked derby rainbows in the 3-4# range on Friday/Saturday, and a skunk last night (much to my surprise haha). Riverton was 39 degrees Friday night, and 40 on Saturday. I got 45 degrees in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) Sunday evening. Suprisingly Saturday fished better than Sunday, not sure why because water temps were higher Sunday and the flow was slightly lower. One of life's many mysteries I guess.

Pat Torrey's first two "Fishing Wet Flies & Soft-Hackle" classes filled up fast, so we scheduled a 3rd one on June 2nd, 2018 (click on class name to go to a description of it).

As of late morning Thursday 4/26, the total flow is 596cfs, The MDC has reduced the flow to 300cfs from the dam as of 9 a.m. this morning (300cfs at USGS Riverton gauge, plus 296cfs from the Still River). Colebrook Reservoir is no longer at flood level.  The water coming out of the dam is icy cold right now, and 2 miles down the Still River dumps in warmer water (about 50 degrees & rising last I knew), so combined with the warmer, sunny weather here to stay now this will boost water temps from there and downstream. Which in turn will get the trout feeding more actively, and more bugs hatching- read all this as better fishing. Not many trout were rising this past weekend with the higher flow and colder weather. The water drop and warmer weather this week should see more rising trout though.

Baetis/Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) and Paraleps/Blue Quills/Mahogany Duns are the current the "glamour hatches". We are still seeing some Winter Caddis, Tiny Winter (Capnia)/Early Black Stones, and Midges. Warmer weather here to stay for good now should get things going. Most of the bug activity is still in the afternoons when it's warmest out. The Hendrickson hatch should get cranking anytime now, downriver first (due to warmer water temps there) and then it will quickly work it's way upstream to the permanent C&R section in New Harford/Pleasant Valley. A few have been seen, but it's not a legitmate hatch as yet. See further down in this report for specific details on the current hatches.

Nymphers are getting the best results by far in terms of numbers & size, especially since water temps averaged low/mid 40s last week and flows were up. Olive mayfly type nymphs in #16-18 seemed to be working better than average on holdovers/wilds, probably due to Baetis/BWO activity, and Hendrickson nymphs are ending up in the drift so try some #12-14 brown mayfly-type nymphs. But, don't neglect other flies like Mops, #12-18 Quasimodo Pheasant Tails, Caddis Larva (both cased & regular), 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. The darker Stonefly patterns can also double as a Fishfly larva, which commonly get washed into the drift this time of year when flows are up.

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 barbeque provided by Sage (50% off food tickets for the first 50 people), and you will have the chance to cast & handle the latest Sage rods/reels and pick their brains. Click the link at the beginning of this paragraph for more details.  

If you want quality fish and are willing to work a little harder for them, hit the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) for holdovers & wild fish. If you want easier fishing and likely more fish caught, hit the stocked sections mentioned two paragraphs down. 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 fast water when water temps are in the low/mid 40s. 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. They will start to hang in the faster water more soon, when temps start cracking 50 degrees.

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 on the surface.

The river has been heavily stocked in March & April (except the permanent C&R, which currently has plenty of sizeable holdovers & wilds) from Goodwin/Hogback Dam down to Tariffville Gorge (lowermost stocking point). Most of the river is either catch & release or a two fish 12" limit, so pay attention to the signs if you want to keep a fish or two. Typically the permanent Catch & Release/TMA gets stocked the last week in April.

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 (40s and increasing), 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 in the 40s/50s will get bug and fish activity going earlier than colder nights that drop the morning water temps. Sunny days will see the biggest water temps increases, with peak water temps at about 4pm (and it usually stays up until after it gets dark). 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 hatching. Paraleps/Blue Quills/Mahogany Duns in about a #18 are a full-blown hatch now also. We are also seeing some Stoneflies, especially the Tiny Winter Black (Capnia, #18-20) and Early Black (#14-16). Midges are emerging, mostly dark colored (black/gray)- if you are fishing Midges subsurface use flies in the #16-22 range, on top more like #22-28. 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. The Hendrickson hatch is typically a mid to late afternoon deal and could get going anytime now- a few have even been spotted, but it's not a fishable hatch yet. 

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, Hendrickson Nymphs #12-14, Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-20, 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, bigger Stoneflies #6-12, Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10, Antoine's Perdigons (various colors, especially olive, black) #16, and Attractor / Hot-Spot nymphs #12-20 such as the Pineapple Express, Frenchie, Triple Threat, Pink Soft Spot Jigs, Carotene Jigs, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.

5x fluorocarbon tippet should be about right 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 & Hendricksons), 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. As water temps move into the 50s in the very near future, you can move them a lot faster. 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.