Monday, June 25, 2018

Monday 6/25/18 Report- hello summer

Antoine Bissieux's client Peter with a recent Farmington 18" beauty. And Zach St. Amand's client Pat with a bruiser rainbow below! Plenty of holdover, stocked & wild fish like this in the river, but they don't always come easy. You have to be flexible in both your approach and where you fish (and a little luck never hurts...). Be a stick-in-the-mud and only fish a few spots or only one method, and you will struggle. Adapt to the conditions and you can find success here 365 days a year.

Despite the rain/T-storms forecasted this past weekend, there were a lot of anglers out and we were very busy in the shop. Got a lot of good fishing reports back, with trout coming to nymphs, dries, streamers & wets. A large variety of different bugs are hatching up & down the river, varying depending upon the weather, time of day, and section of the river- every day is different! Make sure to have a wide selection of flies right now, as it's the "time of plenty" when it comes to hatches. All the cloudy weather made for both above average hatches & a good streamer bite. Beautiful weather in the 70s with cool nights through Thursday, and then 5 consecutive days at 90 degrees and above starting Saturday. We will still have plenty of cold water due to the bottom-release dam in Riverton, so fishing should be remain great. And it will feel nice to stand waist-deep in cold water on a hot day.

Tip of the week from local guide Antoine Bissieux:
If the fish are being picky on the "correct" hatch-matching dries, throw a big black ant or a Mini
Chrenobyl over them. Sometimes bait-and-switch works when the "proper" dry flies fail. Summer is typically a great time to throw terrestrials in general, with beetles & ants being consistent producers.

Tip from Torrey:
By customer request, a tip for those of you doing tight-line/Euro/high-stick nymphing:
Make sure to "lead" your drift when you are tight-lining nymphs. It's important to be in touch with your flies so you can detect the strike and set the hook quickly before the trout spits your fly (FYI on average, I've read fish will hold a fly for 2 seconds before rejecting it, and heavy catch & release fishing pressure can make them spit even faster). By "leading your drift", I don't mean pulling your fly, but rather keeping your rod tip downcurrent/downstream of where your leader enters the water. All you are trying to do is keep pace with your drift so you get as drag-free a presentation as possible, while minimizing the slack by keeping light tension so you can detect subtle hits. Keeping your rod tip slightly ahead of the drift does this, and also puts you in a great hook set position (FYI set the hook downstream and to the side- I'll do a future tip about that). If you keep your rod tip exactly even with where you leader enters the water (as many people do and as many outdoor writers mistakenly say you should do), you will not be in as good contact with your flies. 

#16 Sulfurs (Invaria) are currently a major hatch everywhere except Riverton (anytime now), and downriver (think Collinsville/Unionville) we are starting to see the smaller/brighter #18-20 Sulfurs (Dorothea) too. Assorted Caddis averaging #16-18 in olive-green & tan are all up and down the river, typically popping in the late morning to early/mid afternoon. #10-14 March Browns/Gray Fox are still hatching on most of the river, and depending where you are, you may see #12-14 Light Cahills, big 8-12 Isonychia (Iso's), #18-20 Attenuata (a bright green sort of Blue Winged Olive, hatch is still downriver), #8-10 Varia (Yellow Drake), #20-24 Blue Wing Olives (early/late, especially on cloudy days). And small Midges are always present, especially in the icy cold water up near the dam in Riverton.

Water level is medium at a total flow of 327cfs at 8am in permanent Catch & Release/C&R/TMA (268cfs in Riverton plus 59cfs from the Still River). A good slug of rain Sunday shot the Still River from 20cfs up to 180cfs, and it's already down to under 60cfs & dropping. Water temps have been averaging in the 50s in the afternoons lately. Riverton above the Still River remains icy cold in the low/mid 40s. FYI find water temps in the 50s and you will find trout that are more active and better hatches.

We are getting into that time of year (summer) where in order to catch the best evening dry fly fishing you need to stay LATE.  Leave too early and you may completely miss it. 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.

At moments quite a few trout 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 like March Browns/Gray Fox, Vitreus, Isonychia and many Caddis species hatch in fast, often shallow water. Spinner falls typically occur over/in riffles and pocket water. Plus fast water is more oxegenated. All reasons you should should not ignore faster water. Personally I've been targetting fast water almost exclusively since early/mid 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.

Word to the wise:
Even when fishing is really good, I still get some people complaining about the fishing being poor. When I ask they about the how/when/where, I usually find they only fished one very small area with only one method. If you are nymphing, fishing wets or tossing streamers, ya gotta cover some water! If you want to fish dries and they aren't rising, you probably need to fish subsurface, or maybe blind fish attractor dries in riffly water (or do dry/dropper). Or maybe they went out for the "evening hatch" and left at 7:30pm because nothing was happening. Don't knock off early to eat a late dinner, instead eat an early dinner and stay until dark! If nothing is happening in the flat water, go fish some faster sections. Or they fished at 2pm on a hot, sunny day and complained there were no bugs. As you move into summer, expect morns & eves to yield the best fishing/hatches (with some exeptions). If it's crowded on the weekends and there are people everywhere you want to be, stay out of the permanent Catch & Release, skip the named pools and known hot-spots and fish the in-between spots, the "B" water. The entire river is loaded with trout, even where guys can keep fish. Never be afraid to explore new water on the Farmington, the trout are everywhere. Also, use a thermometer to find optimum water temps (50s to low 60s) and active trout. By moving up & downriver, you can find ideal temps (in August that might be up in Riverton, in late April that might be downriver...). Don't be a stick in the mud, be adaptable and you should find success. 

Overall, hatches seem to get gradually heavier as you move downriver. Water temps have been a bit cooler than normal for mid/late June, and water temps increase the further you go downstream from the dam.  Hatches also seem to occur later in the day downstream, while the colder water upstream can make bugs hatch quite a bit earlier in the day. The good nymphers are literally catching trout all day long right now.

Local guide Mark Swenson is doing another session of his "Fly Fishing 101" beginner classes for us on Saturday, July 7th from 9am until 4pm- click the link to find out more- only one spot left as of this morning, we will also take names for a wait list/next class once it fills.

Water temps improve as you move downriver (still low/mid 40s up in Riverton, but in the 50s as you go downstream), so I'd recommend staying from below the Still River and down to find the most active trout and better bug activity. Be flexible in your approach and also where you fish. The entire river is currently loaded with trout- stocked, holdover & wild, so don't be afraid to explore new water, the trout are literally everywhere. Seriously. Those finding the most success adapt to the conditions and move around until they find good fishing. A thermometer will help you find optimum water temps (50s/low 60s). Often you need to fish subsurface with streamers, wet flies/soft hackles, or nymphs. The nymphing & wet fly fishing is good to excellent right now if you know how to do it, and will produce fish whether or not they rise. Streamers will give you a shot at some of the biggest fish in the stream, especially if you fish them in the low light of early morning & evenings.

Subsurface, Caddis Pupa, Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, Sulfur & March Brown nymphs, and small Blue Wing Olive nymphs are taking trout, and big Stonefly nymphs are working in early to mid morning. A variety of attractor/hot-spot nymphs have been very effective also, including Antoine's Perdigon series. 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 plenty 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.

When trout aren't rising, the nymphing has been good (if you do it properly! Haha). If you don't know how to nymph effectively, you really should learn. There are many good books, articles & videos out there. Or better yet, book a day with one of the local guides and have them teach you- there is no faster way to learn.  Caddis pupa #14-16 nymphed in the faster water have been lights out when they are active (generally mid-morning & onward). Perfect water temps well into the 50s has pushed many trout into the calf to waist deep riffled water and good catches are being made- ideal scenario for tight-line/Euro/short-line/contact nymphing with a pair of weighted nymphs and/or some split shot to get your flies down.

The permanent catch & release (C&R/TMA) has been heavily stocked with the two year Survivor Strain brown trout and many thousands of smaller yearling/one year old browns. The rest of the river outside of the permanent TMA/C&R has also been stocked MULTIPLE times. Suffice it to say the river is loaded with trout from Riverton down to Unionville and below- stocked, holdover & wild. If you aren't catching them, it's not because the trout aren't there....

-Permanent Catch & Release
-Sulfur #16-20 (Invaria & Dorothea species): emergers, Usuals, Comparaduns, parachutes, spinners;  -Caddis (olive/green, tan) #14-18: X-Caddis, Elk Hair, CDC Caddis, etc.;  
-Vitreus #14-16: Usual, parachutes, Sulfurs;  
-March Brown/Gray Fox #10-14:  Comparaduns, parachutes, emergers, spinners;   
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives: #20-24 emergers, parachutes, CDC, Sprouts, rusty spinners;  -Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults.

-Downriver (Canton/Collinsville/Unionville), all the above plus:
-Isonychia #10-12: emerger, parachute, CDC, etc.;  
-Light Cahill #12-14: Usual, parachutes, etc.,  
-Varia (Yellow Drake) #8-12 Comparadun, etc.;  
-Attenuata #18-20: duns/parachutes (like a Blue Wing Olive, but bright green, almost chartreuse)

Tan & olive/green Caddis Pupa #14-18, Sulphur Nymph #16, March Brown/Gray Fox Nymphs #10-14, Olive Nymphs #16-20, Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #14-20, Isonychia Nymph #10-12, Midges / Zebra Midges #16-22, 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) #12-18, and Attractor / Hot-Spot nymphs #12-20 (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 is 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:

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. During the day, target structure (undercut banks, fallen trees, undercut banks, big boulders, etc.) and shady areas. If you're specifically targetting larger trout, go bigger, but expect to catch less fish. Water temps are mostly in the 50s now (Riverton is mid 40s), 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.