Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday 9/28/18 Farmington River Report- come hell or high water...

Well we definitely won't have to worry about drought conditions this fall! Haha. Flows have been up high this since the first rain Tuesday, but those that ventured out still caught some fish. All pix in this report are from Tuesday to Thursday this week. Top fish is a photogenic brown that Cody Varza deceived with a streamer. Next pic down is Moses, with a pretty brown he landed yesterday while out with guide Zach St. Amand. Bottom pic is the man himself, Zach, holding a brown that just couldn't resist a yellow streamer on Wednesday in high, off-color water. Higher flows are a good time to target bigger trout with medium to large streamers. If you like throwing the big stuff (4-6" articulated streamers) in search of truly big trout, you want higher, off-color flows with 1.5-3' of visibility, just like we have now. Don't expect to catch many fish, but you might get a giant.

We will open at 7am this weekend, and starting in October, we will open at 8am, 7 days a week. 

FYI both George Daniel clinics are still on for this weekend.

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

Rain rain, go away. I'd say the groundwater/aquifer should be replenished by now, seems like we've been getting hit with 2 good rains per week for the last month or so. As I write this Friday morn, I'd say the river behind the shop has a heavy stain to it with an estimated 1.5-2 feet of visibility. Riverton above the Still River has somewhat less of a stain to it with about 2.5-3 feet of visibility. MDC had to
bump the release up Thursday 9/27 due to the rain & higher reservoir level, current release at Goodwin/Hogback Dam is 414cfs, and by the time it hits the USGS gauge at the Rt 20 bridge (Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage), the flow is 503cfs. 1/4 mile below the bridge, the Still River (which is dumping in the majority of the flow & turbid water) is adding in another 747cfs, bringing total in permanent Catch & Release/TMA in Barkhamstead to a high 1,250cfs. Look for this to likely drop 200-300cfs and clear a bit by Saturday, and Sunday will be even lower & clearer, probably down another 100-200cfs. Water temps from the dam in Riverton are decreasing, low 60s now, and as you move downstream the tribs have cooled off and water temps could be even high 50s, especially in early AM after a cold night down into the 40s.

The East Branch (it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry) went from 150cfs release to 500cfs Thursday. You won't notice this change unless you are downriver below the East Branch (Dog Pound/Satan's Kingdom Bridge/Tubing). Stay above this, as the additional 500cfs truly makes the lower river (Canton/Collinsville/Unionville) currently unfishable. 

High Water Fishing Advice:
If you aren't willing to deal with high discolored water or will only fish dries, you may want to skip the river this weekend and wait a few days until she drops/clears back closer to normal. However, for those of you willing to adapt to the conditions, Saturday will be lower than today, and Sunday will see additional flow reduction/clearing. The weather will be very pleasant this weekend: sunny both days, with highs mid/upper 60s, and nights mid 40s/low 50s. Think medium/large streamers, big Stonefly nymphs, and Junk Flies (Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Mops, Egg Flies, Green Weenies). High flows push trout to the edges, and they will sometimes hold in surprisingly shallow water (stained water gives them a sense of security from predators). Pick your spots carefully, and fish slowly & thoroughly to make sure the trout get a chance to see your fly. You can go heavy on your tippets: streamers should be 0x-2x, and nymphs can be fished on 3x-5x (the only reason to use 5x tippet with nymphs would be if you were doing Euro style and needed it to help sink your flies).

Currently Riverton has somewhat better water conditions (lower/clearer) than down below the Still River. 500cfs in Riverton is high but fishable, and there is more clarity than downstream. Riverton will drop a little this weekend, but with 80% of the flow up there due to dam release, it won't decrease by much. The only downside to Riverton is that with the weekend here, a lot of anglers will be crowding into several pools in that 2 mile section due to the lower/clearer flows & recent rainbow trout stocking by the MDC. You will want to stick to the main pools/runs such as Hitchcock, Van's Pool, and Beaver- the pocket water & narrower sections are pretty gnarly at this flow. Downriver (from below Still River down to New Hartford) is marginally fishable today (Friday 9/28) for the true diehards that know the river well, but will be a little more doable this weekend as the Still River makes some big water drops & clears up some more, and total flows comes down under 1,000cfs (should be under that Saturday, and drop another 100-200cfs by Sunday morn). The upside to downriver is there will be much more water to fish, and far less anglers (until it drops down closer to normal).  You also have a better shot at landing a big brown downstream. The downside is higher water with less clarity (which can actually be good if you want to toss big streamers for big browns though). Look for spots that have softer current on the edges: where the river goes from narrow to wide, inside turns, and behind big bankside boulders. Many trout will slide in along the bank to get out of the heavy flows, so be sure not to wade right out crotch deep and blow out all the catchable fish- I see anglers do this more often than not. In many cases, if possible you should start fishing from the bank, and then slowly work your way out. Pick your spots carefully, and be patient & thorough in your water coverage, as your flies need to be closer to the trout for the fish to see them when the water visibility is reduced. Try big/wide pools such as Beaver, Whittemore, Church, Greenwoods, and Ovation.

As we move toward October and the river temps continue to cool down, midday hatches are starting to return, instead of only in early/mid morns and dusk/dark. We are seeing #12-14 Isonychia in mid afternoons this past week. The cooling water is starting to pick up the fishing too. FYI mornings are still good nymphing with larger #6-10 Stones in the faster water. Everything will be shifting gears over the next few weeks as the water and air temps drop. Trout & trout stream insects both tend to be most active at the most pleasant time of day (with some exceptions), as as you move into fall that time gradually shifts more to the afternoons. Brown trout spawning starts early on the Farmington River, with some fish starting up in mid October, and others as late as January. Concurrent with the spawn rapidly approaching, expect the browns to get more aggressive on streamers. Early & late are the peak streamers times, and overcast days can see an all-day bite. Higher, off-color water can really bring the bigger trout out to play. Make sure to experiment with colors, some yellow or orange in the fly can sometimes really trip the trigger. (the Autumn Splendor with it's brown/yellow/orange color scheme is a classic example of this). And then again, sometimes they will prefer an all white or black streamer, or maybe olive. Tan is another great color on this river (and many others), try a Strolis Ice Pick in that color.

Grady just acquired a collection of hooks & hackle this past weekend, it's all in the sale/markdown bin, so make sure to peek in there when you are here, it goes out the door fast.

With the MDC (the peeps that run the reservoir system here) stocking Riverton about 2 weeks ago, many anglers have been heading up there for easier fishing and catching plenty of fresh rainbows averaging 11-12". "Junk Flies" such as Squirmy Worms/San Juans, Mops, Egg Flies, and Green Weenies have been doing much of the damage on them, along with generic nymphs & Woolly Buggers. Try also nymphs with hot spots. As these fish learn about both real bugs & artificial flies over the next few weeks, you will eventually want to fish "normal" flies for them- try pairing a Junk & drab fly together. Others have been heading down to Canton/Collinsville/Unionville and targeting the trout the CT DEEP stocked down there on 9/11 (currently it's too high that far downriver, but as we move into later next week it should be game on again). However, the highest quality, bigger holdover and wild trout have mostly been coming from the permanent Catch & Release area, as well as about the 2 mile section above it, and the first 3-4 miles below it too. 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.

Stonefly nymphs of various colors (brown, golden/yellow, black) in sizes #6-12 continue to catch many of the better trout, especially in the mornings, but also later in the day too. For best results, pair the Stoneflies with a smaller nymph in the #14-20 range. When flows go back to normal, the other morning gig would be small dries in the pools, with  Summer/Winter Caddis #20-24 being the main bug, with maybe some small Olives mixed in (for the Olives look for cloudy, cooler days). Midday had been pretty quiet hatchwise, with nymphing the fast water being the go-to tactic. However with fall temps finally here, look to see few Iso's and maybe some #14-20 Caddis in mid/late afternoons (both hatches will ramp up more in October). Evening dry fly fishing happens still happens mostly dusk to dark, and mostly in the riffle water. Its a mix of bugs: Cahills/Summer Stenos (#12-14), assorted Caddis #14-20, Blue Wing Olives averaging #20-22, and a few Iso's #12-14. Don't leave too early or you may miss the best of the evening bugs.

We received a sizeable fly tying  material order from Hareline last week. It both filled some holes and added some new products/sizes/colors. Look for a Montana Fly Co. order arriving later next week, it will include both some cool new flies as well as tying materials such as Sexi-Floss. 

The CT DEEP Fisheries did their fall trout stocking for the Farmington River on Tuesday 9/11, 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 Friday 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. 

Main morning hatch is the Summer/Winter Caddis, Tricos are probably about done, although you may see some stragglers later in the mornings, especially in Riverton. Also expect to see a variety of assorted Caddis from #14-20 hatching in the AM. Olives averaging #20-22 have been showing up some days, especially when it's cloudy. Now that things are cooler, I'm getting reports of light numbers of #12-14 Isonychia in mid afternoons. Evening hatches have generally been sparse until dusk, and mostly happening near the edge of darkness. FYI most of the evening bug activity is taking place in the riffles, not the flat pool water. Nymphing has been a mainstay, with many trout holding in the faster water. When water clarity is normal, #14-20 nymphs that are either imitative, or hotspot/attractor type flies have been doing most of the catching (exception: big Stonefly nymphs, especially in the morns, but even later in the day). During higher/off-color water and on the freshly stocked fish, it's been more Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmies/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies, egg flies, etc.). Streamer fishing has picked up too with the cooler weather and increased flows, especially on the days when the river has gone off-color after some rain. Black or other dark colors are a good starting point on overcast days and/or dirty water. Always experiment though, and I've done very well with yellow, tan and white also in those same conditions some days. If you experiment, are flexible, and listen to the trout, they will tell you what they want. If you try to force-feed them flies & techniques they don't want, you will fare poorly.

Remember that as of 9/1, the entire Farmington River  for 21 miles from the dam in Riverton downstream to the Rt 179 bridge in Unionville is now Catch & Release until Opening Day, April 2019. Below the Rt. 177 bridge you can still keep fish, but not above it.

When water temps are in the 60s in the late summer/early fall, trout often hold in the faster water where there is more oxygen, making nymphing a great tactic when the trout aren't rising. Lots of nymphs live in this type of water too, making it a good feeding lie. Even in water that looks too fast, there are trout this time of year. If the surface is choppy, that means the bottom is irregular, which creates little soft spots where  there is very little current within inches of the stream bed, and the trout can comfortably hold there. A great tactic is to nymph a bigger #6-10 Stonefly nymph in the fast water from first light until late morning (run a smaller nymph #14-20 in tandem with it). This strategy can produce some truly big fish, and at the very least some above average ones. Fish pool heads, riffles, pocket water & runs. Make sure that either 1) you are fishing weighted flies heavy enough to get them down, and/or 2) add enough split shot to put them in the strike zone. I fish a lot of brownish colored Stones, but yellow/golden and also black can both be very effective, especially if everybody else is fishing brown ones...   

Some great new products recently arrived:
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!

George Daniel's new book "Nymph Fishing" is now available. I've read it, and in my opinion it's excellent. He covers new things he learned in the last 6 years since "Dynamic Nymphing" came out, plus things he has changed his opinion on. Lots of new patterns shown in this book too, plus some new leader formulas. Spoiler: I'm in it :). The first few batches sold out fast. We also have the brand new 2nd DVD on Euro Nymphing from Devin Olsen & Lance Egan (filmed by Gilbert Rowley) in, it's called "Modern Nymphing Elevated", and is the follow up to "Modern Nymphing" (which we once again have in stock too). This one covers many new things, and is geared toward intermediate to advanced anglers (the 1st was more for beginers to intermediates). And just like the first one, the cinematography is excellent.

George Daniel Clinics coming this fall at UpCountry and doing 4 clinics for us (3 nymph, 1 streamer)- click on the clinic name to take you to link with clinic descriptions/info. Call shop at 860-379-1952 to sign up, cost is $150, paid in advance, nonrefundable. FYI payment in full is required when you sign up, we cannot "hold" a spot for you without payment.
*****All workshops are FULL now, but we can put you on a wait list for any of the full clinics in case there are cancellations, and if not we will call you next year after we schedule George's clinics for 2019:
-9/29, 10/20 & 10/21 2019 Nymphing Workshops (all dates are FULL)
-9/30/18 Streamer Fishing Workshop (FULL)

Subsurface, big Stonefly nymphs (especially mornings, they are the best nymph in the AM, fish in faster water), Caddis pupa & larva, Mops, Squirmies/San Juan Worms, Yellow Sallies/Sulfurs (Sulfur nyp, Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, Isonychia nymphs, and small Blue Wing Olive nymphs are all taking trout at the right moments. A variety of attractor/hot-spot nymphs have been very effective some days also, including Antoine's Perdigon series (especially in black lately, probably due to greater visbility in stained water). When trout aren't rising, the nymphing has generally been effective. 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 their share 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. They are most deadly when fished 2 or 3 at a time, with tag end droppers. Streamers have produced at first & last light, and have been moving some big trout for a day or two every time after it rains and water temporarily rises and discolors (perfect condition for big trout on big streamers).

-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Caddis (olive/green, tan) #14-20 (morns & eves mostly)
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #18-26 (cloudy days especially)
-Light Cahill/Summer Stenos/White Flies #12-16 (evenings)
-Giant October Caddis #8-12 (eves)
-Isonychia #12-14 ("Iso") afternoon/eves (light hatch, in faster water)
-Yellow Sally Stonefly #14-20 (mostly a nymph deal)
-Ants & Beetles #10-20 (anytime, especially during non-hatch times)
-Mini Chernobyl #12-16 (great for "searching the water" or as a suspender for dry/dropper) 

Bigger Stoneflies #6-12, Pat's Rubber Legs #6-10 (esp. coffee/black), Tan & olive/green Caddis Pupa #14-18, Olive Nymphs #16-22, Sulfur/Yellow Sally #14-18, 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), Midges/Zebra Midges #16-22, Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16, Mop Flies (various colors, especially cream/tan) #8-12, Squirmies/San Juan Worms (pink, red, worm brown), Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #12-20, and Attractor/Hot-Spot nymphs #14-20 (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 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, brown trout are getting more aggressive and the streamer bite is picking up. Try #2-14 patterns  (FYI bigger is sometimes better in the fall), 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. Play around with your presentation & retrieve and see what works. If you listen, the trout will tell you what they want. Think Autumn Splendor, 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.

Quite a few trout (including some BIG ones) 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 (Isonychia, big Stoneflies and many Caddis species for example) hatch/live in fast, often shallow water. Spinner falls typically occur over/in riffles and pocket water. Also, fast water is more oxygenated. All reasons you should should not ignore it. Personally I've been primarily targeting fast water almost since 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.
     -Report by Torrey Collins