Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday 10/5/19 Farmington River Report- dropping flows & big browns

Zach with a very pretty brown, notice the big articulated streamer in it's jaw
Flows have come down, and this weekend's conditions look better than last week. Things are still higher than normal for this time of year, but the river is definitely fishable with decent clarity, and the flow will drop more each day. The MDC made TWO flow reductions in the dam release on Thursday, and the Still River continues to drop nicely every day.

While the higher water we had this week kept many anglers away, the true diehards adapted to the conditions with "Junk Flies" & streamers, and caught a lot of trout, including some big boys. George Daniel did 2 clinics for us this past weekend, and then he stayed on to shoot some video for both Orvis & "The New Flyfisher" show. Despite getting bombed with rain Tuesday from about 3pm through the evening, they got some quality browns & bows for the camera, and even on Wednesday George said he was able to catch a pile of fish in the high water on Junk Flies, fished close to the banks, out of the heaviest current. They caught enough trout that they didn't need to film on the third scheduled day. Zach St. Amand put the smackdown on big trout yesterday by fishing bigger streamers, he sent me mutiple pictures of more quality trout than I have room to post here.
Zach and another big brown...

Zach with yet ANOTHER...
We are seeing the bugs ramp up now that cooler fall weather is here to stay. Still more subsurface than surface fishing with the elevated flows, but as river drops more look to see some rising trout. Pick your spot carefully if you want dries, Church, Greenwoods & Beaver Pools would be top choices. A good amount of assorted Caddis in various sizes, including an occasional Giant October Caddis, have been active. Isonychia hatches are picking up and showing up in the afternoons again. Big Stonefly nymphs continue to be a top producer in the mornings- you will see the empty nymph husks on the rocks in faster water, this should be the case straight through October. Small Blue Wing Olives #20-24 are showing up on cloudy days. When flows drop some more & normalize, look for trout once again feeding on  the small Olives, as well as the Winter/Summer Caddis in the AM. The lower the flows, the more likely you are to see risers to the small stuff, 

During higher and/or off-color flows, it's been almost totally a subsurface game with nymphs & streamers, and "Junk Flies" have been king most days of late. We are talking Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Egg Flies & Green Weenies. Now that flows are dropping & clearing, the trout are starting to eat regular nymphs too, especially ones with fluorescent hot spots. Great streamer conditions now between it being fall & having plenty of water, and a variety of streamers are giving trout sore lips. Make sure to experiment with colors, it can make a big difference. Olive is a good starting color in clear water, but color preferences can change from day to day, and even during the same day as light conditions change. The correct color can be the difference between a lot of strikes and hardly any.

We are open at 8am 7 days a week, from now through March 2019.  Weekdays 8am-6pm, weekends 8am-5pm. Come November we will switch to 8am-5pm every day.

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

FYI we got some cool tying materials in Thursday, including #20 Hanak 480 Jig Champion hooks, Jan Siman Fine Peacock Dubbing in all the best colors including some UV ones (one of the absolute best materials for nymph collars), more Hends UV ribbing material, some Whiting feathers (especially Woolly Bugger Hackles), plus lots of other good stuff. Also a Montana Fly Company order came in so we restocked on Sexi-Floss, plus we got in a few more cool fly patterns.

Flows & Temps:
Current water level below Goodwin/Hogback Dam at USGS gauge is medium-high at 350cfs. 1/4 mile below the Rt. 20 bridge in Riverton, the Still River is adding in another 375cfs (and dropping), bringing total in permanent Catch & Release/TMA in Barkhamstead to a high but fishable 673cfs & dropping. Water temps from the dam in Riverton are decreasing, upper 50s/low 60s, and as you move downstream look for temps from the mid 50s to low 60s. Specific temps depend upon daily weather, specific location, and time of day. Highest temps will be in the late afternoon to evening, with sunny days seeing biggest temp increases. Lowest water temps will be in the early AM, with colder nights seeing the lowest morning temps. Cloudy days will see minimal temperature changes.

High Water Fishing Advice:
Flows have been up & down the past 2 months. When it is high and/or off-color, 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. 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 & Ovation.

With the MDC (the peeps that run the reservoir system here) stocking Riverton in mid September, 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. 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. 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 likely see some Iso's and maybe #14-20 Caddis in mid/late afternoons (both hatches will ramp up more in October). Evening dry fly fishing peaks 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.

The CT DEEP Fisheries did their fall trout stocking for the Farmington River on September 11th, 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 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. 

Some great new products:
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!

-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Caddis (olive/green, tan) #14-20 (morns & late afternoon/eves mostly)
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #18-26 (cloudy days especially)
-Giant October Caddis #8-12 (eves, a few)
-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), Mop Flies (various colors, especially cream/tan), #8-12  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, 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 aggressive and the streamer bite is on. 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.
     -Report by Torrey Collins