Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday 10/26/18 Farmington River Report- foliage (finally)

View behind the shop this morning, finally getting colorful
Well it's almost the weekend, and I'm sure many of you are itchy to wet a line. Today (Friday) looks like a good fishing day: high near 50, cloudy, and not windy. I'm guessing this weekend will be peak foliage color, but there are still a lot of green leaves so next weekend should hopefully be very pretty too. The cold fall nights that didn't arrive until recently are finally making the colors pop. Zach St. Amand continues to give me pictures of hefty browns, sometimes several in a day. The one in the net was upper teens, but the one he's holding taped 21.75"! He snaked it out of a pod of rainbows. FYI both browns were on streamers. Fall is a great time to fish bigger streamers, it just might catch your biggest fish of the year.

Sunday looks like the nicer day this weekend weatherwise, but Saturday with the rain & wind will see
Big fly, big fish...sometimes
the least fishing pressure. With up to 1.5" of total rain predicted from Friday night through Saturday night, you will likely see the Still River flows jump up and push the Farmington flow up from that point & downstream on Sunday. You always have the option of fishing upstream of the Still River for lower & clearer water when that happens, the only downside being that other fishermen will be doing the exact same thing in only 2 miles of river. If you decide to fish downstream on Sunday in what likely will be high, off-color water, think streamers & big nymphs/Junk Flies, fished out of the heavy flows and near the banks.

Flows will likely remain at an elevated level for a while, as the reservoirs are full and they have to lower them every fall to allow for winter snowmelt and early spring rains. As such I'd expect subsurface tactics to be the most effective. Nymphing is a consistent producer, and October/November are above average months to streamer fish for big browns as the spawn makes them more aggressive & territorial. There is some limited dry fly fishing, especially when the Caddis are hatching. When flows eventually normalize, expect to see more rising fish. Last weekend, the flies that produced were a mix of assorted streamers, #18 Baetis/Blue Wing Olive nymphs, big Stoneflies, egg patterns, and assorted "Junk Flies" (Mops, Squirmies/San Juan Worms, Eggs,  Green Weenies, etc.). Other than the Winter/Summer Caddis in the early AM, your best shot at dry flies is probably afternoons with Isonychia & Caddis, mostly in the riffles at the pool heads. Small #22-24 Blue Wing Olives are hatching, but with elevated flows the fish are feeding mostly on the nymphs, less so on the surface.
Zach with 21 3/4" of Farmignton Brown Trout (2 Year Old Survivor Strain)
However if it's not too windy, you may find fish eating Olives in Church Pool.

Don Butler is doing his traditional two day beginner fly tying course on January 5th & 12th, 2019,
call the store at 860-379-1952 to sign up, cost is $150.

Flows & Temps: 
Total flow in permanent Catch & Release/TMA in Barkhamstead/Pleasant Valley/New Hartford remains medium-high & fishable at 533cfs (444cfs from dam in Riverton, plus an additional 89cfs from the Still River 2 miles below the dam). Still River will flow will likely increase on Sunday due to rain predicted for Saturday day/night (you have the option of fishing the upper 2 miles of river above the Still River). Dam release is above average do to the excess rain the past 2 months, the reservoirs are full and need to be significantly lowered for the fall. Still River is at a normal level as I write this. You will probably see similar water levels from the dam for at least a month or two, until they get the lake levels down. Water temps are steadily decreasing, averaging mid to upper 40s in the permanent Catch & Release/TMA, low 50s in Riverton above the Still River (reservoir cools off slower than freestone rivers, do to massive volume of water, Physics 101 haha). With consistently colder weather here now, water temps will continue to slowly decrease. FYI after colder nights, it may be wise to wait until late morning, thereby giving water temps a chance to rise a degree or two, which will get the trout (and bugs) more active- streamer fishing can be an exception to this, as it's not hatch-related. The other strategy is to start your morning in the first 2 miles below the dam in Riverton, where water temps hardly vary at all during the day (due to being released from down deep), and then by late morning you can go back downriver. 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. They are currently not releasing any water out of the East Branch of the Farmington River (when they are releasing water it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry, by the condos/sewage plant).

October/November is prime time for medium to large streamers & big browns. Streamers are another
fly that can be good in the early/mid mornings before the bugs get active. It's critical for success that you 1) move around & cover water, and 2) experiment with different streamers until you find the best color, it can make a huge difference in your catch rate. You need to cover water because you are looking for the aggressive fish, and they are only a percentage of the total fish population. Generally if they are willing to eat a streamer and you have the color & presentation dialed in, they will strike on one of your first few presentations, after that you are just disturbing them. You need to keep moving and showing your streamer(s) to new fish. BTW, a double streamer rig can be very effective, sometimes when a single streamer isn't getting the job done. Good starting colors are olive, white, and tan, but then try other colors if you aren't feeling the love- black, brown, yellow or combinations thereof. The fish will let you know when you have the correct color :)

Fall Tactics/Advice:
Now that cooler days and cold nights are here to stay, the water temps are steadily dropping and the days are getting shorter, and this calls for some changes in tactics. Egg flies are effective now- experiment with colors, typically yellows, oranges, and pinks. This is a great time of year to toss streamers, and some good-sized ones at that, for what could potentially be some of the biggest trout you will catch all year. Brown trout get extra aggressive toward streamers in October/November due to spawning. Nymphs are probably the most consistent flies, with a mix of "Junk Flies" & imitative patterns all having their moments. Other than maybe a light hatch of Winter/Summer Caddis in the early AM, most bug activity has now shifted from late morning thru dusk, but subsurface patterns continue to vastly outproduce dry flies due to the above average flows (normal for October is a low flow of 150-250cfs, currently we are in the 500cfs range) . Main October bugs will be #14-18 tannish Caddis, #14 Isonychia, and on cloudy days some #22-24 Blue Winged Olives. You will still probably see big Stonefly shucks on the rocks through the end of October, and a few Giant October Caddis (latin name Pycnopsyche, different from the October Caddis they get out west) #8-12 in the eves.

The river was stocked in October with 800+ 13-18" fat rainbows purchased by the FRAA and supplied by Harding Trout Hatchery in New Hartford/Pine Meadow, in spots between the New Hartford 219 bridge and the Satan's Kingdom/Rt 44 bridge. Some of the bigger ones were pushing 3.5-4 pounds. This higher water we had in earlier in October spread them out nicely above & below the stocking points.

High Water  Flies:
During the not infrequent periods of higher and/or off-color flows the past 2 months, it's been mostly a subsurface game with nymphs & streamers, and "Junk Flies" have been been king many days. We are talking Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Egg Flies & Green Weenies. Junk Flies are often just the ticket for recently stocked trout too, as it takes them a little while to transition from getting fed pellets to dialing into natural food sources (FYI about 3 weeks according to some stuff I've read). It makes sense to pair up a Junk Fly with a "normal", drabber nymph to cover all the bases. Good streamer conditions now between it being fall & having extra 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, so change colors every 10-15 minutes or so until you find the hot one. 

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
up- FYI class is now FULL.

New Stuff:
T&T's new award-winning Zone series is finally available, it's a mid-priced ($495) set of rods that perform at a high level, they feel great in the hand and cast beautifully- stop by and cast one in the backyard. They even do a 10' #7 for you Steelhead guys. We also got some cool tying materials in recently, 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),  and are once again fully restocked on all the popular colors of Montana Fly Company Barred Sexi-Floss in both small & medium sizes (this makes awesome legs on a Pat's Rubber Leg Stonefly Nymph).

The areas stocked in September/October are yielding the highest catch rates, with Junk Flies & Woolly Buggers doing much of the catching. Make sure to pair your Junk Flies with a "normal", drabber fly (with or without a hot spot). However, the highest quality, bigger holdover and wild trout have mostly been coming from the permanent Catch & Release area, as well as downstream (that is during periods when downstream water levels have been doable). 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.

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 stocked 800+ 13-18" fat rainbows (some to 3.5-4#!) in New Hartford between the Rt 219 bridge and the Satan's Kingdom bridge recently. But even without these stockings, there was already a bunch of trout in the river, including the sections open to harvest from April through August. 

New T&T Contact Steelhead/Lake-Run Brown Trout Rod:
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!

-Tan Caddis #14-18 (especially mid afternoons 'till dusk, riffly water)
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #20-24 (cloudy days especially)
-Giant October Caddis #8-12 (eves, a few)
-Isonychia #14 ("Iso") afternoon/eves (light hatch, in riffly water)
-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Mini Chernobyl #12-16 (good for "searching the water" or as a suspender for dry/dropper) 

-Bigger Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (esp. mornings)- gold/yellow, brown, black
-Mop Flies #8-12 (various colors, especially cream/tan)  
-Tan Caddis Pupa #14-18
-BWO/Olive Nymphs #16-20
-Egg Flies #10-18 (various colors: yellow, pink, orange, etc.)
-Blue Lightning Bugs/Copper Johns #14-16
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-20
-Prince Nymph #12-16 (makes a good Iso)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #12-18
-Attractor/Hot-Spot nymphs #14-18 (Pineapple Express, Frenchy, Triple Threat, Pink Soft Spot Jigs,  
    Carotene Jigs, Egan's Red Dart, Rainbow Warrior, etc.).

"Junk Flies": nymphs for high/dirty water and/or freshly stocked trout:
-Squirmies/San Juan Worms/G-String Worms #10-14 (pink, red, worm brown)
-Egg Flies #10-18
-Mops #8-12
-Green Weenies #10-14

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 with the impending brown & brook trout spawn, trout are aggressive and the streamer bite is on. Try #2-14 patterns  (FYI bigger is often better in the fall, gotta appeal to their aggression), 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, especially when it's bright &sunny, 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. And FYI a 4-6" articulated fly is not too big if you are looking for top end fish. 3-4" is a good compromise if you want a shot at better fish, but still want to catch some average ones in between the big dogs. Play around with your fly size/pattern/color, presentation & retrieve and see what works- it can make a BIG difference. If you listen, the trout will tell you what they want. Think Home Invaders, Zonkers, Zuddlers, Woolly Buggers, Bruce's Yellow Matuka, Don's Peach Bugger, Dude Friendly, Ice Picks, Mini Picks, Mop Heads, Slump Busters, Sculpin Helmet patterns (for a weighted sculpin imitation), etc.

     -Report by Torrey Collins