|Rich Strolis and a hefty Farmington streamer brown from Sunday|
|Zach & 31" Lake Run Brown Trout from NY on his T&T Contact 10' 8" #6|
Zach finally got his Unicorn 30" plus brown on his NY Lake-Run brown trout trip- 31" long, 18" girth, well over 13# by my favorite formula. Landed on his brand spankin' new T&T Contact 10' 8" #6- said he absolutely LOVES the rod for tight-lining those big fish. Wade & I are heading to NY to Steelhead fish this week, hopefully we will have some nice pictures to share on Friday when I do the next report. Psyched to baptize my new T&T Contact 10' 8" #6 on some Steel! (Hopefully!)
|Steve Hogan and a very nice brown on a nymph|
Colder weather is moving in starting this Wednesday. Over the next few weeks as the water continues to cool down, expect trout to start sliding into slower/deeper water (pools, deeper runs, and softer/deeper riffles). As water temps rise on sunny day, fish may slide up into moderately fast water to feed on nymphs in the afternoons. Most days I'd recommend waiting to start until mid/late mornings so you give the water a chance to warm up at least a degree or two. If you do start early in the morning, use flies that are not hatch dependent: streamers, egg flies, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, etc. Make sure to fish slow & deep, as colder water normally means more lethargic trout that want an easy meal. If you are streamer fishing, play with colors & retrieves, it can make a big difference. Lately I've gotten reports that white, brown, and olive have been above average streamer colors, but it pays to experiment until you find the hot color- it can vary from day to day, and even during the day (especially if light conditions change). Remember that a heavily weighted streamer on a floating line will behave quite differently than an unweighted one on a sinking line, and on any given day trout may prefer one presentation over the other- experiment! If you are nymphing, make sure you are fishing your flies near the bottom, and that you are paying attention for often subtle strikes. Generally this time of year I'd focus on the softer water off the main/heavier current. Cooler water temps usually mean the trout will hold in slower water, not fast water.
As I write this the water levels are such that you can fish up in Riverton, in the permanent Catch &
|Rich's big streamer brown from above, pic #2|
|Light colored oval area is a trout Redd- don't step on it!!|
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While still well above average, the flow is greatly improved as I write this at 10am Monday morning. As of this morning the total flow is 887cfs (Riverton USGS gauge reading 552cfs, and the Still River coming in at 335cfs). The Still River joins the Farmington River about 1/4 mile below Riverton Rt 20 bridge, roughly 2 miles below the dam. At current levels, the river is high but fishable for wading anglers, with streamers & nymphs ruling the day. Currently I probably wouldn't fish much below our store until the river comes down more, as the East Branch is dumping in 300cfs about 3/8 mile downstream, and the Nepaug River and other tributaries are adding more flow in Canton/Collinsville.
With the total flow back down well under 1,000cfs, basic fishing advice will remain the same: subsurface tactics with a mix of medium to large streamers & Junk Flies (worms, eggs, Mops, Weenies). Streamers can be good early & late in the day, but with cooling water temps the best fishing is often from lunchtime until dusk when water temps are at their highest, bugs are most active, and trout's metabolism is at their highest for the day. Dry fly fishing has been very limited. It's important to adapt to the conditions, and don't try to force certain flies & techniques on the trout when they don't want them. This isn't a drought fall like 2016 & 2017 were, where you had super low flows in the 60-125cfs range for months at a time. There was a ton of dry fly fishing at those flows. Higher flows = less dry fly action, more nymphs & streamers. And furthermore you may want to go bigger, on average, with your subsurface flies. Although when small Blue Wing Olives have been hatching, if the flows are clear they have been eating #18 Olive nymphs. Look a several paragraphs down for more detailed advice.
Adapting to the Conditions:What are the differences between successful anglers and unsuccessful ones this fall? Generally the best catches have been made by those who are flexible in terms of how, where & what they fish, and do what they need to do to get their flies in front of the fish, down near the river bottom. Higher flows typically dictate subsurface tactics, unless you spot rising trout. Egg Flies, "Junk Flies" & Streamers are the best flies in the mornings, before the water temps rise a bit and the bugs get active. Save the imitative bugs for the afternoons when the insects are active & available. If you are streamer fishing, finding success may mean covering a lot of water looking for aggressive fish, experimenting with fly colors/sizes/sizes, trying different retrieves (or just a slow swing sometimes), and making sure you are getting the flies down deep enough (weighted flies, split shot, sinking leaders, sink-tip lines, or full sink lines). Lately colors like olive, white, brown, and tan have been top colors, but also try black, yellow, and combinations of these colors. Don't be afraid to deviate from a #6-8 streamer now, sometimes it takes a fly at least 3-4", or bigger, to properly irritate a big brown into striking. This is a good time to throw the meat, the big articulated 4-6" patterns that just might land you a giant- use a heavy tippet (at least 0x for the really big flies). If you are nymphing, make sure you are getting your flies down near the bottom with weighted flies, split shot, or a combination of the two. Both Euro-style & Indicator techniques can catch fish. When flows are up, make sure you don't just jump in mid thigh deep without first fishing the edges, as higher flows push MANY trout near the banks, out of the heavier flows. Try different nymphs: they may want something imitative like a #18 Blue Wing Olive/Baetis nymph in the afternoons, but sometimes they want an egg fly, and sometimes it takes a "Junk Fly" (Mop, Squirmy/San Juan Worm, Green Weenie, etc.) or an attractor nymph (something flashy or with a fluorescent hot spot) to get it done. As a rule of thumb, higher flows call for bigger and/or gaudier nymphs. I strongly suspect that eggish color hot spots may also elicit an egg-eating response from fall
Nymphing is the most consistent producer, but November is an above average month to streamer fish for big browns as the spawn makes them more aggressive & territorial. There has been some limited dry fly fishing, especially when the Caddis are hatching on milder days. When flows return to normal/lower levels (it will be quite a while!), expect to see more rising fish. Better flies for clear water conditions include 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.). There is a light Winter Caddis hatch in the early AM. Small #22-26 Blue Wing Olives are hatching in the afternoon (Midges too), but with elevated flows the fish are feeding mostly underwater on the nymphs/pupa, less so on the surface. However if it's not too windy, you may find a few fish eating Olives in Church Pool some afternoons, or Winter Caddis in the mornings. Other than Church Pool, there has been very little dry fly action lately.
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Water temps are averaging in the 40s throughout the river. Water temps will continue to slowly decrease as we inch toward December. Early morns are the coldest temps, especially after a truly cold night. Highest temps will occur in mid/late afternoon, with sunny days seeing the biggest temperature increases- this often activates both the aquatic insects & trout. 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, as can nymphing with egg patterns or other "Junk Flies" like worm patterns & Mop flies. 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 as downstream temps rise.
Now that cooler days and cold nights are here to stay, the water temps are slowly & steadily dropping and the days are getting shorter, and this calls for some changes in tactics as the trout change their behavior due to spawning, slower metabolism, and less bugs hatching. Egg flies are very 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 November due to spawning, and hungry post-spawn browns seeking calories to replenish themselves will crush them in December. Nymphs are probably the most consistent flies and will typically rack up the bigger numbers, with a mix of "Junk Flies" & imitative patterns each having their moments. Other than maybe a light hatch of Winter Caddis in the early AM, most bug activity has now shifted to the afternoons, but subsurface patterns continue to vastly outproduce dry flies due to the above average flows (normal for early November is a medium total flow of 300-350cfs, currently we are at 800+ cfs). The main November afternoon hatch is small #22-26 Blue Winged Olives, might see some Midges too.
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 nice 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 more recently 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 the 2nd week of October. 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# plus 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 detect light bites and help keep the hook from popping out when you put the wood to them. 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!
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #22-26 (cloudy days especially, gentle riffles/pool tails/slower water)
-Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM in pools)
-Midges #20-28 (late morns through afternoons in pools)
-Bigger Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (esp. mornings)- gold/yellow, brown, black
-Mop Flies #8-12 (various colors, especially cream/tan)
-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 #14-20
-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, Prince, etc.).
"Junk Flies": nymphs for high/dirty water, freshly stocked trout, or when standard nymphs aren't working:
-Squirmies/San Juan Worms/G-String Worms #10-14 (pink, red, worm brown)
-Egg Flies #10-18
-Green Weenies #10-14
Cortland's "Top Secret" Ultra Premium Fluorocarbon tippet has a glass-smooth Plasma finish and 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: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/cortland-top-secret-ultra-premium-fluorocarbon/
Fall is when brown & brook trout spawn, they are aggressive and some days the streamer bite has been on. Try #2-14 patterns (FYI bigger is often better in the fall, gotta appeal to their aggression), especially in colors like olive, white, black, brown, yellow, 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, 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