|Pretty brown by Steve Hogan Saturday morn 12/1|
|Nice recent brown by Zach|
While high water conditions on the Farmington River have scared off many fishermen the past 2-3 months, the fish are still in the river, they can still be caught and are being caught. Just don't expect to do it with dry flies (Church & Beaver Pools are 2 major exceptions to this: if there is a hatch, you can usually find a few risers, even in very high water). The biggest problems are: 1) finding slower/softer water where the trout can get out of the heavy current, and 2) adjusting your flies & tactics to the non-stop high water conditions we've had all fall. If you accomplish #1 & #2, you will likely do well. Spot selection is critical: stick to the bigger/wider pools, look for inside bends, and look for structure near the banks that can break the current flow (such as big boulders, points that stick out, downed trees, etc.). Fish bigger/gaudier streamers and nymphs slow & deep, down near the bottom. Expect to lose a few flies to snags- if you don't, then you are probably not deep enough.
|Zach & a "Mopped" brown|
|View out back Monday morn 12/3, sunshine!|
As of Monday morning 12/3 the flow is high but fishable in Riverton, and very high & dropping below the Still River. Riverton is 695cfs at the USGS Rt 20 bridge gauge, and the total flow in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA is 1,340cfs and dropping (Still River is 645cfs & receding). Conditions can change as a result of rainfall and varying MDC dam releases- they emailed us this afternoon (Monday 12/3) to say they will maintain the 600cfs dam release in Riverton and won't be increasing the release. The Still River joins the Farmington River about 1/4 mile below Riverton Rt 20 bridge, roughly 2 miles below the dam. The East Branch release was increased to 400cfs, it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry, making it very high below that.
Almost all the trout have now spawned, it started late this year, but there are always a few that spawn on a later timetable. In December look for some hungry post-spawn fish that are trying to put some weight back on. A streamer represents a big chunk of calories to them- if you are
Steelhead fishing & and fly tying are a great option this time of year, and I will continue to make regular trips for them this fall/winter. I (Torrey) have been fishing Great Lakes Steelhead for well over 30 years now, so if you need some advice I'm happy to help. We are stocked with many of the better materials for tying the specific flies you need for that fishing (Estaz, Glo-Bug Yarn, McFly Foam, Eggstasy Yarn, Angora Yarn, Diamond Braid, Holographic Tinsel, Ice Dub, specialized hooks from Tiemco/Gamakatsu/Mustad/Daiichi/Umpqua, etc.), as well as the proper rods (check out the new T&T Contact 10' 8" #6, it's sweet!), reels & lines, at a variety of price points for all budgets. The Cortland "Top Secret" Ultra Premium fluorocarbon tippet is amazing for Steelhead, it's insanely strong for it's diameter and very abrasion resistant. We also have plenty of warm Simms clothing to keep you going in cold air & cold water.
As we move into December and colder water, expect trout to slide into slower/deeper water (pools, deeper runs, and softer/deeper riffles). As water temps rise on sunny day, fish may move 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.
|Light colored oval area is a trout Redd- don't step on it!!|
We will be open 8am-5pm, 7 days a week.
New T&T Contact Steelhead/Lake-Run Brown Trout/Landlocked Salmon Rod:
|31" of Steelhead on my T&T Contact 10' 8" #6 & Hatch Finatic 5 Plus|
High water fishing advice: 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 colder 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.
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 (try Church & Beaver Pools). 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 trout.
Nymphing is the most consistent producer, December is an above average month to streamer fish for big browns- after the spawn they are hungry and looking to put weight back on. Current flow is too high for good dry fly fishing (exeption: Church & Beaver Pools), but as they come down, 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 Winter Caddis hatch in the early/mid AM. Small #22-28 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 or Midges in Church Pool some afternoons, or Winter Caddis in the mornings. Other than Church & Beaver Pools, there has been very little dry fly action.
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- it's now full but you can get on a wait list, and/or we might schedule another class for February if there is enough interest.
Look for water temps to average in the upper 30s to low 40s. 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 one hatch that often occurs in exception to this is the Winter Caddis, which typically come off in early/mid morning. 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.
Late Fall/early Winter Tactics & Advice:
Colder days and nights are here to stay, the water temps have dropped, and the days are getting shorter. All of 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 remains 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. 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 the Winter Caddis in the early/mid 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 December is a medium total flow of 350-400cfs, currently we are at 1,300+ cfs & dropping). The main afternoon hatch is small #22-26 Blue Winged Olives, might see some Midges too.
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've had has spread them out nicely above & below the stocking points.
T&T's new award-winning Zone series is here, 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 & streamers 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.
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #22-28 (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- 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
-Cased Caddis #8-16
-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 there is no hatch and 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/early winter is when brown trout get extra aggressive and often produces an above average streamer bite. Most of the browns have spawned now, and they are hungry and looking to put weight back on. With colder December water temps here now make sure to get your streamers deep, and you may want to slow your presentations down to make it easier for the trout to catch your fly. Try #2-14 patterns (FYI bigger is often better in the fall, gotta appeal to their aggression & hunger), 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 occasional 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