Monday, March 18, 2019

Monday 3/18/19 Farmington River Report: here comes Spring

Beautiful brown by guide Mark Swenson last week, one of several that day
Rain Friday night bumped the weekend flows up a bit, but we are back to a very nice flow and clarity in the upper 300cfs range and dropping. Despite cooler weekend temps, wind, and higher flows, a ton of anglers were on the water Saturday. Some people did well, others struggled. Conditions are waaay better now, and temps into the 50s move in again starting Wednesday. Weekend water temps were back into the mid/upper 30s, look for them to move into the upper 30s and low 40s as temps warm up this week- this should stimulate bugs to hatch, and trout to feed. 

Junk Flies (Mops, Worms, Eggs, and Weenies) & streamers worked for some successful anglers during the higher, discolored weekend flows, but look for #14-18 dark/slim nymphs to pick up some nice holdovers & wilds now that flows are medium and clear again. Caddis larva, both uncased/net-spinning/free-living and cased
Another beauty from last week by Mark Swenson
are frequently eaten by trout in March/April. Think #14-16 olive to olive green on the uncased, and anywhere from #8-16 on the cased (#14 is my most used in the cased FYI). Assorted Early Black & Early Brown Stoneflies are definitely still very active and on the menu. It's still quality over quantity for most anglers, so be patient and expect to work for your fish, but don't be surprised if you catch some bigger fish like the ones in these reports. I'd say the average holdover is still in the mid to upper teens range, with a few caught over 20". Fresh stockers from 2-3 weeks ago will probably average more in the 12-14" range- still a fun size to catch. If you find a pod of the recent stockers, then you may rack up some numbers.

We have Devin Olsen's hot new book "Tactical Fly Fishing", and it looks really, really good. Covers Euro style nymphing, plus a whole lot more. Based upon what he's learned from years of the highest level fly fishing competitions against the best trout fly fishermen in the world. It covers things in an extremely detailed way, and has some great "Case Studies" where he shows you different water type pictures with photo sequences of how they were able to successfully
Vinnie Badaracco sent me this nice pic
catch fish in them, and what adjustments they had to make in their rigging, approach, presentation & flies to find success. 

Early Black Stones (and Early Brown too now) have been active for several weeks now, and the holdover & wild trout are definitely taking notice. The freshly stocked trout that went in recently (above and below the permanent Catch & Release/TMA) will be receptive to a variety of flies, especially things like Woolly Buggers and "Junk Flies" (Eggs, Mops, Worms, Green Weenies). Look also at moments for trout rising to Winter Caddis (early/mid morns), Midges (late AM & afternoons), and Black Stones (afternoons). Hope for dries, but expect to fish subsurface with nymphs & streamers. Water is cold but temps are increasing, reaching the upper 30s)/low 40s most days, so fish slow and deep. Remember that highest water temps occur in mid/late afternoon, and sunny days will
see the biggest water temps increases.

Streamers have picked up less but bigger fish lately. If you wanna throw 4-6" streamers for trophies, you are swinging for the fence and may strike out, but some days you will hit a home run and catch a giant. Be patient, and cover lots of water. Some anglers are finding fish rising to Winter Caddis, Midges, and occasionally Stoneflies. Look to slower water for dry fly fishing, but be prepared to go subsurface if needed. Sometimes they will eat the Black Stones on the surface, but it's very hit or miss. Junk Flies and various streamers fished slow & deep are also the ticket sometimes.
Solid hookjawed brown by Mr. Swenson last week
Experiment and the trout will tell you what they want. It can vary from day to day, and even during the same day

as water temps, trout metabolism, insect activity, and light levels all change as the day progresses.

While I still recommend focusing on the moderate speed water with some depth in March, this is just a starting point. Some of the better trout are moving into the faster water to feed in the afternoons. As water temps rise in the afternoon most days, trout often get more active and feed, and may move more into the current if there are bugs in the drift. When trout are less active due to cold water temps, it typically pushes them into pods in the softer water of pools, deeper runs, and gentle/deeper riffles. But they (and especially bigger fish)
will often slide up into the heads of pools/riffles/runs into the somewhat faster
water to actively feed. This is most common later in the day (afternoons) when water temps are highest and light levels diminish. It's a combination of rising water temps, bug activity, and light levels that gets the trout feeding.

Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Eggs, etc.) should all continue to have their moments, but also try pairing then up with some regular nymphs. Early/Winter Stones (black, brown), Midge patterns, Caddis Larva, Pheasant Tails, Hare's Ears, etc. all could be good flies to pair up with a Junk Fly. Bigger Stonefly nymphs are still on the menu and make an excellent anchor fly when you need something heavy, and just might net you a bigger fish too. If you are fishing pools that get hit hard (like Church Pool or Hitchcock), make sure to fish some drab/natural flies (no bead, no flash, no hotspot) and/or patterns that are unusual and the fish haven't seen before. Heavy pressure can make specific patterns less effective, and sometimes shiny metallic beadheads and make trout shy away, so try some nymphs with no beads or black beads. And sometimes regular beadheads work way better than unbeaded patterns, you have to experiment if you know you are over fish but aren't doing well. Of course it goes without saying that a good dead-drift is critical (but let it swing out at the drift's end, strikes often occur at that moment, especially during insect activity). Slowly/deeply fished streamers are still connecting up with big trout, and some mornings have seen trout rising to Winter Caddis in early/mid mornings, and Midges after that. 

Water temps have risen and are now averaging upper 30s to low 40s. Nymphing is the #1 producer in these type of conditions, as there are lots of nymphs in the drift now, but browns are hungry in March and sometimes want a big bite like a streamer. Many days Church Pool has been offering up morning dry fly fishing in the slower water (some days great, and some slow)- look for mornings that are not windy, preferably following a cold night. You may also see Midges sometime between late morning and the afternoon. Other than the Winter Caddis, I usually target the late morning to late afternoon period for the most comfortable temps & best fishing (higher water temps = more active bugs & trout). The low light of the last hour often brings bigger browns out of hiding too.

Flow as of 9am Monday 3/15/19:
Total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release according to USGS gauges has dropped and is once again medium, clear, and very fishable at 384cfs (the Still River is 217cfs and dropping), and in Riverton above the Still River the Farmington is medium-low at 167cfs. The Still River joins the Farmington River about 1/4 mile below Riverton Rt 20 bridge, roughly 2 miles below the dam. East Branch release was 0cfs last I knew- it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry near condos & sewage plant. 

Click this Thomas & Thomas blog link for a very recent review I wrote about their awesome new Contact 10' 8" #6 rod for Steelhead & Lake Run Trout/Landlocks:

Check out this link to my blog post on 10 of my favorite books on a variety of subjects: I'll be doing more blog posts on recommended books in the future, there are many great books out there.
A favorite image of mine Matt Supinski used in "Nexus"

We will be open 8am-5pm, 7 days a week. In April we will go to 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends .

Water Temps: 
Look for water temps to average somewhere in the upper 30s/low 40s, but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and specific location. 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, or flashy attractor-type nymphs that stimulate a reaction bite.nes were pushing 3.5-4 pounds. They are now spread out nicely above & below the stocking points.

-Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM, this is main/major winter hatch)
-Midges #20-28 (late morns through afternoons, light hatch) 
-Tiny & Early Black Stoneflies #14-22 (mostly underneath, but sometimes gets fish on the surface) 
-Early Brown Stoneflies #14-16

-Black Stone/Black Nymphs #14-18 
-Brown Stone/Brown Nymphs #14-16
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12- gold/yellow, brown, black
-Mop Flies #8-12 (various colors, especially cream/tan)  
-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) #12-16
-Cased Caddis #8-16 
-Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #12-18
-Attractor/Hot-Spot nymphs #14-18 (Haast Haze, 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, winter fishing, 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
-Mops #8-12
-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:

     -Report by Torrey Collins