Friday, April 26, 2019

Friday 4/26/19 Farmington River Report: FLOW UPDATE & big trout

A FAT brown this week by customer Stephen Setian, nice work buddy!
The MDC is cutting the dam release back quite a bit today, we didn't get an email yet saying what they are going to reduce it to, but so far it went down 367cfs (844cfs in Riverton down to 477cfs and still declining). I'll update again when we know what the final flow cut amounts too. This bodes well for this weekend, combined with the greatly reduced rain forecast for today/tonight (from 2"+ down to 3/4" total). This flow cut will raise water temps also (water from dam is low 40s, water from the Still River is in the 50s). This flow reduction and water temp increase could get the Hendricksons going, so keep your eyes open! Lower flows also means a better chance of finding rising trout FYI.

Check out the fish pix- despite lots of high water prior to today, some peeps have been toughing it out and catching some high quality trout. While high water can make things tougher and hurts the dry fly fishing, but.... the trout you do manage to fool are often the above average fish. The feel secure to come out of hiding in the higher flows that hide them from predators, plus the higher/faster flows knock more food loose and deliver it to them at a faster rate. While we fishermen tend to prefer more moderate flows, believe me the big trout luvvv high water. Just have to find the current breaks/softer water, and you will find the trout. You also often want to upsize your flies & tippet. Sunday is looking like the better of the two days this weekend, as wind Saturday with be 15-25mph and gusting at 40+ mph! Sunday has a chance of light rain, but only .12" predicted per Weather Underground and waaay less wind (10-20mph).
A very pretty brown this morning by guide Steve Hogan

It's been a long stretch of high water more often than not straight since mid fall, but it looks like we will catch a bit of a break for this weekend with a big flow cut at the dam today, and they reduced the predicted total rainfall for today/tonight (Fri 4/26) down to 3/4" total- this shouldn't bump the Still River up much at all. Colebrook Reservoir & Hogback/Goodwin are both full of water, and that is whey they dumped off water the past 2 weeks. The Still is about 300cfs as I write this, and no doubt come up a bit from rain, but shouldn't be a big increase.  And even if it were to bump up or get dirty, you can now go up above the Still and fish the 2 miles of clear, lower water below the dam. I'd probably focus on the water from the dam all the way to to about where we are in New Hartford/Pine Meadow- if you go much below us, the East Branch is dumping in an additional 350cfs FYI. Standard high water tactics apply downstream of the Still River: fish the current edges (typically near the banks) with medium to large nymphs, Junk Flies (worms/eggs/Mops/Weenies), and streamers.  I
Zach holding a hefty recent local brown
wouldn't go smaller than #14 or #16 or so on the nymphs right now (you can go smaller in Riverton due to lower flows up there).

Main hatches are currently Paraleps/Blue Quills & Blue Wing Olives in the afternoons, and Winter Caddis in the early AM. Hendrickson hatch hasn't really been going in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) yet, although a handful have been seen there. The flow cut today may change this all around though, as the flow reduction of colder water from the dam will now cause water temps to rise, which should stimulate the Hendrickson hatch and the trout. Subsurface with nymphs & streamers remains the name of the game most of the time. As flows come down expect to see more rising trout. The lower the flow, the more trout will feed on the surface. Hendricksons are hatching downriver in Canton/Collinsville/Unionville, but the big water down there makes the fishing conditions tougher. Thus far the higher downstream flows with colder water (it comes out of the dam in the low 40s currently) has made the dry fly action on this hatch almost non-existent. But, I'd still make sure you have some matching dry/emerger patterns in case you find rising trout in the afternoon! This should improve now with the flow reduction. Typically the hatch occurs in mid afternoon, but that is not set in
Fat Bow this morning by Steve Hogan
Now is a good time to fish #12-14 brownish mayfly nymphs to imitate the Hendricksons, I catch some of my best trout every year nymphing before (late morning/early afternoon) and even during the hatch.

Steve Hogan had no problem finding quality trout in the high water this week
Long range highs are mild and will average in the upper 50s/low 60s, with nights mostly in the 40's- this will ultimately raise water temps in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release into the low 50s in the near future. It's been averaging upper 40s most days in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA, and in Riverton the temps have been in the low 40s. Hatches are Blue Wing Olives/Baetis, Paraleps/Blue Quills, Early, Winter Caddis (early AM), Early Black Stones, and Midges. Hendricksons have been downriver and will work there way upstream (downstream water warms up first). Generally a few days cracking 50
degree water temps and they start to pop. During higher flows, think medium/large streamers and Junk Flies (Squirmy Worms, Egg flies, Mops, Green Weenies), and look for softer water off the current edges.

Nymphs & streamers continue to catch most of the trout, especially the bigger ones. If you are targeting freshly stocked trout, make sure if you are nymphing that one of your flies is a "Junk Fly"- Mop, Squirmy Worm, Egg Fly or Green Weenie. Pair it up with a more regular, natural looking fly (Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail, etc.). Small to medium streamers such as Woolly Buggers can be lethal on fresh stockers too, make sure to play with colors (Rainbows usually LOVE black FYI).

FYI we went to our extended summer hours starting 4/1: 8am-6pm weekdays, and 6am-5pm on

Local guide Mark Swenson is doing a FREE intro to fly fishing for beginnners class, click link to go to a class description.

We have Devin Olsen's hot new book "Tactical Fly Fishing", and it looks really, really good- second batch just arrived this week. It cover 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 catch fish in them, and what adjustments they had to make in their rigging, approach, presentation & flies to find success. It's a good new option that does NOT duplicate George Daniel's two books on nymphing, but rather it compliments and adds to them. 

The recently stocked trout (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), but the ones stocked back in early March are also getting dialed into more natural, imitative flies now. Look also at moments for trout rising to Winter Caddis (early/mid morns), small Blue Wing Olives #18-20 (afternoons), Paraleps/Blue Quills #16-18 (afternoons), Midges (late AM & afternoons), and Black Stones (afternoons). Hope for dries, but be ready to fish subsurface with nymphs & streamer. Remember that highest water temps occur in mid/late afternoon, and sunny days will see the biggest water temp increases.
Streamers continue to pick up less but bigger fish. 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. Smaller streamers will often catch more trout, but you are less likely to get a giant on them. Be patient and cover lots of water, change colors/retrieves/patterns/fly size. Look to softer/slower water for dry fly fishing, but be prepared to go subsurface if needed. Sometime 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 the ticket sometimes. 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.

Many better fish are moving into the faster water to feed, espeically in the afternoons. As water temps rise during the day, 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 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 (late morning through late afternoon) when water temps are highest. At the end of the day light levels diminish, and some of the bigger browns wait until then to feed. 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 (especially on freshly stocked trout and during high or dirty water), but also try pairing then up with some regular nymphs to give the trout a choice. Hendrickson Nymphs, Early Stones, Caddis Larva, Pheasant Tails, Hare's Ears, etc. all could be good flies to pair up with a Junk Fly- the Junk Fly often acts as an attractor, and then the trout eat the more natural looking, smaller nymph. Bigger Stonefly nymphs are always 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.

1pm Flow Update Friday 4/26:
They made a BIG flow cut at the dam, as of the 12:30pm USGS update it was down to 477cfs and still dropping, bringing the total flow down into the upper 700cfs range and dropping (down from 1,100+c cfs). This will not only makes the flows much more fishable, but will also raise the water temps (dam is releasing water in the low 40s, the Still River is running in the 50s). This will help the Hendrickson hatch and also increase your chances of finding rising trout. The only wildcard is how much rain we get overnight, the latest prediction had it scaled down to only 1/2"- let's hope this is correct!

Flow as of 9am Friday 4/26/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge is very high at 1,136cfs (the Still River is 292cfs), and in Riverton above the Still River the Farmington is pretty darn high at 844cfs. This could change if the MDC decides to lower the flow for the weekend, but then again with rain today/tonight and lots of showers in the long range forecast they may keep it up as Colebrook Reservoir is full, maybe 5 vertical feet from the boat launch parking lot. 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 350cfs 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 to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

Water Temps: 
Look for water temps to be somewhere in the upper 40s/low 50s (low 40s in Riverton above the Still River), but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and specific location. Riverton above the Still River is in the low 40s. Long range highs average in the 50s/low 60s, so this will push water temps into the 50s on warmer, sunny days. The exception to this will be during high water releases from the dam, as the low 40 degree water chills down the river. 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.

-Blue Wing Olives #18-20 (afternoons)
-Paraleps/Blue Quill/Mahogany Dun #16-18 (afternoons)
-Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Hendrickson #12-14- (midafternoons, hatch is currently downriver Canton/Collinsville/Unionville)
-Early Black Stoneflies #14-16 (mostly underneath, but sometimes gets fish on the surface)

-Midges #20-28 (late morns through afternoons)

-Hendrickson Nymph #12-14
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #14-20
-Black Stone/Black Nymphs #14-18
-Derrick's Heavy Hitter #16 
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12- gold/yellow, brown, black
-Assorted Olive Nymphs #16-20
-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
-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, freshly stocked trout, cold water, 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

-Home Invader #2-6- tan, black, white, yellow 
-Foxeee Red Clouser Minnow #6 
-Tequeely #4-6
-Dude Friendly #8 (white, yellow, natural)
-Woolly Buggers #2-14 (olive, black, white, brown)
-Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor #4-8
-Matuka #4-8 (olive, brown)

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     -Report by Torrey Collins