Monday, April 29, 2019

Monday 4/29/19 Farmington River Report: big water = big trout

Randy Coons with a 21.5" dinger from Sun 4/28, guided by Zach St. Amand
Despite much higher weekend flows (almost 2,000cfs Saturday morning!), quite a few big trout were landed by the lesser number of true diehards that ventured out. Riverton was just under 700cfs, and customer Greg Hallam managed to catch & release the same 7# rainbow I caught after work on Opening Day 4/13- C&R works! Zach's client Randy Coons managed 3 BIG browns on Sunday fishing downriver in the big water (1,300+ cfs) on big nymphs, his first one was a 21 1/2" fish that looks wild!
On Sat 4/27 Greg Hallam caught the same 7# rainbow I got on 4/13!

This morning I have the flow change info before I'm writing this report. At 9am the MDC is increased the dam release from 430cfs to 610cfs (it will read higher than this at the Riverton USGS gauge as it's located 2 miles below the dam and picks up a couple of brooks, prob be in upper 600cfs range once the release hits the gauge by the Rt 20 bridge). I'd guess they will run this flow at least through Wednesday, and quite possibly until Friday. The need to run additional water to get both Colebrook & Hogback/Goodwin Reservoirs down to an acceptable level, both were full to the brim Thursday and we got 2" plus of rain over the weekend. This will create challenging fishing conditions this week, and make spot selection important, but fish can still be caught, and often they are bigger ones. Stick mainly to the major wider pools/runs, and look also for inside turns that break the current. High flows push trout closer to the banks, out of the heavy current. Find a current break that's close to where they normally hold, and you will find trout. Don't make the classic mistake of wading out in high water, I see anglers walk right through the fish all the time in high water, it's a rookie mistake that many veteran anglers make. Look for the current edges and fish the transition between the fast & slow water. Again, don't walk through the prime holding water! Rule #1 is find the fish and fish where they are, and Rule #2 is don't spook them! Rule #3 is fish something they want to eat, and Rule #4 is present it in such a way they they will eat it.
Dave Moranino with a looong recent brown

It's true that 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. Medium to large streamers in various colors (olive, black, white, brown, etc.) are good, as are nymphs such as bigger Stoneflies, Cased Caddis, #12-14 brownish nymphs (imitate Hendricksons), Frenchies, and Junk Flies (Mops, eggs, worms, Weenies). I wouldn't go smaller than #14-16 nymphs at the moment.

Long range highs this week will average in the 50s, with nights mostly in the 40's, and next week will see highs in the 60s. Water temps have been averaging in the upper 40s/low 50s most days in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA, and in Riverton the temps
Randy with a wild 19" plus brown from yesterday
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, but we need lower flows to get trout feeding on the surface.

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.

Steve Hogan keeping 'em wet
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.

Flow as of 9am Monday 4/29/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge is high at 975cfs (the Still River is 476cfs & dropping), and in Riverton above the Still River the Farmington is high at 499cfs. At 9am the MDC increased the release from 430cfs to 610cfs, this is a 180cfs increase and will bring the flow in Riverton to about 675-680cfs, and the total flow up to about 1,150cs- that's a lot of water! 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 is 500cfs last I knew, it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry near condos & sewage plant- this makes the river below that quite high, so I'd stay above that. Look for both the West & East Branch of the Farmington to have flow cuts mid/late week, but before the weekend. The Still River will continue to drop every day.

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)

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