Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday 5/21/19 Farmington River Report: excellent fishing

Hefty Brookie on a nymph Sunday eve 5/19 after work
Flow is now in the mid 600cfs range and slowly dropping , I'd call this medium-high to low end high, and very fishable. The normal historical USGS flow for today would be about 400cfs or so. The weather for this week through the weekend looks EXCELLENT, with highs virtually all in the 70s, lows in the 50s, and other than a 50% chance of showers Thursday afternoon and a T-Storm Thursday night (total of .4" predicted by Weather Underground), no other rain at all. Lots of great fishing reports still, with the vast majority of trout coming on nymphs, streamers & soft-hackles/wet flies. FYI we have a KILLER assortment of custom tied soft-hackles in our bins by Dick Sablitz, they are both fun & deadly to fish. Dries are producing some fish too, but at this flow you have to pick your spots carefully (bigger/wider pools). The bulk of the Hendrickson hatch is up river now, mostly above the Still River, but you may still see a light afternoon hatch of them in the upper end of the permanent Catch & Release/TMA up to the Still River. Bruce Marino reported a good Hendrickson hatch & rising trout on Monday in the Campground to Still River section of the river. Spinners will normally continue in the TMA for a good week after the hatch ends FYI- look for mild, relatively windless dry evenings (sometimes in mid/late morns and even afternoons too). Tiny #22 or so egg-laying Black Caddis were crawling down my waders Sunday evening while I was nymphing a riffle in New Hartford after work, check out the pic I posted on this report. A small, dark soft hackle such as a Starling & Herl in #16-18 would be a good imitation.
Tiny egg-laying Black Caddis crawling down my waders 5/19

The Two Year Old Survivor Strain browns the state recently stocked in the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) are extra big this year, quite obese with a good number in the 18" plus range and a few even bigger. They are putting smiles on a lot of angler's faces . Everybody is an expert in May, especially the first few weeks after they stock! Haha. Some big holdovers & wild fish are mixing in with the stockers. The biggest problem is getting past the recent stockers to get to them. That can be a fun problem though.

Caddis pupa seem to be gettting more active
Paul Battipaglia with a big Two Year Old brown
subsurface, and at moments are the ticket- try both olive/green & tan ones. I've been seeing light numbers of bigger ones near the store for over a week now. Usually we see the green/olive ones first, then the tan ones. They should ramp up any time now, especially with the milder temps here now, along with Vitreus (aka Pink Lady). In June we will see Sulfurs (Invaria). Cloudy days we are seeing #18-20 Blue Wing Olives (Baetis), try a small olive nymph if they aren't rising. Hatches start downriver (Unionville/Collinsville) and they work their way upstream, this is due to warmer water as you go downstream, and very cold water right below the dam. 

If you think you are fishing over a lot of fish, go through the area several times, changing flies on each pass. If you aren't hitting fish, then keep covering new water, change flies, and try different tactics/presentations. In general, the more water you cover, the more fish you will catch. And especially if you are fishing streamers, make sure to cover lots of water. For those of you who arent great nymphers, a killer rig is a weighted streamer (such as a conehead Woolly Bugger), with a #14-16 nymph or soft-hackle trailed 14-18" behind it (tied off hook bend of the streamer). Typically some fish will eat the streamer, but many who won't will eat the smaller trailing fly.
Pretty brown by Sean Monaghan

At current water levels the dry fly fishing is somewhat limited, but should still occur to a some degree in the bigger, wider pools. The Hendrickson hatch is mainly upriver above the Still River now, but you may still see a light hatch in the permanent TMA/C&R (more so toward the upper part of it). 
Various nymphs & streamers are catching a lot of trout when the trout aren't rising. Both the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) and the upper river above that (Riverton) were heavily stocked recently, and there are a pile of trout waiting to be caught/educated.

FYI we received & put away almost $15,000 (our cost) worth of fly tying materials from Wapsi & Hareline recently. We have tippet rings in stock again, Squirmy Worms, and lots of fly boxes. I should have Tacky boxes are back in stock, and we now have their new breathable fly box! No more rusty flies... Should be getting in a big Nature's Spirit order this week, and that will include new colored
Vinny Badaracco with a FAT 2 Year Old
Solarez resin (fl. orange/pink/chartreuse, etc.).

We are getting a lot of good to excellent fishing reports from customers lately, but some anglers are still struggling, despite large numbers of recently stocked fish combined with actively feeding trout in optimum water temps. Heavy fishing pressure can make even recently stocked trout fickle about fly patterns, especially after they've been pricked a bunch of times on popular patterns. Adaptable anglers who move around, cover the water, and are willing to fish dries, streamers, nymphs or wets/soft-hackles will always have the best success. If you fish the same 10 yards of water with one technique for 4 hours straight, don't be surprised if you have lackluster results. If you aren't doing well, try different  techniques, presentations, and flies. Also move around and cover the water if you aren't catching fish where you are. 

19" by Chris Kornatz
Little wild Brown or a Salmon Parr??
Another good one by Paul Battipaglia
There are literally TONS of trout in the river: fresh stockers, holdovers, and wilds. Look for Hendrickson spinner falls- even though the hatch is almost done in the permanent TMA/C&R and has moved into the upper river now, the spinners will be around in the permanent TMA/C&R for about another week after the hatch winds down. They occur when it's not too cold, wet or windy. On those milder, relatively windless dry evenings, the males & females mate in the air over the riffles, and then fall spent to the water, where big trout gently sip them in. The books say that the spinners drop in the evenings, and they often do, but we also see them mid/late mornings some days, and it's not uncommon to see spinners on the water right before and even overlapping the afternoon hatch. FYI the Hendrickson hatch has been happening as early as 1-2pm on milder, sunny days, and as late at 3-4pm on cooler, cloudy days. Hendrickson spinners are #12-14 and rusty brown (both males & females), and they fall to the water with they wings spent to the sides. As such they cannot escape, and large trout intuitively know that and gently sip them in. The Hendrickson hatch, and especially the spinner fall, brings some of the bigger trout to the surface. The evening spinner fall has the advantage of low light, no nymphs hatching to compete with the spinners, plus the spinners are helpless and cannot fly off the water like a dun can during the afternoon hatch. Add in the relatively large size of the bug, and you have an ideal hatch to get big trout fired up. FYI I typically have some of my best nymphing for big trout at Hendrickson time, with the best nymphal activity from late morning through late afternoon.

#12-16 nymphs in medium to dark brown are still top producers in the upper river, especially on the bigger holdover & wild trout, they imitate the Hendrickson nymphs (and other mayflies) and will catch big trout when they aren't rising. Think about pairing them up with either a #14-16 olive/green to tan Caddis Pupa, or something smaller & olive in the #16-18 range to imitate the Baetis/Olives. The 'ol PT (Pheasant Tail) is a very effective imitation of Hendricksons & Olives (depending on what size you choose), and we also have a specific imitation Hendrickson Nymphs in the fly bins at UpCountry that is a Bruce Marino/Grady Allen collaboration, the BMAR Hendrickson Nymph tied by Bruce himself. If you are nymphing in the early AM or late in the day, try using imitations of flies that will be hatching in June, as they will end up in the Behavioral Drift- think Sulfur nymphs & Caddis larva. If you are targetting the fresh stockers, I'd try pairing a natural looking nymph with a Junk Fly like a Mop or Squirmy Worm, or maybe a flashy/gaudy hotspot nymph- deadly combo! FYI higher flows knock quite a few Cased Caddis into the drift, it's definitely an underfished fly pattern. Streamers continue to be productive, and give you a shot at some of the bigger trout. Play around with size, color & style of streamers, and experiment with your retrieve until you find the winning combo for that day. Be aware that color preferences for streamers can change throughout the day as light conditions change.

During higher flows, 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. Medium to large streamers in various colors (olive, black, white, brown, etc.) are good in higher flows, as are nymphs such as big Stoneflies #6-10, Cased Caddis, #12-14 brownish nymphs (imitate Hendricksons), Frenchies, and Junk Flies (Mops, eggs, worms, Weenies). I generally wouldn't go smaller than #14-16 nymphs during higher flows. Having said this, in clear/high flows if there is heavy bug activity on smaller bugs like Blue Wing Olives, a #18-20 matching nymph may be in order. Fluorescent hot spots and/or flashy UV dubbing can help the trout to spot your fly.

Water temps have been averaging low/mid 50s most days in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA, (reaching upper 50s on warmer/sunny days), and in Riverton the temps have been in the low/mid 40s.

Nymphs & streamers continue to catch most of the trout, especially the bigger ones, but now that flows are down somewhat look for more rising trout when the bugs are hatching. 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, and olive is another top color).

FYI we are now in our extended hours: 8am-6pm weekdays, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

We have Devin Olsen's hot new book "Tactical Fly Fishing", and it looks really, really good- second batch arrived recently. 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. 
  Bigger 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. 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, especially in the late morning & afternoons. As water temps rise during the day, trout  & bugs often get more active and it spurs the fish to feed, and they may move more into the current if there are bugs in the drift. When trout are less active due to cooler water temps and no hatching activity, it typically pushes them into the softer/deeper water of pools, deeper runs, and gentle/deeper riffles. Trout (and especially bigger ones) 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, Baetis/Olive/BWO Nymphs, 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/black 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 metallic or colored beads 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).

Flow as of 10am Tuesday 5/21/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge is moderately high & very fishable at 659cfs & dropping (the Still River is 207cfs & dropping), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium-high at 452cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 388cfs. 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 100cfs, it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry near condos & sewage plant. The Still River will continue to drop every day we don't get significant rain.

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: https://thomasandthomas.com/blogs/news/torrey-collins-contact-1086

Check out this link to my blog post on 10 of my favorite books on a variety of subjects:
http://www.farmingtonriver.com/classes-news-reviews/10-of-torreys-favorite-books-december-2018/ 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 are open 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

Water Temps: 
Look for water temps to average in the low/mid 50s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (low/mid 40s in Riverton above the Still River), but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and specific location.  Long range highs are mild and will average in the 60s,-70s with lows mostly in the 50s. Mild, sunny days will see the biggest water temp increases. The exception to this will be during high water releases from the dam, as the colder water from deep in the reservoir chills down the river. Highest water temps will occur in mid/late afternoon, with sunny days seeing the biggest temperature increases- this often activates both the aquatic insects & trout. Typically the best bug activity (and fishing) correlates to the most pleasant time of the day for us humans.

-Hendrickson #12-14- (midafternoons, best hatching is now above the Still River in upper 2 miles below dam, hatch is very light and near the end in the permanent TMA/C&R)
-Rusty Spinner #12-14 (for Hendricksons, typically eves but can happens at other times too) 
-Blue Wing Olives #18-20 (afternoons, esp. cloudy days
-Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan)
-Paraleps/Blue Quill/Mahogany Dun #16-18 (afternoons, a few)
-Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Midges #20-28 (late morns through afternoons)

-BMAR Hendrickson Nymph #12-14
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-20 (FYI #12-14 make a deadly Hendrickson nymph)
-Caddis Pupa #14-16 (olive/green, tan) 
-Derrick's Heavy Hitter #16 (can imitate the Paraleps/Blue Quills)
-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.)
-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, yellow)

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/

     -Report by Torrey Collins