Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday 6/14/19 Farmington River Report: good fishing & water levels

Mike Querfeld with a slammer June wild brown!
The good fishing continues and probably will for the next couple of months, June & July are normally superb times to fish the Farmington River where water temps, levels & insect hatches all intersect. Water levels are normal now!!! They are mid 300cfs, a great level for fishing, wading, and trout are now eating off the surface at moments. Subsurface with nymphs, streamers & soft-hackles/wets are producing consistently and accounting for many of the bigger fish caught. Multiple hatches are now occuring throughout the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). Caddis typically hatch in the afternoon and egg-lay at dusk, most of the various mayflies are hatching more toward the evenings. Hot weather can push the evening activity closer to dusk/dark, and conversely cool/cloudy days can make it happen earlier. Nymphing with Caddis pupa & larva is very effective from about mid morning through late afternoon. Mayfly nymphs are at their best from mid/late afternoons through evenings. Non of these hatch times are set in stone, so be sure to be observant & experiment. Streamers tend to be most effective during low light (early & late in the day), and on overcast or rainy days, and also in higher, off-color water. If you fish them on a bright sunny day, look for structure (downed trees, big rocks, undercut banks, overhanging bushes) in the shade. Wet flies & soft-hackles can be effective any time of day, but especially when the nymphs, pupa & egg-laying bugs are active/hatching.

New Fulling Mill streamers
New Fulling Mill nymphs
DJ Clemente with an awesome wild brown this week
We got in a veritable pile of flies from Fulling Mill recently, and we have a ton of streamers in the bins now, plus some cool new nymphs and lots of Frenchy Pheasant Tails. Got some cool patterns in this order from the Fly Fish Food guys, such as the Complex Twist Bugger, Ice Caddis pupa, and Masked Maurauder in a golden stonefly version, George Daniel's Sculp Snack streamer, Tim Flagler's Euro Golden Stone (good anchor fly), Joe Goodspeed's Juvenile Crayfish, and many other deadly new patterns.

Sulfurs, assorted Caddis, Vitreus, and now March Browns are all throughout the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R), and the improved water levels means you will see more rising fish. The lower the water, the more trout rise when there is a hatch. This is also a great time to experiment with fishing a pair (or even better yet a trio) of soft-hackles/wet flies, it is both fun & very effective. It's an efficient and pleasant way to cover a lot of water, and you can hit those thin water lies near the banks that are hard to nymph- big browns often hold in water like that, especially during hatches & low light. It's also deadly during a hatch, as a lot of the bugs get eaten by trout just under the surface, and that is where you are presenting these flies.

Giant 3" Helgramites crawling in the parking lot Tuesday morn
I would currently rate the fishing as good to excellent, with some some of the more experienced anglers catching a lot of trout and some big ones in the mix. Those doing the best have been the expert nymphers, and overall subsurface flies have produced the majority of the fish and most of the big ones pictured. The normal flows finally here now will increase the dry fly fishing as we head into summer. But be willing to go subsurface with nymphs, streamers, and soft-hackles/wet flies to be consistently successful. Cover a lot of water, and change flies/tactics as

Matt Terlizi with a SLAB of 2 Year Old Survivor Strain brown trout on 6/1/19
Vitreus #14-16 & Sulfurs #14-16 are both now all the way to the top of the TMA/C&R. Caddis #14-18 are heavy throughout the TMA/C&R and up into Riverton.  March Browns #10-12 are now
up in the permanent TMA/C&R. Sulfurs are typically an evening hatch so don't leave early! Vitreus are typically evenings also. If it's cool & cloudy they can start in early/mid afternoon, but on hot sunny days they will hatch later in the evening. Caddis typically hatch in the afternoons and egg-lay in the evenings, and March Browns sporadically hatch from late afternoon through evening.

Guide Steve Hogan & pretty Farmington brown this week
If you are nymphing, think about fishing a #14-16 olive/green to tan Caddis Pupa or Larva, #14-16 Mayfly type nymphs (can be a Pheasant Tail, Hare's Ear, Frenchy, Sulfur Nymph, etc.), or something smaller & olive in the #16-20 range to imitate the Baetis/Olives. The Pheasant Tail is a very effective imitation of Olives and many other mayflies. Also #10-12 Fox Squirrel Nymphs & big Hare's Ears do a great job imitating March Brown/Gray Fox nymphs, they get very active subsurface starting 1-2 week before they hatch, they migrate from faster water into the shallower stream edges. 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!

The few people fishing soft-hackles & wet flies are giving me some excellent reports, try soft hackles with Hare's Ear bodies, as well as Partridge & Yellow/Green/Orange these flies will cover your Caddis, Vitreus & Sulfurs. I recommend fishing 2-3 at a time, on tag end droppers, spaced about 20-30" apart.    

Vitreus are in the Epeorus family and close cousins to the Quill Gordon, I would call them a "pseudo Sulfur"- the "true" Sulfurs are the Invaria (hatching now) & Dorothea. Like the Quill Gordon, Vitreus are two tailed and the winged dun emerges from the nymph on the stream bottom, and then rises to the surface. They tend to emerge/hatch in faster broken water, with riffles & pocket water being typical habitat. They are normally creamish yellow in color, but the females have a pinky/orange cast to them due to the egg mass inside their abdomen.

FYI we have a KILLER assortment of custom tied soft-hackles in our bins by Dick Sablitz, they are both fun & deadly to fish. We have flies to imitate all the current hatches, the most effective way to fish them is 2-3 at a time on droppers.

The Two Year Old Survivor Strain browns the state stocked in the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) this spring are extra big, quite obese with a good number in the 18" plus range and some even bigger in the 20-21" range. They are putting smiles on a lot of angler's faces . Some big holdovers & wild fish are mixing in with the stockers.
Wanna catch trout? Obey the following  4 rules, laid out years ago by Jack Gartside:
-Rule #1 is find the fish and fish where they are
-Rule #2 is don't spook them!  (FYI big wild trout spook easily)
-Rule #3 is fish something they want to eat
-Rule #4 is present it in such a way they they will eat it (dry fly guys take note: this may mean you 
                                                                                          have to fish subsurface!) 
I would add Rule #5 fish when the fish are feeding, with hatches being prime-time, especially when they intersect with low-light periods (big browns love to feed in low light). Fishing subsurface a couple hours before a hatch with the matching nymphs/pupa can also be deadly.

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.
Flow as of Friday morning 6/14/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge this morning is normal & medium at 345cfs (the Still River is 73cfs), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium at 272cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 352cfs. 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 50cfs, MDC said they were going to reduce it to zero last week, it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry near condos & sewage plant. The Still River drops 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:

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 are open 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

Water Temps: 
Look for water temps to average in the mid/upper 50s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (upper 40s in Riverton above the Still River), but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and specific location.  Long range highs average mid/upper 70s, with lows mid/upper 50s. Warmer, 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. Typically the best bug activity (and fishing) correlates to the most pleasant time of the day for us humans.

-Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan)- afternoon hatch, evening/dusk egg laying
-Vitreus #14-16 (in entire TMA/C&R now)- eves
-Sulfurs (Invaria) #14-16 (in entire TMA/C&R now, eves)
-March Browns #10-12 (late afternoon through eves, light/sporadic hatch, just starting in TMA/C&R)
-Blue Wing Olives #18-22 (afternoons on cloudy days)
-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)

-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails /Frenchies #14-20
-Sulfur Nymphs #14-16
-Caddis Pupa #14-16 (olive/green, tan)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-16
-Assorted Olive Nymphs #16-20
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #10-14  
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black) 
-Mop Flies #8-14 (various colors, especially cream/tan)   
-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.).

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear, Partridge & Green/Orange/Yellow, 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

-Complex Twist Bugger #2- assorted colors
-Sculp Snack #8 (George Daniel pattern)
-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)

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     -Report by Torrey Collins