Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday 6/28/19 Farmington River Report: Bugs & More Bugs

Steve Hogan's client Michael Gregory with a sweet brown
Definitely feels like summer with a predicted high of 89 degrees today! Mid 80s Saturday, and mid 70s for Sunday. Flow remains medium, clear & cold! A veritable PILE of assorted Mayflies, Caddis & Stoneflies are hatching, with evenings seeing the heaviest bug activity and surface feeding- Isonychia have now joined the mix. While most people are leaning toward dry flies due to the good hatches & rising trout, there is some excellent subsurface fishing to be had with nymphs, pupa, larva, streamers, soft-hackles, and wet flies when the trout aren't rising. Also, with the warm weather, don't forget about terrestrials such as ants & beetles, and attractor dries such as Mini Chernobyls. Attractor nymphs with hot spots/fluorescence and/or flash are sometimes getting it done when drabber, more imitative nymphs aren't. Let the trout tell you what they want, as it varies during the day, and also day to day.

Ross Hart holding a perfect specimen of a wild Farmington brown trout
Dave Machowski, guide's day off...
Best dry fly bug activity overall is no further upstream than where the Still River dumps in (just below RT 20 bridge in Riverton), to downstream at least as far as Collinsville/Unionville. Hatching currently seems to get heavier to some degree as you work your way downstream, and we are also seeing big Isonychia are the latest news flash, they are from downriver all the way to the top of the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) now (think Campground/Whittemore). They are a big bug (#10-12) that hatch in faster water, normally from late afternoon into evenings. Subsurface think Isonychia nymphs & big Princes, try both dead-drifting AND swinging them (Isonychia are excellent/fast swimmers). Mayfly that are often confused with Sulfurs- they are working their way up into the permanent TMA/C&R, not sure of the upstream limit. Summer weather here now means the best fishing will shift more & more to early and late in the day. Don't forget about terrestrials such as Ants & Beetles, warm weather means they are active and some are ending up in the water (good midday choice for sporadic risers). When fishing Caddis dries, if a dead-drift doesn't produce, try twitching your fly (less is more on the twitching) as Caddis are quite an active bug. 

Mark Swenson's next "Fly Fishing 101" beginner fly fishing class will be on July 7th, click on class to take you to description page. 2/4 slots are filled, there are 2 spots left available as of this morning 6/28. Call the store at 860-379-1952 to sign up.

While the focus for the majority of our customers seems to have shifted to dry flies
Guide Zach St Amand and pocket water quality brown
, the subsurface angling with with nymphs, wet flies & soft-hackles remains consistent and is often better than the dry fly fishing, especially when the trout aren't rising. The key is to focus on the faster/broken water (pool heads, riffles, runs, pocket water, etc.), get your flies down, get a dead-drift, and cover lots of water. Experiment with your flies, as the better producing flies may change as the bug activity changes throughout the day. Don't rule out Junk Flies like Squirmy Worms & Mops, they are still having their moments here & there when it's slower on the imitative patterns. At the end of the day the goal is to get the trout to open their mouth and eat your fly. 
Antoine's client Tom and a healthy 'Bow

We are seeing big Stonefly nymph shucks on the rocks in fast water, making them a great morning fly that are most active at first light through mid/late mornings (can work all day though, but generally best in the AM). They crawl out on the rocks to emerge during low light. Caddis pupa get active subsurface around mid-morning, and then they typically hatch in the afternoon. Evenings are a mix of various Mayflies & egg-laying Caddis. Streamers are still good, especially during low light (early & late in the day) and on overcast or rainy days. Nymphs/pupa/larva are picking up fish all day long, and wet flies/soft-hackles have been deadly. Steve Culton reports that the evening wet fly fishing has been fantastic during the evening hatches. You can do things with them that you cannot do with a dry fly or weighted nymph. Big Isonychia ("Iso's") are hatching downriver, last I knew they were about as far up as Canton. They are typically a late afternoon to evening trickle hatch in fast water, same as the March Brown.

Multiple hatches are occuring throughout the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R), as well as
Brown in the net by Chris Kornatz
above it, and especially way downstream. 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  (and 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
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.

Now is 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. The people fishing soft-hackles & wet flies are giving me some excellent reports, try soft hackles with Hare's Ear bodies, Sulfur soft hackles,  March Brown wets, as well as Partridge & Yellow/Green/Orange these flies will cover your Caddis, Sulfurs, Vitreus & March Browns. I recommend fishing 2-3 at a time, on tag end droppers, spaced about 20-30" apart. If tangles are a big problem, go to 1 fly only, but be aware 2-3 at a time are more effective and allow you to animate the flies in ways that you cannot do with a single fly (eg. "dancing the top dropper").

Sulfurs #16-18 are at least as far up as Pipeline/Lyman Rock, maybe even further up. Vitreus are almost done, still a few upriver between Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage and the dam, they are an evening deal. Assorted Caddis #14-20 are heavy all over the river.  March Browns #10-12 are now also all the way up to about the Still River., Isonychia are still only downriver (Canton/Collinville/Unionville). Sulfurs are typically an evening hatch so don't leave early! Sometimes we see a Sulfur hatch also around late morning/lunchtime. Caddis typically hatch in the afternoons and egg-lay in the evenings, March Browns & Isonychia hatch sporadically from late afternoon through evening.

If you are nymphing, think about fishing a #14-16 Caddis Pupa (olive/green & tan) or Larva (olive/green), #14-20 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 (especially think Olives on cloudy days). The Pheasant Tail is a very effective imitation of Olives and many, 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 in preparation for hatching. If you are targetting the semi-recent 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! D 

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 good. 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 6/28/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge this morning is normal & medium at about 284cfs (the Still River is 35cfs), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium/normal at 249cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 284cfs. 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 25cfs last I knew, 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 upper 50s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (low 50s in Riverton above the Still River), but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and specific location. Downriver in Collinsville/Unionville will be slightly warmer, probably upper 50s/mid 60s. Long range highs average mid 80s, with lows mid/upper 60s. 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 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, which in the summer is normally early & late.

-Sulfurs #16-18 (all the way up to Pipeline/Still River)- eves, sometimes late morn/noonish too
-Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan)- afternoon hatch, evening/dusk egg laying
-Isonychia #10-12 (from downriver up to top of permanent TMA/C&R)- late afternoon thru dusk 
-March Browns #10-12 (late afternoon/eves)- all the way up to Riverton, trickle hatch, eve spinners
-Attenuata #18-20- just starting, eves
-Ants & Beetles #12-20
-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/March Brown, Partridge & Green/Orange/Yellow, Sulfur, 
     Pheasant Tail, 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, tan)
-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:

     -Report by Torrey Collins