Monday, June 24, 2019

Monday 6/24/19 Farmington River Report: Bugs & Browns

Cody with a sweet brown on a dry fly
Just another week in paradise. A LOT of fishermen were out and about this past weekend.  Water levels & temps are excellent. Many anglers are still giving us good to excellent fishing reports, but depending upon where/when/how and skill level reports & success varied. The dry fly fishing is getting a little more technical, probably due to fishing pressure I'd guess. At the right moments, a bunch of trout have been rising. Best bug activity overall is no further upstream than where the Still River dumps in, 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 downriver. We are just a starting to see some evening Attenuata hatching, they are a small bright greenish/yellow almost chartreuse Mayfly.  Summer weather here now means the best fishing will shift more & more to early and late in the day. The heaviest bug activity is definitely in the evenings at dusk to dark, with a wide variety of Mayflies & Caddis on the water. FYI if trout are gently sipping in the eves and you cannot catch them, try a spinner pattern. 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). Another tip: 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 Tuesday 6/25. 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 (we are selling
Zach guided Scott Meador to this big wild brown
piles of them), 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. FYI 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. Don't get 100% brainwashed into "Match the Hatch" all the time. Imitative flies are often the answer (especially during heavy insect hatches), but.... there are MANY moments when attractor flies that are gaudy, flashy, fluorescent, etc. will outfish the drabber imitative stuff. At the end of the day the goal is to get the trout to open their mouth and eat your fly. They have a single digit IQ and no hands, all of which means that have to put objects in their mouth to see if it's something good to eat. Experiment with an open mind and let the trout tell you what they want you to fish, don't try to force them to eat flies you want to fish but they don't want to eat haha.

Hefty 2 Year Old Brown by John Holt

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.

Thomas Foyle with a FAT 2 Year Old Brown
Multiple hatches are occuring throughout the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). 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.

Eric Juhasz left eye green Brown Sunday night 6/23
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 & Vitreus #14-16 are both at least as far up as Pipeline/Lyman Rock, maybe even further up. Vitreus are getting near the tail end of their hatching period. 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. Vitreus are typically an evening hatch. 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, March Browns & Isonychia hatch
Recent Wet Fly brown by Steve Culton
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 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!   

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
Golden Rainbow by Richard Lapidus, still a few around
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 Monday morning 6/24/19:
Dave Machowski's client Eric and a photogenic brown
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge this morning is normal & medium at about 288cfs (the Still River is 51cfs), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium at 237cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 308cfs. 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 25cfs, 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 (upper 40s/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/low 60s. Long range highs average low/mid 80s, with lows low/mid 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
-Vitreus #14-16- eves, getting near the end of the hatch
-March Browns #10-12 (late afternoon/eves)- all the way up to Pipeline/Still River
-Attenuata #18-20- just starting, eves
-Ants & Beetles #12-20
-Isonychia #10-12 (just starting, lower river only- Canton/Collinsville/Unionville)- late afternoon thru dusk
-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