Monday, July 8, 2019

Monday 7/8/19 Farmington River Report: hot air/cold water

Zach's client James with a 20" wild beauty
The 4th of July weekend brought out plenty of anglers, and we got quite a few good fishing reports, as you can see by the photos of nice fish in this report. Water remains at a medium/perfect and is nice & cold. Fish are getting fooled by dries, nymphs, soft/hackles & wet flies, and streamers. Mousing after dark for big fish is an option too.  USGS water temp in Riverton is 53 degrees this morning. The water will stay in the 50s-60s for quite a ways downstream. In the permanent Catch & Release area water temps are a non-issue (they are in the 50s), even on sunny 90+ degree days. Start your day at the most downstream point you plan to fish, and then work upriver as the day progresses to stay in optimum water temps. We are fortunate to have a deep bottom release dam that keeps the water cold & flowing all summer for
Awesome flawless big brown by Gary Griffin from Friday 7/5
quite a ways below the dam.

Neal Spencer with a really good brown
Hot weather means that generally the best hatches (and fishing) are early and late in the day, when it's most comfortable to be out. You can catch fish at anytime during the day, but by far the best dry fly fishing is dusk to dark and beyond. Don't leave early or you will miss out on the best dry fly fishing of the day. On hot days the evening fishing may not really kick off until 8pm and peak at darkness, earlier on cloudy/cooler eves. From late morning to early evening, look for shade and you will find fish. I like to nymph in the mornings with a bigger stonefly nymph & small nymph (#18-20) combo. Later morning through late afternoon swap the stone out for a caddis pupa, and then a mayfly or sulfur type nymph for late afternoon through evening (big #10-12 Isonychia nymphs later in the day too). Play around with attractor nymphs too (that have flash/fluorescence/hot-spots). Dry/Dropper can be a fun way to fish now: use a bigger buoyant dry (like a Mini Chernobyl or big Isonychia) and drop a #16-18 tungsten bead nymph 1-3' below the dry. Most fish will take the nymph, but you will get some bonus fish on the dry also. Tie the nymph off the hook bend. Run it closer (12-18") to the dry during insect activity and in shallow water, run it further apart (2-3') in deep water and during non-hatch periods. It's like the fun of dry fly fishing, combined with the consistent effectiveness of nymphing. Plus it allows you target fish at distance.

Vinny Badaracco with a colored up big brown
Isonychia are one of the bugs that will hatch in the earlier part of the evening, remember that they are BIG bugs that live and hatch in fast water, so don't look for them in the slower pool water (think pool heads, riffles, pocket water, faster runs). Sulfurs continue to be the heaviest hatch (think dusk, but sometimes we get a secondary hatch of them in late morning), make sure to have several different imitations, and in more than one size (#16-18, maybe even #20). Also seeing plenty of cream mayflies (Light Cahills/Summer Stenos) at dusk in the #12-16 range, standard Cahills & Usuals work well. We are also seeing Attenuata #18-20, they are a small evening Mayfly that are often confused with Sulfurs. Attenuata are a bright greenish-yellow, almost light chartreuse color. A
Rusty Spinner is a good "problem solver" in the summer. Another good problem solver is a terrestrial imitation such as a beetle or ant, especially when there aren't many bugs hatching but you have some rising trout. Sometimes wet flies/soft-hackles are the answer when the trout are feeding just under the surface (that happens a lot, especially during peak hatch activity in the eves)- present them both on the dead-drift and the swing/twitch.  You can even run them as a trailer behind a dry fly.

In July/August/September flows are normally medium to low, and many of the bigger nymphs/larva have hatched, leaving the majority of bugs at #18 and smaller (exception: Isonychia & big Stonefly nymphs). Often I find the difference between a slow day of nymphing and a double-digit outing in July is using nymphs #18 or even smaller. It can be a game changer. In general the small size is much more important than the exact fly pattern, but I'd still have several options from drab to gaudy, and in different styles/shapes/colors. You can pair them up with a bigger fly. Stoneflies #4-12 emerge in the early to mid mornings, you will see them on the rocks in the fastwater, I tend to have my best luck 
with #8-10 patterns in yellow/gold to brown colors. Isos nymphs are #10-12, and they can swim in 6-12" spurts. Having said that, overall I tend to do better dead-drifting them, but I always let them swing at the end of the drift. Experiment and do whatever works better. 
While the focus for the majority of our customers seems to have shifted to dry flies, the subsurface
Another recent beauty by Neal Spencer
angling with nymphs, wet flies & soft-hackles remains consistent and is often better than the dry fly
fishing, especially when the trout aren't rising and/or when they are refusing your dries/emergers/spinners/terrestrials. The key is to focus on the faster/broken water (poolheads, 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, and sometimes attractor/Junk Flies work better than the imitative ones- you have to experiment to find out.

Caddis pupa get active subsurface around mid-morning, and then they typically hatch into adults in the afternoon. Evenings are a mix of various Mayflies & egg-laying Caddis. Streamers can still be 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, and they fish in the upper water column where the bugs are & the fish are feeding in the evenings. Big Isonychia ("Iso's") are the latest hatch to join the fray in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release. 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 above it, and also downstream for quite a few miles (more elbow room down there FYI, but access gets trickier). Hot weather can push the evening activity closer to dusk/dark (that's been the case during the hot summer weather of late), 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 some great 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, as well as
Partridge & Yellow/Green/Orange these flies will cover your various Caddis, Sulfurs, March Browns and Cahills/Summer Stenos. 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").

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.

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 7/8/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge this morning is normal & medium at about 286cfs (the Still River is 27cfs), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium/normal at 259cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 280cfs. 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, but they may have put it back to zero now, I'm not sure. 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/low 60s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (low/mid 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 low to high 60s and into the low 70s if you venture far enough downstream on hotter/sunny days. Long range highs are hot with highs 85-90 and nights mid/upper 60s- this will push the downstream water temps up, so check water temps with a thermometer if you are down in Canton/Collinsville/Unionville. The best time to fish downriver during hot summer weather is in the morning when water temps are lowest. Warmer, sunny days will see the biggest water temp increases. The exception to this will be during periods of high water releases from the dam, as the colder water from deep in the reservoir chills down the river for quite a ways downstream. 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: eves, sometimes late morn/noonish too
-Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan): afternoon hatch, evening/dusk egg laying
-Isonychia #10-12L late afternoon thru dusk in faster water 
-Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-16: eves
-Attenuata #18-20: eves
-Ants & Beetles #12-20: anytime, esp. late morning thru early eve during non-hatch periods
-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 #16-18
-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (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