Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday 9/13/19 Report: Friday the 13th, Flying Ants, and Streamers

51 degree air temp at 8am this morning! Love it, feels like Fall, seeing more splashes of foliage color every day. Today will see a high of only 69, and a low in the upper 40s. Saturday will be 72 & mostly cloudy, and Sunday will be 76 with a mix of sun & clouds (low of 61 Saturday night makes Sunday morn the better day to look for a Trico spinner fall up in Riverton). Cooler weather, shorter days, and a lower sun angle has the entire river once again fishable from the dam in Riverton all the way downstream to Unionville- don't just limit yourself to the permanent TMA/Catch & Release or Riverton, it's not necessary. Plenty of trout all up & down the river.

On Monday 9/9, fisheries stocked the Farmington River from Satan's Kingdom down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville. If you are looking for some easier targets, try somewhere in that section- Woolly Bugger & "Junk Flies" (Mops, eggs, San Juan/Squirmy Worms, Green Weenies) are often hard to beat on freshly stocked trout. Rain Thursday put some water in the Still River, from there down the Farmington is running at about 100cfs and slowly dropping. When the water is low, any flow bumps usually lead to the trout feeding more actively. Water temps have been averaging low/mid 60s. September is one of those weird months where when the nights are cool and the days are moderate, the downstream water temps are often cooler than upriver, especially in the mornings. I'm just starting to hear good streamer reports- shorter days & dropping temps has the trout pre-spawn and getting more aggressive.

Local guide Steve Hogan with a handful of pretty September brown trout. The "Bugs du Jour" are similar to the last report but slowly evolving. Tricos are near the end and
moving upriver, mostly in Riverton closer to the dam, not sure what the downstream limit is for them currently (there were still down as far as Mathies Grove/Campround in the beginning of the week).  The Summer/Winter Caddis are still popping in early/mid mornings. You may see assorted Caddis hatching from mid/late morns through the afternoon, and then egg-laying later in the day. Yellow Sallies #12-20 are active in the second half of the day, and look for #16-18 "Hebes"/Fall Sulfurs in the eves. Hebes look like a pale colored Sulfur in the #16-18 range and are also common on the Housatonic & Delaware, September is the big month for them. Ants, beetles & small hoppers are still good in the afternoons, and can even be blind-fished- try also Chernobyl Ants #12-14. Eves are seeing light hatches of Isonychia #10-14, cream Mayflies #12-20, and assorted Caddis. September is the big Flying Ant month, look for them in the afternoons and make sure to have a few matching flies: they tend to be smaller than most people think, in the #18-24 range. You may see small Blue Winged Olives #20-24 in the afternoons/eves, especially on cloudy days. Don't forget your spinners in cream and rust to imitate Isonychia, cream Mayflies, and other assorted evening bugs. Cooler air temps means the evening fishing can start as early as 4-5pm, and may end by 7pm (it's dark about 7:30pm now). Remember to be stealthy in your approach in these lower flows, think about using a longer leader, and match the natural bugs in size.....large or small.

Subsurface anglers are finding success on wets/soft-hackles, nymphs (mostly smaller with some exceptions), and starting this week streamers too. Streamers are probably still at their best early & late in the day, but with trout starting to get more aggressive as spawning time approaches in October/November, don't rule out midday, especially if it's overcast. Play with colors when streamer fishing, some days it makes a huge difference. If you know you are over fish, change colors every 5-10 minutes until you start getting hits regularly, and make sure to cover lots of water. One of the biggest mistakes you can make with streamers is just fishing a small amount of water. Smaller nymphs are consistently effective, and by smaller I mean #18-20. Exceptions would include#12-14 Isonychia nymphs (mid afternoon to dusk) and bigger #8-10 Stoneflies (early/mid mornings). Caddis pupa #14-18 can be good anytime from mid/late mornings through dusk. September is the month I see the most Yellow Sally activity- look on the downstream edge of rocks in the fast water, and you will sometimes see dozens of shucks of what appear to be miniature Golden Stoneflies in the #14-20 range. A Sulfur nymph doubles well as a Yellow Sally nymph and work for the Hebes too.

As of September 1st, the entire Farmington River from the dam in Riverton for 21 miles downstream to the Rt 179 bridge in Unionville is now Catch & Release until Opening Day in April 2020. If you see anybody keeping fish in this section, please call the CT DEEP at 1-800-824-HELP and report the violation. Even if they are not able to respond to it on time, the info goes into their database and helps to create better/more policing of the area in the future.

Despite lower flows, we are still getting good fishing reports from those adapting to the conditions (always the #1 key to success in any kind of fishing). Remember that lower flows generally equates to rising trout when there is a hatch, and it condenses the trout to the deeper spots, especially those with broken water & current. Find the faster water and fish small nymphs when they aren't rising, or fish wet flies, soft hackles, or small streamers. Most of the biggest trout are getting caught at dusk, after dark, or at first light.

Under current conditions, I like to look for deeper water, current, and structure- find those together, and you will find trout. Cherry pick and only fish the best spots, and unless you see rising trout, eliminate the water that is shallow and/or has little current. Look for the darker water that indicates depth, look for riffly, broken water that has some current speed & structure (downed trees, undercut banks, big rocks) . Trout feel vulnerable in shallow, slow water and will seek out water they feel more comfortable. Choppy/broken water helps hide them from predators, plus it's where many of the bugs live. Midday also look for shade.  For dries, if there's a hatch, match it in size/shape/color. Wet flies/soft-hackles are very effective in low water, and easy to fish because unlike nymphs, they don't get hung up on the bottom a lot. It allows you to target some thin lies when needed.

Flows: We are currently at a low but definitely fishable 99cfs total flow through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (69cfs in Riverton, 30cfs from the Still River).  Morning water temp in Riverton is 61 degrees today.

We have a pile of Solarez colored UV Resin in stock now- 9 colors. The first batch went in a blink so I ordered a bunch this time, and expanded the color range out. Now they are doing black, so I loaded up on that color, it's the classic color to do a wingcase on a Perdigon nymph. Also traditional is to use black nail polish, but then you have to wait for it to dry before you can coat it with clear UV Resin. This UV Resin speeds up the process and is more durable than nail polish. Got a bunch of other colors too, including various shades of fluorescent colors such as orange, pink, chartreuse, red (fire orange really), etc, and other non-fluorescent colors like brown, grape, and shimmer copper. All these colors make a good wingcase, or in the case of the fluorescent ones, a good hotspot. We also have the ultra thin Bone Dry formulation in black now. Solarez is hands-down the best UV Resin on the market: cures the fastest, cures rock hard/durable, and it's not tacky. It's also way less expensive than the other brands, despite it's superior performance.

Dry/Dropper can be a fun way to fish in lower flows: 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/hatches or 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 and not spook them. If you wanna target big trout on the surface after dark, try a short/heavy 6-7.5' leader (0x) with a deer hair mouse pattern- make sure to bring a BIG landing net with you...:)
Now is still 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, and deadly in lower flows. 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. Try soft hackles with Hare's Ear bodies, Partridge & Orange/Yellow/Green/olive, Isonychia Soft Hackles, etc. 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"). We have a great 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 tag-end droppers. 
Zach St. Amand, one of the top local guides and frequent flyer in our big fish pictures, is leading a trip with Andes Drifters to Patagonia for big wild trout, February 8-15th 2019. He still has some availability, call him at 646-641-5618 to find out more or to get onboard.

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

We have Devin Olsen's hot book "Tactical Fly Fishing", and it's really good. Its 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.
From April through October we are open 7 days a week, 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM) 
-Tricos #22-26: early/mid morns (near the end, stick to Riverton)
-Flying Ants #18-24: afternoons
-Isonychia #10-14 late afternoon thru dusk in faster water (6pm'ish to dark, hatch is light)
-Hebes/Fall Sulfurs: #16-18 Sulfur patterns work for them, evening hatch
-Yellow Sally #14-20 (hatches afternoons/eves, nymphs are effective anytime)
-Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-20: eves (various cream colored mayflies)
-Caddis #14-20 (tan, olive/green): AM hatch, evening/dusk egg-laying
-Ants & Beetles #14-20: anytime, esp. late morning thru early eve during non-hatch periods
-Midges #20-32: anytime
-Blue Wing Olives #20-24 (afternoons/eves, esp. cloudy days)

-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-20
-Hare's Ear #16-18
-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (tan, olive/green)
-Isonychia #10-14 (can also use bigger Pheasant Tail/Prince/ZugBug nymph to imitate)
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black)
-Frenchy #16-18
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Blue Wing Olive Nymphs (various patterns) #18-20
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #12-14   
-"Junk Flies" #8-14 (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Eggs, Green Weenies)   
-Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #16-20
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (assorted colors)

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear/March Brown, Partridge & Green/Orange/Yellow, Sulfur, Isonychia, Pheasant Tail, Starling & Herl, etc. 
   -most effective fished 2-3 at a time on tag-end droppers

-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)

Click this Thomas & Thomas blog link for a review I wrote about their awesome Contact 10' 8" #6 rod for Steelhead & Lake Run Trout/Landlocks:

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, and sometimes "lightly edited" by Grady Allen