Monday, September 16, 2019

Monday 9/16/19 Farmington River Report

Chester with a legit 20" Farmington River brown trout. He was a happy guy Saturday!

A fly box was turned in over the weekend, contact us if you think it's yours.

It's good to have the entire river fishable for trout once again from Riverton down to Unionville, along with some very Fall-like weather: highs mid 60s/low 70s with nights averaging in the 40s straight through Thursday. 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, and water temps have averaged low/mid 60s on the entire river. As of 9am this morning, the MDC is increasing the dam release from a low 65cfs to a medium 158cfs to do the Army Corps of Engineers mandated draw down of Hogback/Goodwin Reservoir to do scheduled work/maintenance at Colebrook Dam. This increased release will last about 3-4 weeks as they lower the reservoir 2 feet per day. This will give us a total flow of about 180cfs+ in the permanent Catch & Release/TMA (69cfs from the dam in Riverton, plus 22cfs from the Still River). 8am water temp in Riverton at the Rt 20 bridge was 62 degrees. For those of you looking for a break in the low water we've had lately, here are your improved water conditions for a while, and this should turn the fishing on. You can go bigger on your nymphs, streamers & wets/soft-hackles and increase your tippet size.  

Vinnie B with a pretty Farmington Brook Trout. Dropping water temps & shorter days is starting to turn on the Fall streamer bite- and the flow bump should also help. Trout get more aggressive in the fall due to spawning, plus I suspect Mother Nature programs them to eat more in preparation for leaner times in the Winter. Some keys to successful streamer fishing: change pattern styles & fly color until you figure what turns the trout on. All colors have their moments, but historically good fall colors include yellow, brown, white, and olive. An all yellow streamer, or yellow as a secondary color paired with a predominately different color fly (such as brown) can be lethal in the Fall. Try different casting angles, it's not always down & across- frequently across & up is a better angle. Experiment with your retrieves (although more often than not, a faster retrieve is better in the Fall until the water temps get really cold, then you typically slow it down). Cover lots of water, you are looking for the aggressive fish- at any given moment, only a percentage of the fish are willing to eat a streamer, and you need to present your fly to those fish. The more trout you show your flies, the more you will catch. The low light periods of dawn & dusk are typically the best bites, but overcast days are good and as we move more towards October the bite can often be good all day as trout aggression ramps up. Try different size flies. Yes, on average, bigger flies will catch bigger fish, but some days the trout (even the bigger ones) don't want big flies. Or try a two-fly rig, with either a smaller, unweighted streamer or a nymph behind a weight streamer- this will get you some of those trout that move for your bigger streamer but won't eat it. In lower flows a floating line with a weighted streamer will get you deep enough, but if flows are medium to high you may want to use some sort of sinking line or leader to get your fly deeper. Use heavy enough tippets so that you don't break off fish on the strike- I typically go 0x on my bigger streamers (you can go even heavier with really big flies), and even on average sized ones I wouldn't go below about 2x as trout hit streamers HARD. You can fish average sized streamers on your #4-5 rods for sure, but.... a #6-7 rod with a medium-fast to fast action will do a better job casting, setting the hook, and playing bigger fish. If you want a really sweet streamer specific rod, check out the T&T Exocett SS series, they are 8' 8" and grain rated- the 160, 200 & 250 are all great Farmington River streamer rods and come with Recoil guides.

On 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. There are also plenty of holdovers and some wild trout in that same section.

The "Bugs du Jour" are similar to the last report but slowly evolving- pictured is a cream spinner of a Cahill/Summer Steno in about a #12 that was on our building this past weekend. Tricos are near the end and moving upriver, mostly in Riverton close to the dam, not sure what the downstream limit is for them currently (there were still down as far as Mathies Grove/Campround early last 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 last week streamers are noticeably picking up. Smaller nymphs have been 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. With medium flows on the horizon for the next 3-4 weeks now, you can likely increase your nymph sizes a bit. 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 over the past month or so, we still got plenty of 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

Water temps are no longer an issue in the lower river. 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 after a cooler night. I'm starting get some better streamer reports- shorter days & dropping temps has the trout pre-spawn and getting more aggressive. Fall is always an extra good time to fish the long flies.

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 one 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: use a bigger buoyant dry (like a Mini Chernobyl, Chubby 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. 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 (5pm'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 & afternoon hatch, evening 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 edited by Grady Allen