Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday 11/25/19 Farmington River Report: Highs in the 50s!

We will be closed on Thanksgving this Thursday 11/28, but open normal hours every other day.

Looks like some very mild weather through mid-week, then highs drop down into the 30s by the weekend. As of this morning, the river is high & dropping (upper 700cfs range at 8am). We definitely got more rain than predicted yesterday, but we should drop back down quickly. All the extra water is coming from the Still River, and she drops fast. You always have the option of going upstream of the Still in the upper 2 miles below the dam, its almost unaffected by rain in that section due to the controlled dam release. Personally I love fishing in higher flows, as long as it's not muddy (and it's not). I tend to catch some bigger fish when the flow comes up. When fishing in higher flows you can use bigger flies & heavier tippet. It's a great time to throw a big streamer in search of a big trout, they come out to feed in higher flows and are more prone to making a bad decision on what to eat. Nymphwise, think Junk Flies for sure: Egg flies, Squirmy Worms, and Mops. Also big Stonefly nymphs. High water makes it easy to find the fish: out of the heavy current. They tend to move in closer to the banks.

Top pic is a brown with a big motor (tail) that Justin Barden tricked on a streamer Sunday, and below that is his buddy Paul Battaglia with a nice brown he nymphed up. 3rd pic down is a late season Atlantic Salmon Parr (notice heavily forked tail). 4th pic down is the view behind UpCountry this morning.

Hatches include Winter/Summer Caddis, Midges, and small Olives. Lately the Winter Caddis & Midges have been better hatch than the Olives FYI. The higher flows will reduce the dry fly fishing, I'd check Church Pool for risers. Other than the early/mid morning Winter Caddis, the other bugs are afternoon deals. Generally afternoons have provided the better fishing (higher water temps = more active trout & bugs). The most consistent action, and especially for bigger fish, has been subsurface with nymphs & streamers. Good nymphs include Junk Flies (eggs, worms, mops), Stones, Caddis larva, Midges & Olive nymphs. With nymphs, Junk Flies have dominated the earlier part of the day, and generally nymphs that imitate bugs have been better in the afternoons. Makes sense, as that's when most of the real insects are active. With streamers, experiment with colors & retrieves, and make sure to get them deep.

I've been advising people to focus on later morning to late afternoon when water temps are higher and there is more bug activity, and most of you have been doing just that. The one exception would be the Winter/Summer Caddis, they typically hatch in early/mid mornings, and during the recent cold snap they were out in decent numbers so keep your eye out for them if you are out early.

Look down several paragraphs for a brief write-up about the new T&T rods that just debuted this month: the new Contact 10' #3, the Zone mid-priced 10' #4, and the Paradigm dry fly series. All are in stock except the new Zone.

Guide Mark Swenson is doing a beginner fly tying class this December, a two day class on 12/8 & 12/15, click the link below to go to that page:

Less hatches in late Fall and dropping water temps means the trout won't normally be in the faster water, so start targeting deeper runs, pools, and softer/deeper riffles. Trout may move into the heads of runs/pools/riffles as water temps rise in the afternoon when the Blue Winged Olives & Midges get active, so keep that in mind. In the mid afternoons look for rising trout in the softer pool water where the riffles slow down and below that- same in early/mid AM when the Winter/Summer Caddis are popping.

FYI we are well stocked with almost everything you need to tie flies and the proper gear to fish for Great Lakes Steelhead, just ask and we are happy to help.

Don't show up here at first light and quit at noon, but rather focus on the late morning to late afternoon time slot when water temps are rising, trout metabolism peaks, and you have your best shot at finding feeding trout. It's also a hell of a lot more pleasant to fish during the milder part of the day. Sunshine can be a good thing this time of year, as sunny days see noticeably higher water temp spikes. Fish smarter and maximize your results.
Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies) are still top producers almost anytime of day, especially when nothing is going on (they are independent of hatching insects. Midges and small Blue Wing Olives (BWOs) #22-26 and Midges are the main afternoon hatches now. Before & during the afternoon BWO hatch, the nymphs that imitate them can be very effective- usually something with a mayfly shape in olive to brown in #18-20 will get the job done, even though the adults are smaller than that. The entire river from Riverton to Unionville continues to fish well, so don't limit yourself to just one section or pool, it's literally all good.

Streamers can work anytime of day in the Fall, but especially early & late in the day during low light. Trout, especially browns, get extra aggressive toward streamers this time of year. Go with bigger streamers for less but bigger trout, or small to medium for better numbers but smaller trout- 3" long (give or take) would be the in-between size choice for the best of both worlds. 

Fall/Winter Store Hours:
8am-5pm 7 days a week

We've received a veritable pile of used rods & reels as trade-ins recently. Some are listed on our website, but many of the least expensive used rods & reels are for in store purchase only and are not listed up and can only be found by looking on our racks. Stop in the store and check it out for yourself, there are some really good deals!

Thomas & Thomas has debuted their Paradigm series of moderate action, dry fly type rods, along with a new Contact 10' #3, and a Zone 10' #4. We have most of those rods in stock now, except for the Zone 10' #4. Zach St. Amand has been beating up the new 10' #3 Contact and loves it. Grady & I were impressed with the Paradigms, they are on the moderate action/somewhat softer side, but they cast beautifully from up close to far out and will protect lighter tippet. FYI the Paradigm series won "Best New Dry Fly Rod" in the 2020 Fly Fisherman magazine Gear Guide!  The Contact 10' #3 feels awesome in the hand, and it's a more portable length than it's longer brothers. Due to it being shorter than the 10' 8" & 11' 3" models, it has a crisper action that would make it a very good choice for someone who likes to tight-line/Euro nymph, but also likes to throw fly line with dries, wets, and small/medium streamers.

Total 8am flow today (Monay) in the permanent Catch & Release is high & dropping at 779cfs (272cfs from the dam, and 507cfs from the Still River).  Flows are dropping fast, and even though 779cfs is high, it's fishable for sure with bigger nymphs, Junk Flies, and streamers. 8am water temp in Riverton was 42.5 degrees. Lowest water temps will be at first light, highest will be mid/late afternoon. Currently trout are most active when water temps are at their highest and/or moving upward, the early to mid morning period has typically bee slow, fishing picks up as the day progresses and water temps rise.

Some trout are still spawning (FYI it can go as late as early/mid January), so watch out for redds (light colored patches of gravel in riffly areas where the female browns dig a depression in the gravel to lay their eggs). Several points: 1) please leave the spawning trout alone so they can make more wild trout, 2) spawning is very stressful, so don't add to their stress by catching them, and 3) don't walk on the redds or you will crush the eggs and kill them- some eggs end up in the light colored redd, but many end up slightly below them, maybe 3-10 feet or so. Fish in the darker/deeper water downstream of the redds and there will likely be hungry, egg-eating non-spawning trout there . An egg fly can be absolutely lethal as they are a calorie-dense high-value food item for trout, they cannot escape/swim away, and bigger trout love them. Please do not target fish on redds, or fish that are actively spawning. Let them do their thing and hopefully make more wild trout, it's not sporting to pull them off a redd. Spawning is stressful, so don't add to their stress. There are lots of non-spawning fish that are happy to eat your flies.

We now have Fasna F-415 Jig hooks in stock in sizes #14-20. They are high quality, stronger than average, come 30 to a pack,  priced at $7.25, and similar in shape/design to the ever popular Hanak 450 (which is wide gap/short shank/curled in point). They run about a size smaller than marked compared to the Hanak 450 (i.e. the #16 is more like a #18, and so on)- compared to a standard jig hook they are a full two sizes smaller. Check 'em out if you are looking for a smaller jig hook with a wide gap, shorter shank with a turned in barbless point. These hooks won't bend out when you are playing a bigger trout- many comp style hooks are medium wire, and when you combine that with a wide hook gap (especially on the smaller hook sizes) and a big trout, the result can be a lost fish when the hook bends.

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.
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.
8am-5pm, 7 days a week through March.

-Blue Wing Olives #22-26 (mid afternoons) 
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Midges #20-32:(late morn thru afternoon)

-"Junk Flies" #8-16 (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Eggs, Green Weenies)
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodos/Frenchies #16-22
-Blue Wing Olive Nymphs #18-20 (various patterns)  
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16 
-Cased Caddis #12-14       
-Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #16-20
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, olive, red)

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Make sure to fish them deep (near the bottom) this time of year: use a sinking leader, sink-tip, sinking line, or a heavier tungsten bead pattern as your point (end) fly. You can also fish them in a nymph rig paired up with split shot or a tungsten bead weighted nymph to get them down to the trout's level.
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear/March Brown, Partridge & Orange/Yellow, Sulfur, Partridge & Flash, Isonychia, Pheasant Tail, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, 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: