Friday, April 19, 2019

Friday 4/19/19 Farmington River Report: Big MDC flow cut & a few Hendricksons

Zach does it again with 21.5" of local wild brown trout from Thursday 4/18
John Holt with a BIG holdover Survivor Strain Brown Trout (clipped adipose)
After a week of very high water since Monday afternoon when they decided to let a ton of water out of the dam, the MDC will be cutting flows waaay down this afternoon, and by 2:30pm the release will have been reduced from 800cfs to 250cfs. The Still River has dropped & cleared nicely and is currently 240cfs as of this morning. Another piece of good news: Zach St. Amand reported a few Hendricksons hatching in New Hartford the past 2 days- just a handful and not enough to call it a hatch as yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if they get cranking sometime this weekend. Typically once you see a few, the hatch typically gets full-blown in 2-3 days. The flow cut coming this afternoon will raise the downstream water temps (below the Still River), as the water from the dam is in the low 40s, and the Still River is coming in at low 50s, and this will boost water temps and help to get the hatch going. Make sure you have some matching dry/emerger patterns in case you find rising trout in the afternoon! Typically the hatch occurs in mid afternoon, but that is not set in stone. 

Now is a good time to start fishing #12-14 brownish mayfly nymphs to imitate the Hendricksons, I catch some of my best trout every year nymphing before (late morning/early afternoon) and even during the hatch. Despite very high flows for most of this week, some very nice trout were landed locally, as you can see in the pictures. The only wildcard for this weekend is more rain in the forecast- 1/2" forecasted for overnight, and more rain forecasted for Saturday during the day. At least now if rain raises the Still River too much, you will have the option of very nice water conditions in the controlled flow in the upper 2 miles between the Still River and
A quality brown trout gracing Steve Hogan's landing net
the dam.

Long range highs are very mild, averaging in the 60s, with nights in the 40's to low 50s- this will ultimately raise water temps in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release into the low 50s in the near future. It's been averaging upper 40s most days in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA, and in Riverton the temps have been in the low 40s. Hatches are Blue Wing Olives/Baetis, Early Black Stones, Winter Caddis (early AM), Paraleps/Blue Quills, and Midges. Hendricksons start downriver and work there way upstream (downstream water warms up first). Generally a few days cracking 50 degrees water temps and they start to pop. During higher flows, think medium/large streamers and Junk Flies (Squirmy Worms, Egg flies, Mops, Green Weenies), and look for softer water off the current edges.

Nymphs & streamers continue to catch most of the trout, especially the bigger ones. If you are targetting freshly stocked trout, make sure if you are nymphing that one of your flies is a "Junk Fly"- Mop, Squirmy Worm, Egg Fly or Green Weenie. Pair it up with a more regular, natural looking fly (Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail, etc.). Small to medium streamers such as Woolly Buggers can be lethal on fresh stockers too, make sure to play with colors (Rainbows usually LOVE black FYI).

FYI we went to our extended summer hours starting 4/1: 8am-6pm weekdays, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

Local guide Mark Swenson is doing a FREE intro to fly fishing for beginnners class, click link to go to a class description.

We have Devin Olsen's hot new book "Tactical Fly Fishing", and it looks really, really good- second batch just arrived this week
Covers 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. 

The recently stocked trout (above and below the permanent Catch & Release/TMA) will be receptive to a variety of flies, especially things like Woolly Buggers and "Junk Flies" (Eggs, Mops, Worms, Green Weenies), but the ones stocked back in early March are also getting dialed into more natural, imitative flies now. Look also at moments for trout rising to Winter 
Caddis (early/mid morns),  small Blue Wing Olives #20 (afternoons), Paraleps/Blue Quills #16-18 (afternoons, a few), Midges (late AM & afternoons), and Black Stones (afternoons). Hope for dries, but be ready to fish subsurface with nymphs & streamer. Remember that highest water temps occur in mid/late afternoon, and sunny days will see the biggest water temp increases.
Streamers continue to pick up less but bigger fish. If you wanna throw 4-6" streamers for trophies, you are swinging for the fence and may strike out, but some days you will hit a home run and catch a
giant. Smaller streamers will often catch more trout, but you are less likely to get a giant on them. Be patient and cover lots of water, change colors/retrieves/patterns/fly size. Look to softer/slower water for dry fly fishing, but be prepared to go subsurface if needed. Sometime they will eat the Black Stones on the surface, but it's very hit or miss. Junk Flies and various streamers fished slow & deep are the ticket sometimes. Experiment and the trout will tell you what they want. It can vary from day to day, and even during the same day as water temps, trout metabolism, insect activity, and light levels all change as the day progresses.

Many better fish are moving into the faster water to feed, espeically in the afternoons. As water temps rise during the day, trout often get more active and feed, and may move more into the current if there are bugs in the drift. When trout are less active due to cold water temps, it typically pushes them into the softer water of pools, deeper runs, and gentle/deeper riffles. But they (and especially bigger fish) will often slide up into the heads of pools/riffles/runs into the somewhat faster water to actively feed. This is most common later in the day (late morning through late afternoon) when water temps are highest. At the end of the day light levels diminish, and some of the bigger browns wait until then to feed. It's a combination of rising water temps, bug activity, and light levels that gets the trout feeding.
Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Eggs, etc.) should all continue to have their moments, but also try pairing then up with some regular nymphs. Hendrickson Nymphs, Early Stones, Midge patterns, Caddis Larva, Pheasant Tails, Hare's Ears, etc. all could be good flies to pair up with a Junk Fly. Bigger Stonefly nymphs are always on the menu and make an excellent anchor fly when you need something heavy, and just might net you a bigger fish too. If you are fishing pools that get hit hard (like Church Pool or Hitchcock), make sure to fish some drab/natural flies (no bead, no flash, no hotspot) and/or patterns that are unusual and the fish haven't seen before. Heavy pressure can make specific patterns less effective, and sometimes shiny metallic beadheads and make trout shy away, so try some nymphs with no beads or black beads. And sometimes regular beadheads work way better than unbeaded patterns, you have to experiment if you know you are over fish but aren't doing well. Of course it goes without saying that a good dead-drift is critical (but let it swing out at the drift's end, strikes often occur at that moment, especially during insect activity). Slowly/deeply fished streamers are still connecting up with big trout, and some mornings have seen trout rising to Winter Caddis in early/mid mornings, and Midges after that. 

Nymphing is the #1 producer most days, as there are lots of nymphs in the drift now, but browns are hungry and sometimes want a big bite like a streamer. Church Pool has been offering dry fly fishing some days, especially when it's not too windy. For nymphing I usually target the late morning to late afternoon period for the most comfortable temps & best fishing (higher water temps = more active bugs & trout). The low light and higher water temps of the last couple hours often brings bigger browns out of hiding too.

Flow update as of 9am Friday 4/19/19:
The MDC is going to make major flow reduction at the dam today, going from 800cfs down to 250cfs by 2:30pm Friday 4/19. Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release on Friday morning 4/19 per the USGS gauge is very high at 1,142cfs (the Still River is 240cfs), and in Riverton above the Still River the Farmington is very high at 902cfs. This will all be radically reduced to a nice level after the 2:30pm flow cut. Normal median total flow for today would be 490cfs. 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 150cfs last I knew, it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry near condos & sewage plant.

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 will be open 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

Water Temps: 
Look for water temps to be somewhere in the upper 40s/low 50s after the MDC cuts the back the flow (low 40s in Riverton above the Still River), but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and specific location. Long range highs average in the 60s, so this will push water temps into the 50s on warmer, sunny days. Highest temps will occur in mid/late afternoon, with sunny days seeing the biggest temperature increases- this often activates both the aquatic insects & trout. After colder nights, it may be wise to wait until late morning, thereby giving water temps a chance to rise a degree or two, which will get the trout (and bugs) more active- streamer fishing can be an exception to this, as it's not hatch-related, as can nymphing with egg patterns or other "Junk Flies" like worm patterns & Mop flies, or flashy attractor-type nymphs that stimulate a reaction bite.

-Hendrickson #12-14- (just a few so far mid afternoon hatch)
-Early Black Stoneflies #14-16 (mostly underneath, but sometimes gets fish on the surface)
-Blue Wing Olives #18-20 (afternoon)
-Paraleps/Blue Quill/Mahogany Dun #16-18 (afternoon, a few)
-Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Midges #20-28 (late morns through afternoons)

-Hendrickson Nymph #12-14
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #14-20
-Black Stone/Black Nymphs #14-18
-Derrick's Heavy Hitter #16 
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12- gold/yellow, brown, black
-Assorted Olive Nymphs #16-20
-Mop Flies #8-12 (various colors, especially cream/tan)  
-Egg Flies #10-18 (various colors: yellow, pink, orange, etc.)
-Blue Lightning Bugs/Copper Johns #14-16
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-16
-Cased Caddis #8-16 
-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.).

"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

-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)
-Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor #4-8
-Matuka #4-8 (olive, brown)

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