Friday, May 10, 2019

Friday 5/10/19 Report- BIG flow cut & TMA/C&R stocking

Dave Moranino with a beauty from Wed 5/8
Antoine guided Martha from VT to this big brown
Finally the big flow reduction yesterday we've been waiting for: the MDC reduced the dam release on the West Branch by 275cfs, and the East Branch release is down to 100cfs now. This puts Riverton at in the very fishable upper 300cfs range, and the total flow below the Still River is much nicer and now UNDER 600cfs (the Still River has dropped way down and is now coming in just over 200cfs). We are over 500cfs lower than we were on last Monday between this flow cut & the Still River dropping every day. Saturday is looking great, with a high in the 60s with sun & clouds. Sunday will see less fishermen due to cooler temps (high in low 50s) and some modest rain/showers (.2" predicted). 

The state stocked the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) on Thursday 5/9, and above that from Whittemore to the dam on Wednesday. If you don't catch trout this weekend, then sell your gear because you're in the wrong sport!!! Haha. Plenty of nice trout were caught this week in the high water, and conditions are even better now. The Hendrickson hatch is working it's way upstream, I'm getting reports that it's at least as far up as Beaver Pool. The best hatching is probably in the upper end of the C&R up to Pipeline/Lyman Rock or so. Mid TMA/C&R and down the hatch is starting to wind down. Also seeing Baetis/Blue Wing Olives (BWOs/Olives), especially on cloudy days. Look also for Hendrickson spinner falls on milder evenings that are dry and not too windy (cold, rain, and/or wind will all send the spinners back into the trees). A rusty spinner in #12-14 matches them, and some of the biggest trout feed on the surface during spinner falls. FYI I also often seen spinners on the water in the mid/late mornings, and sometimes right before and even during the afternoon hatch, so be observant!

With greatly improved flows, much more of the river is fishable now. I only see .15" of rain predicted for later today (Friday 5/10), nothing Saturday, and .2" predicted for Sunday. Not bad at all. Lower flows also equate to more rising trout during hatches. Hendrickson hatch is working it's way upriver, so don't fish too far downstream if you are looking for this bug or you will miss it. If you keep moving upstream as it progresses, you can fish it for a surprisingly long time period. It was light & brief in Church Pool Thursday, so it's probably waning from mid permanent TMA/C&R and below that. However, the entire permanent C&R/TMA was stocked yesterday (Thursday 5/9), so there are LOTS of trout all over the entire Catch & Release/TMA section that will be easier to catch and in need of some "education" about what fake bugs look like....:) Woolly Buggers & "Junk Flies" should do some damage for the next 2-3 weeks until they learn what is & isn't real food.

Antoine got Kyle into this sweet brown on 5/2
A really colorful holdover brown I got on Thursday 5/9
#12-14 nymphs in medium to dark brown are still top producers, especially on the bigger holdover & wild trout, they imitate the Hendrickson nymphs and will catch big trout when they aren't rising.
Think about pairing them up with something smaller & olive in the #16-18 range to imitate the Baetis/Olives. FYI the Hendrickson nymphs are most effective from late morning through late afternoon. The 'ol PT (Pheasant Tail) is a very effective imitation of them, and we also have a specific imitation in the fly bins at UpCountry that is a Bruce Marino/Grady Allen collaboration, the BMAR Hendrickson Nymph tied by Bruce himself. If you are targetting the fresh stockers, I'd try pairing a natural looking nymph with a Junk Fly like a Mop or Squirmy Worm- deadly combo! FYI higher flows knock quite a few Cased Caddis into the drift, it's definitely an underfished fly pattern. Streamers continue to be productive, and give you a shot at some of the bigger trout. Play around with size, color & style of streamers, and experiment with your retrieve until you find the winning combo for that day. Be aware that color preferences for streamers can change throughout the day as light conditions change.

During higher flows, stick mainly to the major wider pools/runs, and look also for inside turns that break the current. High flows push trout closer to the banks, out of the heavy current. Find a current break that's close to where they normally hold, and you will find trout. Don't make the classic mistake of wading out in high water, I see anglers walk right through the fish all the time in high water, it's a rookie mistake that many veteran anglers make. Look for the current edges and fish the transition between the fast & slow water. Again, don't walk through the prime holding water! Rule #1 is find the fish and fish where they are, and Rule #2 is don't spook them! Rule #3 is fish something they want to eat, and Rule #4 is present it in such a way they they will eat it. Medium to large streamers in various colors (olive, black, white, brown, etc.) are good in higher flows, as are nymphs such as big Stoneflies #6-10, Cased Caddis, #12-14 brownish nymphs (imitate Hendricksons), Frenchies, and Junk Flies (Mops, eggs, worms, Weenies). I generally wouldn't go smaller than #14-16 nymphs during higher flows. Having said this, in clear/high flows if there is heavy bug activity on smaller bugs like Blue Wing Olives, a #18-20 matching nymph may be in order. Fluorescent hot spots and/or flashy UV dubbing can help the trout to spot your fly.

Long range highs average in the 50s-60s (mostly 60s) with nights in the 40s/low 50s. Water temps have been averaging in the 40s/low 50s most days in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA,
"Mopping Up" on a Rainbow 5/9
and in Riverton the temps
have been in the low 40s. Hatches are Hendricksons (moving more upriver now), Blue Wing Olives (BWOs)/Baetis), and Paraleps/Blue Quills (a few, getting lighter).

Nymphs & streamers continue to catch most of the trout, especially the bigger ones., but now that flows have dropped way down look for more rising trout when the bugs are hatching. If you are targeting 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, and olive is another top color).

FYI we went to 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, really good- second batch arrived recently. 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. 

The recently stocked trout (above, below, and now IN the permanent TMA/Catch & Release) 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 a month or more ago are getting dialed into more natural, imitative flies now. Look also at moments for trout rising to Hendricksons #12-14 (afternoons), Winter Caddis (early/mid morns), small Blue Wing Olives #18-20 (afternoons, especially on cloudy days), and Paraleps/Blue Quills #16-18 (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.
Bigger 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, especially in the late morning & afternoons. As water temps rise during the day, trout  & bugs often get more active and it spurs the fish to feed, and they may move more into the current if there are bugs in the drift. When trout are less active due to cooler water temps and no hatching activity, it typically pushes them into the softer/deeper water of pools, deeper runs, and gentle/deeper riffles. Trout (and especially bigger ones) 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 (especially on freshly stocked trout and during high or dirty water), but also try pairing then up with some regular nymphs to give the trout a choice. Hendrickson Nymphs, Baetis/Olive/BWO Nymphs, Caddis Larva, Pheasant Tails, Hare's Ears, etc. all could be good flies to pair up with a Junk Fly- the Junk Fly often acts as an attractor, and then the trout eat the more natural looking, smaller nymph. 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/black 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 metallic or colored beads 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).

Flow as of 9am Friday 5/10/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge is vastly improved at 587cfs (the Still River is 207cfs), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is a very fishable 380cfs. 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 decreased to 100cfs, it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry near condos & sewage plant. The Still River will continue to drop 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 low 50s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (low/mid 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 50s-60s, with lows in the 40s/low 50s. Mild, sunny days will see the biggest water temp increases. The exception to this will be during high water releases from the dam, as the colder water from deep in the reservoir chills down the river. Highest temps will occur in mid/late afternoon, with sunny days seeing the biggest temperature increases- this often activates both the aquatic insects & trout. Typically the best bug activity (and fishing) correlates to the most pleasant time of the day for us humans.

-Hendrickson #12-14- (midafternoons, best hatching is upper TMA/C&R to Still River/Lyman Rock)
-Rusty Spinner #12-14 (for Hendricksons, typically eves but can happens at other times too) 
-Blue Wing Olives #18-20 (afternoons, esp. cloudy days)
-Paraleps/Blue Quill/Mahogany Dun #16-18 (afternoons, a few)
-Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Midges #20-28 (late morns through afternoons)

-BMAR Hendrickson Nymph #12-14
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-20 (FYI #12-14 make a deadly Hendrickson nymph)
-Derrick's Heavy Hitter #16 (can imitate the Paraleps/Blue Quills)
-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.)
-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, 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