Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tuesday 5/28/19 report: welcome to big browntown

Zach with 24" of brown trout on a Caddis Pupa Saturday evening!!!
Matty B and big brown #1 at 23.5"
Matty B and big brown #2 at 21.5"
So many good to excellent fishing reports over the holiday weekend, I don't know where to start. Saturday evening Zach St. Amand landed a measured 24" perfect brown you see here, and Matt Baranowski landed 22" & 23.5" browns Sunday morning. Former Orvis Avon manager Jon Bye landed 3 big browns up to 21" on Vitreus dries Saturday night, then Sunday he came in and bought a Euro rod and I set him up with a mono rig, and then he proceeded to get 19" & 21" wild browns on his new rig. Many, many reports of big catches (20-30 fish in a day and more), with many 18-21" fish landed, both recently stocked and holdovers/wilds. A customer said he was fishing in the permanent TMA/C&R this morning and he lost the biggest brown he ever saw, 28-30"! Flow is now down to a much nicer low 500cfs level, normal for today would be just under 400cfs total flow, so we are getting close to where we should be. Still lots of water in the reservoirs, so big future rains could still push the flow back up. Barring that, "normal" weather should see improved future flows, fingers crossed! FYI the 15 Day Forecast looks good: no big rains (showers and a couple scattered T-Storms), and highs in the mostly low/mid 70s with nights in the 50s. Weather Underground predicts about 1" total over the next several days (through Thursday 5/30), that shouldn't have a big effect on flows, but it will probably push the Still River a up a little. I don't know if the MDC will make any flow cuts this week or not, they may or may not, but we will update you if they do.

Tail of a 21" brown caught on a dry fly by Jon Bye
Derrick Kirkpatrick (CTFishGuides) got Jim into a big brown
There are Vitreus (Pink Lady) & Caddis hatching now, the Caddis are all up through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) and probably even upstream from that (maybe up to Pipeline/Lyman Rock? Not 100% sure), the Vitreus are up to at least the lower end of the permanent C&R (at least as far up as Greenwoods, and working their way upstream daily). I even saw a few bigger Sulfurs (Invaria) in the lower end of the C&R/TMA and down in New Hartford over the holiday weekend. Not enough to call it a hatch yet, but I'm sure downstream in Collinsille/Unionville they are would be a legit hatch. It's a bigger river downstream, so be careful if you venture down that far- we are finally down to water levels that will allow you to get into that section and successfully fish it.  Subsurface the trout have been chowing on #14-16 Caddis pupa, both in olive/green & tan, and various mayfly nymphs in #14-16 (prob imitate Vitreus & Sulfurs). Most anglers are focusing on the permanent TMA/Catch & Release- it  was stocked recently and is LOADED with trout, stocked, holdover & wild. However, it's also receiving the most pressure, so if
you want some elbow room either fish there at the crack of dawn, or venture outside of that area.

Andrew Kerilla doing some quality father/son time
Vitreus are in the Epeorus family and close cousins to the Quill Gordon. Like the Quill Gordon, they are two tailed and the winged dun emerges from the nymph on the stream bottom, and then the winged dun rises to the surface. They tend to emerge/hatch in faster broken water, with riffles & pocket water being typical habitat. They are normally creamish yellow in color, but the females have a pinky/orange cast to them due to the eggs in them, hence the common name "Pink Lady/Pink Cahill". On the Farmington they run #14-16, on other rivers as big as a #12. 

A big Nature's Spirit order arrived last Friday, and it includes new colored Solarez resin (fl. orange/pink/chartreuse, etc.). It also restocks us on competition style barbless hooks, including the best-selling Hanak 450 Jig Superb hook. FYI we received & put away almost $15,000 (our cost) worth of fly tying materials from Wapsi & Hareline recently. We have tippet rings in stock again, Squirmy Worms, and lots of fly boxes. Tacky boxes are also back in stock, and we now have their new breathable fly box! No more rusty flies... 

FYI we have a KILLER assortment of custom tied soft-hackles in our bins by Dick Sablitz, they are both fun & deadly to fish. Dries are producing a few fish, but at this flow you have to pick your spots carefully (bigger/wider pools). The bulk of the Hendrickson hatch is up river now, mostly above the
Greg Hallam holding an extra pretty brown
Still River between Hitchcock and the dam. Spinners will normally continue in the TMA for a good week after the hatch ends FYI- look for mild, relatively windless dry evenings (sometimes in mid/late morns and even afternoons too).

The Two Year Old Survivor Strain browns the state recently stocked in the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) are extra big this year, quite obese with a good number in the 18" plus range and some even bigger. They are putting smiles on a lot of angler's faces . Everybody is an expert in May, especially the first few weeks after they stock! Haha. Some big holdovers & wild fish are mixing in with the stockers. The biggest problem is getting past the recent stockers to get to them. That can be a fun problem though.

A little wild native Brook Trout 
Caddis pupa seem are very active subsurface, and at moments are the ticket- try both olive green & tan ones. Usually we see green/olive ones first, then the tan ones. In June we will see Sulfurs (Invaria). Cloudy days we are seeing #18-20 Blue Wing Olives (Baetis), try a small olive nymph if they aren't rising. Hatches start downriver (Unionville/Collinsville) and they work their way upstream, this is due to warmer water as you go downstream, and very cold water right below the dam.

If you think you are fishing over a lot of fish, go through the area several times, changing flies on each pass. If you aren't hitting fish, then keep covering new water, change flies, and try different tactics/presentations. In general, the more water you cover, the more fish you will catch. And especially if you are fishing streamers, make sure to cover lots of water. For those of you who arent great nymphers, a killer rig is a weighted streamer (such as a conehead Woolly Bugger), with a #14-16 nymph or soft-hackle trailed 14-18" behind it (tied off hook bend of the streamer). Typically some fish will eat the streamer, but many who won't will eat the smaller trailing fly.

We are getting a lot of good to excellent fishing reports from customers lately, but some anglers are still struggling, despite large numbers of recently stocked fish combined with actively feeding trout in optimum water temps. Heavy fishing pressure can make even recently stocked trout fickle about fly patterns, especially after they've been pricked a bunch of times on popular patterns. Adaptable anglers who move around, cover the water, and are willing to fish dries, streamers, nymphs or wets/soft-hackles will always have the best success. If you fish the same 10 yards of water with one technique for 4 hours straight, don't be surprised if you have lackluster results. If you aren't doing well, try different  techniques, presentations, and flies. Also move around and cover the water if you aren't catching fish where you are. 

There are literally TONS of trout in the river: fresh stockers, holdovers, and wilds. Look for Hendrickson spinner falls- even though the hatch is basically done in the permanent TMA/C&R and has moved into the upper river now, the spinners hang around for a week plus after the hatch ends. They occur when it's not too cold, wet or windy. On those milder, relatively windless dry evenings, the males & females mate in the air over the riffles, and then fall spent to the water, where big trout gently sip them in. The books say that the spinners drop in the evenings, and they often do, but we also see them mid/late mornings some days, and it's not uncommon to see spinners on the water right before and even overlapping the afternoon hatch. FYI the Hendrickson hatch has been happening as early as 1-2pm on milder, sunny days, and as late at 3-4pm on cooler, cloudy days. Hendrickson spinners are #12-14 and rusty brown (both males & females), and they fall to the water with they wings spent to the sides. As such they cannot escape, and large trout intuitively know that and gently sip them in. The Hendrickson hatch, and especially the spinner fall, brings some of the bigger trout to the surface. The evening spinner fall has the advantage of low light, no nymphs hatching to compete with the spinners, plus the spinners are helpless and cannot fly off the water like a dun can during the afternoon hatch. Add in the relatively large size of the bug, and you have an ideal hatch to get big trout fired up. FYI I typically have some of my best nymphing for big trout at Hendrickson time, with the best nymphal activity from late morning through late afternoon.

If you are nymphing, think about fishing a #14-16 olive/green to tan Caddis Pupa, a brownish #14-16 Mayfly type nymph (can be a Pheasant Tail), or something smaller & olive in the #16-18 range to imitate the Baetis/Olives. The 'ol PT (Pheasant Tail) is a very effective imitation of Olives and many other mayflies (depending on what size you choose). If you are nymphing in the early AM or late in the day, try using imitations of flies that will be hatching in June, as they will end up in the Behavioral Drift- think Sulfur nymphs & Caddis larva. 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, or maybe a flashy/gaudy hotspot nymph- 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.

Water temps have been averaging low/mid 50s most days in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA, (reaching upper 50s on warmer/sunny days), and in Riverton the temps have been in the mid 40s.

Nymphs & streamers continue to catch most of the trout, especially the bigger ones, but now that flows are down somewhat 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 are now in 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.
  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. 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. 
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 11am Monday 5/28/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge is medium high & very fishable at 519cfs & dropping (the Still River is 88cfs & dropping), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium-high at 431cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 383cfs. 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 is 50cfs, it joins the West Branch about 3/8 mile below UpCountry near condos & sewage plant. The Still River drops 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: https://thomasandthomas.com/blogs/news/torrey-collins-contact-1086

Check out this link to my blog post on 10 of my favorite books on a variety of subjects:
http://www.farmingtonriver.com/classes-news-reviews/10-of-torreys-favorite-books-december-2018/ 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/mid 50s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (mid 40s in Riverton above the Still River), but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and specific location.  Long range highs are normal will be mostly in the low/mid 70s, with lows in the 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 water 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.

-Vitreus #14-16
-Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan) 
-Blue Wing Olives #18-20 (afternoons, esp. cloudy days 
-Sulfurs (Invaria) #14-16 (downriver in Collinsville/Unionville, a few in lower TMA/C&R)
-Hendricksons #12-14 (done in TMA/C&R, still a few in Riverton above Still River)
-Rusty Spinners #12-14 (mostly Riverton above Still River, may still be a few in upper TMA/C&R)
-Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Midges #20-28 (late morns through afternoons)

-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #14-20
-Caddis Pupa #14-16 (olive/green, tan) 
-DK's "Just the Tip" Caddis Pupa #16
-Sulfur Nymphs #14-16
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12- gold/yellow, brown, black
-Assorted Olive Nymphs #16-20
-BMAR Hendrickson Nymph #12-14 
-Mop Flies #8-12 (various colors, especially cream/tan)  
-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: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/cortland-top-secret-ultra-premium-fluorocarbon/

     -Report by Torrey Collins