Friday, July 5, 2019

Friday 7/5/19 Farmington River Report: Summer mode

Shop guy Brayson with a perfect Farmington July brown trout
Gorgeous brown by customer Dave Moranino
Fishing remains good to excellent for many anglers, with the caveat that it is generally getting more technical. By that I mean the fish have been pressured over the past few weeks and they are getting keyed into the heavy hatches, so both your fly presentation & fly choice need to be good. The exception would be the fresh stockers the state put in on 7/3 for the holiday, they will be easy to fool for a little while (they only stocked the 4 mile section from the dam in Riverton downstream for 4 miles to Whittemore). If you are fishing dries for fish that have been in the river for a while, accuracy and a drag-free drift are essential. Lengthen out your tippet (3-4', sometimes even longer, but shorter if it's windy) to help create controlled slack and a natural presentation. An exception to the natural, drag-free drift can be Caddis, often the trout key in on movement and you have to gently twitch or drag them as they are a very active bug when they hatch & egg-lay. This is when a twitched Elk Hair Caddis can be deadly.

Water temps are mostly in the 50s to 60s (all great trout temps), depending upon how close to the dam you are and the time of day- closer to the dam is colder, and temps also rise as the day progresses (especially on bright sunny days, less so on cloudy ones). At some point waaay downstream you will find the river getting too hot in the afternoon on hot/sunny day. The summer weather here lately means that generally the best hatches (and fishing) is early and late in the day, when it's most comfortable to be out. You can catch fish at anytime during the day, but by far the best dry fly fishing is dusk to dark and beyond. Don't leave early or you will miss out on the best dry fly fishing of the day, stay until dark if you can!!! On hot days the evening fishing may not really kick off until 8pm, earlier on cloudy/cooler eves.
19" brown on a Stonefly nymph by outdoor writer Will Ryan
From late morning to early evening, look for shade and you will find feeding fish.

Isos are one of the bugs that will hatch in the earlier part of the evening, remember that they are BIG bugs that live and hatch in fast water, so don't look for them in the slower pool water (think pool heads, riffles, pocket water, faster runs). Sulfurs continue to be the heaviest hatch (think dusk, but sometimes we get a secondary hatch of them in late morning), make sure to have several different imitations, and in more than one size (#16-18, maybe even #20). Also seeing plenty of cream mayflies (Light Cahills/Summer Stenos) at dusk in the #12-16 range, standard Cahills & Usuals work well. We are also seeing Attenuata #18-20, they are a small evening Mayfly that are often confused with Sulfurs. Attenuata are a bright greenish-yellow, almost light chartreuse color. Make sure you have some spinner patterns for sipping fish that refuse
Zach St. Amand's son got this on a dry fly all by himself!
your standard dries- a #18-20 Rusty Spinner is a good "problem solver" in the summer. Another good "problem solver" is terrestrials such as beetles & ants, especially when there aren't many bugs hatching but you have some rising trout.
Sometimes wet flies/soft-hackles are the answer when the trout are feeding just under the surface (that happens a lot, especially during peak hatch activity in the eves).

In July/August/September flows are normally medium to low, and many of the bigger nymphs/larva have hatched, leaving the majority of bugs at #18 and smaller (exception: Isonychia & big Stonefly nymphs). Often I find the difference between a slow day of nymphing and a double-digit outing in July is using nymphs #18 or even smaller. It can be a game changer. In general the small size is much more important than the exact fly pattern, but I'd still have several options from drab to gaudy, and in different styles/shapes/colors. You can pair them up with a bigger fly. Stoneflies #4-12 emerge in the early to mid mornings, you will see them on the rocks in the fast
Brayson getting "Suckered"...
water, I tend to have my best luck with #8-10 patterns in yellow/gold to brown colors. Isos nymphs are #10-12, and they can swim in 6-12" spurts. Having said that, overall I tend to do better dead-dirfiting them, but I always let them swing at the end of the drift. Experiment and do whatever works better. 
While the focus for the majority of our customers seems to have shifted to dry flies, the subsurface angling with nymphs, wet flies & soft-hackles remains consistent and is often better than the dry fly fishing, especially when the trout aren't rising and/or when they are refusing your dries/emergers/spinners/terrestrials. The key is to focus on the faster/broken water (poolheads, riffles, runs, pocket water, etc.), get your flies down, get a dead-drift, and cover lots of water. Experiment with your flies, as the better producing flies may change as the bug activity changes throughout the day. Don't rule out Junk Flies like Squirmy Worms & Mops, they are still having their moments here & there when it's slower on the imitative patterns. At the end of the day the goal is to get the trout to open their mouth and eat your fly, and sometimes attractor/Junk Flies work better than the imitative ones- you have to experiment to find out.

Another beauty by Brayson
Caddis pupa get active subsurface
around mid-morning, and then they typically hatch into adults in the afternoon. Evenings are a mix of various Mayflies & egg-laying Caddis. Streamers can still be good, especially during low light (early & late in the day) and on overcast or rainy days. Nymphs/pupa/larva are picking up fish all day long, and wet flies/soft-hackles have been deadly. Steve Culton reports that the evening wet fly fishing has been fantastic during the evening hatches. You can do things with them that you cannot do with a dry fly or weighted nymph, and they fish in the upper water column where the bugs are & the fish are feeding in the evenings. Big Isonychia ("Iso's") are the latest hatch to join the fray in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release. They are typically a late afternoon to evening trickle hatch in fast water, same as the March Brown.

Multiple hatches are occuring throughout the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R), as well as above it, and also downstream for quite a few miles (more elbow room down there FYI, but access gets trickier). Hot weather can push the evening activity closer to dusk/dark (that's been the case during the hot summer weather of late), and conversely cool/cloudy days can make it happen earlier. Nymphing with Caddis pupa  (and Larva) is very effective from about mid morning through late afternoon. Mayfly nymphs are at their best from mid/late afternoons through evenings. Non of these hatch times are set in stone, so be sure to be observant & experiment. Streamers tend to be most effective during low light (early & late in the day), and on overcast or rainy days, and also in higher, off-color water. If you fish them on a bright sunny day, look for structure (downed trees, big rocks, undercut banks, overhanging bushes) in the shade. Wet flies & soft-hackles can be effective any time of day, but especially when the nymphs, pupa & egg-laying bugs are active/hatching.

New Fulling Mill streamers
We got in a veritable pile of flies from Fulling Mill recently, and we have some great streamers in the bins now, plus some cool new nymphs and lots of Frenchy Pheasant Tails. Got some cool patterns in this order from the Fly Fish Food guys, such as the Complex Twist Bugger, Ice Caddis pupa, and Masked Maurauder in a golden stonefly version, George Daniel's Sculp Snack streamer, Tim Flagler's Euro Golden Stone (good anchor fly), Joe Goodspeed's Juvenile Crayfish, and many other deadly new patterns. 

Now is 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. The people fishing soft-hackles & wet flies are giving me some excellent reports, try soft hackles with Hare's Ear bodies, Sulfur soft hackles, as well as
Partridge & Yellow/Green/Orange these flies will cover your various Caddis, Sulfurs, March Browns and Cahills/Summer Stenos. 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").

If you are nymphing, think about fishing a #14-16 Caddis Pupa (olive/green & tan) or Larva (olive/green), #14-20 Mayfly type nymphs (can be a Pheasant Tail, Hare's Ear, Frenchy, Sulfur Nymph, etc.), or something smaller & olive in the #16-20 range to imitate the Baetis/Olives (especially think Olives on cloudy days). The Pheasant Tail is a very effective imitation of Olives and many, many other mayflies. If the more traditional/natural stuff isn't working, 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 we have a KILLER 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 droppers.

The Two Year Old Survivor Strain browns the state stocked in the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) this spring are extra big, quite obese with a good number in the 18" plus range and some even bigger in the 20-21" range. They are putting smiles on a lot of angler's faces . Some big holdovers &
wild fish are mixing in with the stockers. 

Wanna catch trout? Obey the following  4 rules, laid out years ago by Jack Gartside:
-Rule #1 is find the fish and fish where they are
-Rule #2 is don't spook them!  (FYI big wild trout spook easily)
-Rule #3 is fish something they want to eat
-Rule #4 is present it in such a way they they will eat it (dry fly guys take note: this may mean you 
                                                                                          have to fish subsurface!) 
I would add Rule #5 fish when the fish are feeding, with hatches being prime-time, especially when they intersect with low-light periods (big browns love to feed in low light). Fishing subsurface a couple hours before a hatch with the matching nymphs/pupa can also be deadly.

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 good. 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.
Flow as of Friday morning 7/5/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge this morning is normal & medium at about 278cfs (the Still River is 19cfs), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium/normal at 248cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 276cfs. 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 25cfs last I knew, but they may have but it back to zero now, I'm not sure. 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:

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 upper 50s/low 60s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (low/mid 50s in Riverton above the Still River), but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and specific location. Downriver in Collinsville/Unionville will be slightly warmer, probably low to high 60s and into the low 70s if you venture far enough downstream on hotter/sunny days. Long range highs average in the mid/upper 80s, with lows in the 60s. Warmer, sunny days will see the biggest water temp increases. The exception to this will be during periods of high water releases from the dam, as the colder water from deep in the reservoir chills down the river for quite a ways downstream. Highest water temps will occur in late afternoon, with sunny days seeing the biggest temperature increases. Typically the best bug activity (and fishing) correlates to the most pleasant time of the day for us humans, which in the summer is normally early & late.

-Sulfurs #16-18: eves, sometimes late morn/noonish too
-Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan): afternoon hatch, evening/dusk egg laying
-Isonychia #10-12 (from Still River and downstream)- late afternoon thru dusk in faster water 
-Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-16: eves
-March Browns #10-12 (late afternoon/eves)- a few (hatch near the end), trickle hatch, eve spinners
-Attenuata #18-20: eves
-Ants & Beetles #12-20
-Blue Wing Olives #18-22 (afternoons on cloudy days)
-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)

-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails /Frenchies #14-20
-Sulfur Nymphs #14-16
-Caddis Pupa #14-16 (olive/green, tan)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-16
-Assorted Olive Nymphs #16-20
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #10-14  
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black) 
-Mop Flies #8-14 (various colors, especially cream/tan)   
-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.).

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear/March Brown, Partridge & Green/Orange/Yellow, Sulfur, 
     Pheasant Tail, 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

-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)

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