Monday, July 15, 2019

Monday 7/15/19 Farmington River Report: big trout & cool water

Kassandra outfished her man Jake the other day haha
The weather may be hot and getting hotter, but the water is cold and the fishing is hot too. Check out the pics that just show a small percentage of some of the nicer fish caught the past several days, even a big Brookie. No major changes since the last report, but take note that Needhami #22-26 are hatching in the mornings. We have 4 consecutive days in the 90s coming up (Friday through Monday), peaking at 97 on Saturday, damn! Fortunately the dam continues to release cold water, the Riverton USGS gauge (located at the Rt 20 Hitccock/Riverton Self Storage bridge) is reading 55 degrees this morning, and there are still lots of bugs hatching (evenings are best!). The Still River runs hot in the summer, but it's coming in as a trickle so it's not warming up the water below where it comes in. You have quite a few miles of water below the dam in the low/mid 50s into the mid/upper 60s to choose from before you starting hitting 70 degree water. Having said that, when we get into our weekend heat wave, I'd stay from New Hartford & up. A good summer strategy is decide what the furthest downstream you want to fish, and start there in the morning to catch the lowest water temps, and then spend late morning through dark somewhere roughly between the Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford and the dam in Riverton (roughly a 10 mile stretch). The best hatching & dry fly fishing is defintitely still dusk to dark FYI. When fishing downriver in Canton/Collinsville/Unionville, check water temps with a thermometer, and venture upstream to cooler water when the water temps exceed the upper 60s. 

We get lots of feedback from both successful & unsuccessful customers, so I'll summarize what those doing the best are doing. The theme with dry flies during the mornings through early evenings is either tiny flies on light tippets (think #22-28 on 7x with a long piece of tippet to promote a drag-free float), or various terrestrials (especially ants & beetles, sometimes smaller hoppers). You can also blind fish riffles, pocket water, etc. with attractor dries like Mini Chernoblyls, Stimulators, etc. Other than evenings, mornings & afternoons mostly you will find sipping trout feeding on minutae in the flat water- it could be Needhami, smaller Winter Caddis, Midges, tiny Mayflies, Micro Caddis, ants, etc. If you can find holding water in the shade, that's also a big plus. Evenings see the bulk of the heavy insect hatching, with all sorts of bugs, especially Sulfurs, assorted cream-colored Mayflies, Isonychia, Attenuata, various Caddis, and many more. Dry/Dropper can be a fun way to fish now: use a bigger buoyant dry (like a Mini Chernobyl or big Isonychia) and drop a #16-18 tungsten bead nymph 1-3' below the dry. Most fish will take the nymph, but you will get some bonus fish on the dry also. Tie the nymph off the hook bend. Run it closer (12-18") to the dry during insect activity or in shallow water, run it further apart (2-3') in deep water and during non-hatch periods. It's like the fun of dry fly fishing, combined with the consistent effectiveness of nymphing. Plus it allows you target fish at distance and not spook them. If you wanna target big trout on the surface after dark, try a short/heavy leader with a deer hair mouse pattern- make sure to bring a BIG landing net with you...:)
Guide Frank DeGrazio with a SLAB of brown trout

If you are nymphing (and you proably should be!), successful anglers are finding that first light to mid morning sees big trout looking for big Stonefly nymphs (#8-10) as they emerge in low light. Pair them up with a smaller nymph in the #18-20 range. In the summer, the average nymph/larva is much smaller and often the key to a good day of nymphing is just plain & simple going smaller on your flies. When the Stonefly bite slows up in the mid/late AM trade it out for a #16 Caddis pupa or some sort of attractor nymph, but make sure to keep the other nymph small. Late afternoon to evening you can make your bigger fly a #16 Sulfur nymph, Pheasant tail, attractor nymph or a #10-12 Isonychia pattern. For the Isos think either a specific imitation, or a #12 Prince or Pheasant Tail. Remember that Iso nymphs only live & hatch in faster water, don't waste your time with them in flat pool water. Isos are typically the first mayfly to get active later in the day, lately starting up around 7pm'ish (you can fish the nymphs and hour or two before that though). When what you expect to work isn't producing, dont' forget about Junk Flies like Mops, Squirmy Worms, and Green Weenies, they aren't just for high/dirty water.  As I've said before many times in this report, wet flies & soft-hackles are another great option, and if you scroll down a ways you will see some tips on how to rig/fish them. When fishing subsurface, whether it's nymphs or wets/,soft-hackles, make sure to cover plenty of water, and during the daytime look for the shady bank.

Zach St. Amand, a local guide and frequent flyer in our big fish pictures, is putting together a trip with Andes Drifters to Patagonia for big wild trout this winter, February 8-15, during the Willow Worm fall. Last I knew he had 2 spots left, call him at 646-641-5618 to find out more and/or do the trip.

Hot weather means that generally the best hatches (and fishing) are 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 hatching & dry fly fishing is dusk to dark and beyond. Don't leave early or you will miss out on the peak dry fly fishing. On hot days the evening fishing may not really kick off until 8pm and peak at darkness, earlier on cloudy/cooler eves. From late morning to early evening, look for shade and you will find fish.

Dave Moranino with a big one from "Area 51" ;)
Isonychia 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. A Rusty Spinner is a good "problem solver" in the summer, and I also like to have spinners to imitate Sulfurs & Cahills. Another good problem solver is a terrestrial imitation such as a beetle or ant, 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)- present them both on the dead-drift and the swing/twitch. You can also run them as a trailer behind a dry fly during a hatch when trout are refusing your dries.

In July/August/September flows are normally medium to low, and many of the bigger nymphs/larva have hatched, leaving the majority of nymphs/larva 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 fastwater, 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-drifting them, but I always let them swing at the end of the drift. Experiment and do whatever works best, it can change from day to day.
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
20" of brown trout is a handful for Sean Monaghan
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 (pool heads, 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- but you have to experiment to find out.

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 & Orange (yellow, green/olive also)- these flies will cover your various Caddis, Sulfurs, 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").

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.

FYI we are now in our extended hours: 8am-6pm weekdays, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

Lotta Brookies in 2019, 16" by guide Dave Machowski
We have Devin Olsen's hot new book "Tactical Fly Fishing", and it's 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 Monday morning 7/12/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge this morning is normal &Lott medium at about 272cfs (the Still River is 13cfs), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium/normal at 259cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 293cfs. 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 zero cfs (I think). 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 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.

Night time was the right time for John Holt!
From April through October we are open 7 days a week, 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

Water Temps: 
Look for water temps to average in the upper 50s/mid 60s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (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 are hot with highs mid 80s to mid 90s, and nights 65-70- this will push the downstream water temps up on the hotter days, so check water temps with a thermometer if you are down in Canton/Collinsville/Unionville. The best time to fish downriver during hot summer weather is in the morning when water temps are lowest, especially after a cooler night. Hot, 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, and water temps won't significantly drop until after dark. 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/mid morns & mid/late eves.

-Sulfurs #16-20: eves, sometimes late morn/noonish too
-Caddis #14-18 (tan, olive-green): afternoon hatch, evening/dusk egg-laying
-Isonychia #10-12 late afternoon thru dark in faster water (7pm to dark lately)
-Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-16: eves (cream colored mayflies)
-Needhami #22-26: mornings
-Attenuata #18-20: eves (easy to confuse with true Sulfurs but it's a bright greenish-yellow and small)
-Ants & Beetles #12-20: anytime, esp. late morning thru early eve during non-hatch periods
-Midges #20-32: anytime
-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 #12-20
-Sulfur Nymphs #16-18
-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (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) 
-"Junk Flies" #8-14 (Mops, Squirmy Worms, Green Weenies)   
-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.)
-Zebra Midge #18-20 (assorted colors)

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/or standard nymphs just aren't working:
-Squirmies/San Juan Worms/G-String Worms #10-14 (pink, red, worm brown)
-Egg Flies #10-18
-Mops #8-14
-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