Monday, August 5, 2019

Monday 8/5/19 Farmington River Report: normal weather is back

Hefty holdover 2 Year Old brown by Dave Machowski
Monday 8/5/19 afternoon update:
The MDC cut their release by a total of by 64cfs as of 11am today. This will bring the total flow down near 200cfs. Tuesday morning 8/6 the MDC is cutting it by an additional 50cfs, bringing the dam release down into the mid 100cfs range. 
The hot summer weather has broken lately, and we are once again "normal" (whatever that is anymore), with 15 day highs mostly upper 70s to low 80s, and nights down in the low 60s/upper 50s. Water temp in Riverton at the Rt 20 bridge was 60 degrees at 9am, giving you at least 10+ miles downriver to fish for trout in good water temps all day long with the current weather predictions. Water level is normal & nice at 279cfs total flow. Tricos are just starting up in New Hartford and the lower end of the permanent TMA, they will average a #24, give or take a hooksize. They are normally an early to mid morning hatch. If I remember correctly I think the spinners fall to the water at an air temp of 68 degrees? Still seeing some Needhami in the AM (hatch is getting lighter now), plus of course the Summer Winter Caddis. All the morning bugs are tiny, as in #22-26 mostly. Nymphing a big Stonefly nymph trailed by a Caddis pupa or small #18-20 nymphs in the fast water will put fish in the net in the early to mid mornings. When the Stonefly bite dries up, go to the Caddis pupa & small nymph combo. Midday is terrestrials, tiny dries, and the aforementioned nymphs. Evenings are still the prime time for hatches, with some bigger bugs on the water: Isonychia (Isos) #10-12, Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-16 mostly (can be smaller too), and assorted Caddis #14-20. Some #22-24 Blue Wing Olives have been making occasional afternoon/evening appearances. Make sure you have some ants, beetles & assorted spinners in your fly arsenal too.

Fishing reports over the past weekend varied quite a bit, with successful anglers employing a wide variety of techniques & flies. Reports of insect hatches also varied a lot depending upon the location and time of day. Some anglers did quite well, some caught a few, and some struggled in their quest to fool picky trout sipping invisible bugs in flat water pools (probably the most technical fishing of all). Some found good hatches & rising trout, some didn't. Some picked up trout all day on nymphs. FYI fishing broken water (riffles, pocket water, faster runs, etc.) with some current speed gives you an edge because you can approach the trout closer and they don't get as good a look at your fly. You can also get away with a bit bigger flies than you can in flat water pools. A lot of small brown trout (many appear wild) are showing up in angler catches in the past 2 weeks, especially when you are nymphing the faster water. As I've mentioned before, a good summer strategy when putting in a 1/2 to full day is to start first in your most downriver planned location, and then move upriver as the day progresses and water temps increase. This will help keep you in optimum water temps all day long, and you will have better fishing. If you have a thermometer, look for water temps under 68 degrees, and optimally 65 or less. Currently you should find these temps from about the bottom of the permanent Catch & Release (Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford) up to the dam in Riverton, approximately a 10 mile stretch. If you get 70 degrees downriver, move upriver until you find cooler water. Water temps are coolest at the dam in the summer, and as the day progresses rise by about a degree every 2-3 miles on average for 10-15 miles downstream. Mornings see the lowest water temps, mid afternoon through early eves sees the highest, and the water doesn't significantly cool until after it gets dark.

Mark Swenson's next Fly Fishing 101 class will be on August 18th, 9am - 4pm. Call the store at
860-379-1952 to sign up, cost is $150, and space is very limited.
DJ Clement with a handful of pretty brown trout

The dry fly fishing on the flat pools can be very technical this time of year: most of the bugs are small, and the fish have been worked over hard for months, so bring your "A" game, a bunch of tiny flies, and a long leader with a long/light tippet. Also try terrestrials like #14-18 beetles & ants before you tie on the tiny stuff, sometimes you won't have to go super small. Fishing riffly water in the eves can give you an edge, as the trout have to make a quick decision, the bugs are bigger in the faster water, and the trout don't get to inspect your fly with a magnifying glass there. It's also the same water both Mayfly spinners & egg-laying Caddis are active in. Win-win. 6x will suffice for most of the evening bugs, and you can go 5x on your bigger dries such as Isonychia. Think 7x on the smallest dries.

Currently your highest percentage big trout tactics are big Stonefly nymphs in the early mornings, hunting big heads rising during the evening hatches, streamers at first & last light (and after dark), and night time mousing. Months of fishing pressure has wised up the better fish, so consider every big one you hook a true accomplishment. Daytime nymphing in shady spots, drop-offs and near structure can also produce the occasional bruiser- but make sure one of your nymphs is small, even big trout eat small nypmphs.

Sulfurs (Dorothea) are up in Riverton only now, think above the Still River and match them with #18-20 patterns. Most of the daytime dries are tiny, think #22 and smaller and fish them on long/light

tippets (3-4' of 7x). The exceptions to this are terrestrials, and also blind fishing attractor dries in the faster water. Same is true with nymphs, with #16-20 patterns doing most of the damage- the exceptions are #10-12 Isonychia later in the day, and big Stonefly nymphs #6-10 in the early/mid mornings. Experiment with flies that are drab, flashy, with hotspots, and without hotspots. Wets & Soft-Hackles remain effective, especially during insect activity- riffles are the easiest water to fish them in, and also where much of the hatching activity takes place. Streamer are most effective at first & last light, and mousing is pulling up some big trout after dark. Needhami #22-26 are hatching in the mornings. Still seeing Isonychia, various Caddis, and assorted cream mayflies in the eves/at dusk, and that's still the peak time of day to fish dries over a bunch of rising trout. 
We get lots of feedback from both successful & unsuccessful customers, so I'll summarize what those
Nice brown by Steve Hogan
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, Tricos, 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 various bugs: assorted cream-colored Mayflies, Isonychia, various Caddis,
Sulfurs (Riverton only), and others. Dry/Dropper can be a fun way to fish now: use a bigger buoyant dry (like a Mini Chernobyl, Chubby Chernybol 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 6-7.5' leader (0x) with a deer hair mouse pattern- make sure to bring a BIG landing net with you...:)

If you are nymphing (and you probably should be!), successful anglers are finding that first light to mid morning sees big trout looking for big Stonefly nymphs (#6-10) as they emerge in low light. Pair
them up with a smaller nymph in the #18-20 range or a Caddis Pupa. 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/Yellow Sally nymph (the same patterns will imitate both FYI), 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 Isos only live & hatch in faster water, don't waste your time with them in flat pool water. When what you expect to work isn't producing, don't 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 shade.

Zach St. Amand, a local guide and frequent flyer in our big fish pictures, is putting together a
Cody Varza making some "Night Moves"
trip with Andes Drifters to Patagonia for big wild trout this winter, February 8-15, during the Willow Worm fall
. He still has some availability, 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. The hotter it is, the more the good action gets pushed to dawn & dusk. 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.

A Rusty Spinner is a good "problem solver" in the summer, and I also like to have spinners to imitate 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.
Nice hookjaw brown by Steve Hogan's client Scott

In mid to late summer, the flows are normally medium-low 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/Augst/September is downsizing your nymphs to #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 water, I tend to have my best luck with #8-10 patterns in yellow/gold to brownish colors. Isos nymphs are #10-12 right now, 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
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 still a great time to experiment with fishing a pair (or even better yet a trio) of soft-hackles/wetflies, 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
Lots of small wild browns showing up lately- guide DJ Clement
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, Partridge & Orange/Yellow/Green/olive, etc.- 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.

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 8/5/19:
Currently the total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release per the USGS gauge this morning is very nice at a medium low level of 279cfs (the Still River is 10cfs), and in Riverton the in the 2 miles above the Still River the Farmington is medium/normal at 269cfs. USGS average historical total flow for today is 275cfs. 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 (last I knew). 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 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.

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 low/mid 60s (even upper 60s in PM on hottest/sunny days) in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (upper 50s/low 60s AM temp in Riverton above the Still River), but will vary depending upon the weather, time of day, and distance from the dam. Downriver below the permanent Catch & Release will be warmer, probably mid 60s (in mornings) and into the low 70s if you venture far enough downstream on hotter/sunny days in the afternoons/eves. Check water temps with a thermometer if you are down in Canton/Collinsville/Unionville, and venture upriver if the temps are not in the 60s- the best time to fish downriver during the summer 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. Be aware that the colder water near the dam in Riverton often means the evening bugs may start up (and end) a few hours earlier in that section.

-Isonychia #10-12 late afternoon thru dark in faster water (7pm to dark lately, hatch is light)
-Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-16: eves (various cream colored mayflies)
-Tricos #22-26: early/mid morns, just starting up
-Needhami #22-26: mornings (hatch is getting lighter)
-Sulfurs #18-20: eves- hatch is only upriver, first 2 miles above Still River & up to the dam
-Caddis #14-20 (tan, olive/green): AM hatch, evening/dusk egg-laying
-Ants & Beetles #12-20: anytime, esp. late morning thru early eve during non-hatch periods
-Midges #20-32: anytime
-Blue Wing Olives #22-24 (afternoon/eve, esp. cloudy days)
-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)

-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails /Frenchies #12-20
-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (tan, olive/green)
-Isonychia #10-12
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black)
-Sulfur/Yellow Sally Nymphs #16-18
-Frenchy #16-18
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Assorted Olive Nymphs #18-20
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #10-14   
-"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