Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday 8/30/19 Farmington River Report: Labor Day info & advice

Labor Day Hours:
Monday 9/2 we will be open 8am-3pm.

FYI this Sunday, September 1st, the entire Farmington River from the dam in Riverton for 21 miles downstream to the Rt 179 bridge in Unionville becomes Catch & Release until Opening Day in April 2020.

Nice August holdover Two Year Old Survivor Strain brown by customer Al Bielawa. You can feel the transition from summer to fall starting lately, with daytime highs averaging mid 70s, cool nights in the 50s, and the sun is less intense. Hard to believe it's Labor Day weekend already and the unofficial end of Summer/start of Fall. Flow remains low but definitely fishable, check two paragraphs down for more flow info.

In lower flows I like to look for deeper water, current, and structure- find those together, and you will find trout. Cherry pick and only fish the best spots, and unless you see rising trout, eliminate the water that is shallow and/or has little current. Look for the darker water that indicates depth, and look for riffly, broken water that has some current speed. Trout feel vulnerable in shallow, slow water and will seek out water they feel more comfortable. Choppy/broken water helps hide them from predators, plus it's where many of the bugs live. Midday also look for shade. The bigger trout are more apt to show up during the low-light periods of dawn & dusk when they come out of hiding to feed, or at night. Mousing at night is a good strategy to target the big browns. During daylight, be stealthy, wear drab clothing, move slowly, use longer leaders (12' or longer), use a lighter line weight rod if you own one, and stay a little further away from the fish. It also helps to downsize your flies if you are nymphing, fishing wet flies, or streamers. For dries, if there's a hatch, match it in size/shape/color. Wet flies/soft-hackles are very effective in low water, and easy to fish because unlike nymphs, they don't get hung up on the bottom a lot. It allows you to target some thin lies when needed.

DJ Clement, guide/protege of Antoine Bissieux, holding a good brown. As of 9am Friday morning, the Farmington was 88cfs total flow through the permanent Catch & Release area/TMA, they had reduced it to accommodate CT fisheries sampling of the trout population Tuesday through Thursday, and now it looks like they are going to keep it at that low release level for a while (the reservoirs feeding the river are very low). This is an annual effort that helps to give them a good picture of the health of the river by looking at trout of all sizes and making an extremely rough estimate of the numbers of both stocked and wild trout in the Farmington with an emphasis on the brown trout. If the catches this year are any indication, they should find.good results. Water temps from there up to the dam have been running in the 60s lately, the cooler nights & mild days are really helping.

Cooler weather & low flows often lead to more rising trout when there is a hatch. The morning dry fly fishing is still very small dries #22-26 (Tricos, Summer/Winter Caddis) on long leaders & 7x tippets. Morning nymphing in the faster water is also good and less technical (big Stonefly nymphs, small mayfly nymphs, and caddis pupa). Evenings bring the somewhat "easier" dry fly fishing with bigger bugs in the #12-20 range that can be fished on 5x-6x tippets.  Midday is terrestrials (ants, beetles, hoppers), dry/dropper, and nymphing (mostly smaller assorted #18-20 nymphs & #16 Caddis Pupa).

George Daniel is once again doing two Nymphing Workshops for us on October 5th & 6th, 2019, 9am-2pm. Both clinics are now full, but you can get your name on a waiting list for 2020. Cost is $175, 6P max per class. Call 860-379-1952 to sign up, they fill up very fast. Click on Classes page for details.

Mark Swenson's next "Fly Fishing 101" beginner class will be on August 15th, 2019, click on Classes link for more information, and call store at 860-379-1952 to sign up.

We have a pile of Solarez colored UV Resin in stock now- 9 colors. The first batch went in a blink so I ordered a bunch this time, and expanded the color range out. Now they are doing black, so I loaded up on that color, it's the classic color to do a wingcase on a Perdigon nymph. Also traditional is to use black nail polish, but then you have to wait for it to dry before you can coat it with clear UV Resin. This UV Resin speeds up the process and is more durable than nail polish. Got a bunch of other colors too, including various shades of fluorescent colors such as orange, pink, chartreuse, red (fire orange really), etc, and other non-fluorescent colors like brown, grape, and shimmer copper. All these colors make a good wingcase, or in the case of the fluorescent ones, a good hotspot. We also have the ultra thin Bone Dry formulation in black now. Solarez is hands-down the best UV Resin on the market: cures the fastest, cures rock hard/durable, and it's not tacky. It's also way less expensive than the other brands, despite it's superior performance. 

The upside to the low flows of late Summer is more dry fly fishing, easier wading/access, and it pushes many fish into the faster water. It also condenses the trout and makes it easy to find them/read the water. The fast water both gives them cover from predators, as well as more oxygen. Warmer water doesn't bother the trout per se, but rather it's the lower oxygen content as water temps rise. So faster water is win-win for the trout. It's also easier to approach the trout is broken/faster water. Think about lengthening your leader (12'+ instead of 9') in low water to help prevent spooking the trout, especially when fishing flatter pool water. Lengthening the tippet section to 4' will also help get a drag-free presentation with your dries (as long as it's not windy and you're not throwing a big/wind-resistant dry). In general lower water = smaller flies, exceptions for nymphing would be bigger Stoneflies in the early/mid morns, and Isonychia type nymphs later in the day.

Nice dry fly rainbow by guide Steve Hogan. Good reports are still coming from the Catch & Release area and upstream: Trico Spinners (#22-26) are falling in the mid morning, the early morning has been bringing Winter/Summer Caddis (#18-24). From late morning through the afternoon, Blue Wing Olive (#20-24), Ants (#14-18), Beetles (#14-16), Chernobyl Ants (#12-14) have been good. Evenings are bringing  Isonychia (#10-14) and Cream Cahills (#14), as well as Summer Stenos (#18-20). You may also see some assorted Caddis ((#14-20).

Early to mid mornings & eves remain the peak fishing times, with dry fly fishing arguably better/easier in the evenings (more & bigger bugs), however water temps are lowest in the mornings and it's a great time to nymph the fast water then. Although Isonychia hatches are light now, you can blind fish them in the riffles in late afternoon/evening and bring trout up to them, even if you don't see them on the water. They are a big bug that hatch all summer long here, and the trout get used to them and anticipate the hatch. And BIG trout love them.

Dry/Dropper can be a fun way to fish now in lower flows: 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 6-7.5' leader (0x) with a deer hair mouse pattern- make sure to bring a BIG landing net with you...:)

While the focus for many of our customers seems is 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 when nymphing 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. 
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, and deadly in lower flows. 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, Partridge & Orange/Yellow/Green/olive, etc. 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").

We have a great 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 tag-end droppers. 
Zach St. Amand, one of the top local guides and frequent flyer in our big fish pictures, is leading a trip with Andes Drifters to Patagonia for big wild trout, February 8-15th 2019. He still has some availability, call him at 646-641-5618 to find out more or to get onboard.

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. Its 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.
From April through October we are open 7 days a week, 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends.

-Tricos #22-26: early/mid morns (from Campground upstream to dam)
-Isonychia #10-14 late afternoon thru dark in faster water (6 or 7pm to dark, hatch is light)
-Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-20: eves (various cream colored mayflies)
-Caddis #14-20 (tan, olive/green): AM hatch, evening/dusk egg-laying
-Ants & Beetles #14-20: anytime, esp. late morning thru early eve during non-hatch periods
-Midges #20-32: anytime
-Blue Wing Olives #20-24 (afternoon/eve, esp. cloudy days)
-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)

-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-20
-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (tan, olive/green)
-Isonychia #10-14
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black)
-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
-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, Starling & Herl, etc.

-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)

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:

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, and sometimes "lightly edited" by Grady Allen