Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday 10/18/19 Farmington River Report: We have water!!!

If you stop in the store this weekend (and you should!), make sure to check out the $10,000+ (at our cost!) worth of Wapsi Tying material that is now up on the walls, and also a big order of tungsten bead nymphs from Fulling Mill (including 2 styles of Frenchies, Squirmies, Egg patterns including a jigged version, and some small Blue Wing Olive nymphs and many other flies...). I'm currently working on a big Hareline/Spirit River fill-in order.  Highs in the upper 50s this weekend, with Saturday being sunny, and a 30% chance of a slight shower on Sunday. Both days will have very little wind- this time of year that's important, as windy days put a ton of leaves into the water and make fishing more difficult/frustrating. Shouldn't be a problem at all this weekend. Foliage is still spectacular, as you can see. Streamer bite has gotten really, really good- Rowan Lytle had an epic day tossing the long flies last weekend, check out some of the multiple big wild browns he landed.

We received about 2 3/4" of rain between Wednesday afternoon & Thursday morning, and flows are a bit higher. Should be somewhere from 300-400cfs total flow for Saturday, and probably another 50cfs lower on Sunday. More water is better for streamer fishing, and it also means you can go bigger & gaudier on your nymphs. Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies) could all be in play now. Pair them up with a more natural nymph. Historically we are now in the time of year when egg flies can be deadly, so make sure to have some with you in 2-3 colors, and pair them up with a regular nymph to give the trout a choice.

Trout are just starting to spawn now, so watch out for redds (light colored patches of gravel in riffly areas where the female browns dig a depression in the gravel to lay their eggs). Several points: 1) please leave the spawning trout alone so they can make more wild trout, 2) spawning is very stressful, so don't add to their stress by catching them, and 3) don't walk on the redds or you will crush the eggs and kill them. Fish in the darker/deeper water downstream of the redds and there will be hungry, egg-eating non-spawning trout there for sure. An egg fly fished there can be absolutely lethal.

Fish are being caught via all methods, and streamer fishing seems to get better every week as the fall trout aggression ramps up (due to spawning) and they put on the feed bag before winter. Bigger is often better when it comes to fall streamers if you are targeting top end trout. But if you want numbers of fish, try some small to medium flies (#6-10).

The permanent Catch & Release area/TMA is medium/medium-high, wadeable, and fishable for sure at 460cfs total flow this morning & dropping (85cfs from the dam in Riverton, 375cfs from the Still River), 8am water temp was 54 degrees in Riverton. The entire river from Riverton to Unionville is fishing well with optimal water temps, so don't limit yourself to just one section or pool. Isonychia have been hatching daily starting as early as 3pm, depending upon the day. The October brood of Isonychia are smaller, averaging #14, give or take one hook size. Caddis #14-18 (mostly tan) will be active all month, and we are still seeing a few Hebes/Fall Sulfurs & various cream mayflies (Cahills/Stenonema) later in the day. There are dry fly opportunities it that's your thing, with mid afternoon through dusk being the peak period. You can also blind fish/prospect with bigger attractor dries when trout aren't rising, and wet flies/soft-hackles are still catching plenty of fish and are a great way to efficiently cover a lot of water quickly.

FYI we now carry Fasna Jig hooks, we have the F-415 in stock in sizes #14-20 (we will expand out all the way up to #10 in the future). They are high quality, stronger than average, come 30 to a pack, and similar in shape/design to the ever popular Hanak 450 (which is wide gap/short shank/curled in point). Be aware they run about a size smaller than marked compared to the Hanak 450 (i.e. the #16 is more like a #18, and so on)- compared to a standard jig hook they are a full TWO sizes smaller FYI. Check 'em out if you are looking for a smaller jig hook with a wide gap, shorter shank with a turned in barbless point. These hooks won't bend out when you are playing a bigger trout- many comp style hooks are medium wire, and when you combine that with a wide hook gap (especially on the smaller hook sizes) and a big trout, the result can be a lost fish when the hook bends.

Dropping temps & shorter days are not only triggering some peak fall foliage, but those same 2 factors also make the trout go on the feed & get more aggressive- don't forget about those streamers, Fall is prime time for them. Trout are getting caught on a mix of dries, streamers, nymphs, and wets/soft-hackles. Be flexible in your approach, cover water, experiment and you should be successful. Or conversely be a stick-in-the-mud one-trick pony, and you may get skunked if you try to force feed unwilling trout the flies & techniques they have zero interest in- the choice is yours. Being adaptable/flexible is a major key to success, especially when the water is high, low, cold or dirty.

Check out local guide/writer/blogger Steve Culton's article on the Farmington River in the latest issue of Eastern Fly Fishing- there's even a big picture of yours truly in the article, but check it out anyways...:)

Mark Swenson's next Fly Fishing 101 Class will on Sunday October 20th, call the store at 860-379-1952, cost is $150.

Still seeing #12-16n Isonychia, assorted Caddis (mostly tan), various Cream mayflies, Hebes/Fall Sulfurs, Blue Wing Olives (cloudy days), Summer/Winter Caddis, etc. Other than the Summer/Winter Caddis in the early/mid mornings and the other bugs are all more in the mid afternoon to evening slot. Cooler days will see the evening bugs start & end earlier, warmer days will see the bugs start later and go right up to darkness and beyond.

The MDC stocked the upper river in Riverton on 9/17, and on 9/9 CT fisheries stocked from Satan's Kingdom down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville, as well as below that too. There are also plenty of holdovers and some wild trout throughout the river, so don't limit yourself to only the recently stocked areas. But, if you are looking for some easier & more abundant targets, head to the recent stocking locations and "educate" them- it's your "civic duty" haha. Woolly Buggers, various "Junk Flies" (eggs, Mops, worms, Green Weenies), and wet flies/soft-hackles should work well on them, but you may want to pair them up with a drabber/natural looking nymph now that they've been fished over and are learning what real bugs look like. Plus, the holdover & wild fish will be more keyed into natural bugs. Isonychia nymphs, Caddis Pupa, Stonefly nymphs, and various small nymphs are all working well subsurface. Fall streamer action is currently hot, so make sure to try them at some point- read below for some Fall streamer advice & tips.

If you want a really sweet streamer specific rod, check out the T&T Exocett SS series, they are grain rated at 160, 200 & 250, and are all great Farmington River streamer rods and come with Recoil guides (click this to go to the T&T Exocett SS page).

Dropping water temps & shorter days has the Fall streamer bite in full swing. Trout get more aggressive in the this time of year due to spawning, plus it seems like Mother Nature programs them to eat more in preparation for leaner times in the Winter. Some keys to successful streamer fishing: change pattern styles & fly color until you figure what turns the trout on. Historically good fall colors include yellow, brown, white, and olive. An all yellow streamer, or yellow as a secondary color paired with a predominately different color fly (such as brown) can be lethal in the Fall. Try different casting angles, it's not always down & across- frequently across & up is a better angle. Experiment with your retrieves, although more often than not a faster retrieve is better in the Fall until the water temps get really cold, then you typically slow it down. Cover lots of water, you are looking for the aggressive fish- at any given moment, only a percentage of the fish are willing to eat a streamer, and you need to present your fly to those fish. The more trout you show your flies, the more you will catch. DON'T be a stick-in-the-mud or your catch will be severely limited.

The low light periods of dawn & dusk are typically the best streamer bites, but overcast days are good and as we get further into Fall the bite can often be good all day as trout aggression ramps up. Try different size flies. Yes, on average, bigger flies will catch bigger fish, but some days the trout (even the bigger ones) don't want big flies. Or try a two-fly rig, with either a smaller, unweighted streamer or a nymph behind a weight streamer- this will get you some of those trout that move for your bigger streamer but won't eat it. In lower flows like we've been having a floating line with a weighted streamer will get you deep enough, but if flows are medium to high you may want to use some sort of sinking line or leader to get your fly deeper. Use heavy enough tippets so that you don't break off fish on the strike- I typically go 0x on my bigger streamers (you can go even heavier with really big flies), and even on average sized ones (#6-8) I wouldn't go below about 2-3x as trout hit streamers HARD. You can fish normal ize streamers on your #4-5 rods for sure, but.... a #6-7 rod with a medium-fast to fast action will do a better job casting, setting the hook, playing bigger fish, and throwing bigger flies.

If you are into Euro Nymphing, check out the new Rio Tactical Euro Nymph Leader. Pictured on the left is their original/standard Euro Leader (we sell an obscene amount of these), and on the right is the brand new Tactical one. Two main differences: the Tactical version is both significantly thinner, as well as longer. (14 feet versus 11-12 feet). The Tactical has a very thin butt diameter of .012" tapered down to 2x (.009"), tied to a 4x (.007") Sighter (indicator) colored line section. Their standard Euro leader has a thicker butt (I'd guess around .018"?) down to 0x (.011"), tied to a 2x (.009") Sighter. What does this all translate too? Thinner leaders promote a better drift by giving you less sag/bow, more sensitivity, letting you fish further away, and are better with lighter nymphs. Longer leaders are also stealthier and let you fish further away. The downside? Thinner butt sections are harder to cast/turn over, a bit less accurate, and thinner Sighters are a bit harder to see (but better if you need to dunk them in deep water because they create less drag). If you are not very experienced with the Euro techniques and/or have difficulty casting, stick with the original standard Euro leader, but if you are fairly accomplished and looking to up your game try the thinner/longer Tactical version. FYI both leaders end with a tippet ring at the end of the Sighter, and then you build them out with the proper length of approporiate sized tippet to match the conditions & flies (4x-6x for standard leader, and 5x-7x for the Tactical).

As of September 1st, the entire Farmington River from the dam in Riverton for 21 miles downstream to the Rt 179 bridge in Unionville is now Catch & Release until Opening Day in April 2020. If you see anybody keeping fish in this section, please call the CT DEEP at 1-800-824-HELP and report the violation. Even if they are not able to respond to it on time, the info goes into their database and helps to create better/more policing of the area in the future.

Dry/Dropper can be a fun way to fish as long as water temps are 50 degrees or higher, and there are decent hatches: use a bigger buoyant dry (like a Mini Chernobyl, Chubby 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/hatches 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...:)

Try fishing a pair (or 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. Try soft hackles with Hare's Ear bodies, Partridge & Orange/Yellow/Green/Olive, Isonychia Soft Hackles, Leadwing Coachman, 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 and especially 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. Don't just swing them, also dead-drift & twitch them, animate them and give your flies the illusion of life.
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.
From April through October we are open 7 days a week, 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and 6am-5pm on weekends (this will be pared back to 8am-5pm 7 days a week in November).

-Caddis #14-20 (tan/light brown mostly): AM hatch, mid afternoon to evening egg-laying 
-Isonychia #12-16 mid afternoon thru dusk in faster water
-Hebes/Fall Sulfurs #16-18: late afternoon/dusk hatch (standard Sulfur patterns work for this)
-Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-20: late afternoons/eves (various cream colored mayflies)
-Summer/Winter Caddis: #18-24 pupa & adults (early/mid AM)
-Ants & Beetles #14-20: anytime, esp. afternoons on milder/sunny days
-Attractor Dries #10-16: Mini & Chubby Chernobyls, Hippy Stompers, etc.
-Midges #20-32: anytime
-Blue Wing Olives #20-24 (afternoons/eves, especially cloudy days)

-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tails #12-20
-Hare's Ear #16-18
-Tan Caddis Pupa #14-18
-Sulfur Nymph/Yellow Sally #14-18 (Sulfur nymph will imitate both bugs) 
-Isonychia #12-14 (can also use Pheasant Tail/Prince/Zug Bug nymph to imitate)
-Large Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black)
-Frenchy/Pheasant Tails #12-18
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Blue Wing Olive Nymphs (various patterns) #18-20
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #12-14 (can imitate Giant October Caddis pupa & other bugs too)   
-"Junk Flies" #8-14 (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Eggs, Green Weenies)   
-Antoine's Perdigons (various colors) #16-20
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (assorted colors)

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear/March Brown, Partridge & Orange/Yellow, Sulfur, Partridge & Flash, Isonychia, Pheasant Tail, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, etc. 
   -most effective fished 2-3 at a time on tag-end droppers

-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 edited by Grady Allen