Much more pleasant weather is now here: sunny and 50 degrees today, and the next week will see highs from 38-50, nights in the 20s-30s. No more morning slush either. Flows are upper end medium in the mid 400cfs range and slowly dropping. Hatches are still Winter Caddis (AM) and Midges (afternoons), nymphing is still the most consistent tactic, and slowly/deeply fished streamers are still picking up some nicer fish. I'd say currently you generally have to work for your fish (it's winter!), but this warming trend may help turn the fish on. We are seeing "bite windows" where the subsurface fishing suddenly turns on for a little while for no obvious reason. So persevere and be on the water when one of these windows occurs. In the winter, the most common time for this is in the afternoons when water temps rise, the bugs get more active, and the trout turn on.
Top pic is some amazing winter coloration on a December Farmington River brown by guide Steve Hogan. 2nd pic down is the batch of brand new Cortland Nymph Rods in #2-4 weights (see paragraph below), 3rd pic is a recent rainbow by guide Zach St. Amand.
Guide & fly tyer Mark Swenson is doing a beginner fly tying class in January 2020, a two day class on 1/5 & 1/12, click the link below to go to that page. Class is currently FULL, but you can get on the wait list- we may do a 2nd class if there is enough demand for it:
Current hatches are Winter/Summer Caddis in the early/mid mornings, and Midges in the afternoons- these hatch times are not set in stone, sometimes Caddis are on the water in mid to late afternoons and Midges can start earlier on milder days. Subsurface with various nymphs has been the most consistent fish catcher, and streamers are typiclly pulling less but sometimes bigger fish. Higher flows minimize rising trout, and lower flows give you the best shot at some dry fly action.
Subsurface is the mainstay, just make sure to fish slow & deep, target the softer/moderate water, and expect strikes to be subtle/gentle. Nymphwise, Midges, egg flies, small Mayfly nymphs, big Stoneflies, Caddis Larva & Attractor Nymphs have all had their moments. Junk Flies like eggs/Mops/worms have been good in the mornings, and more imitative bugs like Midges, Stones, and Mayflies have generally been better in the afternoons- makes sense because as the water temps rise the bugs get more active. Streamers are another good choice in the mornings before the bugs get moving, and also great again at the day's end when light levels drop and the bigger brown trout come out to play.
Generally afternoons have provided the better fishing lately (higher water temps = more active trout & bugs). The most consistent action for bigger fish has been subsurface with nymphs & streamers. Makes sense, as that's when most of the real insects are active. With streamers, experiment with colors & retrieves, and make sure to get them deep. Cold water in the 30s normally means slower retrieves/swinging presentations will generally outfish a faster strip when it comes to streamers- but there will still be occasional moments the trout want a faster strip, so make sure to experiment and see what gets results.
Look down several paragraphs for a brief write-up about the new T&T rods that just debuted: the new Contact 10' #3, the Zone mid-priced 10' #4, and the Paradigm dry fly series. All are in stock except the new Zone.
Less hatches this time of year and dropping water temps means the trout won't normally be in the faster water, so start targeting deeper runs, pools, and softer/deeper riffles. Trout may move into the heads of runs/pools/riffles as water temps rise in the afternoon, so keep that in mind. In the mid afternoons look for rising trout in the softer pool water where the riffles slow down and below that- same in early/mid AM when the Winter/Summer Caddis are popping.
FYI we are well stocked with almost everything you need to tie flies and the proper gear to fish for Great Lakes Steelhead, just ask and we are happy to help.
Don't show up here at first light and quit at noon (unless you are fishing the Winter Caddis hatch), but rather focus on the late morning to late afternoon time slot when water temps are rising, trout metabolism peaks, and you have your best shot at finding feeding trout. It's also a hell of a lot more pleasant to fish during the milder part of the day. Sunshine can be a good thing this time of year, as sunny days see noticeably higher water temp spikes. Fish smarter and maximize your results.
Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies) are still top producers almost anytime of day, and are a top choice in the mornings or any time of day when nothing is going on (they are independent of hatching insects). Midges #22-28 have been the main afternoon hatch. Before & during the afternoon hatches, the nymphs/pupa that imitate them can be very effective- usually something in #18-22 will get the job done, even though the adults can be quite a bit smaller than that. The entire river from Riverton to Unionville continues to fish well, so don't limit yourself to just one section or pool, it's literally all good.
Streamers can work anytime of day currently, but especially during low light. Trout, especially browns, get extra aggressive toward streamers this time of year- most are post spawn & hungry, looking to pack in some calories and put weight back on. Go with bigger streamers for less but bigger trout, or small to medium for better numbers but smaller trout- 3" long (give or take a half inch) would be the in-between size choice for the best of both worlds.
Fall/Winter Store Hours:
8am-5pm 7 days a week
We've received a veritable pile of used rods & reels as trade-ins recently. Some are listed on our website, but many of the least expensive used rods & reels are for in store purchase only and are not listed up and can only be found by looking on our racks. Stop in the store and check it out for yourself, there are some really good deals!
Thomas & Thomas has debuted their Paradigm series of moderate action, dry fly type rods, along with a new Contact 10' #3, and a Zone 10' #4. We have most of those rods in stock now, except for the Zone 10' #4. Zach St. Amand has been beating up the new 10' #3 Contact and loves it. Grady & I were impressed with the Paradigms, they are on the moderate action/somewhat softer side, but they cast beautifully from up close to far out and will protect lighter tippet. FYI the Paradigm series won "Best New Dry Fly Rod" in the 2020 Fly Fisherman magazine Gear Guide! The Contact 10' #3 feels awesome in the hand, and it's a more portable length than it's longer brothers. Due to it being shorter than the 10' 8" & 11' 3" models, it has a crisper action that would make it a very good choice for someone who likes to tight-line/Euro nymph, but also likes to throw fly line with dries, wets, and small/medium streamers.
Total 8am flow today (Monday) in the permanent Catch & Release is upper end medium at 460cfs (259cfs from the dam, and 201cfs from the Still River). Morning slush is currently non-existant with the milder weather here now. 8am water temp in Riverton was 35.5 degrees.
Lowest water temps are normally at first light, highest in the mid/late afternoon. Currently trout are most active when water temps are at their highest and/or moving upward, the early to mid morning period has typically been slow, fishing picks up as the day progresses and water temps rise. Afternoon water temps usually increase anywhere from one to several degrees, and sometimes all it takes is a 1 degree increase to get the trout feeding.
We now have Fasna F-415 Jig hooks in stock in sizes #14-20. They are high quality, stronger than average, come 30 to a pack, priced at $7.25, and similar in shape/design to the ever popular Hanak 450 (which is wide gap/short shank/curled in point). 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. 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. I will be carrying this hook all the way up to a #10 in the future.
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.
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.
8am-5pm, 7 days a week through March.