As usual, the March fishing has been more quality over quantity, with many better fish moving into water with some current to feed now that water temps are rising and the subsurface bug activity is increasing. Dry fly guys are finding some risers in the flat water in Church Pool, with Winter Caddis being a main culprit, but Midges & Stones are also possibilities. Rising water temps also had bigger trout looking for bigger bites, so make sure to try some streamers. Make sure to get them deep using weighted flies, split shot , or sinking leader/lines. Generally want to fish them on the slower side due to water temps in the 40s, but experiment to find the best retrieve for any given day.
Don't be afraid to get away from the crowds and explore new water, there are trout throughout the 21 miles of currently open water. You'd be hard pressed to find a section that doesn't hold some nice holdover & wild trout. Doesn't mean they will be easy to catch, but they are there and CAN be caught if you show the trout what they want (typically a dead-drifted nymph, or a dead-drifted/stripped/swung streamer). If you are stubborn and only want to fish one method or fly, you may be in for a loooong, fishless day. Or you can be flexible, work hard, and catch some trout- the choice is yours.
Move around, cover water, and look for some less fished sections for your best result. Some of the better holdover & wild trout are transitioning into somewhat faster water now, afternoon water temps have ranged from lower to upper 40s in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) and this is putting trout on the feed and increasing bug activity subsurface. Especially as water temps rise during the day, look for better fish in the pool heads, deeper riffles, heads of runs, and even in the slower/deeper lies in pocket water. The water doesn't have to be very deep either, many of the fish in the pics are getting caught in knee to mid-thigh deep water. The recently stocked trout will tend more to pod up in softer slow to moderate speed water in pools, slower runs, and gentle riffles with some depth (2-4').
15 Day Forecast has 11 days over 50 (every day OVER 40!), nights averaging 30s. Water temps in the permanent TMA/C&R are reaching mid/upper 40s most afternoons, Riverton temps are cooler but rising. Warm, sunny days with nights that aren't that cold warm things up fast, and it's getting the trout hungry and the subsurface nymphs & larva more active and in the drift. Starting to see more & more trout shift into feeding water with more current to it- this is especially true of the holdover & wild fish. Many of the recent stockers will still be podded up in the slow to moderate water though.
Streamer fishing is picking up, and lately black or olive have been top colors, but I'm also a fan of brown this time of year (anytime for that matter!), and white can be good too- experiment! Try also the following hybrid rig: a weight streamer such as a conehead Bugger, Zuddler, Slumpbuster, etc. with a #14-16 soft-hackle or nymph trailed 14-18" of the hook bend- the streamer often functions as the attractor, and then the trout eat the trailing smaller fly. This helps turn some of those chases, rolls & flashed into a solid hook-up. With flows back to normal now (300+ cfs range), you may find some fish looking up and eating Winter Caddis and maybe Stones & Midges. Hope for risers, but expect to fish subsurface.
Total 8am flow today (Friday) in the permanent Catch & Release is medium at 339cfs (154cfs from the dam, plus 138cfs from the Still River) and rising slightly due to light rain overnight/this morning bumping Still River flows up a tad, normal historical flow for today is 418cfs. Riverton water temps have been starting in the mid to upper 30s and bumping into the low 40s some afternoons. Further Downstream on sunny/mild days you may see an even bigger increase (mid/upper 40s on mild/sunny day), and sometimes all it takes is a 1-2 degree increase to get the trout feeding.
If you are fishing the recently stocked sections (outside the permanent TMA/Catch & Release area
Currently you have the option of targeting holdover & wild trout in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release section, or going outside of it and targetting freshly stocked trout (and of course there are also holdover & wild trout throughout the river also). The recently stocked fish are starting to get dialed into natural food sources and learn about avoiding artificial flies- on average it takes about 3 weeks for trout to get in tune with feeding naturally.
The Fasna F-415 jig hooks from #10-20 are back in stock (a wide gap/short shank/curled in point hook similar to Hanak 450s, but heavier wire, go smaller, and are less expensive), and I also added in their standard jig hook, the F-420 from #8-20 (standard length/gap, 1x heavy wire, curled in point). The Fasna hooks come 30 to a pack, and are only $7.25- the quality of the hook wire, finish & point is EXCELLENT. Be aware the Fasna sizing is about a size SMALLER compared to most other hooks, so you prob want to purchase one hook size bigger than you might think (eg #14 Fansa = #16 in other jig hooks). The #20 Fasna jigs are probably the smallest you can buy in terms of actual true hook shank length. We also have matching slotted tungsten beads in 5/64"/2mm and 3/32"/2.5mm that will fit these small hooks.
While nymphing is rarely a bad choice, it tends to a the go-to March technique in terms of catching trout consistently, and it can produce some large trout too. Streamers can be productive too, just expect to get less hits on a typical day, but you are upping your chances of connecting with a top-end fish. Days without much wind can produce a few rising trout also to Winter Caddis & Stoneflies.
They started stocking the Farmington River in early February, due to the nice weather and lack of snow allowing them to easily access the river in their stocking trucks. The DEEP stocked the river two times now from the dam in Riverton down to the Rt 177 Bridge in Unionville, EXCEPT FOR the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (Bridge abutment from tail of Whittemore downstream 6.2 miles to the 219 bridge in New Hartford, that gets stocked once a year in April, and as of the September 2019 electroshocking had an estimated population at just under 2,000 trout per mile in that section!!!). Remember that the entire river from the dam in Riverton down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville is 100% catch & release.
Don't forget to get a new 2020 CT fishing license & Trout/Salmon stamp so you are legal! We sell them here at UpCountry, or you can purchase online by clicking here.
While dry flies are not a given in March, there are more windows of rising trout than you might think at the Farmington River, we are an above average dry fly fishery year 'round. Ideally you want days without too much wind, that can wipe out the dry fly action and make all the fishing subsurface. Surprisingly the Winter Caddis #18-24 ignore the Winter rule of the best fishing being more toward the afternoons, instead they commonly hatch in early to mid morings, 7-10am would be typical but not set in stone. It's not umncommon see them in the afternoons, and especially if it's windy and then dies down late in the day the egg laying adults will get active. Usually the early/mid AM action is mostly on the pupa, and often gently twitching them is what it takes to pull the trigger. Midges #22-28 are most active in the afternoons, and especially on milder, not-too-windy days. Look also for both the Early Black & Early Brown Stones #14-16 now,. Typically don't create a lot of dry fly fishing (with some exceptions), but nymphs in the subsurface drift tend to get the trout feeding subsurface. Having said that, even when they are hatching I typically do better on nymphs that DON'T imitate these tiny bugs: Caddis Larva, Stoneflies (but in #8-16), Eggs, Attractor Nymphs, etc.
experiment with colors as sometimes it can make a big difference in getting solid strikes, and color preference can change during the day as light conditions change. Cold water 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 you strikes. Some days the streamer fishing is dead, and other days it will produce some big fish. Be willing to switch methods when it makes sense. Olive, black, and white are good streamer colors to start with right now, but try other colors like brown, yellow or tan if those first 3 don't excite the trout. Also flies with a primary color such as brown and a secondary color like yellow can be the ticket.
We do a lot of trade-ins of used equipment, as many of you know. Please call and schedule an appointment before you bring your gear in to trade- you need to make sure Grady or I (Torrey) are here to do the trade, and you also need to make sure it's stuff we will be interested in so you don't drive here for nothing. If your trade-in is relatively small/simple and you want store credit (that's what 90% of people do it for), I (Torrey) can generally do it. However, if it's multiple items or you want us to purchase it, Grady needs to be here. He can do big trades quickly, plus he's the only one with check writing privileges (if we purchase your equipment we pay with a check, not cash). We generally give you roughly full current market value if you opt for store credit, and if you want us to purchase it we knock about 1/3 off what we plan to sell it for.
Cortland's brand spankin' new Nymph Series Rods for Euro Nymphing are in stock now. This series is all in a 10.5' length and three line weights: #2, #3, and #4, and retails at $299.99. These replace the extremely popular Competition Nymph Series. We have fished the new version in the 10.5' #3 model, and they are a noticeable improvement with a crisper action, faster recovery, more sensitivity, a downlocking reel seat for better rod/reel balance, and improved guide spacing to minimize line sag between the reel and the stripping (first) guide. The new construction also significantly improves the durability, and they maintained the stealthy matte finish to minimize rod flash on sunny days. You won't need a heavy reel to balance these either. I'm sure the #3 will be the best seller, but the 2 weight is sweet with a soft tip that will protect 6x-7x tippet on big fish, and the #4 has the power to handle heavier tippets with bigger flies on bigger fish and can cross over as an Indy nymphing rod too. This series looks like a real winner to us, and the best under $300 Euro rod on the market hands-down.
Winter Store Hours (through March):
8am-5pm 7 days a week
We've received a veritable pile of used rods & reels as trade-ins. 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 debuted their Paradigm series of moderate action, dry fly type rods in late 2019, along with a new Contact 10' #3, and a Zone 10' #4. Zach St. Amand beat 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 cross over and throw fly line with dries, wets, and small/medium streamers.
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.
Hours: 8am-5pm, 7 days a week through March.