Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday 4/17/20 Farmington River Report: river is down, fishing is good

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Farmington River Report

The Farmington has been stocked five times now since February outside the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release (I just saw the stocking trout out stocking the river this morning on Friday 4/17), and now the CT DEEP stocked the Permanent TMA/C&R on Monday 4/13, they stock this section once per year in April with brown trout of various sizes including 1,000 large two year olds which average over a couple of pounds. Electrofishing in September 2019 put the estimated trout population at just under 2,000 trout per mile in this section, with many of those being wild & holdover trout, mostly browns, with a small number of rainbows. The recent stocking should put the population of this section at 3,500+ trout per mile!! And that doesn't even include other stocked trout that have wandered in from above and below the C&R section.

Remember the old Grey's Streamflex rods? If you liked them, you will love what I'm about to tell you: Fenwick just came out with the new version of the Fenlite Streamflex series using the latest materials that give the rods even better properties like noticeably improved rod recovery and significantly improved durability. These rods feel fantastic in the hand. We got these in Euro specific models, and they have a lower down stripping guide to reduce line sag between the reel and first guide. The 11' #3 & #4 Streamflex have an MSRP of $349.95- we are selling them for $265. The also do a Streamflex Plus that goes from 10' to 10' 6"- a six inch extension piece hides in the handle and can be put in or out in seconds. We have the 10' #3 Streamflex Plus (goes up to 10.5')- MSRP is $379.95, we are selling it for $285.

The Hendrickson hatch is here in the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R)! Colder weather Thursday stalled the Hendrickson hatch, but those fishing subsurface gave us some EXCELLENT reports. Heavy stocking on Monday means there are a ton of uneducated trout just waiting to eat your flies. Sunday looks like the nicest day by far, with sunshine and a predicted high of 61 degrees. Flows through the C&R section are medium at 440cfs & dropping (170cfs in Riverton, plus 270cfs & dropping from the Still River). Hendricksons are at least as far north as Mathie's Grove and moving upstream daily, with good numbers of bugs and trout feeding on top on milder days. Starting as early as 2pm and also mixed in with Hendricksons  have been hatches of Blue Wing Olives (sz 18), and Winter/Summer Caddis (sz 20-22), Midges #22-28, and a few Blue Quills/Paraleps (sz 16-18) have also been making appearances.

Colder days tend to stall out the Hendrickson hatch, so Sunday with a high over 60 degrees will be the day to be out this weekend if you want to find some rising trout in the afternoon (Hendrickson hatch is typically a mid/late afternoon deal). Saturday shouldn't be as crowded with a predicted 45 degree high. After colder nights, don't start too early, I'd wait until 10am or so Saturday to let the water temps rise a degree or two and get the trout more active. Despite a relatively cool Thursday, water temps reached 47 degrees at the Rivrton gauge in the late afternoon (on milder days downstream water temps will be higher than this). I got 48 degrees in New Hartford Thursday late afternoon.

Thursday trout were hitting a variety of nymphs & streamers, including Mops, #14 brown nymphs, Frenchies, Egg Flies, and assorted Buggers. Recently stocked trout often prefer gaudy flies that don't match the hatch, and "Junk Flies" (Mops, Eggs, Worms, and Green Weenies) often rain supreme and outfish our normal drabber, more imitative nymphs that we fish most of the time. And sometimes recent intros will prefer a fly that moves or drags in the current, not a dead-dirft presentation, so let your nymphs, streamers & wets swing out at the end of each drift. But, once the trout have been in the river for 3-4 weeks they become attuned to natural food and will normally prefer drabber flies fished on a dead-drift (mostly). Fishing pressure will also teach them to be suspicious of commonly fished flies. Buggers are also deadly on recently stocked trout- start with olive or black and go from there if you don't get a positive reaction. Also experiment with your retrieve, and try a plain swing with no added action if stripping it in doesn't get a response. 

Brownish nymphs #12-14 are working well throughout the entire river as they imitate the Hendrickson nymph, and also crossover to imitate Early Stones (still some around). It can be a specific imitation, but it doesn't need to be. It can also be something brown with a Mayfly shape such as a Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasnant Tail, Frenchie (basically just a PT with a hot spot), a dark colored Hare's Ear, etc.- read 3 paragraphs down about "GISS" (general impression of size & shape).

Top picture is Keith Godfrey with a BIG brown, look at the size of that adipose fin! I don't know if it looks it in the pic, but he carefully measured it at 24". Perspective & camera angles will make a fish look bigger or smaller. It was caught on an olive Walt's Worm- think GISS (Caddis larva). 2nd pic down is Steve Hogan with a heavily spotted beauty he caught last week. 3rd fish pic is one of several really nice browns Derrick caught during his lunch break Thursday. 4th fish pic is Zach with nice brown that has a cool but sparse spotting pattern.


If you are fishing wets/soft-hackles, try a 2-3 fly rig, on tag end droppers about 24-30" apart, and use a lightly to moderately weighted soft-hackle or nymph on the point position to get your rig down deeper where the trout are. During hatching activity where you see bugs and occasional rising trout, keep all your flies unweighted and fish near the surface. Throw across & slightly upstream and make an upstream mend to sink your flies, let them dead-drift (watch your fly line tip for subtle strikes), and then let them do the traditional wet fly swing- expect strikes especially at the 3/4 downstream point when your flies rise toward the surface. At the end of the drift let them dangle for several seconds, then twitch them up & down a couple of times. Add some slight rod tip twitches during some drifts, and on others just let them drift. Keep your rod tip up around 10 o'clock during the entire drift for tippet protection, and better hook-ups- this creates very slight controlled slack you need so trout can inhale your fly and not short strike it. This technique is great for covering riffle & pool water where the trout are spread out and can be anywhere, the kind of water that can be difficult/challenging to nymph.

Nymphs #12-18 imitating or suggesting Early Stones (black, brown), Hendrickson nymphs, Blue Wing Olives/Baetis, Blue Quills (Paraleps), and Caddis Larva (regular olive/green #14-16 & cased #10-14) have all had their moments, as well as attractor patterns (gaudy flies with hot spots, flash, UV materials, or unusual colors). It can be worth trying bigger #6-10 nymphs such as Stoneflies & Mops too- bigger nymphs sometimes interest bigger trout (more calories in a single bite, just like with streamers).  Remember that GISS (general impression of size & shape) is far more important than having an exact imitation, and sometimes exaggerated features like a hot spot or flash gets their attention. Trout perceive our imitations differently than us humans do, so what looks good to YOU isn't necessarily what the trout prefer. We'd be lucky to catch any trout at all if our flies truly had to look just like the natural insects. If your fly size & shape/profile are close to the natural bugs, and the color is ballpark, all you then need is to put it in front of a willing trout with a good presentation. I've caught more trout than I can count during Hendrickson hatches on #12-14 Pheasant Tails & Frenchies. The shape (tails, slimmer abdomen, thicker thorax), color (brown) and size match up to the real bug. And I've caught many a rising trout during a Hendrickson hatch on a #12-14 Parachute Adams after they refused a dozen different dun, emerger, cripple & spinner patterns.

In addition to the Hendrickson hatch, we have been seeing hatches of the #16-18 Blue Wing Olives (BWOs)/Baetis & Midges in the afternoons in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release. In addition to dries think about fishing a smaller nymph that looks like them (#16-18, slim, olive to olive-brown to brown). They have been rising to bugs in some spots in the afternoons, so have the matching dries/emergers. There are still some Early Stones around (black, brown), as well as the Winter/Summer Caddis & Midges. If you see splashy rises, that is probably either Caddis or Stoneflies. Gentle sips are more typical of trout feeding on BWOs & Midges. 

Streamer fishing has picked up noticeably, and lately black or olive have been top colors, but I'm also a fan of brown this time of year, and white can be very good also- experiment! Two tone streamers such a brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc. can sometimes be the ticket. Try also the following hybrid rig: a weighted streamer such as a conehead Bugger, Complex Twist 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 & flashes into a solid hook-up.

We got in a pile of flies from Fulling Mill & Umpqua recently, including some cool streamers we haven't carried before, check out Tommy Lynch's deadly D&D that swims like a Flatfish lure- fish it on a sink-tip/sinking leader/sinking line to get this unweighted pattern to the proper depth, the action/movement on this fly is INSANE. Weighted streamers like Woolly Buggers, Zuddlers, Slumpbusters, and Complex Twist Buggers all continue to produce fish if fished down deep. Try also streamers with Sculpin Helmets, bounced & twitched along the bottom on a floating line- deadly on bigger trout. Play with colors, fly size, pattern style, retrieve, depth, and cover lots of water and you should be able to find success

We've recently received BIG orders of assorted hooks from Umqua/Tiemco, Fulling Mill jig hooks, a huge Wapsi tying material order, lots more books including the hot new streamer book from Kelly Galloup "Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout II", a definitive new book on Brook Trout by Bob Mallard "Squaretail" (autographed copies), and lots of spin tackle. We are happy to mail order over the phone for you, or prepare a goody bag for curbside pick-up. Thank you all for the support you've shown our business since the CT shutdown of non-essential businesses, we appreciate every single sale/order you give us! Let's all stick together & stay safe as best we can.

Current Store Hours:
8am-5pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-5pm on weekends, "curbside pick up" only- we will be going to 8am-6pm eventually and will announce that on here when it happens. Call 860-379-1952 to place orders or have us put together your order for pick-up.

The Farmington is curently medium at 440cfs & dropping through the Catch & Release (C&R) area and running in the high 40s for temperature in the afternoon- USGS historical normal flow for today is 522cfs. Riverton is 170cfs, and the Still River is adding in an additional 270fs & dropping steadily. 8am Riverton water temp was 42 degrees this morning, and it reached 47 degrees in late afternoon Thursday- downstream water temps in the C&R will be higher than this on milder/sunny days due to the Still River running warmer than the water from the dam.

Cortland's brand spankin' new Nymph Series Rods for Euro Nymphing are in stock. 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 and it is the most versatile for all around Euro Nymphing, 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 Indicator nymphing rod too. This series looks like a real winner to us, and the best under $300 Euro rod on the market hands-down.

Thomas & Thomas's new 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 its 10' 8" & 11' 3" cousins, it has a crisper action that make it a very good choice for someone who likes to Euro nymph, but also likes to cross over and throw fly line with dries, wets, and small/medium streamers. Also good on smaller waters where the casting is restricted.

-Hendricksons #12-14:  currently only in Unionville/Collinsville/Canton due to slightly warmer water downstream, just started over past few days. Soon up in the Permanent TMA/C&R(prob by this weekend I'm guessing)downriver
-Blue Wing Olives #16-18 (aka Olives, Baetis, BWOs, etc.)- afternoons 
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults (early/mid AM, sometimes afternoons also)
-Early Stones #14-16 (Black, Brown- afternoons, esp. on milder days) 
-Midges #20-32 (late morn thru dusk) 

-Hendrickson Nymph #12-14- can be a specific imitation like the BMAR Hendrickson, or any brownish Mayfly nymph such as a Pheasant Tail, Frenchy, darker Hare's Ear, etc.
-Olive Nymphs #16-18
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodos/Frenchies #12-18 (in #12-16 imitates Early Brown Stones/Hendricksons, smaller ones imitate smaller/immature Mayfly nymphs like BWOs & Blue Quill/Paraleps)
-Prince Nymph #12-16 (imitates Early Black Stones and is also an attractor nymph)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16 
-Cased Caddis #10-14

-Perdigons #12-16 in black, brown, and olive (imitates the Early Stones, Hendricksons & Olives)
-"Junk Flies" #8-16 (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies- great for fresh stockies)
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive)
-Attractor Nymphs #12-18 (Haast Haze, Rainbow Warrior, Blue Lightning Bug, Miller's Victim, 
   Triple Threat, Princes, etc.) -anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot   
-Bigger Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black)       

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear, Partridge & Pheasant Tail, Partridge & Orange, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, etc.

-BMAR Yellow Matuka #6
-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
-Dude Friendly #8 (white, yellow, natural)
-Woolly Buggers #2-14 (black, olive, white, brown, tan)
-Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #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: