Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday 5/29/20 Farmington River Report

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     -Grady & Torrey


Farmington River Report

The Farmington has been stocked about 7 times now since February outside the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release (including again right before Memorial Day weekend), and in mid April the CT DEEP heavily stocked the Permanent TMA/C&R. They stock this 6.2 mile section once per year in April with approximately 10,000 brown trout (mostly, but sometimes a smaller amount of rainbows too) of various sizes including 1,000 large two year olds which average a fat 14-18" and 2+ pounds. Lots of them hold over from year to year and get bigger, and there is also an increasing wild brown trout population. 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, and a smaller number of rainbows. The recent stocking should temporarily 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.

Too many fish pics to post here, sorry if you sent one and I wasn't able to post it, I'll try to post more on our social media that I was unable to post here. Top pic is a 20" wild brown I caught at 8:30pm Sunday night after work, on a Caddis Pupa in shallow water many people would skip over ("C" Water). Big browns luvvv to feed in shallow water during low light and insect activity.  2nd pic is chunky wild fish, one of many quality browns guide Derrick Kirkpatrick (of CT Fish Guides) got here this week. 3rd pic is a beauty by Aaron Jasper, caught Wednesday evening on the surface (FYI Aaron is available to do guide trips). 4th pic is a superb brown laid down next to his rod, by customer Eric Juhasz. 5th & final fish pic is a quality Rainbow by customer Mike Swierczynski.

Getting some really good fishing reports back lately. I had a "numbers day" after work on Monday, with quite a few nice sized stocked Brook Trout in the mix, and also a bunch of stocked Rainbows and Browns (stocked, holdover & wild). Caddis were the main culprit, and some Vitreus too. Total flow in permanent TMA/Catch & Release is medium/medium-low at 274cfs, water temps are upper 40s/low 50s in Riverton, low to high 50s in permanent TMA/C&R. More bugs + reduced flows =  more dry fly action. Peak dry fly fishing is mostly in the evenings now, so don't leave early! Lotta Caddis all over the entire river, with some Vitreus mixing in on most sections. Not sure on upper boundary of Vitreus, they hit by us in New Hartford 1 1/2 weeks ago, and I know they are in the lower end of the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R), and I suspect further upstream than that. Vitreus typically hatch sometime between late afternoon & dark, lately I've been seeing them mostly after 7pm. Caddis can be on the water anytime, and some days they've been out all day long- hatching is commonly morning/afternoon, and they typically come back to egg-lay in the lower light of the evening. Many anglers are doing good numbers of trout lately, including some big fish. However, the fishing for big holdover and especially big wilds has gotten tougher and more technical due to fishing pressure and reduced flows (easier to fool them in high water). The big 2 Year Olds they stocked in the TMA/C&R in April are easier to catch than the other big fish that have been in the river a long time. The wild trout spook the easiest of all, so be careful in your approach & presentation.

Now is a great time to fish wets & soft hackles, as both Caddis & Vitreus are active bugs when they hatch. FYI Vitreus are in the Epeorus family (just like Quill Gordon)- they have 2 tails, and the dun emerges from the nymphal shuck on the stream bottom, and then the winged dun swims/rises to the surface, making it a great candidate for wet flies/soft hackles. For Caddis, try wets & soft hackles with green, olive & Hare's Ear bodies, for Vitreus try yellow bodies (and sometimes orange)- read down below on the best ways to rig & fish wets and soft hackles. The Vitreus females are full of eggs and it gives them a pinky-orange cast. Caddis pupa #14-16 nymphed in the faster water are producing a lot of trout right now. Peak dry fly fishing is now in the evenings most days, with both Vitreus & egg-laying Caddis on the water. Overcast/cooler days may see #18-20 Olives hatching in the afternoons. First light is a good time to be out if you wanna chuck bigger streamers for big fish, but smaller streamers will produce during the day if fished near structure and in shady areas.

If you are fishing wets/soft-hackles (and you should be!), 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. 

Remember the beloved Grey's Streamflex rods? If you liked them, you will love what I'm about to tell you: Pure Fishing has released an updated version of the Streamflex series under the Fenwick name, using the latest materials that give the rods even improved rod recovery and durability. These rods feel fantastic in the hand. We have these in the Euro specific models, 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.

Recently stocked trout sometimes prefer gaudy flies that don't match the hatch, and "Junk Flies" (Mops, Eggs, Worms, and Green Weenies) often reign supreme and outfish normal drabber, more imitative nymphs that we fish most of the time. They will also often 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 & try twitching them. Once the trout have been in the river for 3-4 weeks they become attuned to natural food and will start to prefer drabber flies fished on a dead-drift (mostly, with plenty of exceptions). Fishing pressure will also teach them to be suspicious of commonly fished flies. Buggers can be 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, and also try dead-drifting them like a nymph. 


Nymphs #12-18 imitating or suggesting Caddis Pupa, Caddis Larva (olive/green #14-16), Vitreus, Blue Wing Olives/Baetis #16-20, and larger Stoneflies #6-12 (golden, brown, black) have all had their moments. Also try attractor patterns (gaudy flies with hot spots, flash, UV materials, or unusual colors), sometimes they will outfish the usual drabber flies for reasons only know to the trout. It can be worth trying bigger #6-10 nymphs such as Stoneflies & Mops- larger nymphs sometimes interest larger trout (more calories in a single bite, just like with streamers). Bigger nymphs can also be better in higher and/or off-color flows.  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 better than a "perfect" drabber imitation. 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 exactly 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 on Pheasant Tails, Frenchies & Hare's Ears. The shape (tails, slimmer abdomen, thicker thorax), color (brown) and size match up to the real Mayflies. I've caught many a rising trout during various Mayfly, Caddis & Midge hatches on a Parachute Adams after they refused a dozen different dun, emerger, cripple & spinner patterns.

For streamer fishing black, olive, brown and white are great starting colors, but make sure to experiment and let the trout tell you what they want. Other often good colors are yellow and tan. Two tone streamers such a brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc. can sometimes be the ticket. Try the following hybrid rig: a weighted streamer such as a conehead Bugger, Complex Twist Bugger, Zuddler, Slumpbuster, etc. with a #14-16 soft-hackle, wet fly 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.

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.

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The Farmington is currently an very nice 274cfs total flow through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area and averaging in the low to high 50s for water temperature in the afternoon- USGS historical normal combined flow for today is 375cfs. Riverton is 215cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 59cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. 10am Riverton water temp was 48.5 degrees this morning- downstream water temps in the C&R will be significantly higher (low to high 50s depending upon weather, time of day, distance from dam) than this due to the Still River running warmer than the colder water from the dam, and also the river warming as you progressively move further below the dam.

Cortland's brand new 2020 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 newer Contact 10' #3  (came out Fall 2019) 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 and also being made from newer materials, 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. Zach St. Amand gave it a big 2 Thumbs Up after fishing it for a week straight.

-Caddis #14-18: (olive green body is most commmon, but some are tan) all over the river from waaay downstream and at least as far upstream as the junction with the Still River
-Vitreus #12-16: New Hartford & downstream, and at least as far upstream as the lower end of the permanent TMA/C&R, and likely quite a bit further upstream than that
-Hendrickson #12-14: you might still see a few in Riverton up by the dam, but hatch is basically over. You may continue to see spinner falls (rusty spinner), especially up in Riverton
-Rusty Spinner #12-14 (Riverton, above Still River and up to the dam) 
-Blue Wing Olives #18-20 (cloudy, cooler days) 
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults (light hatch, early/mid AM, sometimes afternoons) 
-Midges #20-32 (late morn thru dusk) 

-Caddis Pupa #14-16 in olive/green & tan (such as BMAR Pupa & Wade's Pupa)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-16 
-Olive Nymphs #16-20
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodos/Frenchies #12-18 (various sizes imitate Mayfly nymphs like BWOs,  Vitreus, Sulfurs and many others)
-Prince Nymph #12-16
-Perdigons #14-16 (black, brown, olive, yellow)
-"Junk Flies" #8-16 (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies- great for fresh stockies and/or high dirty water)
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive)
-Attractor Nymphs #14-18 (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 (golden/yellow, brown, black)       

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear, Partridge & Orange/Green/Yellow, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, Partridge & Pheasant Tail, etc. 
   -best fished 2-3 at a time, on tag-end droppers 24-30" apart (keep droppers short at 4-6" in length to
    minimize tangles)

-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)