Friday, August 14, 2020

Friday 8/14/20 Farmington River Report: low but fishing well

We are open for business: Monday through Friday 8am-6pm, and Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pm. When entering the store please maintain a 6ft distance from other customers and per the governor's decree, and you must wear a mask/face covering of some sort inside the store (both your mouth AND nose must be covered). We are happy to deliver curbside if you are uncomfortable shopping inside. Just give us a call.

Top pic is a recent beauty landed by Derrick Kirkpatrick of CT Fish Guides on a small Blue Winged Olive dry. 2nd pic is Steve Hogan's client Bryan Zoll with a nice Bow on a guide trip.

No real changes from the last report, the water is still low, relatively cold (mid 50s to upper 60s for the first 10+ miles of the river), and the fishing remains good for many of our customers. Hot again today (Friday), and then highs in the upper 70s for the weekend, with nights in the low 60s- statistically normal mid August temps. This will help keep water temps cooler, and further downstream too. The lower flows are making for easier wading, access to more of the river, and more rising trout when there is a hatch, but you do need to be stealthier in your approach. Mornings & evenings remain the peak fishing times, pretty typical for this time of year. The general rule is the best fishing is normally during the most comfortable time of day when it comes to trout.

It's full on Summertime, and that generally means it's also time to fish smaller flies. Most of the nymphs & dries the trout predominately feed upon are #18 or smaller in August, often much smaller. There are a few exceptions, notably Isonychia #10-14, big Stoneflies #6-12, and some of the Cahills/Summer Stenos & Caddis are a bit bigger too. I've turned around many a day of late Summer nymphing by downsizing #14-16 nymphs to #18  or even 20s. The morning dry fly hatch on pools & slower riffles is currently Summer/Winter Caddis #20-24, Needhami #22-26, and the "Glamour Hatch" of Tricos #22-26. All these tiny dries are best fished on longer leaders with 7x tippets, and for smaller nymphs it's a good idea to downsize your tippet to 6x to give them a more natural presentation & drift. Thinner tippets will also sink lighter weighed nymphs to the bottom quickly. In the faster water you will find some bigger assorted Caddis hatching in the AM, as well as big Stonefly nymphs crawling out. The midday exception (from late morning until early evening) would mainly be fishing terrestrials, in particular Ants & Beetles, #12-18 are very effective sizes that can be blind fished, or targeted to trout you see rising. Isonychia, being a big #10-14 mayfly, are another good bug to blind fish/prospect water with, just remember they are a fast water bug, so fish them there.

Flows remain low after the flow reduction from the dam last week, but ironically while we would overall prefer more water, this has made for even more dry fly fishing, and when there's a hatch, more rising trout. Less current + less depth = more energy efficient for trout to feed on/near the surface during a hatch. It's always energetically efficient for trout to feed on nymph down deep, all they have to do is suck them in. But when flows are down and the bugs are concentrated on the surface or in the surface film, it makes it much easier to eat bugs on the surface as compared to when they have to rise from deeper/faster water. Trout, especially bigger ones, have to make sure they get more energy from what they eat than they expend catching their meal, and big trout burn the most energy of all (think of a Hummer vs. a Moped when it comes to gas mileage haha).

Water coming out of the dam is still plenty cold (50s) but warms slightly each week now, it was 54.5 degrees at 6am this morning at the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton, and rose to about 59-60 degrees in mid/late afternoon yesterday on a hot & sunny day in Riverton. As you go downriver, temps slowly rise, and during the day the temps increase and peak in mid/late afternoon- especially on hotter, sunny days. Cloudy days see much lower water temps increases. In early to mid mornings, you can currently safely fish probably as far downstream as New Hartford (where we are) & Canton, but by late morning I'd be moving upstream at least several miles to the mid permanent TMA/Catch & Release (Greenwoods, Church, Mathie's Grove, etc.) and upstream to stay in trout-friendly water temps. It hit about 69-70 degrees at 3pm by the shop  in New Hartford during the 90 degree sunny day yesterday, yet if you were in the upper part of the C&R/TMA (say Campground) it never exceeded the low 60s (optimum trout water temps are low 50s to mid 60s). So start further downriver in the AM move upstream as the day warms, and ideally carry a thermometer if you aren't sure about the water temps. Air temps stay hot through Thursday, then Friday/Saturday/Sunday average a more comfortable low 80s.
FYI we have plenty of the hard to find "magic" UTC Sculpin Olive wire in the ever popular Brassie size (for Lance Egan's "Thread Frenchy" nymph), as well as size Small.

Hot New Rods:
The brand new T&T Contact II series (10' #2, 10' #3, 10' 9" #3, 10' 9" #4 & 10' 8" #6) are now available, and now the 11' 2" #3 has joined the lineup- Zach & I (Torrey) were closely involved with the prototype development of this last rod, and on version 7 of the prototype they absolutely nailed it. New improved materials, new guide spacing , downlock reel seats are standard now (to better balance), and a new fighting butt design that is more comfortable. Recovery is noticeably better/crisper, and the actions "tweaked" for more big fish playing power, plus the newer materials they use to make the rods inherently store more energy and give the rod more power. The blanks are incredibly strong and much much harder to break. These rods are easy to cast, will give you more distance, and they deliver with improved accuracy. Retail is $825.

The low water and summer conditions makes early & late in the day the best times to be out, midday during bright sun and low water can be a tough combo (secrets are look for shade, faster riffly or choppy water, and/or structure such as big rocks, downed trees, undercut banks). Prospecting with terrestrials such as beetles & ants, attractor dries, and Dry/Dropper rigs are all good strategies when there is no hatch. Dry/Dropper bridges combines dry fly fishing & nymphing, a hybrid technique you could say. Low water also makes for spookier trout and more technical fishing. For general dry fly fishing I'd recommend longer leaders (12' or even longer) with long and relatively light tippets. FYI you can take a 9' leader that is slightly heavier than what you want for a final tippet (say 4x or 5x), and then add 3-4' of tippet to make it a better dry fly leader. Longer leaders with longer tippets give you a more stealthy separation between your fly line and your fly, and they also make it easier to get a drag-free float. A #2-4 fly rod is preferable to a #5 or 6 rod as the fly line lands more gently, thinner fly lines are more flexible which helps make a drag-free presentation, and the more flexible lighter rods give you more tippet protection.

Tricos have joined the other small bug morning hatches (Needhami #22-26 & Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24). They are at least as far upstream as the lower permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) and moving further upstream every day. They run #22-26, and the spinner fall is the main event. They form balls of spinners in the air, and allegedly hit the water when the air is about 68 degrees. Typically they are an early to mid morning event, but that all depends upon air temps. They start earlier on warmer mornings, and later during cool ones.

Dry/Dropper is very effective, especially now with the lower water. This technique will let you fish slower and shallower water that can be tough to fish with Euro Nymphing or Indicators, and it lets you stay further away so you don't spook the trout. Try a small weighted nymph 18-30" below a larger buoyant dry fly. Nymphing the fast water, either Euro or with an Indy, is almost always effective. Just make sure to fish a pair of nymphs, and make sure one of them is small (as in a #18-20, give or take), and use much lighter flies than you would in the Spring. Dominant hatches include Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24 (early/mid morns), Needhami #20-26 (/late morns, have duns & spinners), and also Tricos in the moringing (#22-26, spinners are the main event, they hit the water at about 68 degrees air temp), and then assorted Blue Winged Olives #18-26 at various times during the day, and #10-14 Isonychia (later in the day, faster water only). Attenuata are about done, they are a light hatch and limited to just Riverton in the upper 2 miles and a light hatch now- you may still see a few (hatch is only in Riverton and almost done) possibly a few small Dorothea Sulfurs (that hatch is just about done also) up in Riverton too, usually no bigger than #18. There are also assorted Caddis #14-22 (tan, brown, black, olive/green), various Cahills/Summer Stenos (eves), assorted spinners (especially Rusty), and the big Varia/Potamanthus #8-12 (eves, slow water). Beetles & Ants are great late morning to early evening choices when hatches are sparse- you can blind fish them over likely water, or fish them to sporadic risers.

Their first nymphing clinic filled up in 2-3 days, so Antoine Bissieux & DJ Clement are put on a second Advanced Modern Euro Nymphing clinic on Saturday August 29nd from 9am-5pm- both clinics are now FULL, but we are taking down names for waiting list & future clinics. The above link is clickable and will take you to the page with all the details about this class. Learn what the top competitive anglers from France, Spain, Czech Repbulic & Poland are doing to outfish everybody else. This is an intermediate level class (no Euro Nymphing beginners!!!), make sure you have a good grasp of euro nymphing techniques and suitable tackle (as in Euro rod) & flies before signing up.

If you are subsurface, smaller nymphs #16-20 predominate, but... big #6-12 Stoneflies can pull big trout in the early/mid morns (usually done by 9-10am), and later in the day big Isonychia nymphs (#10-12) can catch big fish too. Just make sure one of your two nymphs (assuming a double rig) is a smaller one (as in #18 or even smaller), some days it makes all the difference in the summertime. Trout are eating plenty of Caddis Pupa in the first half of the day FYI. A small Mayfly type nymph is a good choice with all the Blue Winged Olives hatching lately, but small gaudy/flashy attractor style nymphs can be very good too. In the early to mid AM, streamers, nymphs and dries are all possibilities. Match the hatch if you have risers, chuck streamers for big fish, blind fish big Stoneflies in the fast water, or try a Dry/Dropper rig.

A lot of anglers are reporting big creamish yellow #8-12 Mayflies in the evenings in the slow water (prob mainly Varia, aka the "Yellow Drake", maybe some Potamanthus mixed in too, and I've even seen a few pics of what I suspect may be a Hexagenia or "Hex", the biggest of all Mayflies at #4-8) all over the river. You may not see Isonychia hatching in big numbers, but despite that trout are always on the lookout for that big #10-14 bug, both the dry and the nymph. The bugs you will see hatching will depend upon which section of the river you are in, and the water type (fast, medium, or slow)

All methods are producing at moments: Dry Flies, Dry/Dropper, Nymphing (both Euro & Indicator), Streamers, and Wet Flies/Soft Hackles. If you haven't yet tried it, Dry/Dropper with a buoyant dry like a terrestrial (Beetles, big Ants), Isonychia, Stimulator, or other attractor dry, and a small weighted nymph (#16-18) dropped underneath it, is both very fun and quite effective. 18-24" is a good starting distance between flies, but go longer if you aren't catching fish or you are in deeper water. FYI the bug activity has many quality trout holding in shallower, broken water. Don't limit yourself to only waiting for bugs and rising trout, as some days you won't be in the right spot, or maybe you don't want to brave the often crowded conditions in the popular, known "dry fly" pools. Dry/Dropper lets you have the pleasure of fishing a dry, and some fish WILL eat the dry. You can also blind fish the same type dries with no trailing nymph.

If you are dry fly fishing to rising trout during a hatch, match the bugs as closely as you can, paying close attention to fly profile & stage (Mayfly, Caddis, emerger, dun/adult, spinner, etc.), the size, and the approximate color. Doesn't matter if you cannot ID the bug or know the Latin name, just match what it looks like, paying close attention to the size and making an accurate, drag-free drift. At this point in the season, all the trout have seen a ton of fake flies and real bugs, so you need to be on your "A" game to fool them. Get as close to the as you can, and use a long tippet (3-4' or even longer if it's not windy) to help get a drag-free float. If you get a few accurate natural presentations with no takers or you get a visible refusal, either change flies or move to another fish. A refusal means you are close, but something isn't quite right (size is slightly off, color isn't right, they want an emerger, etc.). As a last resort, sometimes a gentle twitch when the fly is a couple of feet above the trout will seal the deal. But sometimes it will spook them, so do that judiciously. Caddis dries fished in riffly water often fish better when you twitch & skate them, they are a very active insect.

Streamer fishing is an option if you want a change from dries & nymphs, especially on overcast days. Low light conditions and increased and/or off-color flows (like during or after a rain) make for a better streamer bite- the biggest trout will often be near structure like big rocks, undercut banks, downed trees, etc. Olive is a good starting color for streamers, but it's important to change colors (black, brown, tan, yellow, two-tone, etc.), fly size, fly type, retrieve, depth fished, etc.
Be aware that bug activity varies from day to day and section to section, but also depending upon water type. Don't look for Isonychia 200 yards down a pool in the flat water, as they are a fast water insect and that's where you will normally find them, at the pool heads and in pocket water/faster water. I hear customers tell me there were "no bugs", but then I find out they were fishing early afternoon in flat/slow water on a bright sunny day and expecting to see Iso's. Do your homework and learn at least a little about major hatches (e.g. Iso's) that are common and last a while. Mayfly Spinner falls occur over riffles & pocket water. Caddis most commonly hatch & egg-lay in riffles and faster water. Big trout will often drop into the tails of pools in the evenings to feed. Bottom line is that if you aren't seeing bugs, move around to different water types, and move up & down the river.

There are truly no secret "hot spots". The entire stretch of river from the dam in Riverton down to Unionville (20+ miles), has trout spread throughout it in very good numbers (be careful about going too far downstream in August, temps can sometimes get too hot to trout fish if you get too far below the dam). Big trout are scattered throughout the entire river. This is not a river where you have to be in one of only a handful of spots to do well. The trout are truly everywhere, a mix of 2020 stockers, multi-year holdovers, and plenty of wild fish too. Excellent habitat and many miles of cold water means the trout exist in good numbers all over the river. Yes, the 6.2 mile permanent TMA/C&R (catch & release) likely has the highest density of trout, but.... the rest of the river holds a lot of trout too, and some really good ones. Most years I catch my biggest trout outside of the permanent TMA/C&R. Go out of your way to explore new water on the Farmington, drive until you see some juicy looking new water unoccupied by other anglers and explore it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised

If you are fishing wets/soft-hackles (and you should be sometimes), try a 2-3 fly rig, on tag end droppers about 24-30" apart. During hatching activity where you see bugs and occasional rising trout, keep all your flies unweighted and fish near the surface. If it's slow and trout don't seem willing to move to your wets, use a lightly to moderately weighted soft-hackle or nymph on the point position to get your rig down deeper where the trout are. 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, better fly animation, 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. 


Current Store Hours:
8am-6pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-5pm on weekends.

The Farmington is currently low and at a total flow of 169cfs total flow through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area, and averaging in the mid 50s to upper 60s for water temps on most of the river, depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is 154cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 15cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. 6am Riverton water temp was 54.5 degrees this morning (it hit 57.5 yesterday in mid/late afternoon), downstream water temps are higher (upper 50s to mid/upper 60s), temps will rise during the day. Most mornings (assuming a relatively cool night) water temps are trout-friendly as far down to Canton/New Hartford, but I would not go further downriver (Collinsville/Unionville) than that, and by late morning I'd be at least several miles upstream in order to stay in trout-friendly water temps (mid permanent TMA/C&R and upstream). The further upstream you go right now, the colder the water.

-Morning Hatches:
-Needhami #22-26: mid to late mornings, at least as far upstream as Church Pool  
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults (typically early/mid AM)
-Tricos #22-26: AM hatch (mostly spinner fall), at least as far up as lower TMA/C&R and moving upstream 
-Blue Winged Olives/BWOs/Olives #18-26: anytime from mornings thru eves, esp. on cloudy days
-Isonychia #10-14 ("Iso's"): fast water hatch, late afternoon thru dark
-Caddis #14-20: (tan & olive green bodies most common, but other colors & sizes too) anytime, but especially morns (hatching) & eves (egg-laying)
-Light Cahill/Summer Stenos #12-20: eves, FYI Cream Usuals works great
-Ants & Beetles #12-20- anytime, especially midday 
-Varia/Potamanthus #10-12: eves, slow water
-Midges #20-32: anytime, try Griffith's Gnats
-Parachute Adams #10-24 (diff sizes can imitate Isonychia, BWOs, Midges and much more)
-Rusty Spinners #12-26 (imitates the spinner stage of 60-70% of Mayflies), afternoons & especially in the evenings
-Attractor Dries: Mini Chernobyl, Mega Beetle, Stimulator, Hippy Stomper, etc.

-Olive Nymphs/BWOs #16-20
-Caddis Pupa #14-16 in olive/green & tan (such as BMAR Pupa, Wade's Pupa & others)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-16
-Yellow Sally/Sulfur Nymph #16-18 - can be a specific imitation or a Pheasant Tail/Frenchy
-Isonychia Nymph #10-12 (can also use bigger Princes, Zug Bugs & larger Pheasant Tails) 
-Stoneflies #6-12 (golden/yellow, brown, black)- best in early/mid morns
-Frenchies/Pheasant Tails #12-20 (various sizes imitate Mayfly nymphs like BWOs, Sulfurs, Cahills, Iso's and many others)
-Prince Nymph #10-16 (bigger ones make a good Isonychia)
-Perdigons #16-20 (black, brown, olive, yellow)
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive)
-Attractor Nymphs #14-20 (Haast Haze, Rainbow Warrior, Blue Lightning Bug, Miller's Victim, 
   Triple Threat, Princes, etc.)- anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot   
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, don't go to light on your tippet as strikes can sometimes be very hard)

-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: