Friday, September 18, 2020

9/18/20 - Farmington River Report - Fall Conditions Are Here

We are open for business: Monday through Friday 8am-6pm, and Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pm. When entering the store please try to maintain a 6ft distance from other customers if possible, and per the governor's decree you must wear a mask/face covering of some sort inside the store (both your mouth and nose must be covered, no lowered masks please). We are happy to deliver curbside if you are uncomfortable shopping inside. Just give us a call.

The river was electrofished by the DEEP earlier this week, originally scheduled for 2 days but they got so many fish the first day they did not need to do a second one. They bring 150 16" plus wild/holdover trout back to the hatchery, artificially spawn them, and then return them to the river when done. One of our customers watched them shock the pool he was in, and he said several of the trout were so big they looked like salmon! 

The river remains low and will be that way until we get a lot of rain. Fishing continues to get more technical, anglers are working hard to fool trout sipping flies in the flat water pools. Targeting the faster ripply/broken water with Isonychia, attractor dries, terrestrials, dry/dropper, and wet flies is easier and often more productive. Flying Ants have been on the water some days, and if that happens and you have the matching flies, it can be some good fishing. We are starting to see a few Giant October Caddis (Pycnopsyche is the Latin name) in the afternoons/eves- never a heavy hatch, but you can blind fish the flies in faster water, or swing a big Fox Squirrel Nymph to imitate the pupa. No matter whether you experience good or bad fishing, every day gets slightly prettier as we see more peeks of autumn foliage.

The dam is releasing 76cfs, and reading 84cfs at the USGS flow gauge 2 miles downriver. Riverton AM water temp is 63.5 degrees this morning. Highs for the next 5 days will average in the low 60s, with nights in the low 40s. This should keep water temps good on virtually the entire river. Ironically after a cooler day and a cold night down into the 40s, in the mornings the water will be cooler the further you go downstream, as it's coming out of the dam somewhere in the low 60s at the moment.

Trico spinner falls are still going well, though with the colder nights here now they will happen later in the morning, so you don't need to be here at the crack of dawn to hit it- the spinners normally fall when air temps are 65-70 degrees. Best Trico reports of late are above Boneyard now, with Campground & up seeing the best action. It's technical fishing, so make sure to bring your tiny flies, long leaders, and light tippets (7x), and expect to work for each and every fish. Flying Ants have also been a major player some days, September is typically a big month for them- look for warmer sunny days ideally. When they are on the water, the trout rise like crazy, so make sure to have a few winged ants on you to imitate them

Our most popular jig hook, the Hanak 450 Jig Superb, is now available in #18, and we have a pile of them in stock. Just in time for  the smaller bugs/nymphs of late summer. The hook design is excellent: ultra wide gap for better hooking, and a slight short shank to tie smaller bugs. Ends up being more like a #20, but with the gap of a #16 hook. If you want a similar hook with heavier wire, also check out the Fasna F-415, it goes all the way down to #20, and runs smaller than the Hanak (the #16 Fasna is the same size as the #18 Hanak).

As of September 1st, virtually the entire river is under Catch & Release regulations: (21 miles from the dam in Riverton down to the Unionville Rt 177 bridge) until 6am on Opening Day in April 2021. If you see anybody keeping trout, don't confront them, instead please call the CT DEEP TIPS hotline at 800-842-TIPS(4357) and make a report. Even if they are unable to come and ticket them, it gets logged into the system and helps us get more DEEP enforcement on the river. I recommend programming that phone # into your cell phone. Please don't ask us to call them for you, it carries more weight when lots of different individuals are calling in violations, rather than coming mostly from UpCountry.

Although the lower water makes for more technical fishing, we continue to get pictures of big trout landed. Many customers are working hard for only an occasional hook up. Don't feel bad if you are working your butt off for each fish you catch, you need to be on your "A" game in these late Summer/early Fall conditions. You have to adapt to the low water conditions, time of year, and the current bugs. If you do what you were doing to be successful in June, and fish only the same spots, you will struggle. Be flexible where you fish, try new spots, experiment with your flies & tactics. If you move around & look, fish can be found of the surface most of the day, with mornings & late afternoon through evenings the peak hatch times.

The toughest fishing of all right now is the flat water, tiny dry fly game in the mornings & afternoons, you have to do everything right and even then it can still be hard. Or, you can cover water/blind fish and focus where there is more current & choppy water, fishing attractor dries, terrestrials, Dry/Dropper (with a very small #18-22 nymph dropper), or nymph fish with small #18-22 flies (either a very light Euro rig, or a small Indicator rig with one small split shot, I recommend 6x tippet with small nymphs). Fish holding in faster, choppy/riffly water have to make a quick decision and don't get as good a look at your fly. The "easier" dry fly fishing is in the evenings, when there are hatches of somewhat bigger bugs in the #10-18 range- don't overlook spinner, especially if you see gentle rises later in the evening.

Rusty spinners in various sizes probably cover 60% of all Mayflies, regardless of what color they are when they hatch. Cream spinners are good too. Stay until full dark if you can, there is often a window of easier fishing in the last 15-30 minutes of light when the trout will eat a variety of dries.

Dry/Dropper tips:
While many of the tiny hatch-matching dries require 12' or longer 6x-7x leaders, trying to throw a Dry/Dropper rig on that can be a recipe for disaster. Think more like 9', and no lighter than 5x, and big air resistant dries may require heavier (3x-4x) and sometimes even shorter (7.5') leaders. You have to be able to accurately turn over that rig, if you cannot, go shorter & heavier. Attach your nymph to 18-24" of 6x fluoro tippet for starters. Shallow runs and/or surface feeding trout may mean running it 12" below, and deeper/faster runs may require up to 30-36". Most people tie the nymph off the hook bend of the dry, but if you want the best rig of all, create a tag end dropper for your dry fly (just like you would in a Euro nymphing rig) above your nymph. Flows are currently low and most of the bugs are small, so think #16-22 nymphs. This is a shallow nymphing rig, so don't worry about dredging near the bottom, there are different rigs for that (Euro or Indicator nymphing). For those of you doing a Dry/Dropper rig on a Euro rod with a Mono rig, it's totally doable if you have a thicker mono set up. 15-20# Mono is optimal, but you can go a little thinner if the dries aren't too big and bushy. If you go too thin, there's not enough mass in the mono to turn the flies over. The weight of the dropper nymph actually helps you make the cast with a Mono rig, just make sure it's not too heavy for your dry fly to support. It becomes more critical to balance out your flies with a Mono rig though- bigger dries need heaver flies to be able to cast them, and smaller dries balance with lighter nymphs. That is not necessary with a traditional fly line and tapered leader. But the advantage to a Mono rig is that for short to moderate range work you can high-stick it and keep all the line off the water, up to maybe 25' or so.

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 , downlocking 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 Farmington is currently low at a total flow of 84cfs total flow through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area, and averaging upper 50s to upper 60s for water temps on most of the upper river, depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is a low 76cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 8cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. Early morning Riverton water temp was 63.5 degrees. Downstream water temps can be lower or higher than this, depending upon night time lows, daytime highs, and sunshine.

-Tricos #22-26: morning hatch: the spinner fall is the main event, they fall to the water at approximately 68 degrees air temp (plus or minus)
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults, typically early/mid morning
-Flying Ants #18-24: typically afternoons/early eves, especially warm sunny days following a rainy day
-Blue Winged Olives #18-26: anytime from morning thru evening, especially on cloudy days
-Isonychia #10-14: late afternoon thru dark, FAST WATER only
-Giant October Caddis (Pycnopsyche) #8-12:
afternoon/evening hatch, very light
-Caddis #16-20: (tan & olive green bodies most common, anytime, but especially morns (hatching) & late afternoons/evenings (egg-laying)
-Light Cahill/Summer Stenos #12-20: evenings
-Ants & Beetles #12-20: anytime, especially midday when hatches are minimal
-Midges #20-32: anytime
-Parachute Adams #10-24: different sizes imitate Isonychia, BWOs, Midges and much more)
-Rusty Spinners #12-26;imitates the spinner stage of most Mayflies, afternoons & especially in the evenings

-Small Nymphs #18-22: size is more important than exact pattern
-Blue Wing Olive #18-22
-Caddis Pupa #14-18 in olive/green & tan
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-18
-Yellow Sally #16-18- Sulfur nymphs work well to imitate them
-Isonychia Nymph #10-14: can also use large size Princes, Zug Bugs
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #10-14: imitates Giant October Caddis pupa
-Stoneflies #6-12: golden/yellow, brown, black, best in early/mid morns & eves
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate Mayfly nymphs like Blue Wing Olives, Isonychia, Cahills, Hebes, and many others
-Antoine's Perdigons #16-20: black, brown, olive, yellow
-Zebra Midge #18-22: black, olive
-Attractor Nymphs #16-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot. Haast Haze, Rainbow Warrior, Blue Lightning Bug, Miller's Victim, Triple Threat, Princes, etc.-

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-18: Hare's Ear, Partridge & Orange/Green/Yellow, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, Partridge & Pheasant Tail

-BMAR Yellow Matuka #6
-Complex Twist Bugger & Mini version #2-6: 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 (yellow, olive, brown)

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:

Report by Torrey Collins