Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday 11/20/20 Farmington River Report: great weekend conditions

Our store hours have changed for the “off season”: Monday through Sunday, 8am-5pm, 7 days a week now. When entering the store please try to maintain a 6ft distance from other customers if possible, and as 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.

Justin Lerner ventured here from NJ recently, and his result was 20+ fish including many big fish (only 3 of his big ones pictured here, he got a bunch more) Looks like he had an awesome outing. It’s not always that good, but if you pay your dues occasionally you will have exceptional days. Catch & Release regs, reduced creel limits, Survivor Strain brown trout, and optimal habitat have created an excellent fishery.

We received a massive fly tying materials & fly box order from Wapsi/Angler’s Image, with more tying material arriving next week too. Just another day in paradise…. After the cold snap we just had, now temps will moderate- sunny and almost 60 degrees this afternoon, 53 with sun & clouds Saturday, Sunday 45 with more clouds than sun. 10 Day Forecast has 6 days in the 50s, 4 days in the 40s, with night averaging in the 30s- not bad at all for the 2nd half of November. Water level in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA is upper 200cfs range, I’d call that medium and near perfect. Cooler nights and colder water means you don’t need to start at the crack of dawn unless you are trying to hit the early to mid morning Winter/Summer Caddis hatch. Other than that, the late morning to late afternoon time slot will typically be more productive, as it put you into rising water temps and more active trout. It’s not so much the absolute water temp as it is the relative temperature change. As long as temps are moving toward optimal, it tends to get the trout feeding. Temps moving away from optimal tend to shut them down. For the sake of argument lets say optimal is about 60 degrees (give or take, and it varies according to trout species), and water temps of late have been low to upper 40s, so any upward movement of water temps will tend to get the trout going. After a really cold night (lets say in the 20s), in the morning the water further downriver will be colder than the water coming out of the dam, because the dam water comes out the same temp all day long regardless of the air temps. As water flows downstream, it will warm or cool depending on ambient air temps and sunlight (or lack thereof). As the day progresses, if it’s mild & sunny the downstream sections can see warmer water temps than the section up near the dam. You can obviously use these temperature differentials to your advantage, so it’s a particularly good idea to carry a thermometer this time of year.

Currently fishing is a mix of nymphing, streamer fishing, with some dry fly action here & there. Current hatches include Winter/Summer Caddis in the AM, and Blue Winged Olives & Midges in the afternoons. Subsurface has been the most consistent, dry fly fishing has been spotty in the afternoons, maybe due to the constantly changing weather lately? Think slower & deeper as water temps drop, lethargic trout don’t like to move far to eat. Make it easier for them to eat and you will put some fish in your net. Play with your retrieves, flies (especially color) & rigging when streamer fishing, make sure you are getting them down deep. Try both fast retrieves, but as slower ones as the water temps continue to slowly decrease. If nymphing, two fly rigs rule the day. Try a medium to large nymph (#8-14) paired up with a smaller one (#16-22). Your bigger fly can be a Junk Fly (Mop, Worms, Weenies) or something more imitative like a Stonefly, and your small fly can be a Midge, Baetis/Blue Winged Olive (BWO) nymph, or something generic like a Pheasant Tail (“PT”). Pair a drabber more imitative pattern with another nymphs that is gaudier with a hot spot and/or flash- the trout will tell you which they prefer. Most nymphs/larva/pupa are smaller this time of year, and BWOs (Blue Winged Olives) are the dominant November bug- typically a #18-20 is the way to go in nymphs (the dries are normally in the #22-24 range and even smaller). Look for BWO hatches in the afternoons, especially on crappy cool, overcast days. Midges are hatching too, so don’t forget about the. While the red hot egg bite is past, eggs are still effective and will work well straight through the Winter and into even the early Spring. Trout are genetically programmed to eat eggs: real ones have lots of calories/protein, and they cannot escape. This hold true on all trout species whether they are stocked, holdover or wild.

Although the bulk of the spawn is past, there are still some trout in the act. I’m glad to report that it appears people have been leaving spawning trout on redds alone this Fall, but there is one big problem we are seeing a lot of recently: anglers walking all over the redds. The eggs won’t hatch until February, and if you walk on them you will crush & kill the eggs- these are future wild trout. It’s important that you wear polarized glasses so you can see them. Redds are light colored circular/oval patches in shallow gravelly riffly areas where the female trout clean off the gravel and drop their eggs (some eggs end up 5-10 feet or more downstream of the redds). They are also often spots that are easy for anglers to wade in or cross the river. I’ve had countless reports from the local guides of people unknowingly walking right through redds. For example, the shallow riffle at the head of Church Pool is loaded with redds, yet almost every single day a pile of anglers wade all over them. Please be observant and careful not to do this! Prime spots where redds will be are pool tailouts, gravelly riffles at pool heads, and side braids. Be especially vigilant in these areas. Fishing to spawning trout on redds is unsporting & unethical and adds stress to an already stressed out fish, but walking through redds actually kills future trout. Don’t be “that guy”. Politely educate other anglers if you see them unknowingly walking through this critical habitat- people are doing this because they are unaware, not because they have bad intentions.

For those of you who have struggled this Fall, the MDC stocked up in Riverton (Rt 20 Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage bridge up to the dam, about 2 miles) on 11/4 with 1,700 “large” (over 12”) Rainbow trout. Rainbows tend to be more aggressive eaters than brown trout, and they have not yet been fully “educated” by anglers. Try “Junk Flies” such as Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Egg flies, Mops, and Green Weenies. Pair them up with a more natural nymph of your choosing. Also try standard streamers like small to medium sized Buggers in various colors, that can be VERY effective is you get the flies down deep and play with retrieves. FYI if you are looking for something different to do, the CT DEEP has so far recently completed TWO 2020 Atlantic Salmon stocking in the nearby Naugatuck River- 2 more Salmon stockings to come in the very near future. Swung & stripped streamers are typically the way to go for the salmon. FYI they love to lay in the pool tailouts, especially near rocks. Try streamers especially in yellow, white, and black, as well as other colors, and keep your tippet heavy as in 0-2x.

The new Hardy Zane saltwater #7-10 rods recently arrived, the Zane & the Zane Pro, check ‘em out.

If you want to avoid the crowds, remember that there are 21 miles of seasonal catch & release (C&R) water below the dam from September 1st until Opening Day, and it’s all loaded with plenty of trout, including even the water well below that. Everybody seems to key in on the same spots- either the popular pools in the 6.2 mile permanent C&R/TMA section, or wherever the state recently stocked, but the trout are truly everywhere in this river. Now that water temps are not an issue, you can go as far downriver as you wish. Explore and find some new water that isn’t getting beat up on a daily basis, and watch your catch rate jump up. Or go where everyone else goes, and do what everybody does, and have similar results... It’s your choice. If you aren’t good at reading new water, purchase a copy of Gary Borger’s fantastic book on the subject called “Reading Waters”, it’s the best one out there on that topic- he takes a dry subject and makes it interesting with plenty of personal anecdotes.

Streamer fishing is a nice break from the technical small fly/light leader fishing, and allows you to cover water quickly and target some of the biggest trout. Some yellow incorporated into your Fall streamers can be very effective, brown trout react aggressively to their own heightened spawning colors. Can be all yellow, or two-tone such as brown/yellow or olive/yellow. Orange is a good secondary color too. Olive is a universal color worth trying too in anything but truly muddy water. In general smaller streamers will catch you more fish, and larger streamers will pull bigger fish but you will typically get less hits.

The river was electrofished by the DEEP in September, 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. Two of our customers watched them shock, and they said several of the trout were so big they looked like salmon! 

Our most popular jig hook, the Hanak 450 Jig Superb, is now finally available in #18, and we have them in stock. Just in time for tying the nymphs of late Summer/early Fall. The hook design is excellent: ultra wide gap for better hooking, curled in barbless point, and a slightly short shank to tie smaller bugs. Ends up being more like a #20, but with the gap of at least a #16. If you want a similar hook with slightly heavier wire that is available in smaller sizes, try the Fasna F-415; it goes all the way down to a #20 and runs about one size smaller than the Hanak. A #16 Fasna is about the size of a Hanak #18.

As of September 1st, virtually the entire river went Catch & Release: (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 call the CT DEEP TIPS hotline at 800-842-TIPS(4357) and report them. Even if they are unable to come & ticket or arrest them, it gets logged and can help us get more future DEEP enforcement on the river when they analyze their call logs data. 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.

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 for casting and playing big trout. 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.


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

The Farmington is currently medium at a total flow of 286cfs through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area (historical normal total flow is 352cfs), and averaging mid to upper 40s for water temps- depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is at 192cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 94cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. AM Riverton water temp was 48 degrees this morning, look for temps to slowly creep downward now that seasonable, cooler November weather is back. Downstream water temps have been cooler than this in the mornings after colder nights.

*Blue Winged Olives #20-26: afternoons, especially cloudy/crappy days
Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults, typically early/mid AM
*Midges #20-32: anytime
(365 days a year)
-Parachute Adams #1
2-24: different sizes imitate Isonychia, BWOs, Midges, Caddis and much more

er Nymphs #16-22: size more important than exact pattern, but definitely experiment
Blue Wing Olive #16-22: various patterns with & without hot spots and flash
Egg Flies #10-18: assorted colors (yellow, pinks, oranges or mixed colors)
Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Squirmies/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies)
*Zebra Midge #1
6-22: black, olive, red
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-1
Cased Caddis #12-14
-Stoneflies #
8-12: golden/yellow, brown, black
& Pheasant Tails #14-20: various sizes imitate Mayfly nymphs like Blue Wing Olives, Cahills, Isonychia, also smaller Stoneflies and many others
-Antoine's Perdigons #14-20: black, brown, olive, yellow
-Attractor Nymphs #1
4-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot. Try the 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
in colder water get them deeper using weighted point flies, sinking leaders, or sink-tips/sinking line

BMAR Yellow Matuka #6
-Muddler Minnow #6-10: unweighted is very versatile- float, swing, dead-drift, strip/twitch, dangle- you can do all 5 presentations in one drift, use split shot to sink it if needed
-Zuddler #4-8:
olive, yellow, white, brown, black
-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:
brown & yellow is a DEADLY Fall color combo
-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: