Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Tuesday 11/10/20 Farmington River Report: more mild weather

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. 

Lead pic is CT Fish Guides client Jeff Valus with a 22" brown from this past weekend, he landed a 20" fish a little bit later. It's not all browns, 2nd pic is a very pretty holdover bow over the weekend by customer Steve Kukta. And the 3rd pic is another nice weekend bow by outdoor writer Will Ryan. All 3 fish pictured were caught nymphing FYI. 

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 last Wednesday 11/4 with 1,700 “large” (over 12”) Rainbow trout. I mistakely posted that they stocked a month ago, but they did not until just recently. 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. 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 November. 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 in yellow, white, and black, as well as other colors, and keep your tippet heavy as in 0-2x.

The MDC bumped up the dam release yesterday (Monday 11/9), putting us at a near perfect medium & normal total flow in the permanent Catch & Release (C&R)/TMA of 305cfs (243cfs from the dam, plus 62cfs from the Still River). The extra flow is coming from the 94cfs being released from Otis Reservoir in MA- they have to add all such releases (up to the 1st 150cfs) to the water they let out of Hogback/Goodwin Dam in Riverton. This is a good thing. Water temps of late have averaged upper 40s to low 50s depending upon where & when you measure them. Daily highs will remain unseasonably mild through Thursday before going back to the 50s & 40s. Showers are likely for Wednesday afternoon and into Thursday, with just under ¾” total rainfall predicted. The bulk will come Wednesday night. Nice to see regular rainfall again, it’s good for the trout. Increased flows typically bodes well for those fishing subsurface with streamers & nymphs.

Mark Swenson’s next fly tying class will be this November 15th, and there is ONE spot left. It is geared toward novice & intermediate tyers who used to tie a little bit, but got away from it and forget most of what they learned. Sort of a “tune up” class for less experienced tyers. Call Mark directly at 203-586-8007 to sign up.

No major changes in flies other than you can go a little bigger on your flies in these flows, and if you are nymphing try some Junk Flies (Worm & Egg patterns, Mops, Green Weenies) paired up with a more natural/imitative nymph. You can also go bigger on your streamers, which helps when targetting the largest fish in the river. No 5x tippet for the streamers, think 0-3x, with 2-3x fine for standard #6-10 streamers, and 0-1x for the big stuff. 5x is currently fine with nymphs (although Euro Nymphers often go lighter to sink their flies deeper/faster). Dry fly fishing has been kinda spotty, maybe due to the unusually mild temps? As things cool off later in the week, you may see Blue Winged Olive hatches pick up in the afternoons, they love to hatch on those cool, crappy overcast days. November is traditionally a big month for BWO hatches on the Farmington River, but they are small- make sure you have patterns at least down to #24, if not smaller. Keep your eyes out for afternoon Midges, as well as early to mid morning Winter/Summer Caddis hatches. All small bugs FYI! Best/most predictable rising activity has been in Church Pool & Greenwoods, with other pools/sections seeing rising trout too, but spottier and less predictable. But… a lot less fishing pressure when you get out of those two super popular dry fly pools.

PSA: the peak of the trout spawn is over, although you will continue to see smaller numbers spawn for a while. As such most redds (those circular light colored spots in fine gravelly riffle areas where trout drop their eggs, typically pool tailouts, side channels & pool head riffles) will probably NOT have trout on them. It’s still VERY important to remember not to step ON or BELOW the redds (many eggs end up 5-10 feet downstream of the visible redds). These eggs won’t hatch out until late Winter (approximately February I think), and anytime between now & then you can step on the eggs and crush them. These eggs represent our future wild trout, so please be careful where you step! Our wild trout population seems to be consistently increasing, let’s do our part to make sure this trend continues. Also, while it’s legal, if you do happen to see trout on redds, it’s not ethical or sporting to fish for trout that are on the redds & spawning. I know when you see a 20” plus brown in a foot of water it’s tempting to cast to them, but please don’t. Not only is it unsporting, but if you catch or foul hook them you are stressing an already stressed out fish. Spawning is tough on the trout, and some of them actually die during the process. Let them do their thing and reproduce and make more wild Farmington trout. It’s okay to fish a bit downstream of spawning trout, typically in the first deep dark water below them are non-spawning trout gobbling up the loose eggs.

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

The streamer bite has been good for many of our customers. Every time it rains and we get a flow bump of off-color water, that really ramps up the streamer action. I’m sure that in the Fall there is also a biological imperative for animals to bulk up before the leaner times of Winter, so they are on the lookout for big bites at a time of year when most of the bugs are small to very small. Fish are still eating most of the day all over the river (mostly subsurface, but sometimes on top), and it’s up to you to figure out where, how & what. Crack the code and it will put a smile on your face.

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 always a color worth trying too in anything but truly dirty water. In general smaller streamers will catch you more fish, and larger streamers will pull bigger fish but you will typically get less hits. Cover lots of water, play with retrieves, and experiment with colors & patterns. Make sure to use heavier tippet, nothing lighter than 2x-3x with average size streamers (#6-10), and if you are chucking the big stuff, go right up to 0x. The old school Muddler Minnow is a neglected classic that often works quite well in the Fall: it can be floated, dead-drifted, swung, stripped, twitched, fished on the dangle, or bounced on the surface- it’s a very versatile fly. Zuddlers & Woolly Bugger are perennial favorites and still quite effective if presented correctly.

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 a pile of 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 very fishable, medium/normal & clear at a total flow of 305cfs through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area (historical normal total flow is 349cfs), and averaging upper 40s to mid 50s lately for water temps- depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is at 243cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 62cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. AM Riverton water temp was 51.5 degrees this morning and peaked at 53.5 degrees yesterday afternoon.

*Blue Winged Olives #20-26: afternoons, especially cloudy/cooler days
Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults, typically early/mid AM
-Midges #20-32: anytime
(365 days a year)
(“Iso”) #12-16: very light and about over, afternoons
Assorted Caddis #16-20: (tan, brown) light hatch, about done
-Parachute Adams #1
2-24: different sizes imitate Isonychia, BWOs, Midges, Caddis and much more
-Rusty Spinners #12-26: imitates the spinner stage of most Mayflies,
look for them mainly in afternoons/eves

er Nymphs #16-22: size is more important than exact pattern
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 in Fall low water- float, swing, dead-drift, strip/twitch, dangle- you can do all 5 presentations in one drift
-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: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/cortland-top-secret-ultra-premium-fluorocarbon/

Report by Torrey Collins