A bit sloppy out there this morning, with a very light snow that turned into light rain. Roads are fine though. This past weekend got above freezing, but not by much. Despite that we had a steady trickle of anglers in & out of the shop. As always, fish were caught, but with the temp drop it sounded like you had to work harder for them, although some anglers experienced a good bite on holdover & wild trout (depended who you spoke with...). Those fishing the freshly stocked areas who located where the trout were podded up racked up some numbers though. Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Worms) & smaller Woolly Buggers will be extra effective on those fresh stocker for the next 2-3 weeks until they get "educated". 12/15 days in the forecast will once again see highs averaging in the low 40s, with today through Thursday all being mild. Combined with nice water levels, we should see some pretty decent angling this week. Temps take a 3 day dive Friday through Sunday, so get out before that if you can. Generally in the winter stable weather & warming trends produce the best fishing, and temp drops slow it down. And frequently there are 1-3 hour "bite windows" where the trout suddenly turn on & off. These are especially distinct in the Wintertime, so move around, experiment/change your rigging & flies, and BE Patient!!!
As you can see by the photos, some high quality trout are getting caught. Top pic is a just over 20" wild looking brown by Brian. 2nd one is a happy Rebacca Coons with a nice fish, 3rd fish pic is a substantial brown laying on Mike Querfeld's net. 4th fish pic a pretty holdover 'Bow by local guide Derrick of CT Fish Guides. 5th is reel_fly_fish (Instagram name) with with a solid brown that proves persistence pays off.
While nymphing is rarely a bad choice, it tends to be the go-to wintertime technique in terms of catching trout consistently, and it can produce some large trout too. Don't rule out streamers, just expect to get less hits on a typical day. Days without much wind can produce a few rising trout also to Winter Caddis & Midges.
We received a HUGE Simms preseason order last week, as well as a giant box of fly tying materials from Nature's Spirit- included was a batch of the now popular Fasna 415 jig hook (similar to the Hanak 450 with super wide gap, short shank & curled in point but with heavier wire and comes in smaller sizes) from #10-20, plus I added in Fasna's "standard" 420 jig hook (standard shank length, 1x heavy wire, curled in point) from #8-18. The Fasna hooks run a little small, so you may want to purchase one size bigger to get the size you actually want (e.g. #14 Fasna = regular #16).
Don't forget to get a new 2020 CT fishing license & Trout/Salmon stamp so you are legal! We sell them here at UpCountry, or you can purchase online by clicking here.
Especially during colder days, the best time to be out is generally late morning through late afternoon (exception: morning hatch of Winter Caddis, typically early to mid morning), it's also the most comfortable. However if you get a mild night, it can be good earlier in the morning. If morning slush is present after a very cold night, it typically clears out by lunchtime or so if it's sunny out. If slush remains an issue after a really cold night, typically you can go up towards Riverton and as you get closer to the dam at some point the water will be slush/ice free. Downstream in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release you may see shelf ice form along slow pool edges during cold snaps. Basic advice remains the same: focus on the slow to medium speed water that has some depth to it, and fish slow & deep with nymphs and streamers. Nymphing remains the most consistent producer, but trout are getting caught on streamers and dries also. The main hatches remain Winter Caddis (mornings) & Midges (afternoons), and start looking for the first of the Winter Stones.
While dry flies are not a given in the winter, there are more windows of rising trout than you might think at the Farmington River, we are an above average dry fly fishery year 'round. Ideally you want days without too much wind, that can wipe out the dry fly action and make all the fishing subsurface. Surprisingly the Winter Caddis #18-24 ignore the Winter rule of the best fishing being more toward the afternoons, instead they commonly hatch in early to mid morings, 7-10am would be typical but not set in stone. Sometimes you will see them into the afternoons, and especially if it's windy and then dies down late in the day the egg laying adults will get active. Usually the early/mid AM action is mostly on the pupa, and often gently twitching them is what it takes to pull the trigger. Midges #22-28 are most active in the afternoons, and especially on milder days. If you don't find them rising to Midges in the afternoons, trying adding a Midge nymph pattern #18-20 into the nymph rig, typically black or red flies will get it done in the Winter, but experiment with colors. Now that it's February, look for the smaller TinyWinter Black Stones (Capnia)- they run #18-24. Typically don't create much in the way of dry fly fishing, but they can get the trout feeding subsurface.
experiment with colors as sometimes it can make a big difference in getting solid strikes, and color preference can change during the day as light conditions change. Cold water in the 30s to low 40s normally means slower retrieves/swinging presentations will generally outfish a faster strip when it comes to streamers- but there will still be occasional moments the trout want a faster strip, so make sure to experiment and see what gets you strikes. Some days the streamer fishing is dead, and other days it will produce some big fish. Be willing to switch methods when it makes sense. Olive, white, and black are good streamer colors to start with in the Winter, but try other colors like brown, yellow or tan if those first 3 don't excite the trout. Also flies with a primary color such as brown and a secondary color like yellow can be the ticket.
We do a lot of trade-ins of used equipment, as many of you know. Please call and schedule an appointment before you bring your gear in to trade- you need to make sure Grady or I (Torrey) are here to do the trade, and you also need to make sure it's stuff we will be interested in so you don't drive here for nothing. If your trade-in is relatively small/simple and you want store credit (that's what 90% of people do it for), I (Torrey) can generally do it. However, if it's multiple items or you want us to purchase it, Grady needs to be here. He can do big trades quickly, plus he's the only one with check writing privileges (if we purchase your equipment we pay with a check, not cash). We generally give you roughly full current market value if you opt for store credit, and if you want us to purchase it we knock about 1/3 off what we plan to sell it for.
Guide & fly tyer Mark Swenson is doing a 2nd beginner fly tying class February 9th & 16th, 2020, a two day class, click the link below to go to that page:
Total 8am flow today (Monday) in the permanent Catch & Release is about medium at 471cfs (313cfs from the dam, plus 158cfs from the Still River). 8am water temp in Riverton was 35 degrees, typically you will see water temps bump up at least a degree or more most afternoons in Riverton. Downstream further on sunny/mild days you may see an even bigger increase, as long as there isn't significant snow on the ground (lotta snow + warm weather + sunshine = snowmelt, which drops afternoon water temps). Super cold nights (none in long range forecast) can create morning floating slush, which typically clears out by noonish on sunny or mild days- cold snaps also create shelf ice along the edges and can lock up slower pools bank to bank. Currently trout are most active when water temps are at their highest and/or moving upward, the early to mid morning period has typically been slow (exception: Winter Caddis hatch), fishing picks up as the day progresses and water temps rise- sometimes all it takes is a 1 degree increase to get the trout feeding. On days preceded by milder nights, sometimes the early to mid morning subsurface can be good (because you don't get a significant overnight water temp drop in that situation).
Cortland's brand spankin' new Nymph Series Rods for Euro Nymphing have arrived at UpCountry 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, 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 Indy nymphing rod too. This series looks like a real winner to us, and the best under $300 Euro rod on the market hands-down.
You will find that in the winter, there are often very distinct bite windows where it's not unusual to go
Check out the new T&T rods that debuted in late 2019: the new Contact 10' #3, the Zone mid-priced 10' #4, and the Paradigm dry fly series. All are in stock except the Zone 10' #4. Read several paragraphs down to find out more about them.
Less hatches this time of year and dropping water temps means the trout won't normally be in the faster water, however they may move into the heads of runs/pools/riffles as water temps rise in the afternoon, so keep that in mind. In the mid afternoons look for rising trout in the softer pool water where the riffles slow down and below that- same in early/mid AM when the Winter/Summer Caddis are popping.
Streamers can work anytime of day currently, but especially during low light. Trout, especially browns, are post spawn and looking to pack in some calories and put weight back on. Go with bigger streamers for less but bigger trout, or small to medium for better numbers but smaller trout- 3" long (give or take a half inch) would be the in-between size choice for the best of both worlds.
Winter Store Hours (through March):
8am-5pm 7 days a week
We've received a veritable pile of used rods & reels as trade-ins. Some are listed on our website, but many of the least expensive used rods & reels are for in store purchase only and are not listed up and can only be found by looking on our racks. Stop in the store and check it out for yourself, there are some really good deals!
Thomas & Thomas debuted their Paradigm series of moderate action, dry fly type rods in late 2019, along with a new Contact 10' #3, and a Zone 10' #4. Zach St. Amand beat up the new 10' #3 Contact and loves it. Grady & I were impressed with the Paradigms, they are on the moderate action/somewhat softer side, but they cast beautifully from up close to far out and will protect lighter tippet. FYI the Paradigm series won "Best New Dry Fly Rod" in the 2020 Fly Fisherman magazine Gear Guide! The Contact 10' #3 feels awesome in the hand, and it's a more portable length than it's longer brothers. Due to it being shorter than the 10' 8" & 11' 3" models, it has a crisper action that would make it a very good choice for someone who likes to tight-line/Euro nymph, but also likes to cross over and throw fly line with dries, wets, and small/medium streamers.
As of September 1st, the entire Farmington River from the dam in Riverton for 21 miles downstream to the Rt 179 bridge in Unionville is now Catch & Release until Opening Day in April 2020. If you see anybody keeping fish in this section, please call the CT DEEP at 1-800-824-HELP and report the violation. Even if they are not able to respond to it on time, the info goes into their database and helps to create better/more policing of the area in the future.
Don't show up here at first light and quit at noon (unless you are fishing the Winter Caddis hatch), but rather focus on the late morning to late afternoon time slot when water temps are rising, trout metabolism peaks, and you have your best shot at finding feeding trout. It's also a hell of a lot more pleasant to fish during the milder part of the day. Sunshine can be a good thing this time of year, as sunny days see noticeably higher water temp spikes. Fish smarter and maximize your results. Also, in the colder water of winter (usually in the 30s) trout drop out of the faster water, so target deeper runs, pools, and softer/deeper riffles.
Hours: 8am-5pm, 7 days a week through March.