Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Tuesday 5/5/20 Farmington River Report: dropping & fishing well

We are remain open 8-5pm daily for curbside pick-up. Call us on the phone at 860-379-1952 before arrival or from the parking lot, tell us what you want and we will take a credit card payment over the phone.

We are also offering limited 1/2 hour shopping appointments in the store from 3pm to 4:30 pm daily, In order to do this under the new regulations, we are limiting to one employee and one customer in the store. These appointments are for those intending to make $200+ purchases, and this will also be the procedure for trades (but we can also do trades over the phone and then you can drop the rods off to to us for final evaluation). Call in advance at 860-379-1952, and please make sure to wear some sort of face covering.

We will not be issuing fishing licenses during the closure to comply with the new rules, so make sure to purchase one in advance online by clicking on this link. If you don't have a printer, it's perfectly acceptable to keep your license on your mobile/smart phone nowadays.

Website and Phone Orders get free shipping at $50. Please take advantage and we will ship the same day if you call by 3pm.

This is uncharted territory for all of us, so please be patient as we figure this out and evolve. We are bound by a whole new set of rules & restrictions that is making it much tougher to do business. We will do our absolute best to accommodate all our loyal customers, we appreciate every one of you. Your continued support keeps our store open so we can keep supplying you with the best fly fishing stuff, fly tying materials & flies.
     -Grady & Torrey

Farmington River Report

The Farmington has been stocked five times now since February outside the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release, and in mid April the CT DEEP heavily stocked the Permanent TMA/C&R. They stock this 6.2 mile section once per year in April with approximately 10,000 brown trout (mostly, sometimes a smaller amount of rainbows too) of various sizes including 1,000 large two year olds which average a fat 14-18" and 2+ pounds. Lots of them hold over from year to year and get bigger, and there is also an increasing wild brown trout population. Electrofishing in September 2019 put the estimated trout population at just under 2,000 trout per mile in this section, with many of those being wild & holdover trout, mostly browns, and a smaller number of rainbows. The recent stocking should temporarily put the population of this section at 3,500+ trout per mile!! And that doesn't even include other stocked trout that have wandered in from above and below the C&R section.

Top pic is customer Jeff Stairs with a brown beauty, he's been working hard at his nymph game and it is paying off in spades for him. 2nd pic is guide, customer & friend Dave Machowski with a beautiful fish from the past weekend, 3rd pic is Zach St. Amand's youngest with a really nice dry fly holdover brown (clipped adipose) caught in high water over the weekend, his new PB. Will Coleman is holding up a stud male brown with a nice hook jaw and a cool spotting pattern in the 4th fish pic. Next photo down wearing a Buff face mask is customer Mike Peczek with a fat Two Year Old Survivor Strain brown (note clipped adipose fin) he landed yesterday, and the final fish pic is Chester Cheung with a thick male brown from Sunday.

Mandy & I fished for a bit after work on Sunday. I felt like we were hitting spots that got pounded all day, and the first 2 locations only yielded us only one fish, but we ended up doing decent in the last spot. The best fish was a thin 17.5-18" holdover Survivor Strain brown with a clipped adipose.

The river has come way down from the high weekend flows (it hit 1,500+ cfs on Friday 5/1), we will be dropping under 700cfs today (a moderately high but very fishable water level). Lots of anglers braved much higher flows than this over the weekend and were quite successful, just look at the fish pics! While subsurface tactics & flies ruled the day over the weekend, quite a few fish rose to Hendricksons in the afternoons, despite the water levels. Wind yesterday & today has kept Hendrickson spinners (rusty #12-14) off the water, but when some milder days that aren't windy or rainy occur this week, look for spinners. The books say they occur in the evenings, but we've seen them on the water here anywhere from mid morning through dusk/dark. I've often seen them overlap with the afternoon hatch, and when that happens the bigger fish will often key in on the spinners (spinners fall spent to the water and are unable to fly off and get away from the trout, they are easy pickings). Spinners can also imitate a knocked down dun that got its wings stuck in the surface tension. And FYI, rusty spinners in various sizes imitate well over 50% of Mayflies. Spinners mass in the air to mate over riffles, and the females will sport a bright yellow egg sack on their butt, males won't have one.

As far as the upper & lower boundaries of the Hendrickson hatch, I know for sure that they are still hatching below the permanent Catch & Release in New Hartford near our shop (and likely further downstream too), and at least as far upstream as Campground, and likely as far up as Pipeline/Lyman Rock. Heaven't heard reports of them in Riverton above the Still River yet, but that should be soon. And even in downstream sections where the hatch is about done, the spinners will linger for close to a week. The next hatches to follow the Hendricksons in May will be assorted Caddis #14-18 and Vitreus #12-16. Hatches start downriver first (Collinsville/Unionville) and work their way upstream on a daily basis.

Above average flows means some adjustment in spot selection, tactics & flies. Fish closer to the banks, on the current seams between fast & slow, away from the fastest current. Don't just wade out crotch deep and start fishing- start by the bank and work your way out, the catchable fish will often be in surprisingly close to escape the heavier currents. Look for wider pool sections, inside turns, current seams, and fish behind objects that break the current (big boulders, downed trees). You can typically up your fly size a bit, and you can fish heavier tippets too. High flows will reduce but not eliminate dry fly fishing, bigger/wider/slower pools like Church, Beaver, the Wall, School Bus, etc. seem to usually have some risers, even in higher flows. Church Pool is the "bara  Milder/sunny days have seen the best Hendrickson hatching activity, with fish feeding on the surface and also gorging subsurface on the nymphs. On cooler days Blue Wing Olives have been the main afternoon hatch, with excellent dry fly fishing in some areas, and cold days have also slowed the Hendrickson hatch.

BMAR Hendrickon Nymph
Remember the beloved Grey's Streamflex rods? If you liked them, you will love what I'm about to tell you: Pure Fishing has released an updated version of the Streamflex series under the Fenwick name, using the latest materials that give the rods even improved rod recovery and durability. These rods feel fantastic in the hand. We have these in the Euro specific models, The 11' #3 & #4 Streamflex have an MSRP of $349.95- we are selling them for $265. The also do a Streamflex Plus that goes from 10' to 10' 6"- a six inch extension piece hides in the handle and can be put in or out in seconds. We have the 10' #3 Streamflex Plus (goes up to 10.5')- MSRP is $379.95, we are selling it for $285.

The Hendrickson hatch typically starts at 2-3pm and goes until late afternoon, but none of that is set in stone. Milder days see the heaviest hatches. Spinner falls have been sparse so far, but they will have to happen eventually- look for mild temps, minimal wind & no rain. Starting as early as 2pm and also mixed in with Hendricksons  have been hatches of Blue Wing Olives (sz 18), and Winter/Summer Caddis (sz 20-22, more of a morning hatch), Midges #22-28, and a few Blue Quills/Paraleps (sz 16-18) have also been making appearances.

Recently stocked trout sometimes prefer gaudy flies that don't match the hatch, and "Junk Flies" (Mops, Eggs, Worms, and Green Weenies) often reign supreme and outfish normal drabber, more imitative nymphs that we fish most of the time. They will also often prefer a fly that moves or drags in the current, not a dead-dirft presentation, so let your nymphs, streamers & wets swing out at the end of each drift & try twitching them. Once the trout have been in the river for 3-4 weeks they become attuned to natural food and will start to prefer drabber flies fished on a dead-drift (mostly, with plenty of exceptions). Fishing pressure will also teach them to be suspicious of commonly fished flies. Buggers can be deadly on recently stocked trout- start with olive or black and go from there if you don't get a positive reaction. Also experiment with your retrieve, and try a plain swing with no added action if stripping it in doesn't get a response, and also try dead-drifting them like a nymph. 

Specific imitations such as the BMAR Hendrickson nymph as well as other brownish Mayfly type nymphs #12-14 are working well throughout the entire river as they imitate the Hendrickson nymph. It can be a specific imitation, but it doesn't necessarily need to be (think GISS- general impression of size & shape)). It can be something brown with a Mayfly shape such as a Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasant Tail, Frenchie (basically just a PT with a hot spot), a dark colored Hare's Ear, etc.


Nymphs #12-18 imitating or suggesting Hendrickson nymphs, Blue Wing Olives/Baetis, Blue Quills (Paraleps), Caddis Larva (regular olive/green #14-16 & cased #10-14), and larger Stoneflies #6-12 (golden, brown, black) have all had their moments. Also try attractor patterns (gaudy flies with hot spots, flash, UV materials, or unusual colors), sometimes they will outfish the usual drabber flies for reasons only know to the trout. It can be worth trying bigger #6-10 nymphs such as Stoneflies & Mops- larger nymphs sometimes interest larger trout (more calories in a single bite, just like with streamers).  Remember that GISS (general impression of size & shape) is far more important than having an exact imitation, and sometimes exaggerated features like a hot spot or flash gets their attention better than a "perfect" drabber imitation. Trout perceive our imitations differently than us humans do, so what looks good to YOU isn't necessarily what the trout prefer. We'd be lucky to catch any trout at all if our flies truly had to look just like the natural insects. If your fly size & shape/profile are close to the natural bugs, and the color is ballpark, all you then need is to put it in front of a willing trout with a good presentation. I've caught more trout than I can count during Hendrickson hatches on #12-14 Pheasant Tails, Frenchies & Hare's Ears. The shape (tails, slimmer abdomen, thicker thorax), color (brown) and size match up to the real bug. I've caught many a rising trout during a Hendrickson hatch on a #12-14 Parachute Adams after they refused a dozen different dun, emerger, cripple & spinner patterns.

In addition to the Hendrickson hatch, we are seeing some #16-18 Blue Wing Olives (BWOs)/Baetis & Midges in the afternoons in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (more so on colder/cloudy days). Think about fishing a smaller nymph that looks like BWOs (#16-18, slim, olive to olive-brown to brown). They have been rising to bugs in some spots in the afternoons, so have the matching dries/emergers. There are also Winter/Summer Caddis & Midges. If you see splashy rises, that is probably either Caddis or Hendrickson emerger. Gentle sips are more typical of trout feeding on BWOs & Midges. 

Streamer fishing has really picked up, and lately black or olive have been really good colors, but I'm also a fan of brown this time of year, and white can be very good also- experiment! Two tone streamers such a brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc. can sometimes be the ticket. Try the following hybrid rig: a weighted streamer such as a conehead Bugger, Complex Twist Bugger, Zuddler, Slumpbuster, etc. with a #14-16 soft-hackle, wet fly or nymph trailed 14-18" of the hook bend- the streamer often functions as the attractor, and then the trout eat the trailing smaller fly. This helps turn some of those chases, rolls & flashes into a solid hook-up.

We got in a pile of flies from Fulling Mill (and their full line of excellent jig hooks too) & Umpqua recently, including some cool streamers we haven't carried before, check out Tommy Lynch's deadly D&D that swims like a Flatfish lure- fish it on a sink-tip/sinking leader/sinking line to get this unweighted pattern to the proper depth, the action/movement on this fly is INSANE. Weighted streamers like Woolly Buggers, Zuddlers, Slumpbusters, and Complex Twist Buggers all continue to produce fish if fished down deep. Try also streamers with Sculpin Helmets, bounced & twitched along the bottom on a floating line- deadly on bigger trout. Play with colors, fly size, pattern style, retrieve, depth, and cover lots of water and you should be able to find success.

If you are fishing wets/soft-hackles, try a 2-3 fly rig, on tag end droppers about 24-30" apart, and use a lightly to moderately weighted soft-hackle or nymph on the point position to get your rig down deeper where the trout are. During hatching activity where you see bugs and occasional rising trout, keep all your flies unweighted and fish near the surface. 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, 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.

We've recently received BIG orders of assorted hooks from Umqua/Tiemco, Fulling Mill jig hooks, huge Wapsi  & Hareline tying material orders, lots more books including the hot new streamer book from Kelly Galloup "Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout II", a definitive new book on Brook Trout by Bob Mallard "Squaretail" (autographed copies), and lots of spin tackle. We are happy to mail order over the phone for you, or prepare a goody bag for curbside pick-up. Thank you all for the support you've shown our business since the CT shutdown of non-essential businesses, we appreciate every single sale/order you give us! Let's all stick together & stay safe as best we can.

Current Store Hours:
8am-5pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-5pm on weekends, "curbside pick up" only. Call 860-379-1952 to place orders or have us put together your order for pick-up.

The Farmington is currently 703cfs & dropping through the Catch & Release (C&R) area and running in the upper 40s/low 50s for water temperature in the afternoon- USGS historical normal flow for today is 412cfs. Riverton is 456cfs, and the Still River is adding in an additional 247cfs & dropping below it's junction with the West Branch. 8am Riverton water temp was 45.5 degrees this morning- downstream water temps in the C&R will be higher than this on milder/sunny days due to the Still River running warmer than the colder water from the dam.

Cortland's brand spankin' new Nymph Series Rods for Euro Nymphing are in stock. 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 and it is the most versatile for all around Euro Nymphing, 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 Indicator nymphing rod too. This series looks like a real winner to us, and the best under $300 Euro rod on the market hands-down.

Thomas & Thomas's new 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 its 10' 8" & 11' 3" cousins, it has a crisper action that make it a very good choice for someone who likes to Euro nymph, but also likes to cross over and throw fly line with dries, wets, and small/medium streamers. Also good on smaller waters where the casting is restricted.

-Hendricksons #12-14: as far upstream as Pipeline/Lyman Rock, maybe even higher
-Blue Wing Olives #16-18 (aka Olives, Baetis, BWOs, etc.)- afternoons 
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults (early/mid AM, sometimes afternoons 
-Midges #20-32 (late morn thru dusk) 

-BMAR Hendrickson Nymph #12
-Hendrickson Nymph #12-14- can be a specific imitation like the BMAR Hendrickson, or a brownish Mayfly nymph such as a Pheasant Tail, Frenchy, darker Hare's Ear, etc.
-Olive Nymphs #16-18
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodos/Frenchies #12-18 (in #12-14 imitates Hendricksons, smaller ones imitate smaller/immature Mayfly nymphs like BWOs, Blue Quill/Paraleps & others)
-Prince Nymph #12-16
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16 
-Cased Caddis #10-14

-Perdigons #12-16 in black, brown & olive
-"Junk Flies" #8-16 (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies- great for fresh stockies)
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive)
-Attractor Nymphs #12-18 (Haast Haze, Rainbow Warrior, Blue Lightning Bug, Miller's Victim, 
   Triple Threat, Princes, etc.)- anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot   
-Bigger Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black)       

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear, Partridge & Pheasant Tail, Partridge & Orange, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, etc.

-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)