Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday 6/26/20 Farmington River Report

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Farmington River Report  

We apologize if we've been out of some products, but due to the Coronavirus there have been interruptions in the supply chain. That combined with incredibly high consumer demand and slow shipping from some suppliers is leading to empty spots on our walls/shelves. We're doing our best to fill in the holes, and we received a bunch of product this week with more to come. We are expecting a big Cortland order on Monday 6/29, and we received product from Simms, Loon & Rio the past few days.

With Summer here, multiple hatches, and months of heavy fishing pressure, things are getting more technical. Still getting plenty of good reports, but you need to work harder and do things right to be successful. Be observant, and change flies, rigs, and tactics as necessary. If you are fishing dries, try to match the bugs you see closely, and it's good to have multiple options if the trout refuse your initial offerings. Water is still coming out of the dam in the upper 40s, and of course it warms both as you move further downriver, and as the day goes on- highest water temps are normally in the late afternoon. Water temps are fine from the dam down to Canton (about 15 miles), but use a thermometer if you venture downstream to Collinsville/Unionville. Mornings are the safest time to fish if you are way downstream, you will catch the lowest water temps then. A good Summer strategy is to start in the morning at your downstream most spots, and then work upstream as the day progresses and water temps rise. I got 63 degrees in New Hartford yesterday at 5pm. but in Riverton at the USGS gauge the AM temp was 48 and peaked out at 52 degrees. I picked up fish on smaller Olive nymphs, Caddis pupa, and Iso nymphs. There were some #22 Olives hatching in the late afternoon, and as it got later the main bug I saw hatching was Attenuata #18-20, a bug most anglers misidentify as a smaller Sulfur. They have an apple green body (bright greenish yellow) and creamish colored wings. The winged dun emerges from the nymph near the stream bottom, and then it swims to the surface. Customers reporting an evening hatch of #20 Sulfurs are normally actually fishing an Attenuata hatch. I also saw sporadic Isonychia hatching in the faster water, but in small numbers. Occasional trout were exploding on them. The fish of the evening straightened out the hook on my Iso nymph (tied for me by a friend, but unfortunately on a cheap hook that was not properly tempered). Oh well, better to have loved and lost.

A customer found a “Tacky” fly box floating in the river by the People’s Forest, and he wants to return it to the owner. You can message him at:

Check out the awesome bug pic at the top of the report, taken by John Holt. Top big bug is a Golden Stonefly nymph, middle is a big green Rhyacophila Caddis Larva, and the bottom bug is an Isonychia nymph. All are big bugs, at least an inch in length. The Farmington has a rep as a small fly river, and in many ways that is true, but there are lots of big bugs here too. FYI all 3 of those dwell in fast water, hint hint. I just noticed a smaller Mayfly nymph in the top of the pic, might be a Sulfur? 2nd pic is a quality brown by Chris, guided by DJ Clemente. The handful of brown trout is by Zach St. Amand. Last fish pic is a very nice brown in the net by Damir. The pic below that is a cream Cahill spinner by Steve Hogan.

Remember this: the further downriver you go, the more the river behaves like a natural freestone river, meaning early & late are the prime times to be out, and you need to pay attention to water temps. Closer to the dam the icy water (upper 40s/low 50s) means that "morning hatches" happen later, and often the "evening hatch" can start & end before it does downstream. Warm to hot air temps make terrestrial imitations such as beetles & ants great choices, especially in the afternoons when hatches are generally scarce now. You can blind fish them, or target sporadic risers with them. Dry/Dropper with a buoyant visible dry fly (Mini Chernobyl, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, etc.) trailing a smaller weighted nymph 18-30" off the hook bend is another effective and fun option when the hatches aren't coming off. And of course Euro nymphing the faster water is always a good option when they aren't rising. First light with streamers can produce a big trout- cover lots of water. Hot sunny weather means that targeting shade, structure (big rocks, undercut banks, downed trees, etc.), and faster choppy water are good ideas. Remember that trout don't have eyelids, and they also seek concealment from predators. The most technical midday game is fishing dries to trout sipping in slow, flat water. Sometimes it requires a long light leader and tiny dries, and sometimes 5-6x and a beetle or ant will fool them. Be stealthy, wear drab colored clothing, use longer leaders, lay your casts down gently, and make sure to make pinpoint accurate & drag-free presentations. Lighter rods in the #2-4 range will help you make a gentle presentation.

Cahill Spinner
The Sulfur hatch is working it's way upriver, the bottom boundary is probably mid TMA (Church Pool/Mathie's Grove) and up to the dam in Riverton- hatching for them is heavier upriver.  Hatch times vary from late morning to dusk (depends upon river section & weather). Attenuata #18-20 are hatching in the evening now, I saw quite a few in New Harford last night, they were the main bug I saw. They are hatching from well downriver up to about mid TMA (Church Pool/Mathie's Grove)- look for them to keep moving upriver. Isonychia are #10-12 and hatching on most of the river now, and they normally hatch sometime between 4pm and dusk (later on hot/sunny days, earlier on cooler/cloudy ones)- the hot weather of late has them hatching later on average. Iso's are a big dry fly you can blind fish are bring trout to the surface on if . All kinds of assorted Caddis are out, averaging #14-18, with some bigger and smaller. Tans and olive/greens are the most common colors, but gray, black and brown are also not uncommon, the black ones tend to be small to very small (#18-22). Look for peak Caddis activity in the mornings & evenings, they typically hatch earlier in the day, and then come back and egg-lay in the low light of eves, but you will also see them midday in lighter numbers. There are light numbers of #10-12 March Browns, and the hatch has moved upriver. They hatch in fast water sporadically from late afternoon through the evenings, but the spinners fall all at once at dusk. Make sure to have a matching yellow-brown spinner for them if you are out during their evening spinner falls, as I find rusty spinners don't work well for them. Various spinner patterns are a good idea to keep in your fly box, they tend to hit the water in the evenings and bigger fish often prefer them. I also often see #14 Light Cahills in the evening mix this time of year (I like to match them with a #14 Usual). The big #6-10 Stoneflies are hatching, you will see the shucks on the rocks in fast water- they don't provide much dry fly action overall, but the early to mid morning nymphing with them in faster water can often be lights out and produce some bigger fish. However, you can blind fish the faster water with yellow Stimulators (imitates adult Stonefly) and bring fish up.

Be aware that bug activity varies from day to day and section to section, but also depending upon water type. Don't look for Isonychia 200 yards down a pool in the flat water, as they are a fast water insect and that's where you will find them, at the pool heads and in pocket water/faster water. I hear customers tell me there were "no bugs", but then I find out they were fishing early afternoon in flat/slow water on a bright sunny day and expecting to see Iso's. Do your homework and learn at least a little about major hatches (e.g. Iso's, Sulfurs) that are common and last a while. Sulfurs typically are seen in medium-slow to medium-fast water. Mayfly Spinner falls occur over riffles & pocket water. Caddis most commonly hatch & egg-lay in riffles and faster water. Big trout will often drop into the tails of pools in the evenings to feed. Bottom line is that if you aren't seeing bugs, move around to different water types, and move up & down the river. Fish have been hit up hard this season and are no longer pushovers, so be on your "A" game, especially if you hope to land some big wild browns.

FYI there are truly no "hot spots". The entire stretch of river from the dam in Riverton down to Unionville (20+ miles), numerous trout spread throughout it in very good numbers. Big trout are scattered throughout the entire river. This is not a river where you have to be in one of only a handful of spots to do well. The trout are truly everywhere, a mix of 2020 stockers, multi-year holdovers, and plenty of wild fish too. Excellent habitat and many miles of cold water means the trout exist in good numbers all over the river. Yes, the 6.2 mile permanent TMA/C&R (catch & release) likely has the highest density of trout (and the heaviest fishing pressure by far), but.... the rest of the river holds a lot of trout too, and some really good ones. Most years I catch my biggest trout outside of the permanent TMA/C&R. 2020 has been a year for the books, with an epic number of anglers venturing out trout fishing all over CT and other states. Make 2020 the year you explore new water on the Farmington,-drive until you see some juicy looking new water unoccupied by other anglers and explore it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised

Make sure to to make accurate, drag-free presentations when targeting rising trout during hatches. Try to make your first cast be the best one, subsequent casts often "wise the trout up" and results in refusals or no looks at all. If you get a handful of good drifts over a fish with no take, either change your fly, or move to another fish. Refusals often mean your fly choice is close but not quite right, or that you are getting subtle drag. Longer tippets in the 3-4' range will help you get a drag-free float with your dries, and in really tough situations you can go even longer with your tippet if it's not windy and your fly isn't too bushy or wind-resistant.

Fishing subsurface with nymphs & wets/soft hackles is a good choice in June, even when it appears not much is going on. Subsurface the trout are often chowing down on nymphs & pupa, unseen to us. Look for the medium to fast water (pool heads, fast runs, riffles, pocket water), and seek out current breaks & seams. Experiment with flies, as the best ones can and will vary throughout the day. If you are unsure, when nymphing start with a Caddis pupa #14-16 (tan or olive/green) & Pheasant Tail/Frenchy #14-18 combo, it covers a lot of bases. If you get out early, nymph the fast water with big Stonefly nymphs, this is usually good from first light to 10am or so (later if it's cooler/cloudy out). The big stones crawl out onto the rocks overnight and in the early to mid morning, and that's when the big nymphs (#6-12) end up in the drift. For wets/soft hackles, fish at least 2 flies (I prefer 3 for that), and pick flies to imitate Caddis (bodies of Hare's Ear, green, or olive), and others with yellow bodies to imitate the various Sulfurs. The Partridge & Orange is an old standby that is in most serious anglers top 3 soft hackles. Wets & soft hackles are particularly good in the evenings when fish move into shallow water to feed just subsurface right before & during evening hatches.

FYI a classic Euro nymphing mistake I see a ton of people do is picking out the heaviest anchor flies that we have in the bins. One of the biggest Euro myths is that you have to dredge the river bottom to catch fish. Yes, in the high/cold flows of March & April and in the Winter you will primarily be using heavier anchor flies with 3.5-4mm beads on them when you are fishing the Farmington River, and maybe heavier dropper flies too- this puts them in the face of lethargic cold water trout that won't move much at all to eat your flies. Since May though, I've mostly fished anchors no bigger than a #14 with no more than a 3mm bead, occasionally using a 3.5mm (1/8") bead for truly deep, fast water, and bigger nymphs when bigger bugs are active (March Browns, big Stoneflies, Isonychia, etc.). Droppers have ranged from #14-18 with 2mm-3mm beads. You don't have to be on bottom this time of year, 1/2 to 3/4 the way down is normally plenty deep (and can even be too deep during a hatch, that's when wets flies/soft hackles tyically beat out weighted nymphs). Water temps are optimal (50-65), there a lots of bugs hatching & in the drift, and trout are feeding throughout the water column. As long as you are getting your flies down and in touch with them, you will do fine. Be aware that when fishing lighter flies, strikes are primarily visual, so watch your sighter like a hawk. I've hardly lost any flies lately, because I'm hardly ticking bottom at all, but I'm catching plenty of trout. If you are ticking bottom multiple times per drift, snagging bottom frequently, or losing a bunch of flies to bottom snags, your flies are likely too heavy. Lighten up and I guarantee you will catch more trout, have better strike detection, and lose way less flies.

If you are fishing wets/soft-hackles (and you should be!), try a 2-3 fly rig, on tag end droppers about 24-30" apart. During hatching activity where you see bugs and occasional rising trout, keep all your flies unweighted and fish near the surface. If it's slow and trout don't seem willing to move to your wets, use a lightly to moderately weighted soft-hackle or nymph on the point position to get your rig down deeper where the trout are. 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, better fly animation, 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. 

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 noticeably improved rod recovery and durability (30% increase). 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. 


Nymphs imitating or suggesting Caddis Pupa & Caddis Larva (olive/green #14-16), Sulfurs #14-18, March Brown #10-12, Cahills #14, Blue Wing Olives/Baetis #16-20, 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). Bigger nymphs can also be better in higher and/or off-color flows.  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 exactly 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 on Pheasant Tails, Frenchies & Hare's Ears. The shape (tails, slimmer abdomen, thicker thorax), color (brown) and size match up to the real Mayflies. I've caught many a rising trout during various Mayfly, Caddis & Midge hatches on a Parachute Adams after they refused a dozen different dun, emerger, cripple & spinner patterns.

For streamer fishing black, olive, brown and white are great starting colors, but make sure to experiment and let the trout tell you what they want. Other often good colors are yellow and tan. 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. Streamers will produce fish if fished properly. The low light of early & late in the day are the prime times, but if you target structure & shade you can catch fish on them during midday. 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.

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The Farmington is currently medium-low at a very wadeable and dry fly friendly total flow of 267cfs total flow through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area, and averaging in the 50s to mid 60s for water temps (depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day)- USGS historical normal combined flow for today is 313cfs. Riverton is 256cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is very low and adding in an additional 11cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. 8am Riverton water temp was 48 degrees this morning, downstream water temps are higher (50s-60s), temps will rise during the day. Sunny days will see the biggest increases (peaking in late afternoon), and the further you get from the dam, the higher the temps.

-Sulfur #14-18- hatch time varies depending upon weather and river section, late morns to eves, hatch is moving upriver 
-Caddis #14-18: (tan & olive green bodies most common, but other colors & sizes too)
-Isonychia #10-12: fast water hatch, late afternoon thru dusk
-Attenuata #18-20- eves, often confused with/called a "Sulfur", but it's more of a bright greenish yellow body ("apple green") with creamish wings
-Blue Wing Olives #20-24
-Light Cahill #14: eves, cream Usual  works great
-March Brown #10-12: upriver light hatch, faster water afternoons & eves, spinners fall at dusk
-Ants & Beetles #12-20- anytime, especially midday
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults (light hatch, typically early/mid AM) 
-Midges #20-32: anytime

-Caddis Pupa #14-16 in olive/green & tan (such as BMAR Pupa, Wade's Pupa & others)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-16
-Sulfur Nymph #14-18 - can be a specific imitation or a Pheasant Tail/Frenchy
-Isonychia #10-12 (can also use bigger Princes, Zug Bugs & larger Pheasant Tails) 
-Stoneflies #6-12 (golden/yellow, brown, black)- best in early/mid morns 
-Olive Nymphs #16-20
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodos/Frenchies #12-18 (various sizes imitate Mayfly nymphs like BWOs, Sulfurs, Cahills, Iso's and many others)
-March Brown #10-12: use specific imitation, or a Fox Squirrel nymph/Hare's Ear 
-Prince Nymph #12-16 (bigger ones make a good Iso)
-Perdigons #14-18 (black, brown, olive, yellow)
-"Junk Flies" #8-16 (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies- great for fresh stockies and/or high dirty water)
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive)
-Attractor Nymphs #14-18 (Haast Haze, Rainbow Warrior, Blue Lightning Bug, Miller's Victim, 
   Triple Threat, Princes, etc.)- anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot   
Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear, Partridge & Orange/Green/Yellow, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, Partridge & Pheasant Tail, etc. 
   -best fished 2-3 at a time, on tag-end droppers 24-30" apart (keep droppers short at 4-6" in length to
    minimize tangles, don't go to light on your tippet as strikes can sometimes be very hard)

-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)

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: