3pm Tuesday 9/8 flow update:
Per CT DEEP request, MDC increased dam release to 89cfs (69cfs Natural Flow + 20 cfs DEEP). I assume this is to keep the river cooler during the 3 hotter (mid 80s) days through Thursday, I'm guessing they will go back to 75cfs release (or slightly less) come Friday when the cool weather moves back in (highs low/mid 70s, lows 50'ish).
Top fish pic is a really, really nice brown caught by Ben Canino, and the pretty Bow (second fish pic down) was fooled by Mike Andrews. Seeing small splashes of Fall foliage color here & there in the past week or so.
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 late Summer/early Fall small low water nymphs. The hook design is excellent: ultra wide gap for better hooking, and a slight short shank to tie smaller bugs. Ends up being more like a #20, but with the gap of at least a true #16 hooks (maybe even bigger).
As of September 1st, virtually the entire river went Catch & Release (C&R) (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 into the system 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.
FYI our 2 George Daniel Nymph Clinics in October are both full, and Antoine's Advanced Modern
Trico spinner falls have been heavy up & down the river the past few days, local guide Steven Hogan said it was epic for him this morning. It's technical fishing, so make sure to bring your tiny flies, long leaders, and light tippets (7x), and expect to work for each and every fish. When the air temps drop starting on Friday, expect the spinner falls to be later in the morning, they normally fall when air temps are in the upper 60s. Flying Ants have also been a major player some days over the past week or so. September is typically a big month for them. When they are on the water, the trout rise like crazy, so make sure to have a few winged ants on you to imitate them. FYI they are typically small, as in #20-24, but can sometimes be bigger.
Although low water makes for tougher and more technical fishing, we continue to get good customer reports from some customers (not all!), and pictures of big trout landed. Other customers are working hard for only an occasional hook up. Don't feel bad if you are working your ass off for each fish you catch, you need to be on your "A" game in these late Summer/early Fall conditions. Don't beat yourself up if you aren't catching big trout like you see us post in this report, you are seeing fish that represent only a very small percentage of the fish caught by most anglers. Keep your eye on water temps and make sure to move upstream as the water temps rise during the day and peak in mid/late afternoon, carrying a thermometer is a good idea this time of year.
The toughest fishing of all right now is the flat water, tiny dry fly game in the mornings & afternoons, you have to do everything right and even then it can still be hard. Or, you can cover water/blind fish and focus where there is more current & choppy water, fishing attractor dries, terrestrials, Dry/Dropper (with a very small #18-22 nymph dropper), or nymph fish with small #18-22 flies (either a very light Euro rig, or a small Indicator rig with one small split shot, I recommend 6x tippet with small nymphs). Fish holding in faster, choppy/riffly water have to make a quick decision and don't get as good a look at your fly. The "easier" dry fly fishing is in the evenings, when there are hatches of somewhat bigger bugs in the #10-18 range- don't overlook spinner, especially if you see gentle rises later in the evening. Rusty spinners in various sizes probably cover 60% of all Mayflies, regardless of what color they are when they hatch. Cream spinners are good too. Stay until full dark if you can, there is often a window of easier fishing in the last 15-30 minutes of light when the trout will eat a variety of dries.
While many of the tiny hatch-matching dries require 12' or longer 6x-7x leaders, trying to throw a Dry/Dropper rig on that is a recipe for disaster. Think more like 9', and no lighter than 5x, and big air resistant dries may require heavier (3x-4x) and sometimes even shorter (7.5') leaders. You have to be able to accurately turn over that rig, if you cannot, go shorter & heavier. Attach your nymph to 18-24" of 6x fluoro tippet for starters. Shallow runs and surface feeding trout may mean running it 12" below, and deeper/faster runs may require up to 30-36". Most people tie the nymph off the hook bend of the dry, but if you want the best rig of all, create a tag end dropper for your dry fly (just like you would in a Euro nymphing rig) above your nymph. Flows are currently low and most of the bugs are small, so think #16-22 nymphs. This is a shallow nymphing rig, so don't worry about dredging near the bottom, there are different rigs for that (Euro or Indicator nymphing). For those of you doing a Dry/Dropper rig on a Euro rod with a Mono rig, it's totally doable if you have a thicker mono set up. 15-20# Mono is optimal, but you can go a little thinner if the dries aren't too big and bushy. If you go too thin, there's not enough mass in the mono to turn the flies over. The weight of the dropper nymph actually helps you make the cast with a Mono rig, just make sure it's not too heavy for your dry fly to support. It becomes more critical to balance out your flies with a Mono rig though- bigger dries need heaver flies to be able to cast them, and smaller dries balance with lighter nymphs. That is not necessary with a traditional fly line and tapered leader. But the advantage to a Mono rig is that for short to moderate range work you can high-stick it and keep all the line off the water, up to maybe 25' or so.
Peak fishing times remain mornings & evenings, midday is slower/tougher with very few bugs. The morning match-the-hatch dry fly game is mostly of the technical flat water variety, with small dry flies, long leaders & light tippets. Midday is slow on hatches, so try blind fishing terrestrials (Ants, Beetles), attractor dries, Dry/Dropper, or do some Euro or Indicator nymphing in the faster broken/riffly water- look for shade if possible, and fish tight to structure (rocks, fallen trees, undercut banks, etc.). Look for deeper water, indicated by darker water, but don't ignore the knee deep & shallower stuff, many big trout come out of surprisingly shallow, fast ripply water this time of year. Evenings sees some bigger size bugs hatching in riffly water, and you can find success with #10-18 flies and slightly heavier tippets. 6x is about "average" right now, but the tiny dries all but require 7x tippet, and some of the bigger evening bugs like Isonychia can be fished on 5x. It's all about getting an accurate, drag-free float, which is easier to do with lighter tippet. Most leaders come with 18-24" of tippet built in, but I find 3-4' (or even more) gives me much better drag-free presentations, so I inevitably lengthen out my tippet when I fish dries. This will often also you to fish heavier tippet. However, big bushy dries will require shorter/heavier tippets to properly turn your leader over.
It's late Summer, and that generally means smaller flies. Most of the nymphs & dries the trout predominately feed upon are #18 or smaller right now, often much smaller. There are a few exceptions, notably Isonychia #10-14, big Stoneflies #6-12, and some of the Cahills/Summer Stenos & Caddis are a bit bigger too (can be #12-16, but may be smaller). I've turned around many a day of late Summer nymphing by downsizing #14-16 nymphs to #18s or even 20s. The morning dry fly hatch on pools & slower riffles is currently Summer/Winter Caddis #20-24, Needhami #22-26, and the morning "Glamour Hatch" of Tricos #22-26. All these tiny dries are best fished on longer leaders with 7x tippets, and for smaller nymphs it's a good idea to downsize your tippet to 6x to give them a more natural presentation & drift. Thinner tippets will also sink lighter weighed nymphs to the bottom quickly. In the faster water you will find some bigger assorted Caddis hatching in the AM, as well as big Stonefly nymphs crawling out. The midday exception (from late morning until early evening) would mainly be fishing terrestrials, in particular Ants & Beetles, #12-18 are very effective sizes that can be blind fished, or targeted to trout you see rising. Isonychia, being a big #10-14 mayfly, are another good bug to blind fish/prospect water with, just remember they are a fast water bug, so fish them there.
FYI we have plenty of the hard to find "magic" UTC Sculpin Olive wire in the ever popular Brassie size (for Lance Egan's "Thread Frenchy" nymph), as well as size Small.
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. 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.
Tricos have are one of three different small bug morning hatches (Needhami #22-26 & Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24 are the other two). They run #22-26, and the spinner fall is the main event. They form balls of spinners in the air, and allegedly hit the water when the air is about 68 degrees, plus or minus a little. Typically they are an early to mid morning event, but that all depends upon air temps. They fall earlier on warmer mornings, and later during cool ones.
Dry/Dropper is very effective, especially now in low water. This technique will let you fish slower and shallower water that can be tough to fish with Euro Nymphing or Indicators, and it lets you stay further away so you don't spook the trout. Try a small weighted nymph 18-30" below a larger buoyant dry fly. Nymphing the fast water, either Euro or with an Indy, is almost always effective. Just make sure to fish a pair of nymphs, and make sure one of them is small (as in a #18-20, give or take), and use much lighter flies than you would in the Spring. Dominant hatches include Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24 (early/mid morns), Needhami #20-26 (/late morns, have duns & spinners), and also Tricos in the moringing (#22-26, spinners are the main event, they hit the water at about 68 degrees air temp), and then assorted Blue Winged Olives #18-26 at various times during the day, and #10-14 Isonychia (later in the day, faster water only). There are also assorted Caddis #14-22 (tan, brown, black, olive/green), various Cahills/Summer Stenos (eves), assorted spinners (especially Rusty), and the big Varia/Potamanthus #8-12 (eves, slow water). Beetles & Ants are great late morning to early evening choices when hatches are sparse- you can blind fish them over likely water, or fish them to sporadic risers.
All methods are producing at moments: Dry Flies, Dry/Dropper, Nymphing (both Euro & Indicator), Streamers, and Wet Flies/Soft Hackles. If you haven't yet tried it, Dry/Dropper with a buoyant dry like a terrestrial (Beetles, big Ants), Isonychia, Stimulator, or other attractor dry, and a small weighted nymph (#16-18) dropped underneath it, is both very fun and quite effective. 18-24" is a good starting distance between flies, but go longer if you aren't catching fish or you are in deeper water. FYI the bug activity has many quality trout holding in shallower, broken water. Don't limit yourself to only waiting for bugs and rising trout, as some days you won't be in the right spot, or maybe you don't want to brave the often crowded conditions in the popular, known "dry fly" pools. Dry/Dropper lets you have the pleasure of fishing a dry, and some fish WILL eat the dry. You can also blind fish the same type dries with no trailing nymph.
Current Store Hours:
8am-6pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-5pm on weekends.
The Farmington is currently still low at a total flow of 92cfs total flow through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area, and averaging low to upper 60s for water temps on most of the upper river, depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is a very low 80cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 12cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. Early morning Riverton water temp was 62 degrees this morning, downstream water temps are higher, temps will rise during the day. Most mornings (assuming a relatively cool night) water temps are trout-friendly as far down to New Hartford and even Canton, but I would not go further downriver (Collinsville/Unionville) than that, and by late morning I'd be more upstream in order to stay in trout-friendly water temps (mid permanent TMA/C&R and upstream). The further upstream you go right now, the closer to the dam, the colder the water. Still plenty cool, but no longer ice cold in Riverton like it was in July.