Friday, October 30, 2020

Friday 10/30/2020 Farmington River Report: we have water!

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.

Please watch out for trout redds! Numerous people have been observed tramping through them over the past week. Keep your eye out for light colored circular areas in gravelly riffles, these are redds. If you walk through them or right below them, you will crush the eggs. Read 3 paragraphs down for more details.

Lead pic is my buddy Alain with one of several upper teens browns he landed Wednesday morning nymphing in the rain, he said the bite was excellent. Next down is our new shop guy Joey with one of many above average browns he's landed in the past week. 3rd fish big is a BIG brown landed on a black streamer by customer Nathan Mumford, a frequent flyer in our reports- he said the streamer bite was exceptional on Thursday. 

White stuff is falling from the sky as I write this, supposed to get about 1” of snow accumulation today with a high of 37 degrees, and then down into the mid 20s overnight, brrr. Sunny and mid 40s for Saturday, and then 53 with a 60% chance of afternoon showers Sunday. We received significant rain over Wednesday & Thursday, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got somewhere in the 1 ½ to 2” range. Total flow in the permanent Catch & Release/TMA is currently a very fishable 469cfs and peaked out, I’d call this medium high. Should drop over the weekend and likely be in the 300s, an excellent fishing level. Looks like the end of the drought/low water conditions, and that’s a good thing. Great streamer conditions and should nymph well with Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmies, Eggs, Green Weenies) too. Plenty of bigger trout continue to show up in angler catches on a daily basis lately, it’s been extra good for 18” plus fish.

Trout are spawning now, so watch out for redds (light colored circular areas in gravelly riffles where the trout spawn & drop their eggs). Make sure you don’t walk through the redds, and also the first 10-15’ or so below them (a lot of eggs drift below the redd). If you walk on the redds & eggs, you crush and kill them. Also, while it’s legal, 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 there are non-spawning trout gobbling up the loose eggs. FYI the CT DEEP recently did their first 2020 Atlantic Salmon stocking in the nearby Naugatuck River if you are looking to do something different. Swung & stripped streamers are typically the way to go for the salmon. FYI they love to lay in the pool tailouts, especially near rocks. They will stock more & bigger Atlantics in November.

The “egg hatch” is in full effect now- Egg flies, small nymphs, Caddis Pupa, and assorted Streamers have all been effective subsurface. Main hatches are unchanged: small Blue Winged Olives (BWOs/Olives), Caddis, and still some Isonychia #12-16. Water temps have averaged from the mid 50s to low 60s lately. Apparently the MDC stocked up in Riverton (Rt 20/Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage bridge up to the dam) 2-3 weeks ago, they typically put 800-1,000 trout in. Cooler weather is hear to stay now, I don’t see a high above the 50s for a while, and the nights will be cold- it’s that fingerless glove time of year.

Let me be crystal clear, as I’ve said this before and it apparently need restating due to questions we get in the shop and emails we receive: there are no magic fishing spots on this river. The entire 20+ miles below the dam holds good to excellent numbers of trout all year, including some big ones. Water temps are great on the entire river currently, averaging mid to upper 50s right now. This means you can fish all the water from Riverton down to Unionville and even below that. We constantly get people looking for those “magic” spots on the river where the trout are plentiful, access is easy, there are no crowds, you catch lots of trout, rising fish are everywhere, and there are tons of big trout. Good luck with that haha. If it’s easy access and an above average dry fly spot, the angling pressure will be super heavy (like Church Pool & Greenwoods), which makes for trout that are waaaay harder to fool on average. In the end it all boils down to how well you can read water, your fishing ability, and how much effort you are willing to put in. The fish are almost everywhere on the Farmington River, but it’s up to you to figure them out and make a good presentation. If you cannot cast well and present your fly properly, then work on that or you will struggle no matter what spot you are in or what fly you use. The fly doesn’t catch the trout, the angler does. It’s not the arrow, it’s the archer- and so on. If you think it’s all about the “magic fly” or luck, you are wrong. Fly suggestions are thoroughly covered in this report and updated as they change. Cover water and change your presentations and rigs. There are tons of books, articles and videos out there that can help you gain knowledge, or book a trip with a local guide. At the end of the day, success or failure falls 100% on the angler, so own it, and if you aren’t happy with your results, do something to up your game. Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing the same thing over & over, but expecting different results. I concur!

The new Hardy Zane saltwater #7-10 rods recently arrived, the Zane & the Zane Pro, just in time for the Fall season, check ‘em out.

Streamer fishing is extra good in the Fall, and those covering water and playing with fly colors/patterns, retrieves & casting angles are giving us good reports, including some impressive browns. Those making 200 casts in the exact same spot with the same streamer, the same retrieve, and presented at the exact same angle, not doing so well. Move around and experiment, don’t be a stick-in-the-mud. There are windows of dry fly fishing, primarily Caddis (morns & eves), Olives (afternoons) & Isonychia (afternoons/eves). Nymphing with mostly small nymphs has been the most consistent and predictable producer, but #16 Caddis Pupa and bigger #8-10 Stoneflies are having their moments too. We are into that Egg Fly time of year- try smaller egg patterns in yellow, oranges, pinks and mixes of those colors.

Increased flows will only make the fishing better overall. Throwing bigger streamers for bigger trout can be great when flows rise and discolor, it really brings the big browns out of hiding as they look to eat and ambush baitfish, crayfish & smaller trout. 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. Remember you can blind fish bigger dries such as Isonychia, Terrestrials and Attractor Dries over likely looking water and bring fish to the surface, you don’t always have to throw only to rising fish. And if you really want to up your odds, add a small weighted dropper nymph under your dry.

Most bugs right now are small, as in #18-24 and even smaller, so fish are used to eating predominately small to tiny nymphs in the early Fall. Egg flies are currently hot. Pair them up with some sort of smallish nymph. Try nymphs with & without hot spots, and fish both drab and flashy patterns. Some slightly bigger nymphs that are the exception would be Caddis Pupa in #16 (even bigger for the Giant October Caddis), #12-14 Isonychia, and #8-10 Stoneflies. But overall smaller nymphs #18-22 are what is getting it done. I’d probably fish these mostly on 6x fluoro tippet FYI, 5x is okay on bigger nymphs.

The streamer bite is only getting better as the trout’s aggression ramps up due to spawning & water levels continue to increase. 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. Don’t forget about wet flies & soft hackles! The foliage is currently spectacular. Fishing in low water has been “technical” at moments, with those adapting to it finding success, and those who remain stubborn (i.e. fishing the exact same way that worked in June, only using bigger flies, only fishing the same old spots, or only willing to fish dries to rising trout) working hard for an occasional strike. Be flexible boys & girls, or you will get zero sympathy from us when you come in complaining about “slow fishing”. 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.

Mark Swenson’s next fly tying class on November 15th is now full.

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.

Farmington browns typically start spawning around mid October, and as such they are aggressive, making this a great time to fish streamers. We have been getting good streamer reports for a while now. Early & late in the day during low light are peak times to nail a big trout on a streamer, but don’t rule out other times of the day, especially in the Fall. You may want to downsize your streamers if you are looking for numbers of fish, but remember also that bigger trout tend to like bigger bites. Smaller streamers will likely catch you more but smaller fish, with bigger streamers giving you your best shot at a true trophy but you will likely catch less fish. Decisions, decisions… See a couple of paragraphs down for a few streamer fishing tips & pattern advice.

If you are out in the evening fishing dries, stay until the end as there is normally a 15-30 minute window right near dark when the fishing becomes easier and the trout seem to become less selective and will eat a variety of patterns, often bigger flies too. BWO hatches are picking up on the cooler days. Isonychia are getting a bit smaller, averaging a #14 now (12-16). If you are nymphing, small flies are the norm, as in #18-22. With both dries & nymphs, keep your leaders longer (12’ or longer) and go lighter on your tippets: mostly 6-7x with dries, and mainly 6x with the nymphs (5x for bigger nymphs or when the water levels come up). You can always take a 9’ 4-5x leader and add 3-4 feet of lighter tippet to it. Longer tippets = less drag and better presentations. Don’t spook your quarry: be stealthy in your approach in low water, stay a little further away, and wear drab colors to blend into the backround.

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. 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 works quite well in the often low water conditions of early 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 and medium-high at a total flow of 469cfs through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area (historical normal total flow is 259cfs), and averaging mid to upper 50s currently for water temps, depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is medium at 162cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 307cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. AM Riverton water temp was 54 degrees this morning. Water is coming out of the dam in the mid/upper 50s currently, and downstream water temps can be lower or higher this time of year, depending upon night time lows, daytime highs, and sunshine (or lack thereof).

Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults, typically early/mid AM
*Blue Winged Olives #
20-26: afternoons, especially cloudy/cooler days
(“Iso”) #12-16: mid/late afternoon thru dusk
*Caddis #16-20: (tan,
brown, black- anytime, but especially morns (hatching) & evenings (egg-laying)
Giant October Caddis #8-12: late afternoons/eves, very light hatch (orange body, light brown wings)
-Light Cahill/Summer Stenos #12-
14: evenings, a few
-Midges #20-32: anytime,
365 days a year
-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 & especially in the evenings

*Small Nymphs #18-22: size is more important than exact pattern
Blue Wing Olive #18-22: various patterns with & without hot spots and flash
Egg Flies #10-18: assorted colors (yellow, pinks, oranges or mixed colors)
*Tan Caddis Pupa #14-18
Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Squirmies/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-18
-Isonychia Nymph #1
2-16: can also use Princes, Zug Bugs & Pheasant Tails
-Stoneflies #
8-12: golden/yellow, brown, black, best in morns & eves
& Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate Mayfly nymphs like Blue Wing Olives, Cahills, Isonychia and many others
-Antoine's Perdigons #14-20: black, brown, olive, yellow
-Zebra Midge #18-22: black, olive,
-Attractor Nymphs #1
6-20: 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

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:

Report by Torrey Collins