Friday, November 6, 2020

Friday 11/6/20 Farmington River Report: mild temps & nice water level

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.

Check out the lead pic, a 21” incher by Steve Hogan, what a beautiful fish. 2nd pic is a big boy by our new shop guy Joey, another sweet Fall Farmington River brown trout. 3rd pic is Steve Hogan’s client with a double, he knocked ‘em dead learning how to tight line on Wednesday.

PSA: the peak of the trout spawn is over, although you will continue to see smaller numbers spawn for a while. As such most redds (those circular light colored spots in fine gravelly riffle areas where trout drop their eggs) will NOT have trout on them. Still VERY important to remember not to step ON or BELOW the redds (many eggs end up 5-10 feet downstream of the visible redds). These eggs won’t hatch out until late Winter (approximately February I think), and anytime between now & then you can step on the eggs and crush them. These eggs represent our future wild trout, so please be careful where you step! Our wild trout population seems to be consistently increasing, let’s do our part to make sure this trend continues.

Some super mild weather is here now straight through the middle of next week, with highs upper 60s to low 70s, nights in the 40s & 50s, and water level is in the low 200cfs range. Great window of opportunity for all you “fair weather fishermen” haha. With peak spawn over now, the “egg bite” will continue but not be red hot like it was before- if you are nymphing an egg pattern make sure you pair it up with a nymph, probably something on the smaller side. Dry fly fishermen have a shot at risers during morning Winter/Summer Caddis and afternoon Blue Winged Olive & Midge hatches, and you may still see some tan/brown Caddis and Isonychia later in the day too. Subsurface with nymphs & streamers has been the most consistent though. November is a big month for BWO hatches on the Farmington River, but they are small- make sure you have patterns at least down to #24, if not smaller. Streamer fishing has been above average, especially on darker days, during flow increases, as well as early & late in the day (low light conditions). Big browns like to come out of hiding and hunt under lower visibility conditions. Nymphing with egg patterns and assorted smaller nymphs can get you into trout all day long, and this will stay true straight through the entire Winter.

Please 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 the eggs and potential future wild browns. 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 & second 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 continue to stock more Atlantics in November.

The MDC stocked up in Riverton (Rt 20/Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage bridge up to the dam) this Fall, they typically put 800-1,000 trout in.

The new Hardy Zane saltwater #7-10 rods recently arrived, the Zane & the Zane Pro, 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 Olives & Caddis. 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 Fall. Egg flies are still producing. 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), #12-16 Isonychia, and #8-10 Stoneflies. But overall smaller nymphs #18-22 are what is getting it done. I’d probably fish these smaller nymphs mostly on 6x fluoro tippet FYI, 5x is okay on bigger nymphs.

The streamer bite has been good for many of our customers. 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. 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 will be November 15th, and there is ONE spot left. It is geared toward novice & intermediate tyers who used to tie a little bit, but got away from it and forget most of what they learned. Sort of a “tune up” class for less experienced tyers. Call Mark directly at 203-586-8007 to sign up, class is already almost 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 the paragraph below for a few streamer fishing tips & pattern advice.

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 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- add a split shot 6-12" above it if you need to get it down deeper. 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 them in stock. Just in time for tying smaller nymphs to imitate the smaller bugs prevalent in the 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- #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, medium & clear at a total flow of 226cfs through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area (historical normal total flow is 338cfs), and averaging upper 40s to mid 50s lately for water temps- depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is at 144cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 82cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. AM Riverton water temp was 52 degrees this morning.

Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults, typically early/mid AM
*Blue Winged Olives #
20-26: afternoons, especially cloudy/cooler days
-Midges #20-32: anytime
(365 days a year)
(“Iso”) #12-16: very light & near the end, afternoons
Assorted Caddis #16-20: (tan, brown, black) light hatch
-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/eves

*Small Nymphs #18-22: size is more important than exact pattern
Blue Wing Olive #16-22: 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) #12-1
Cased Caddis #12-14
-Stoneflies #
8-12: golden/yellow, brown, black
& Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate Mayfly nymphs like Blue Wing Olives, Cahills, Isonychia, also smaller Stoneflies and many others
-Antoine's Perdigons #14-20: black, brown, olive, yellow
-Zebra Midge #18-22: black, olive,
-Attractor Nymphs #1
4-20: 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