Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday 11/13/20 Farmington River Report: Friday the 13th....

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.

Lead pic is a flawless 22” male Fall brown by Mina while guided by Zach, what a great fish! Next down is a CT Fish Guide’s client with a super nice Bow. 3Rd & 4th pics are Steve Hogan’s clients Mike and Brenna with just a few of many nice fish they landed on their recent guide trip. It’s been quite a Fall season on the Farmington.

Although the bulk of the spawn is past, there are still some trout spawning. I’m glad to report that it appears people have been leaving spawning trout on redds alone this Fall, but there is one big problem we are seeing a lot of recently: anglers walking all over the redds. The eggs won’t hatch until February, and if you walk on them you will crush & kill the eggs- these are future wild trout. It’s important that you wear polarized glasses so you can see them. Redds are light colored circular/oval patches in shallow gravelly riffly areas where the female trout clean off the gravel and drop their eggs (some eggs end up 5-10 feet or more downstream of the redds). They are also spots that are easy for anglers to wade in or cross the river. I’ve had countless reports from the guides of people unknowingly walking right through redds. For example, the shallow riffle at the head of Church Pool is loaded with redds, yet every single day a pile of anglers wade all over them. Please be observant and careful not to do this! Prime spots where redds will be are pool tailouts, gravelly riffles at pool heads, and side braids. Be especially vigilant in these areas. Fishing to spawning trout on redds is unsporting & unethical and adds stress to an already stressed out fish, but walking through redds actually kills future trout. Don’t be “that guy”. Politely educate other anglers if you see them unknowingly walking through this critical habitat.

It’s great to see the river with a normal amount of water in it after the drought we had- total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) is a beautiful and medium mid 300cfs level (253cfs from the dam in Riverton, plus an additional 105cfs from the Still River). We are getting a little dribble of rain today (Friday), Saturday will be sunny and upper 40s, Sunday will be mid 50s with clouds and another ½” of rain. Water temps of late have averaged upper 40s to low 50s depending upon where & when you measure them, but with consistently cooler seasonable weather here to stay now the temps will slowly creep downward over the next week. 10 Day highs will average in the 40s, with lows mostly in the 30s.

Mixed reports the last few days, with streamers accounting for some of the better catches. Overcast conditions with increased flows are IDEAL for streamer fishing, and that’s exactly what the past couple of days have been. Also good conditions for nymphing. If you are streamer fishing, play with fly colors, it can make a big difference. Also experiment with various retrieves. In general, a faster stripping retrieve is a top producer in the Fall until the water temps drop below the mid 40s. If you are nymphing, pair up a Junk Fly (Mop, Worm, Egg, Weenie) or bigger Stonefly nymph with a smaller more imitative/drabber fly in the #16-20 range. Most nymphs/larva/pupa are smaller this time of year, BWOs (Blue Winged Olives) are the dominant November bug, typically a #18-20 is the way to go to imitate them. Look for BWO hatches in the afternoons, especially on crappy cool, overcast days.

Mark Swenson’s next fly tying class will be this 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.

No major changes in flies other than you can go a little bigger on your flies in these flows, and if you are nymphing try some Junk Flies (Worm & Egg patterns, Mops, Green Weenies) paired up with a more natural/imitative nymph. You can also go bigger on your streamers, which helps when targetting the largest fish in the river. No 5x tippet for the streamers, think 0-3x, with 2-3x fine for standard #6-10 streamers, and 0-1x for the big stuff. 5x is currently fine with nymphs (although Euro Nymphers often go lighter to sink their flies deeper/faster). Dry fly fishing has been kinda spotty, maybe due to the unusually mild temps? BWOs (Blue Winged Olives) are the dominant November hatch, and they love to hatch on those cool, crappy overcast days. November is traditionally 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. Keep your eyes out for afternoon Midges, as well as early to mid morning Winter/Summer Caddis hatches. All small bugs FYI! 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.

For those of you who have struggled this Fall, the MDC stocked up in Riverton (Rt 20 Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage bridge up to the dam, about 2 miles) on last Wednesday 11/4 with 1,700 “large” (over 12”) Rainbow trout. Rainbows tend to be more aggressive eaters than brown trout, and they have not yet been fully “educated” by anglers. Try “Junk Flies” such as Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Egg flies, Mops, and Green Weenies. Pair them up with a more natural nymph of your choosing. Also try standard streamers like small to medium sized Buggers in various colors. FYI if you are looking for something different to do, the CT DEEP has so far recently completed TWO 2020 Atlantic Salmon stocking in the nearby Naugatuck River- 2 more Salmon stockings to come in the very near future. Swung & stripped streamers are typically the way to go for the salmon. FYI they love to lay in the pool tailouts, especially near rocks. Try streamers especially in yellow, white, and black, as well as other colors, and keep your tippet heavy as in 0-2x.

The new Hardy Zane saltwater #7-10 rods recently arrived, the Zane & the Zane Pro, check ‘em out.

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.

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.

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. In general smaller streamers will catch you more fish, and larger streamers will pull bigger fish but you will typically get less hits. 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-1x. The old school Muddler Minnow is a neglected classic that often works quite well in the 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 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, medium/normal at a total flow of 358cfs through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area (historical normal total flow is 348cfs), and averaging upper 40s to mid 50s lately for water temps- depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is at 253cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 105cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. AM Riverton water temp was 51.5 degrees this morning, look for temps to slowly creep downward now that seasonable, cooler November weather is back.

*Blue Winged Olives #20-26: afternoons, especially cloudy/cooler days
Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults, typically early/mid AM
-Midges #20-32: anytime
(365 days a year)
-Parachute Adams #1
2-24: different sizes imitate Isonychia, BWOs, Midges, Caddis and much more

er Nymphs #16-22: 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)
Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Squirmies/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies)
*Zebra Midge #1
6-22: black, olive, red
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-1
Cased Caddis #12-14
-Stoneflies #
8-12: golden/yellow, brown, black
& Pheasant Tails #14-20: 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
-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
in colder water get them deeper using weighted point flies, sinking leaders, or sink-tips/sinking line

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