Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tuesday 11/17/20 Farmington River Report: don't forget about streamers!

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 Zach's older son with a 20" dry fly brown, caught on a #22 fly, 7x tippet, 18' leader, with an air temp of 28 degrees. He joins the 20/20 club with this fish. 2nd pic is customer Lane Finley with a perfect brown, caught after making some fly changes while nymphing a run. 3rd fish pic is Steve Hogan's client Elissa with one of quite a few landed while learning tight-line nymphing.  

Nymphing has been tougher lately, and some days (like Monday) streamers have been the key to getting into trout. Mandy & I were stubborn and stuck with nymphs and paid the price of a lot of work for only a few fish, while my buddy switched to streamers at noon and picked up nine fish up to 19" after that. Be flexible! Elevated flows and/or off color water are ideal streamer moments, but also with most trout done spawning now, they will be looking to bulk up and put on the weight they lost during the spawn. This will make streamers are good choice even in clear water with normal flows. Make sure to get your flies down in the water column, and experiment with fly colors & retrieves. We got another good shot of rain Sunday night, current total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) is 392cfs & dropping. From looking at the graph, it appears the MDC made a 50cfs+ flow cut at the dam on Monday, bringing the upper Riverton USGS flow down to 198cfs, with an additional 194cfs coming in from the Still River. I got a water temp of just over 48 degrees at Church Pool late in the day Monday. Recent water temps have averaged mid to upper 40s depending upon where & when you measure them, but with consistently cooler seasonable weather here to stay now the temps will slowly creep downward as November progresses and also as the reservoir continues to slowly cool down. 10 Day highs will average mid 40s to mid 50s, with lows mostly in the 30s- this upcoming weekend will see highs into the mid 50s, not bad for mid November in our neck of the woods. It’s been typically dropping into the 30s overnight, and even into the 20s on the coldest night.

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.

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 often spots that are easy for anglers to wade in or cross the river. I’ve had countless reports from the local guides of people unknowingly walking right through redds. For example, the shallow riffle at the head of Church Pool is loaded with redds, yet almost 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- people are doing this because they are unaware, not because they have bad intentions.

Mark Swenson will be doing another Beginner Fly Tying Class- probably in January, but if there is enough interest it could be as early as December- call him directly at 203-586-8007 if you are interested.

No major changes in flies other than you can go a little bigger on your subsurface flies with the low water conditions all behind us. If you are nymphing try some Junk Flies (Worm & Egg patterns, Mops, Green Weenies) or a bigger Stonefly nymph paired up with a smaller and more natural/imitative nymph. You can also go bigger on your streamers, which helps to target bigger fish. 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 up and down temperature, weather and water fluctuations recently? 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 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, that can be VERY effective is you get the flies down deep and play with retrieves. 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.

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 a universal color worth trying too in anything but truly muddy 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.

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. Perfect for tying the often smaller nymphs of Fall/Winter. 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 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-5pm 7 days a week.

The Farmington is currently very fishable, relatively normal at a total flow of 392cfs through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area (historical normal total flow is 351cfs), and averaging mid to upper 40s for water temps- depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is at 198cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 194cfs & dropping below it's junction with the West Branch. AM Riverton water temp was 49.5 degrees this morning, look for temps to slowly creep downward now that seasonable, cooler November weather is back. Church Pool peaked at 48 degrees on Monday.

*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: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/cortland-top-secret-ultra-premium-fluorocarbon/

Report by Torrey Collins