Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Tuesday 12/15/20 Farmington River Report: here comes Winter

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. 

Cover pic is Melissa with a colorful holdover rainbow, guide Paul McConnell (Reel Adventure Outfitters) got her into her first trout ever via Euro Nymphing. 2nddown is Jeremy, a client of Derrick Kirkpatrick (CT Fish Guides) with a really nice brown. 3rdfish pic is customer Justin Lerner with 22” of Farmington brown trout.

Werecently received a massive fly tying materials & fly box order from Wapsi/Angler’s Image, moretying materials from Nature’s Spirit, flies, materials, tungsten beads& new hooksfrom Fulling Mill,and abatch of Tacky Boxes

We have the new Fulling Mill Jig Force Long hook in stockin #10 & 12- they rate it 2x long, but they run big in terms of hook gap and shank length, so I’d say the #10 is equivalent to a #8 3xl hook. Great choice for big jigged stoneflies as well as medium sized jigged streamers. 

With colder December weather here now, even a good slug of snow predicted for Wednesday night (12”!!!), we are moving into Winter fishing mode. That means the trout will start to pod up in slow to medium speed deeper water in the pools, slower/deeper runs, and gentle riffles. They may stay close to where you were catching them in the Spring, but move a little further from the pool/run heads, and/or maybe closer to the banks. This is because they don’t want to sit in heavier current when the water temps are colder. Their metabolism is slow, there are minimal hatches, and they don’t need to eat much, and there is far less food available. Often on a slow Winter day you will run into bite windows where you get 1-3 hours of good fishing when the trout turn on and decide to feed. These are often in the afternoons when water temps rise, which can stimulate both the trout’s metabolism, as well as a little bug activity (usually subsurface). 

Total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) section this morning is medium-high at 469cfs (331cfs in Riverton + 138cfs from the Still River). Water temps are slowly dropping and have averaging in the low 40s- water released from the dam is in the low 40s now and will vary as you move downstream. Colder December weather here now means you will see the water temps creep downward, especially as you move downstream from the dam. Most of the browns have spawned and are hungry and looking to put some weight back on. Please try to avoid stepping on redds and just below them, as you will crush the eggs that got deposited there in October/November. Many of the browns that spawned will be thin from the rigors of the spawning process, nymphs and streamers are appealing to these fish. Dry fly fishing has limited windows but is definitely possible, with the main hatch being the early to mid morning Winter Caddis hatch. Could still see some late Blue Winged Olives hatching in the afternoons, along with Midges.

Current conditions favor subsurface techniques, but every method has it’s moment in the sun. Due to the trout trying to put weight back on after the spawn, I’d consider this a very good time to catch bigger trout on nymphs & streamers, I’ve had some really good days in the past catches numbers of above average sized brown trout in December. Water temps have averaged in the low 40s, and given the colder weather in the forecast it will likely range range anywhere from the mid 30s to low 40s depending upon the when & where. Milder nights combined with sunny days will produce he highest water temps and most active trout, water temps typically peak in mid/late afternoon and are lowest in early to mid mornings. The prime time to be out correlates with this, normally late morning to late afternoon (the Winter Caddis hatch is the exception to this, typically occuring in early to mid mornings, going later some days). 

Bugs remain small: Winter/Summer Caddis #20-24, Midges #20-28, and Blue Winged Olives #22-26 (BWOs). Overall subsurface has been more consistent than dry flies- this will be especially true when flows are up due to rainfall. Dry fly fishing is better when flows are lower, but you can usually find a few risers in Church Pool almost no matter what. Streamer action has varied considerably from day to day, with nymphs tend to be the most consistent. Depending upon water conditions, fly patterns have varied quite a bit. Typically when the water rises and/or discolors Junk Flies (eggs, worms, Mops), bigger Stoneflies & Streamers are the go-to patterns. Sometimes I’ll double up on Junk Flies under those conditions (e.g. Mop & Squirmy Worm), but typically I’ll do one Junk Fly and pair it with a drabber/more imitative nymph. Flow bumps often dislodge Cased Caddis Larva too hint hint. As flows drop/clear, you may find more imitative and/or smaller nymphs more effective. Most late Fall & Winter natural nymphs/larva are small to very small (#18-24), with a few exceptions (larger Stoneflies, Caddis Larva)- typically a #18-20 is small enough (especially if tied on shorter shank hooks like Scud hooks), even though the naturals can be much smaller.

Streamers are often at their best during upward flow bumps, especially if you are looking for bigger fish. During those conditions try colors like black, yellow, white. Most trout are now post-spawn, hungry, and looking for a mouthful of protein. Bigger streamers (4-6”) will give you a shot at the biggest fish, but expect to make a lot of casts for each strike on a typical day. If you want numbers but still a good shot at a trophy, drop the size down to 3-4”. Smaller jigged streamers tight-lined on a Euro rig will often catch the most trout of all, because you are putting the fly right in the trout’s face and making it easy for them to eat it. Dropping water temps in the late Fall also make trout more lethargic so slow & deep is usually the way to go with streamers- as always experiment with colors, size, and retrieve. 

Fishing Advice:
Most days the best bite window is late morning through late afternoon and even into dusk (peak water temps combined with low light brings out the bigger browns). Try a double nymph rig, with 2 totally different pattern types (bug & small, drab & flashy/gaude, dark & light, etc.). Don’t neglect Caddis Larva (both cased & regular). A bigger streamer at the day’s end can also put a big trout in the net, I especially like black low light conditions during the last hour of daylight. Dry fly fishing is limited to 3 hatches: Winter Caddis in the mornings, and Midges & Blue Winged Olives in the afternoons. While the red hot egg bite is past, eggs are still effective and will work well straight through the Winter and into even the early Spring- some days eggs will work quite well, and other days be a dud, so experiment. Trout are genetically programmed to eat eggs: real ones have lots of calories/protein, and they cannot escape. This hold true on all trout species whether they are stocked, holdover or wild. 

Water temps and best time of day to fish:
Cooler late Fall/Winter nights and colder water means you don’t need to start at the crack of dawn unless you are trying to hit the early to mid morning Winter/Summer Caddis hatch. Other than that, the late morning to late afternoon time slot will typically be more productive, as it puts you into rising water temps and more active trout. It’s not so much the absolute water temp as it is the relative temperature change. As long as temps are moving toward optimal, it tends to get the trout feeding. Temps moving away from optimal tend to shut them down. For the sake of argument lets say optimal is about 60 degrees (give or take, and it varies according to trout species), and water temps of late have averaged low 40s (and will continue to drop), so any upward movement of water temps will tend to get the trout going. After a really cold night (lets say in the 20s), in the morning the water further downriver will be colder than the water coming out of the dam, because the dam water comes out the same temp all day long regardless of the air temps. As water flows downstream, it will warm or cool depending on ambient air temps and sunlight (or lack thereof). As the day progresses, if it’s mild & sunny the downstream sections can see warmer water temps than the section up near the dam. You can obviously use these temperature differentials to your advantage, so it’s a particularly good idea to carry a thermometer this time of year.

The MDC stocked up in Riverton (Rt 20Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage bridge up to the dam, about 2 mileson 11/4 with 1,700 “large” (over 12”) Rainbow trout. Rainbows tend to be easier to catch than brown trout. 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 (especially black)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 THREE 2020 Atlantic Salmon stockingin the nearby Naugatuck Rivermore Salmon stocking 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 tails of pools, especially near rocks.Try medium to large streamers in yellow, white, and black, as well as other colors. Keep your tippet heavy, as in 0-2x. This is all C&R (through December 15th) with a single fly/lure with one hook (no double hook streamers), and no added weight on the leader/line. Sink tips, weighted flies, sinking leaders, and sinking lines are all perfectly fine, but you cannot add any split shot to your line or add a 2ndfly.

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-5pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-5pm on weekends. 

The Farmington is currently at a total flow of 469cfs through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area (historical normal total flow is 375cfs), and has averaged low 40s for water temps- depending upon the weather, river section, and time of day. Riverton is at 331cfs from the dam on the West Branch, and the Still River is adding in an additional 138cfs below it's junction with the West Branch. AM Riverton water temp was 41 degrees this morning, it reached 42.5 degrees yesterday afternoon. Look for water temps to slowly creep downward now that seasonable, colder Winter weather is back. Downstream water temps have been cooler in the mornings after colder nights.

Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults, typically early/mid AM
*Midges #20-32: anytime 
(365 days a year)
*Blue Winged Olives #20-26:afternoons, especiallycloudy/crappydays, hatch is getting lighter and verynear the end
-Parachute Adams #1
2-24: differentsizes imitate many different bugs including Midges & BWOs

erNymphs #16-22: size more important than exact pattern, but definitely experiment 
Blue Wing Olive#16-22:various patterns with & without hot spots/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 Stonefliesand 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
-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 
-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