Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tuesday 7/27/21 Farmington River Report: Flow is back to a normal level & bottom release!

Our store hours through October: Monday through Friday, 8am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pmWe are now open until 6pm on weekdays (not weekends) and will be on that schedule through October. Per the latest CDC guidelines, in Connecticut now you do NOT have to wear a mask/face covering anymore IF you are vaccinatedIf you are not vaccinated, you need to continue to wear a mask, and please try to maintain a 6ft distance from other customers if possible. We are happy to deliver curbside if you are uncomfortable shopping inside. Just give us a call. 

Antoine’s Perdigon nymphs in a wide variety of colors, weights & sizes are finally back in stock. They are custom ties, and there was a major delay in getting them restocked from our supplier. 

I mostly refrained from fish pics the past 2 weeks when the river was dangerously high, even though a few diehards were having success, but now that we are in great shape again here are a few pics for ya: up top is Zach’s son Hunter with a beauty he caught over the weekend- looks like he’s turning into a chip off the old block. Parenting done right. Next down is a long & lean net-filler by Teddy DeClue. Third pic is a nice hook-jawed brown in the net, Steve Hogan was the angler. Last pic is a pretty brown by Joshua Reeve, fooled with a streamer.

We have a PILE of used fly reels in the case here at Upcountry, the most we've ever had. Some are listed online and can be purchased through our website or over the phone, but we also have more that are NOT listed online and are for purchase in-store ONLY. Make sure to take a peek in the used reel case when you stop in next time.

Both George Daniel Nymphing Clinics for this September are already filled up with a waiting list. 

Lots of good things to report today. Flows are finally back to a normal level and should remain there- we are about 470cfs total flow (I’d call this upper end medium) in the permanent TMA & dropping this morning, with about 350 at the Riverton gauge, and 120 from the Still River. They switched back from the top release they’ve been doing to the normal bottom release on Monday, and this has dropped water temps back down. As of Monday, Colebrook Reservoir was all the way down to their normal target lake level for that date (actually 1 ½ feet below it). We though we’d be looking at a 400-600cfs release from the dam for the rest of the summer (to get the reservoirs down to lower levels for Hurricane season in September/October), but they ran so much water over the spillway at Hogback the past 2 weeks that they are in good shape and are maintaining a nice river flow and will continue to do so. This means a return to dry fly fishing, and good fishing subsurface too. 

Now that the lower reservoir (Hogback/Goodwin) that directly feeds the Farmington River switched from the top release they have been doing the past 2 weeks to a bottom release, instead of releasing the warmer water on the lake surface it’s once again the colder, denser water from the bottom of the lake. 8am water temp in Riverton was 60 degrees. The Still River, which runs warm (often 70s on warmer days) in the summer is now down to 120cfs & steadily dropping, so it won’t have much warming effect on the river below that. And after a hot one today at 89 degrees & sunny, all the 10 day highs are in the 70s, with nights averaging upper 50s to low 60s. Overcast weather this Wednesday/Thursday will also keep water temps down.

As you get later in the summer it’s normal to see the water coming out of the dam get slightly warmer each week as the coldest water on the bottom of the lake gets slowly depleted. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on downstream water temps and stay more upriver if the temps exceed 68-70 degrees downriver. Riverton downstream to New Hartford/Canton usually stays cool enough all summer, and during milder summers you may be able to fish even further down. I’d probably stay away from Collinsville/Unionville now that we are nearing late summer, as the 2 low dams down there tend to warm up the water, unless you have unusually mild/cooler weather. If you want to fish downstream, start their in the mornings when water temps are coolest, and by late morning work your way upstream to cooler water. That way you don’t stress the trout out, and you are putting yourself in position to potentially have good fishing all day long. 

Definitely into that time of year when dries imitating terrestrial insects can be VERY effective, especially midday on warm/hot sunny days when insect hatches are often slow. You can blind fish them in likely water, or target sporadic risers when you don’t see many bugs on the water. Ants & Beetles are the main players, anywhere from #12-24. Bigger foam terrestrials such as Mini Chernobyls #12-14 and #10 Monster Beetles are great for blind fishing likely water, and/or Dry/Dropper fishing with a small weighted nymph 1-2 feet below them (deadly!).

We have some limited summertime availability for our awesome upstairs apartment rental- go to our Lodging page to check if it’s available. Great place to stay riverside, completely furnished with a kitchen, big flat screen TV, and a deck that gives you a view of the river out back. All that and very reasonably priced. 

In my mind Isonychia #10-12 are the “glamour hatch” in the permanent TMA/C&R section in July, make sure you have the matching flies. They will hatch into November, but the peak months are July & Ocotober. Big browns have a particular affinity for this bug. Terrestrials (ants & beetles mostly) are solid producers here in the summer. Evenings often see a slight bigger Blue Winged Olive (Cornuta?) hatching, it’s typically about a #18- make sure to have some matching rusty spinners for the evening spinner fall, typically at dusk. Also have some #12-14 cream colored flies such as Usuals & White Wulffs to fish right at dusk when it gets hard to see your fly. Sulfurs #16-18 are onlyupriver now, from about Rt 20 bridge inRiverton up to the dam. Mornings are seeing Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24, and also Needhami #22-26 now (see 3 paragraphs down for more info on the. Peak time for morning hatches is early to mid morning- be prepared to fish long leaders with long light tippets and tiny flies, it’s technical fishing. Various Caddis averaging #16-18 as always are a possibility at any point. 

Evenings are prime time for dries, but if you look around you can often find some risers at other times. Not unusual to see some of our “evening bugs” sometimes hatching in the mornings or afternoons, I guess the cold water bottom release from the dam messes with the hatch times. Don’t get hung up on just fishing the flat water in the pools, as lots of nice fish are in the riffles and faster water. Bugs such as Isonychia and most Caddis also live/hatch/egg-lay in faster water, while other bugs like Sulfurs & Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) are more in slow to medium speed water. FYI on cooler, overcast days keep your eyes out for small BWO’s, typically #20-22. 

If you are nymphing, a combination of #14-18 Caddis Pupa, small #16-20 BWO/mayfly nymphs, big #6-10 Stoneflies, and #10-14 Isonychia type flies will get it done for you. The big Stones are more of a first light to mid morning deal, as that is when they crawl out to emerge. BWOs & Caddis can be effective anytime, and Iso’s normally work best from mid/late afternoon until dark. None of these time frames are set in stone, so experiment. A lot of the bigger trout are frequenting 6-24” of medium to fast water when they go into feeding mode- don’t skip or worse yet walk through the shallow water without fishing it! Often times in July the secret to catching trout on nymphs is simply to make sure one of your nymphs is small, as in #18-20. The exact pattern is less important than the size, but experiment with patterns for best results. 

Needhami #22-26 are hatching in the mornings, make sure to have Needhami duns & spinners if you are dry fly fishing the pools in the AM. Typically the spinners fall first, and then the duns hatch (just a general rules with plenty of exceptions). Caddis in various sizes & colors are all over the entire river now- don’t neglect them for the more “glamorous” Mayflies. Trout will eat Caddis on the surface (especially in the eves), and the pupa fished subsurface can be effective all day long in the faster water. Swung wets & soft hackles can do a great job imitating hatching pupa & egg-laying adults. 

Dries, wets/soft-hackles, nymphs & streamers are all having their moments lately, the trout are definitely on the feed, including some truly big wild browns. If undisturbed, many bigger trout (especially wild browns) are feeding in 6-24” of water during insect emergences and can be caught with a stealthy approach (early & late in the day are peak times for this). The fishing is good from the dam in Riverton, down through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R), and all the way downstream at least down to Canton. If you move around, experiment with flies & tactics, and remain flexible in your approach, you should find success. If however you try to ram a particular method down the trout’s throat when it’s not the proper choice, you are heading for poor results and frustration. Let the trout tell you how to catch them. 

A highly underutilized but very effective method is wet fly/soft-hackle fishing, and it’s an efficient way to cover a lot of water thoroughly. Ideally fish 3 different patterns (minimum of 2) on tag end droppers, 20-30” apart, and experiment with dead-drifttwitching, swinging, retrieving, and even bouncing/dancing the top dropper fly. The trout will tell you how they want it by their response. This is a relaxing way to fish, and a good break from technical flat water dry fly fishing and the intense concentration of nymphing. Read further down in this report for more suggestions on wet fly fishing. 

Be aware that hatches vary from day to day and respond to water & air temps changes, variations in flow levels, and also light conditions. Be prepared to fish wet flies, nymph, or dry/dropper if they aren’t rising. First & last light are also prime streamer times, and also rainy/overcast days- if flows rise & discolor, even better for streamer fishing. The same spot on 2 consecutive night can see a great hatch one evening, followed by a poor hatch the next. This time of year, a mild cloudy day will often produce some of the better fishing, but even in bright sun the Farmington stays cool and there are often hatches. Due to the release of cold water, hatch time can be all over the place on this river. Sulfurs often hatch in the afternoons, and Isonychia can start in the mornings. Overall the best hatching most days has been in the evenings. The hotter and sunnier it is, the more the evening bugs will get pushed off closer to darkness- the further you get away from the dam, the more true this is. Closer to the dam the evening hatches often happen earlier, likely due to the colder water I presume. 

It pays to know your bugs, their habitat, and their hatching behavior. What you see for bugs and when they hatch will totally depend upon the time of day and how far below the dam you are. If you are on the water during hatching activity, expect to see some risers if you look around. Remember that many bugs ONLY hatch in water with some good current, but others like slower water- it pays to look online or in the books and do your homework. Big Stoneflies, March Browns and Isonychia live in fast water broken with rocks (pocket water), and most Caddis hatch & egg-lay in faster water. Sulfurs like medium-slow to medium-fast water, and Blue Winged Olives like medium to slow with gravel. Mayfly spinners usually do their thing over riffles. 

Caddis remain a staple bug, with  pupa consistently producing subsurface- the adults come back in the evenings to egg-lay in faster water. Tans & olive/green are common colors, but also gray, brown & black. Keep your eyes out for spinner falls of Mayflies like Sulfurs or BWO’s in the eves as this can bring some large trout to the surface. Caddis are a possibility at any time. They tend to hatch here in the mornings/afternoons in riffles & faster water, and then come back at dusk and egg-lay/dive in the riffles & faster water. A Caddis pupa is a great choice for nymphing any time of day, but especially during emerge, and even during egg-laying, just be sure to let them swing out a the end of each drift. Large Stoneflies averaging #6-10 are emerging/crawling out in the early to mid mornings now- you will see their empty shucks on the rocks in the fast water. That is also the water type you want to focus on when nymphing imitations of them in the mornings-this can produce some BIG fish. Pair them up with a Caddis Pupa or a smaller Pheasant Tail/Frenchy/Mayfly nymph.  

Wet Fly Tips: this is a great time of year to fish wet flies & soft hackles. Fish them 2-3 at a time, on short tag end droppers, spaced 20-30” apart. Use 3x-5x fluoro tippet (depending upon fly size), and keep your rod tip up. The elevated rod tip prevents break-offs, gives you strike detection (watch the bow and look for changes), helps to better animate the flies, and allows a better hook-up percentage (creates just enough slack to allow the trout to suck your fly into their mouth). Riffly water 3 feet and shallower is prime for this, but it can catch trout on a variety of water types.

We have the new Hardy Ultralite & Ultralite LL (Euro) rods. While I have not yet personally fished them, they feel amazing in handand I’m predicting they will be big sellers in 2021. Customers who have bought & fished them tell me they are fantastic. Euro specific rods in the Ultralite LL series include the10’ 2” #2, 11’ 2” #2, 10’ 8” #0/2, 10’ 8” #3, 9’ 2” & 9’ 9” #3 & #4. In the standard Ultralite the 9’ #4, 9’ #5, 9’ #6, 9’ #7, 10’ #4, and 10’ #5. 

The T&T Contact II series (10' #2, 10' #3, 10' 9" #3, 11' 2" #3, 10' 9" #4 & 10' 8" #6) is a home run, the best Euro rods currently on the market according to many experienced Euro nymphers. I’ve fished mine for almost a year now, and it’s amazing. New improved materials, new guide spacing, down-locking reel seats are standard now, plus a new fighting butt design that is more comfortable. Recovery is noticeably better/crisper, 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, even when you do something stupid. These rods are easier to cast, will give you more distance, and they deliver with improved accuracy. Retail is $825. FYI demand is exceeding supply with these rods, so if we don’t have what you want in stock get your name on a waiting list.


Flow& Temps:
The Farmington has dropped way down to upper end medium at 472cfs total flow & dropping at 8am on Tuesday 7/27 in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). The Still River is currently responsible for 120cfs of that flow – it dumps in a little below the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton. The Still River currently runs warmer (60s and well into the 70s on hot sunny days) than the water from the dam this time of year. The East Branch has been cut way back and is down to 50cfs - it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp was 60 degrees at 8am, it will rise a little during the day, and be coldest in the early mornings. If you go far enough downriver (e.g. Collinsville/Canton), you may see afternoon water temps hit or exceed 70 degrees, so be aware of water temps and choose your section according to the air temps & time of day. Generally you want to start your day at your farthest downriver locations in the morning, and work your way upstream to stay in optimal water temps. Better for the trout, and better for your catching.

*Isonychia #10-12: typically late afternoon through dusk, fast water
*Sulfur #16-18: afternoons/eves, spinner fall at dusk- only upriver above Still River in Riverton
*Assorted Caddis #14-20 (especially tans & olive/greens): morning to afternoon hatch, evening 
*Needhami #22-26: mornings, duns & spinners
*Terrestrials #12-24: Beetles & Ants: great in afternoons & non-hatch times
-Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #18-22- esp. on cloudy/overcast cooler days
-Big Stoneflies #6-12: don’t create a lot of dry fly fishing, but the nymphs crawl out/emerge in the low
light of early/mid mornings in faster water. Golden Yellow, Brown, and Black.
*Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later
-Midges #20-28: anytime, all year
-Parachute Adams #12-24: imitates many, many different bugs from Iso’s to Olives

-Caddis Pupa #14-16- tan, olive/green
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-18
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs
-Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: black, brown, olive, yellow, etc.- back in stock finally!!!
-Stoneflies #6-12: gold/yellow, brown, black- early/mid AM nymphs emerge/crawl out June thru Oct
-Isonychia Nymph #10-14: fast water, can also use big Princes & Pheasant Tails
-Olive Nymphs #16-20: anytime, common bug during Behavioral Drift (first & last light) & rainy days
-Sulfur Nymphs #14-18
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #12-14 
-Cased Caddis #10-14 (especially high water & after flow bumps)
-Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Squirmies/SJWorms, Green Weenies) for higher or off-color flows & fresh stockers, or just as a chang-up to natural/imitative flies
-Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black
-Attractor Nymphs #12-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Haast Haze, Firestarter Perdigon, Princes, Miller's Victim, Triple Threats, etc.

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-18: Hare's Ear, DW Catchall, Partridge & Orange/Green/Yellow, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, Partridge & Pheasant Tail
-best fished 2-3 at a time, on tag end droppers, spaced 20-30” apart
-dead drift them, swing them, twitch them, bounce them- let the trout tell you how they want them

-Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive)
-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)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #4-8
-Matuka #4-8 (yellow, olive, brown)

Report by Torrey Collins