Friday, September 3, 2021

Friday 9/3/21 Farmington River Labor Day River Report: 9/4 Update: cooler water, dropping flows

Our store hours starting Tuesday 9/7: Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pmWe will start closing at 5pm 7 days a week and will be on that schedule through March. 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.

On Labor Day Monday 9/6, we will be open from 8am-3pm. And starting Tuesday 9/7, we will go to 8am-5pm 7 days a week.

Bunch of cool Rich Strolis streamers (tied by the man himself) just arrived this Thursday 9/2- eight different patterns to cover a variety of conditions. Come check ‘em out before they sell out, his flies always go fast. 

Take a look when you come in the store, or take a look at the used page on our website- we put a bunch of Store Demo rods out. We arealsototally restocked on Fishpond landing nets, we literally have piles of them now, all different models in every finish available. We also have a good supply of the brand new Nomad Emerger in the limited edition Redband finish- they look really nice. 

Antoine’s Perdigon nymphs in a wide variety of colors, weights & sizes are finally ALL back in stock. They are custom ties, and there was a major delay in getting them restocked from our supplier. Ahhh, 2021...

Check out the sale bin in the fly tying area, we have a 
lot of cool stuff we picked up as part of a huge fly tying collection that we are still processing, and we refill it on a near daily basis. These items are for in store purchase only, so please don't call or message us about them, just stop by in person and check them out. 

We have a good number of used fly reels in the case here at Upcountry. 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.

Saturday 9/4/21 Update:

Flows have rapidly receded, making the river below the Still River high but fishable all the way down to New Hartford where UpCountry is located. Water temps have been low to mid 60s. A little below us the East Branch dumps in, making the flow higher from there down, so stay from us and upstream. Riverton is low at about 100cfs, and the Still River has dropped to about 590cfs, giving us a total flow of slightly under 700cfs and still steadily dropping. This gives you 10+ miles to fish. Getting a few good reports back from those fishing in the higher water using streamers & Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies, Egg Flies). Be aware that the MDC could up the dam release at any point, but the most likely scenario is that they will keep the release low until Tuesday morning. 

Friday morn 9/3/21:

What an unusual and at times frustrating Summer for the Farmington River in terms of flows, water temps, and weather. Not sure exactly how much we got, but it was probably somewhere in the 4”+ range, maybe as much as 5-6” in well under 24 hours. As I write this Friday morning, Riverton is very fishable at a medium-low 140cfs & much cooler at 62.5 degrees. A cold rain combined with much cooler weather will do that (10 day highs averaging low/mid 70s, and nights almost all well down into the 50s). Below Riverton the Still River is adding in a pile of water, 1,130cfs, bringing the total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release to a too-high-to-fish 1,269cfs & dropping. Not sure how long the MDC will maintain flows that low out of the dam, as the inflow to Colebrook is over 1,000cfs (and dropping fast). Ultimately they will have to let more water out to get Colebrook River Lake significantly lower for hurricane season in Sept/Oct. Hopefully they will keep it down or only raise it a little for the holiday weekend, giving you 2 miles of fishable water, but I guarantee that Monday or Tuesday they will up the release significantly for at least a little bit. The much lower water temps in Riverton are a pleasant surprise and once again will open up trout fishing here again, combined with excellent long range cooler air temps. And of course with September here, the days are getting shorter, the intensity of the sun is decreasing, and the nights are longer & cooler. All good things in terms of trout fishing & water temps.

The Still River has actually mostly become a cooling influence with the much colder nights here now and moderate daytime highs. Weird but true. But as the surface water in the reservoirs cool off in in September and the denser/cooler surface water sinks to the bottom, the lakes will start to flip/turn over and you will begin to see the water coming out of the dam get significantly cooler soon. As flows come down from the BIG rain we just got, expect to see lower water temps from the Still River and downstream. Mornings will continue to see the lowest water temps, and the colder the night, the lower the AM water temps will be. Peak water temps are always in the mid/late afternoons.

Paradoxically, as far as water temps, in September the coolest water temps are oftenfurther downriver, away from the dam, especially in the mornings when there has been maximum chilling of the water. This is due to the colder nights, shorter days, and the Still River cooling down (it reflects whatever the average ambient air temps are).FYI optimal water temps for trout are 50-65 degrees, and it’s perfectly fine to fish for them up to 68/69 degrees if you play them quickly and keep them in the water. Be aware that fast, broken water has more oxygen in it than the slower pool water does, making faster water your best choice when water temps creep above 65 degrees.Your best days will be the ones after the coldest nights down into the low 50s, followed by a cloudy day, especially if the daytime highs are in the 60s/low 70s

The advice below applies asthings cool off and flows drop to fishable levels

A word about how to properly take the water temp with a thermometer, how temps change during the day during hot weather, and what this means to the trout. Always take the temp where there is decent current, and make sure to shade the thermometer with your body. Otherwise you won’t get a true reading- it will read higher than the water the trout are holding in. Lowest temps will be at first light, and the highest temps will be in late afternoon around 4pm’ish. Cloudy days will see smaller temp increases, and hot/sunny ones will see the biggest increases. 

This time of year use the heaviest tippet that you can get away with, and play the trout as hard as you dare & land them fast. Keep them in the water and release them quickly, no 30 second out-of-the-water “hero shot” photo sessions please. If you take pics, endeavor to keep the trout in the water, and don’t lift them out of it for more than 5-10 seconds (perferably not at all!). And no 8x tippet either!!! Fishing ridiculously light tippet when water temps are creeping up forces you to baby the trout and play them too long, and that can literally kill them. A long (4’+) 6x tippet will usually get the job done, 7x at the lightest (and only with the smallest driesin slow water where you can land the fish faster). With bigger dries such as Isonychia & foam bugs you can use 5x no problem. For nymphing 5x-6x is fine. 

Bug hatching activity lately has been overall slow, and those waiting to “match the hatch” have been struggling. Overall fishing has noticeably slowed down, and this is typical for late Summer & rising water temps- expect to work for your fish. I call this the “Summer Doldroms”.Midday has been the slowest, mornings are the longest bite window,and you often get a brief flurry of activity right at dark.A better dry fly tactic has been to blind fish the faster, choppy, riffly water withIsonychia imitations, bigger foam bugs, and terrestrials (especially ants & beetles). You can do Dry/Dropper with a small weighted nymph 1-2’ underneath, or you can just fish a single dry fly by itself. Don’t wait for a hatch, just blind fish likely looking water, and don’t skip the shallow riffles.

Nymphing the faster water & fishing wets/soft hackles in the riffles are higher percentage tactics. For nymphs pair of flies with abigger bug like a #8-10 Stonefly or an Iso-type nymph #12-14 (can also be bigger Pheasant Tails/Frenchyor a Prince Nymph) with a smaller #16-20 Mayfly nymph (PT, Hare’s Ear, BWO, etc.)or #16 Caddis Pupa. Fish big Stones in the mornings, and Isos from late morning ‘till dark. If you are using wets, use 2-3 at a time, fished on tag-end droppers, 20-30” apart. Mix up the patterns & sizesto give the trout a choice, and try different angles & presentations (dead-drift, swung, twitched, dangled, danced on the surface, etc.)- the trout will tell you what they prefer IFyou actually listen. For wets I recommend tippet around 4x, as the hits can be HARD. Also, keep your rod tip up to help prevent break-offs, give you a higher hooking percentage, and animate your flies better.

If you are intent on fishing “the hatch”, focus on early/mid morning, and dusk to dark & beyond. The hotter it is out, the closer to dark the evening fishing will happen.This is also a goodtime to Mouse after dark- keep your mousing leaders short & heavy (6-7.5’, 0x-2x). Potential morning bugs includes Tricos & Summer/Winter Caddis. The spinner fall is the main even with Tricos, and it occurs whenair temps are in the upper 60s. You will see balls of spinners massing in the air above riffles. Tricos will average a #24, give or take a hook size. Midges #20-32 are always a possibility at just about any time of day, and are often responsible for flat water sippers that feed when there are no visible bugs. Isonychia #10-14 are sporadically hatching, and you can definitely blind fish imitationsof them and bring fish up- don’t wait for a hatch, just throw them in the riffles. Cloudy days can see small Blue Winged Olives. Evenings at dusk will often see #12-16 (sometimes smaller) Light Cahills/Summer Stenos- use a cream colored dry such as a Cahill, White Wulff, or cream Usual. Overall the hatching has been very light of late, so don’t go out expecting hatching activity like you saw in May, June & July- it’s Summertime.

We are definitely into that time of year when dries imitating terrestrial insects are a good choice, especially midday on warm/hot sunny days when insect hatches are often slowto non-existent. 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 limitedsummertime 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. 

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 mid/late Summer 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. 

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. 

Wet Fly Tips: 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 handThose who have fished them have given great reviews to us, these rods are giving the T&T Contact II’s some competition. 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 more than 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 is quite high and dropping at 1,269cfs total flow at 8am on Friday 9/3 in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). Riverton is moderately low and very fishable at 139cfs between the dam and the Rt 20 bridge, below that the Still River adds in 1,130cfs and makes the river too high to fish from there down (unless you know the river very well or are an experienced boat guy). The East Branch was 100cfs before the big rain, and probably is a lot higher than that now- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp is way down, 62.5 degrees this morning, it peaked at 66 degrees yesterday afternoon. Riverton temps will rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings. As long as temps stay cooler, and they are, the Still River becomes a cooling influence in September.

*Isonychia #10-14: typically late afternoon through dusk, fast water
-Assorted Caddis #14-22 (especially tans & olive/greens): morning hatch, evening 
*Terrestrials #12-24: Beetles & Ants: good in afternoons & non-hatch times

-Tricos #22-26: AM spinner fall when air temps hit upper 60s
-Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #20-24- 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) #16
-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 #12-14: fast water, can use Princes & Pheasant Tails to imitate them too
-Olive Nymphs #16-20: anytime, common bug during Behavioral Drift (first & last light) & rainy days
-Sulfur Nymphs #14-18: can also imitate Yellow Sally Stoneflies
-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 (black ones can imitate Trico nymphs)
-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